THE EDITOR, Sir:
Regional integration is not a concept that most Jamaicans support because of the insular nature of islands like Trinidad and Barbados and their lack of respect for Jamaica nationals.
Furthermore, it defies logic to support a body that cannot obey its own rules. For example, although free trade is one of CARICOM's fundamental pillars, there have been trade wars between countries like Trinidad and Barbados and, more recently, between Jamaica and Trinidad.
Despite its years of existence, the regional bloc has never been policy oriented. Reports like the Rose Hall Declaration on Regional Governance and the aptly titled Re-Energising CARICOM Policy Paper have not been effected. Therefore, it is expected that public sentiment in relation to CARICOM will be negative when the entity is ineffective and Jamaica's contribution to the region is usually downplayed. Jamaica gives too much to CARICOM and receives too little.
The recent utterances made by a Bajan Cabinet member show his contempt for the people of Jamaica. Since we live in a global environment, it is expected that The Gleaner will report on international matters. This newspaper has written editorials about countries that are more significant than Barbados and there was no backlash.
LITTLE INTEREST IN BARBADOS
So when Donville Innis told Jamaican editors to focus on the rot in Jamaica because they hinted at abuse of the press, not only was he being rude, his ignorance about press freedom was highlighted. Jamaicans are focusing on the "rot" in our country and we want Minister Innis to know that we have very little interest in his country and other Caribbean states on a whole.
CARICOM needs Jamaica; Jamaica does not need CARICOM. The sooner Minister Innis understands this, the better for all of us.
Further, the decision of Trinidad's immigration officers to deny Jamaican nationals entry into that state is a breach of the Treaty of Chaguaramas, and the people of Jamaica should not support such an action.
It is quite impractical for this administration to declare its unwavering support for CARICOM when countries like Trinidad do not abide by the rules. Regional integration must be based on mutual benefit, not the emotive sentiments of politicians.