By Hudson George
Based on race and ethnicity, the majority of citizens within the CARICOM bloc are black people. They are the major consumers of manufacturing products made in Trinidad and Tobago and Dominican Republic but it seems as though they are the ones suffering the most in terms of enjoying freedom of movement, while the political leaders within the union keep talking nonsense about Caribbean integration.
Hudson George has a BA in Social Science from York University, Toronto, Canada. He has been writing since his early teenage years and now contributes letters and articles to a number of Caribbean newspapers
As we can see these days, some real stupid political things are happening among some CARICOM nations. The Dominican Republic government passed a new law in parliament to expel their own citizens who were born of Haitian immigrants. The citizens they are trying to expel are black people. Further down south, Trinidad and Tobago immigration refused entry to 13 Jamaican visitors. The Jamaican visitors are also black people too. And knowing the amount of national pride Jamaicans hold on to, they are asking their government to boycott all trading business with Trinidad and Tobago.
With all these foolish dramas taking place in the Caribbean, people from other parts of the world must be laughing at us and saying we are really stupid. For instance, Haiti and the Dominican Republic share a common border, on the second largest Caribbean island. And those of us who read a lot of Caribbean history know full well that the majority of Haitian immigrants were invited to the Dominican Republic to work on large sugar cane plantations owned by rich white foreigners mainly living in the United States of America. These Haitian workers received very little money for their labour and their living conditions are of very poor standard. As a matter of fact, most of them are still doing the same job as cane cutters, while native Dominicans refuse to do that job.
However, as CARICOM extends membership to non English-speaking Caribbean countries, Haiti has become a member and the Dominican Republic has applied to join the bloc. With membership given to Haiti, the black population of the union outnumbers the other races within CARICOM. So being that the Dominicans do not consider themselves as black people and they do not want other Caribbean blacks to be a part of their society, the big question is why do they want to join CARICOM in the first place?
No one is saying that all Dominicans are racists and only citizens of the Dominican Republic are racists within the CARICOM nations. There is racism among East Indians and Africans in Trinidad and Guyana and in those two countries the political parties’ power base relies on their ethnic group for support during general election. Most black Trinidadians vote for the PNM and most East Indians vote for the UNC. However, in the case of the Dominican Republic, it seems as though there is a small white political elite class that controls the two major political parties and they brainwashed the mulattoes to disassociate themselves from the black race. With that type of tomfoolery, the vast majority of Dominicans claim to be mixed race and they see themselves superior to the Haitians.
In addition, while the white ruling class in the Dominican Republic socially and politically constructed racism against black people, in some English-speaking Caribbean islands the mulattoes, as a small minority ethnic group, control the political power. These educated mulattoes play the borderline games with majority blacks, who are very naive about racism. For instance, most black people believe that mulattoes are black, as they are. However, they fail to realise that some mulattoes pretend to be black when it suits their interest and hold on to their black side of their family for political gains. When they get the opportunity to grab on to leadership role, they talk the most about black people’s struggle and some folks are happy to hear them give great speeches about European colonialism and imperialism.
On the other hand, the rivalry between Trinidadians and Jamaicans to prove who is the most dominant within the English-speaking Caribbean is a waste of time. If Trinidadians are smart people, they should learn from Jamaicans’ mistakes. For example, Alexander Bustamante used his political influence and convinced the majority of black Jamaicans to cut ties with the other English-speaking Caribbean islands. Now, Jamaicans are traveling and making their homes in other CARICOM countries. They are seeking safety, comfort and peace in those same little Caribbean countries they used to refer to as small islands.
Trinidadians should take heed and stop acting as though they can survive on their own because they have oil and gas money. The so-called poorer Caribbean countries are not forcing Trinidad and Tobago to be a member of CARICOM. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissassar has the free will to withdraw her country from Caribbean integration. But as long as she keeps her country's membership within the CARICOM bloc, immigration officials are supposed to suppose to treat Jamaicans with respect, when they land at Piarco International Airport, as CARICOM visitors.
Basically, the movement of people on this planet Earth did not just start in this century. Human beings have always traveled from place to place and no immigration can stop that exodus moment, even if they try. And among CARICOM nations, the vast majority of citizens are descendants of immigrants. The two major ethnic groups in Trinidad and Tobago are not indigenous. They are immigrants brought to the twin islands by Europeans to work on the plantations as slaves and indentured labourers. Other people migrated there on their own later on.
Additionally, nobody knows the future. We do not know what will happen in the next decade. Maybe in the next ten years Haiti and Jamaica might be oil producing countries and other CARICOM citizens will be traveling to those two countries looking for employment. For example, in the 1990s, lots Caribbean people migrated to Venezuela, the Dutch Antilles, Panama and British Guiana searching for a better life. Now lots of Guyanese are traveling to the other English-speaking Caribbean islands because the economic situation in Guyana is not good as in the past.
However, in order for the Caribbean integration movement to succeed, the immigration authorities must not target the majority of its citizens, who are really black people. And as long as decent law abiding CARICOM citizens cannot travel freely, Caribbean integration is doomed. The Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago have to get the message clear. Caribbean integration is not all about selling manufacturing products to other CARICOM member states with a majority of black people for economic profit. The human resources within the CARICOM bloc are more important than manufacturing products from Trinidad and Tobago and Dominican Republic. The human race is one race. Law abiding CARICOM black citizens must be respected, if we want Caribbean integration.