If there is one thing that has brought a damper on the Diaspora Homecoming is the treatment meted out to our nationals while in transit at the Piarco International Airport in Trinidad and Tobago on their way back to Canada and the United States.
The complaint from our people is that officials at PIARCO were confiscating their rum and preventing them from taking the products to their final destination in North America.
THE NEW TODAY newspaper understands that the problem could be as a result of the amount of proof in some of the Grenadian rum products and their eligibility to enter the Canadian markets.
But the worrying problem is the complaint from our nationals that after confiscating their rum, the Trinidadians are telling them that they will have to buy rum from the twin island republic if they want to take any of the products up to Canada and the United States.
The subtle message seems to be that Trinidad is not prepared to allow rum from Grenada to land on their territory for transhipment to North America.
This action on the part of some people in Trinidad and Tobago smells very fishy and the government of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas and the Ministry of Trade in particular needs to investigate the complaint.
The issue was first brought to the attention of this newspaper about a week ago by a national who was in-transit at Piarco to Montreal when his one bottle of Jack Iron which was purchased at MBIA duty free was confiscated.
He indicated that the person who took away the rum informed him that he would not be permitted to pass through with the rum from Grenada, but if he had bought the product in Trinidad it would be allowed.
However, the issue was made officially public by Toronto-based Grenadian, Hudson George, who is a regular writer and contributor of articles to many publications in the region.
George did a lengthy piece on August 23, 2012, entitled, “Grenadians should avoid traveling through Trinidad in transit” in which he highlighted his encounter with officials at PIARCO with three bottles of local rums that he was taking with him to Canada.
He had bought the rum legally at a duty free shop at the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) and had his receipt as proof of purchase.
When he inquired why he could not take the rum with him on board his Canadian bound flight, this was the response of a Supervisor at the PIARCO Airport: “She told me I cannot travel with the items, and I will have to buy liquor in the Trinidad airport, if I want to travel from Trinidad to Canada with liquor. I asked her if she know anything about CARICOM laws in terms of trade among CARICOM member nations. She said it does not matter in such a case. I asked her if she knows anything about the Treaty of Chaguaramas, signed by leaders of CARICOM countries, of which Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada are members. She refused to answer”.
This issue of the treatment of Grenadian rum products by in-transit passengers at Piarco needs urgent attention by the authorities in Grenada.
If some local rum products are illegal in Canada then the liquor stores at MBIA ought to advise passengers.
But our information is that there are several rum products in Grenada that have qualified for entry into Canada and fall within their rum proof requirements.
Our people must be allowed to take any of these qualified rum products into Canada and do not fall prey to the actions of Trinidad and Tobago to block all Grenadian rum products and instead instruct our people to buy their rum to take to Canada.
This is discrimination and not in-keeping with the spirit of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the movement of goods and services.
The Trinidadians must not be allowed to get away with any unfortunate and illegal acts against our people.
This treatment reminds us of the 1979-83 period of the Grenada Revolution when our nationals were subjected to all kinds of unnecessary searches and abuse at neighbouring airports especially Barbados.
The Security, Immigration and Customs officials were often engaged in a dress down search of Grenadians for arms and ammunition because of our experiment with Marxism/Leninism/Communism.
The situation was compounded by the fact that there was an open war of hostility between Marxist Prime Minister Maurice bishop and his Barbadian counterpart, the late Tom Adams who was often on the side of some of the most vicious attacks from the powers-that-be in St. George’s.
The words that were often used by high-ranking officials in Grenada including Bishop and Foreign Affairs Minister, Unison Whiteman was that Adams was a “yard fowl” to US Imperialism in the region.
It is not sure whether Adams retaliated by giving orders to his people at the Grantley Adams International Airport to engage in intensive searches of Grenadians passing through that airport.
In the interest of Caribbean integration, unity and harmony, the rum problem in Trinidad needs to be trashed out and a simple telephone call by PM Thomas to Prime Minister Kamala Bissessar could start the ball rolling.
THE NEW TODAY would like to end by joining with the rest of the Grenadian family in extending a Spice Island Welcome to our sporting icon, Kirani James on his first visit to his homeland following the historic gold run at the London Olympics.
The exploits of Kirani has become the most single issue that has helped to bring unity among our people and take away the minds of Grenadians from the many recent negatives including the Motion of No-Confidence filed before Parliament by the unfortunate Karl Hood, Member of Parliament for St. George South-east.