A campaign to boycott Trinidad and Tobago products is now underway as the backlash against comments made by Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for her statement that the twin-island nation would have to get something in return for helping Caribbean neighbours affected by Hurricane Tomas continues.
“We will have to look at ways in which we would be able to assist. But you would recall my comments earlier this year, when I said there must be some way in which Trinidad and Tobago would also benefit,” she said at a press conference, adding that she would have to hold discussions with members of her Cabinet before deciding on what assistance could be provided.
These comments have not only drawn the condemnation of the opposition leader of that country, but of some members of the region who on Facebook, Twitter and through BlackBerry broadcast messages urged a boycott of Trinidad and Tobago products.
The BlackBerry broadcast message, which has been making the rounds, says, “Join me and many of my friends in the “BUY NOTHING MADE IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO” campaign. This is a result of the TNT PM’s open statement to the media saying she will not give any assistance to Caricom countries affected by Hurricane Tomas unless it is to the benefit of Trinidad. I wonder if she is aware of the amount of products we purchase daily that is made in Trinidad. PLEASE JOIN AND PASS IT ON. “
The campaign is also on the popular social networking website Facebook, with a St. Lucian who declined to give her name saying, “Seriously, that was simply heartless and plain selfish!!! We need to show her what can happen when serious, God-fearing and caring people unite. I think we (Saint Lucia) import a lot of snacks from T&T, I will try my best to avoid buying these things. Yes my taste buds will miss them but on the bright side I'll loose a few inches. Come on guys and join me!!”
On the Facebook community news page On The Ground News Report, several comments lambasted the PM’s statement and suggested the boycott.
A user on the page Kiesha Buchanan said “This is very sad. I propose that we boycott all items produced in Trinidad and Tobago. They are allowed in all the markets in the region, but won't allow the same for their caribbean counterparts. Who's with me?”
However, not everyone was in agreement with the boycott.
Law student Marc Ramsay whose note “An Open Letter to Trinidad & Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar” has received attention on Facebook said that a boycott was not practical.
"While I am equally distressed and appalled by her call for reciprocal aid arrangements with our Caribbean neighbours affected by Hurricane Tomas, I implore you not to see revenge as the way forward. I encourage you to see this as a wake up call for our region," he said.
"As young people we now see first hand the deeply embedded attitudes and sentiments held by many of those who govern us. This is not the time to lash out in a way that would affect our brothers and sisters in Trinidad and Tobago who depend on export revenue to feed their families. On the contrary, this is a call for us as young people to use our power to change the system," he continued.