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In a recent incident that's certain to stir up some diplomatic disharmony between the Caribbean nations, the government of Trinidad & Tobago denied access to and ultimately deported 13 Jamaicans attempting to enter their country. Despite discussions and deliberations about whether or not proper procedure was followed during the ordeal and whether or not the T&T government had just cause for their actions, Trinidad Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar stood firm by the decision stating that Trinidad acted well within its discretionary powers to refuse entry to the Jamaicans. While much of the talk has been focused on "Did the T&T government act reasonably ?", "Was there just cause to refuse the Jamaicans entry ?", "Did the Jamaicans plan to overstay their visa ?", "Should Jamaica boycott Trinidad goods ?", and other related issues, I chose to focus differently and ask a different question. My question is simply this. WHY are Jamaicans "begging" to escape to Trinidad for a better way of life ANYWAY ?

I choose to focus there for the simple reason that it gives us Jamaicans an opportunity for introspection and to ask WHY have so many of our citizens given up on the possibility of making a good life in Jamaica and see escaping to other nations as their only hope ? As a Jamaican who has lived in the United States for a couple decades now, my family was one of millions who left our homeland to seek a better life in the United States. For Jamaicans and for millions of others of Caribbean descent, it is certainly not out of the ordinary to migrate to global economic powerhouses such as the United States and England with the hopes of a better life. The "1st World" status of these nations have made them attractive destinations for immigrants worldwide looking for a better life for centuries now. However, as a Jamaican, what strikes me as particularly embarassing about this recent incident with the "deportation" from Trinidad is the fact that we are talking about deportation from another Caribbean island with whom we should AT LEAST be in a similar economic and opportunity boat with. 

That realization is an indictment on those in leadership positions in Jamaica since gaining independence in August, 1962. It was that same year that Trinidad gained independence from Great Britain also. So WHY is it that as we sit here, 51 years later that 1 of these nations has advanced to an admirable point of development and the other nation has its citizens "begging" entry into the other nation for a better way of life ? Instead of asking a thousand questions about why these 13 particular individuals were refused entry into Trinidad under the suspicion of wanting to overstay their visa and seek a better life in T&T, the better questions are WHY do they want to leave Jamaica in the first place ? WHY doesn't Jamaica have better options for them to stay home and get educated and make a living ? WHY aren't our industries developed enough to be able to offer more employment opportunities ? WHY is a land so rich in resources so dependent on other nations and so in debt ? WHY have the political, business, and educational leaders of Jamaica not laid a better framework for further development of the Jamaican economy? What is being done to stem the tide of the brain drain that has resulted in millions and millions of Jamaicans, knowledgeable and skilled in every imaginable discipline, leaving our beautiful homeland to seek opportunities elsewhere and enrich the talent base of some other foriegn nation, including our own further developed Caribbean nations ?

THESE are the pertinent questions for Jamaicans worldwide to answer. Certainly there are issues of diplomacy among Caribbean nations which are relevant and need to be ironed out in the light of this recent incident. Certainly there are issues of trade among Caribbean nations which are also relevant for discussion here in light of the "boycott T&T" talk that has come up in many Jamaican circles. These issues, I am confident, will eventually be sorted out one way or another. However, as proud Jamaicans worldwide, who want to see our Jamaica be the best Jamaica it can possibly be, we must ask ourselves, IN WHAT SPECIFIC WAYS can I do more to make Jamaica a better place and to make less and less Jamaicans see "ESCAPE" as the only option for enjoying the quality of life they aspire to ? Neither Trinidad, nor the United States, nor any other nation on earth should automatically represent a better alternative for those Jamaicans who want to make it a Yaad instead of making it abroad. Jamaicans, consider this our rallying cry and lets use this unfortunate incident as a motivating factor in making our Jamaica a better Jamaica. One Love.

- CW

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