CARIBBEAN: Addressing the Geopolitical state of the Caribbean – by Francis Quamina Farrier

Photo: Veteran Guyanese Educator and geopolitical commentator, Professor Dr. Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith. (Photo by Francis Quamina Farrier)
There are those Caribbean citizens who have travelled to all or most of the Caribbean and CARICOM countries. Their journeys include Suriname and Guyana on the continent of South America. Also, the many beautiful Caribbean islands, the Bahamas, and Belize in Central America. These individuals who have visited all or most of those countries, have a relatively good idea of the geopolitics of the region at first-hand, and the really, not-so-different cultures of those countries. Veteran Guyanese educator and geopolitical commentator, Dr. Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith, explains it in his most recent scholarly long paper.           
Knowing more than most of that geopolitical functioning of the Caribbean Region, is usually garnered by Caribbean educators like Professor Griffith, who engage in such intensive travels and scholarly studies and research of the geopolitics of the Region. There are those who travel within the Caribbean for sheer personal geopolitical exploration endeavors. Indeed, there are those CARICOM citizens who travel the region without any mental complex of being “Children of a Lesser God” bearing in mind the special treatment usually afforded tourists from North America and Europe, and which is sometimes not fully extended to Caribbean travellers in their home region.
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For example, there is what transpired during the difficult period of shortages of varying types of consumer goods in Guyana during the 1970s and 1980s. Guyanese citizens were treated extremely shabbily on arrival at the International Ports of Entry in most sister CARICOM Countries. There are records of Guyanese being made to wait at Arrival areas at airports, until other passengers who arrived on flights from North America and Europe after theirs, have been processed by Immigration and Customs. There was also that shameful illegal body search of a Jamaican woman at the Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados, which ended with a hefty financial settlement. Further, it would be recalled the way travellers who wore dreadlocks were denied their civil rights when they arrived at many Caribbean International Airports.
In some of my news reports during that period of the 1980s and 1990s, I identified Antigua as well as Barbados, as being the two worst offenders of Travel Hassle for Guyanese; especially the hucksters with their jumbo-size red, white and blue bags. There is the well-known case of a Guyanese who was detained at the Police station in St. John’s, Antigua, when he refused to give a bribe of Guyana gold which was demanded by two Immigration Officers at the Vere Bird International Airport.
Guyanese have memories of sub-human treatment which they experienced at the hands of some Immigration Officers at other CARICOM countries. That came about when the Guyana government put restrictions on how much foreign currency each traveler was legally allowed to take with them when leaving the country; which was less than US$20. However, most of the small business travellers found ways to get around the restrictions. Smuggling foreign currency which they bought on the street on the black market and also smuggling gold was another means of paying for goods and services when overseas. During all of that ongoing travel hassle, neither CARICOM nor individual governments of the Region, intervened on behalf of those Caribbean citizens. No attempt was made to solve that well-known problem.
 Over the decades, the Regional Airline BWIA/Caribbean Airlines, often stated that their Guyanese passengers kept the company financially successful. Yet the airline did not receive positive reviews from the Guyanese travelling public. Instead, many were the stories of Guyanese being treated very shabbily by some of the airline personnel; on the ground as well as in the air. Flying around the region north of Trinidad was much more relaxing for Guyanese, than between Trinidad and Guyana. It would be recalled the inhuman treatment meted out to the Guyanese hucksters; the ladies who travelled with those large red-white-and blue bags. They were treated almost like criminals by Security and other airline operatives.
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Nonetheless, because they achieved “Frequent Flyer” status, they were entitled to, and received invitations as guests to some very posh Cocktail Receptions held by the airline at some of the most prestigious venues in Trinidad. These women usually attended those receptions dressed like celebrities and conducted themselves appropriately. Further, these hard-working Guyanese women, improved their financial status by their hard work and resilience, and some are now more financially stable, even owning cars and their own properties. Professor Dr. Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith ensures that such accomplishments are properly recorded for posterity.
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