Bananas and bullies
The USA continues to threaten Europe with retaliation for the preference that it has given to bananas from the Caribbean and from former European colonies. This agitation by the USA seems to me quite disgraceful and a good example of the way it tries to bully other countries.
This action of the USA is not in defence of its genuine trade rights, for the USA does not produce bananas. It has been brought about by the lobbying of an American multi-millionaire called Lindner who owns Chiquita bananas, a company that has vast banana plantations in Latin America. Lindner subscribes heavily to the main political parties in the USA and recently gave a million dollars to Clinton's campaign fund.
The quantities of bananas going into Europe under the preferential arrangements given to the Caribbean and former colonies is a very small proportion of the bananas imported by Europe and an even smaller proportion of the amount of bananas handled by Chiquita. The USA, therefore, is not fighting Europe for its trade rights but for the greed of a single very rich American financier.
The USA can be a strange country. Among other things, we depend greatly upon Americans for our tourist trade. But I must confess that I sometimes find it hard to like Americans. Their country has become a world bully. Not only that, but even in small matters it is apt to do some very peculiar things. For example, since Jody-Anne Maxwell won the Spelling Bee in America, the Americans have changed the rules of the contest in order, no doubt, to make sure that no Jamaicans will win in the future.
The world needs a strong and united Europe to act as counter balance against American world dominance.
West Indian Appeal Court
The proposal to set up a West Indian Appeal Court to replace the UK Privy Council as our final Court of Appeal seems to be popular among some of our politicians and a few of our lawyers. While in theory the idea of a West Indian Court of Appeal seems reasonable, I think that in practice it would be a great mistake, at any rate for the time being.
Jamaica is at present unable to maintain its own courts adequately. It is already obvious that we need more judges and more courts to deal with the flood of cases which is now congesting our entire legal system.
Unfortunately, we haven't got the money for this expansion. That being the case, it is rather silly to propose a West Indian Court of Appeal which would involve considerable additional expenditure not only for new judges, but for houses to put them in and for all the other essentials of a new court of law.
A West Indian Court of Appeal would have to be paid for by contributions from all the islands concerned and if I read matters rightly, Jamaica would be constantly in arrears with its payments. The fact of the matter is that a West Indian Court of Appeal would simply become one more example of West Indian ramshackle. One of these days the situation could change but for the present, we would be well advised to stick with
the UK Privy Council. I have an idea that this business of having a West Indian Court of Appeal is simply the product of the usual impractical nationalism which gives us a lot of trouble in other directions.
Soldiers and Tourists
One is bound to consider the idea of soldiers patrolling tourist areas with mixed feelings. On one hand, it is obviously necessary to protect our tourists from robbery and violence. On the other hand, the spectacle of soldiers on patrol is not a very happy one and is apt to give our visitors the idea that Jamaica is a very dangerous place. The whole thing sets a problem which is very difficult to resolve.
A Canadian correspondent to The Gleaner who is aware of the disadvantages of having soldiers patrol tourist areas has suggested that our good citizens should take matters in their hands by contriving to turn those who harass tourists into social outcasts. Obviously the best cure for tourist harassment as well as for all crimes would be for our good citizens to dominate our affairs. But this would only work if our many good citizens outnumber our bad ones. Recent events tempt me to believe that they don't.
* Morris Cargill is The Gleaner's senior columnist and has been for more than forty-five years.