Thu | Jul 18, 2019

Jaristotle's Jottings | Three sides to every issue

Published:Thursday | June 20, 2019 | 12:08 AM

Whenever multiple persons report on an incident, the accounts are inevitably going to differ, depending on who is giving the account and their interests in the matter. Invariably, there are three sides to every issue: my side, your side and the truth.

Fish tale or fishy tale

Since the story of the Jamaican fishermen who were reportedly detained by the US Coast Guard and taken on a hellish Caribbean cruise broke locally, just about everyone has expressed royal indignation about the matter. While I am certainly opposed to anyone being treated in the manner they described during their time onboard the Coast Guard ships, I am inclined to ask the question: did it really happen as they claim?

I am by no means a sailor, nor can I fish to save my life. In fact, I lift my hat to the legitimate hardworking fishermen who ply their trade in the oft stormy seas around the island. Rain or shine, they go, risking their safety in order to make their livelihoods. Dangerous work, with many getting lost, and only the lucky being rescued.

We also have countless pseudo-fishermen who depart our shores for lands afar, not to fish, but to convey drugs in exchange for guns that are then brought to the island.

I have nothing else to go on regarding these five fishermen, save and except the accounts that I have either heard on the radio or read in the newspapers.

Side 1

They reportedly left Trelawny to travel to the Morant Cays on the opposite end of the island and some forty miles off-shore to the south east. That’s a long way to go to and draw fish pots and return. My checks with people who know more about fishing tell me that the more logical destination for fishermen from Trelawney would have been the Pedro Cays on the south coast, half the journey to the Morant Cays.

Then there is the story of them breaking down. Plausible yes, but if so, they would have been drifting westerly, not easterly towards Haiti. Some things just don’t seem to add up here. At any rate, perhaps the police may know far more about these individuals, and so it would be interesting to hear from them as to the profile of these fishermen.

Side 2

From the stories I have read, the US Coast Guard stated that information on the apprehension of the fishermen and their boat was communicated to the Jamaican authorities and that permission was given for them to be detained. Locally, the silence is deafening.

TREATMENT OF FISHERMEN

What I have not heard a peep about is the allegation of inhumane treatment of the fishermen whilst they were detained onboard various Coast Guard ships.

Regardless of whether they were engaged in activities other than legitimate fishing or not, there is no plausible reason why the Coast Guard should subject them to the hellish conditions as outlined in their claims. If that was in fact the case, the captain and senior persons onboard would have violated countless US and international laws. Jail wuk to be sure and rightly so.

I am not going to swear for anyone, but I find some of the claims, such as being chained to the deck during a storm somewhat hard to swallow: such treatment is hardly likely to be muted or escape public attention.

Side 3

The truth is supposed to set you free, but in this particular case, the truth may prove burdensome. Can we handle the truth?

I will therefore reserve my royal indignation until the truth is unearthed. If it is that these fishermen are all they make themselves out to be, then they will have my full support.