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Dear editor: Powerlessness is being stranded outside your own country, awaiting an exemption

“[…] And now that elections have been called, our cries risk being further lost amidst the din of the political platform, the picong of politicians, and the cheers of the adoring crowds.

“Politicians will claim to have successfully managed the Covid crisis, better than anywhere else in the world in fact. Meanwhile no other country has left its citizens effectively stranded at sea…”

The following letter to the editor was submitted to Wired868 by a Trinidad and Tobago student, who is studying in Europe and awaiting an exemption to return home. The student has requested anonymity under the circumstances:

Photo: Stranded at the airport…
(Copyright UK Telegraph)

Dwindling resources, looks of pity by those around you, others expressing outrage on your behalf, this is what we all face. Yet still no public official has deigned to give a word.  No responses to exemption requests, no one to turn to.

Press conferences are our only opportunity to hear what the government has in store for us. We are often shocked when pronouncements are made on repatriation flights, and whispers flitter that arrangements are being made. Finally, some good news they forgot to tell us!

Then we are quickly brought back to reality when nothing materialises. Unfortunately, none of us are blessed enough to be the lucky politicians who have been granted their exemptions. None of us are blessed enough to have the resources of the friends and family of politicians.

And now that elections have been called, our cries risk being further lost amidst the din of the political platform, the picong of politicians, and the cheers of the adoring crowds.

Politicians will claim to have successfully managed the Covid crisis, better than anywhere else in the world in fact. Meanwhile no other country has left its citizens effectively stranded at sea.

Even the smallest among them have provided schedules for repatriation and dates for border re-openings, without overwhelming their healthcare systems, yet the castaways of Trinidad and Tobago still wait.

Photo: National Security Minister and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister and MP Stuart Young (right) has a word with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
(Copyright Trinidad Newsday)

Does anyone have the answers?

How many citizens are stranded abroad?

How many persons have requested an exemption?

How many of the persons stranded abroad are students?

How many of the persons stranded abroad have no source of income?

How many citizens of Trinidad and Tobago are near the point of entering homeless shelters?

How many among us are sick and have no access to healthcare?

How many citizens abroad face the threat of deportation if caught overstaying?

How many citizens have flown to Barbados and been accepted with open arms, and are awaiting the chance to return home?

How much longer must we wait?

How much longer must we wait?

How much longer…

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3 comments

  1. Citizenship always meant the right to live and enter the nation and also to expect assistance of the Gov when abroad and in crisis. Now we have covid 19, many thousands of citizens are abroad in covid 19 hot spots, their return at this time would automatically means more covid 19 infections in TT, the Rowley administration cannot keep covid 19 out of TT and let these people in at the same time. To make matters more delicate it is an election year, and you know for sure that the opposition leader is just waiting for let’s say a doubling of the covid numbers similar to Jamaican numbers in order to point fingers at PM Dr. Keith Rowley, Minister of Health Dr Deyalsingh, Chief Medical Officer Dr Parasaram etc. Personally I would allow the citizens abroad to come back but I would make it clear if you coming you coming to stay, you are not coming for a two week vacation to unnecessarily stress our system. And every person would be subject to a two week quarantine under real supervision from the army, police, ministry of health, ministry of national security etc., if it’s 1000 returnees then 1000 returnees would be getting regular visits to ensure that they don’t violate their obligations, citizenship doesn’t just come with rights it also comes with obligations. I think it will be interesting to see the election result without all these flown in votes lmao, nobody knows what will happen. One can compare the current situation with the lockdown and it’s consequences to a Hollywood movie moment, water is rushing in, a man stands by a steel door, he sees a sailor running towards him, but the time is not enough, he has to close the door or risk the entire ship, 1 man vs an entire ship, it is what it is.

  2. Earl Best

    It’s not always easy to see how it is possible for the government to be fair while apparently ignoring your situation/plight/pleas.

    But answer your own question about the number of applications for exemptions and consider that the government is also responsible for the safety of the 1m+ citizens who are already in the country and see if your apparently underlying conviction that you’re getting the short end of the stick is fair.

    • Is anyone going to ask the author of this article, if they are one of the returnees that waited until they landed in trinidad, before they reneged on their agreement to quarantine?Disgraceful, selfish and being legally advised by UNC lawyers to use the legal system to skirt their ethical responsibility to their fellow citizens!