Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Jamaica yesterday reacted with fury to the biting remarks of Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) National Security Minister Gary Griffith with the Parliamentary Opposition demanding that the Government of Jamaica "stop pussyfooting around and hit them where it hurts the most".
"Only when we take the action that hits them where it hurts the most will they begin to realise that gone are the days when they can treat our national with scant regard and get away with it," said Opposition Spokesman on Industry and Commerce Karl Samuda.
Samuda's rage mirrored that of a leading Jamaican manufacturer, "We agree with him that T&T is not a mall and the Jamaican private sector would like to reiterate that Jamaica is not a mall for Trinidadian garbage."
The private-sector member was reacting to Griffith's pronouncement that "T&T is not a mall where anyone (undesirable) will be allowed entry. His less than diplomatic comments have also raised eyebrows in the twin-island republic with the newly formed Jack Warner-led party expected to raise the matter in that country's Parliament today.
Warner's Assistant Sunil Ramjitsingh told The Gleaner that the matter was discussed in a meeting yesterday and the party would be examining the Standing Orders to determine how and when to raise the matter.
Arguments were also advanced yesterday that Griffith's offensive and insulting comments came as the CARICOM relationship was costing the people of Jamaica $25 billion per year or two per cent of GDP. "That money could be used to develop Jamaica and not to subsidise Trinidad and Tobago," declared the private-sector leader.
Official data show that Jamaica is T&T's second largest export market after the United States. It was $4.5 billion for Jamaica compared to $29 for the US in 2010.
'Dookeran out of place'
The Trinidad Guardian reported yesterday that Griffith rapped his colleague, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran, who he charged was "out of place" for making promises with foreign minister, A.J. Nicholson, on travel between T&T and Jamaica, without first consulting him.
Griffith reportedly stated that he would not back down on his decision to boot "undesirables" from other Caribbean countries out of T&T.
He also claimed that people who entered his country under the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) programme continue to be a burden on the State and could further escalate the crime situation.
Samuda said that is demonstrative of the harbouring of deep-seated resentment towards Jamaica and Jamaicans.
As Jamaicans seethed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade A.J. Nicholson was locked in a retreat with his Cabinet colleagues and could not be reached for a comment