Let's be humane
The Editor, Sir:
In the Gleaner, of January 20, there were two opposing points of view regarding Jamaica accepting Haitian refugees. First was the letter from a Mr. Foster of Southfield, whose position was that the Haitians would "rather stay in their own country rather than come to Jamaica". However, earlier in the same letter he mentioned the "open invitation to Haitians".
Clearly, an invitation does not contain anything which demands acceptance from the invitee, so it is a bit difficult to grasp the significance of Foster's objection other than to assume that he just doesn't want the Haitians here. If that is the basis of his objection then I can only say "shame on you sir, I pray you will never have to undergo what the Haitians are now experiencing".
I am happy to welcome our Haitians neighbours and brothers here. They are a friendly and generous people in the worst of times, and we must "do unto others" if we expect the same consideration when our turn of need arrives.
Some years ago, in the 1970s, when "Papa Doc" Duvalier was busy treating the Haitian people like dirt, some Haitians came here by boat seeking refuge from that oppressive regime. They all were sent back aboard one of our Coast Guard boats and, as told to me by an eyewitness, in spite of begging not to be put ashore, they were off-loaded and their execution began while our vessel was pulling away from the dock.
Helping some Haitians now will surely help me to get rid of some of the pain and anguish which I continue to feel because we weren't willing to help that handful of Haitians who came here seeking freedom and, instead, paid with their lives because they mistakenly assumed that we would have taken a humanitarian view of their predicament. Let's try to make amends this time around.
I am, ect.,
Derryck M. Penso