The title of the Article I’m sure has gripped you, but understand that this is far more than an article written to excite but mainly to enlighten. The Gilbert Sisters from Grenada has been making the News not just in our little island of Grenada but throughout the Caribbean, St.Lucia, St.Vincent as far as Jamaica and of course, the island currently in the hot seat Barbados.
If you are not familiar with the story of the Gilbert sisters, pick a media outlet and their gruesome ordeal is available from falsely being accused of theft then being “detained” without the acknowledgment of their basic human rights, the full details of which are too tasteless for this journalist to recount.
Caribbean nationals having issues with the Bajan authorities are not new, the Gilbert sisters join a long line of many from Shanique Myrie (Myrie who sued the Bajan government and won) and Donna Benjamin-McLean’s to the many untold stories of mistreatment encountered by Caribbean nationals at the hands of the Bajan police force and immigration authorities.
The reports are not just denial of basic human rights or excessive force but also abuse, both verbal and physical, while the list of complaints that have come forward are mainly females, investigations have shown that this horrific treatment extends to males as well as females.
So where do we go from here? Most if not all Caribbean nationals with goals and ambition would have to travel to this danger zone at least once in their lifetime to seek a US visa, making it difficult if not impossible to avoid this predacious environment.
Through the internet, many have called for the US to relocate the Visa office to another island, but with a voice of reason I have to ask, are we children that need a parent to discipline us? Why pull the United States into a matter that doesn’t concern them? If we are one Caribbean, we should be able to resolve this issue amongst ourselves.
The primary function of CARICOM is to promote economic integration between members, but how can this be done when nationals from member states continue to be persecuted, mistreated and discriminated in the island of Barbados. In the past, there have been calls for the Caricom Secretariat to step in and establish an investigation panel, to formally look into these mistreatment claims, while the idea is wonderful the reality is that nothing would come of it.
The fact is, the only way the authorities of Barbados would understand the fair treatment of all Caribbean Nationals is by hitting them where it hurts and that is their pockets. I am all for Caribbean unity, but time and time again we see a complete disregard for basic human rights by the Bajan Authorities and alongside that a bureaucracy that stands by and allows this outrageous behavior to continue.
With that being said I refer back to my headline, is it possible? Yes, will it be done? only time will tell. So, for now, I support the Gilbert sisters as they seek justice, and hope that they find it, in any form that comforts and eases the painful memories of their Bajan encounter.