Photo above: foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Kamina Johnson Smith. Photo credit: JIS.
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Apr. 8, (CMC) – Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Kamina Johnson Smith, revealed that she has held two rounds of talks with her Trinidad and Tobago counterpart, after 12 Jamaican nationals were barred from entering the oil-rich Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country, late last month, because they were “deemed likely to become charges on public funds”.
“We are seeking to find a solution at the political level; so I have started conversations with my counterpart in Trinidad and Tobago, Senator the Hon. Dennis Moses, Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs. We have spoken twice and we will continue to speak, in good faith, to find a solution,” she said.
“We understand the frustration of Jamaicans on these matters, including those of the private sector, who have made strong pronouncements. We are working to try to achieve a solution and we will update the public as soon as we have made some progress,” she noted.
Last weekend, the oil-rich state’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Moses met with Jamaica’s High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago, David Prendergast, to discuss the issue.
“All related issues were discussed in an open, frank and courteous fashion, befitting the strong relationship between both countries,” the statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted.
The Jamaica government said it was probing allegations that two of the country’s nationals were ill-treated on their arrival at Trinidad and Tobago’s Piarco International Airport, and reminded Jamaicans that there is a CARICOM Complaints Procedure that may be used to ensure that nationals who have been denied entry, detained or mistreated at the ports of entry of other CARICOM states are heard.
It said that the relevant forms are available at the airports in Jamaica and that once a complaint is received, an investigation is conducted with the relevant authorities in the CARICOM country concerned.
Jamaican nationals may also make reports directly to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.
The deportation issue has resulted in calls being made for a boycott of Trinidad and Tobago goods and services.
Jamaica is the fourth largest market for goods from Trinidad and Tobago and buys approximately US$500 million of goods from the oil-rich twin island republic.
President of the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA) Metry Seaga, is calling for a re-examination of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) that allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services across the regional integration grouping.
“It’s not working the way it was meant to work. We cannot pick and choose the parts of it that we want to implement and leave out the parts that we don’t. If people are going to Trinidad and being turned back, then we have a serious problem… “