By JACK WARNER
Minister of National Security, Stuart Young, needs to make up his mind with regard to the the number of T&T citizens who are still struggling to gain entry into their land of birth.
No other country in the world, regardless how recalcitrant their citizens may have been, has taken a stance to abandon them during this crisis. Why it is therefore that T&T nationals are being disenfranchised by Stuartie and his government at a time when they need their country’s assistance. Memories of Nafeesa Mohammed and her Muslim brothers and sisters readily come to mind.
On March 20, 2020, the Minister of National Security announced the closing of the nation’s borders from midnight Sunday until further notice, which meant a ban on all incoming international passenger flights. This measure was a response to the acclamation that all the confirmed cases of the Coronavirus were reported to be imported; this initiative was to restrict the spread of the virus through importation.
However, as a wave of protest against such action emerged, the Minister’s narrative changed and he shifted the blame to airlines cancelling flights, airline crews calling in sick, other countries closing their borders and as an aside the closure of our borders on the advice of a medical expert.
As bad as President Trump may be heralded, the USA sent airlines to destinations all over the world to make sure that their citizens are given the opportunity to return home; a privilege denied to less than 100 citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.
The truth is that other countries have closed their borders to incoming national flights but they are not averse to countries sending in transport to take their citizens back home; the threat for other countries have to do with incoming and not outgoing travellers.
To abandon our citizens is immoral
To abandon our citizens is immoral and the Government cannot ignore the fact that these persons, as well as their friends and families are taxpayers as well as voters. Some of them have built this country with their sweat and to leave them at the mercy of a foreign State is cruel, unkind and inhumane; worse yet to give a window of just over 24 hours for the closing of our borders is a crime against our people.
Of course, we cannot ignore the fact that some, if not all of them acted irresponsibly and ignored the directive of the Government not to travel except in cases of emergency.
Of course, their level of stupidity extends beyond reasonable comprehension and the angry response of any law abiding citizen would be to leave them out there and let them suffer. But such a response should never come from a government, especially one as the PNM whose mantra is “We care” and “We are in this together”.
These are our people, as stupid and as Covid-19 idiotic as they may be, they are still ours and it will be a national shame to have them people suffer in a foreign land, (and I am talking here specifically about Margarita, Venezuela, a mere seven miles away!) because a Minister of National Security thinks it is a fit punishment and therefore it is alright to do so. No Minister of National Security before Stuart Young would have done that and, hopefully, no other one after him!
Politicians make the most ridiculous decisions in our country, like spending millions to recover buildings at a time when the nation’s belt should be tightening; laughing at citizens for complying; and not rebelling with their own orders to pay increased rates for fuel at the pump; and shutting down our oil industry despite the fact that all the experts said it was wrong to do so. And yes we have not abandoned these politicians…….at least not yet.
Among the people out there are citizens who would have voted for this Government and even if they are abandoned now and they manage to get home for the elections, they would still vote for the Government in spite of the fact this is a Government that is cold, callous and uncaring.
Do the right thing, Minister Young
This is a time when the least we should display is a spirit of forgiveness; the least must be a spirit of magnanimity, not acts that are autocratic or authoritarian. In spite of how foolish some persons could be, we still need to extend the milk of human kindness to them and send a flight or flights if it comes to that and bring them home. We can even send them one of our highly expensive and much under-utilised Tobago ferries but, for God’s sake, send something!
Should any citizen fall ill in a foreign land, does the Minister of National Security Stuart Young believe that they will receive priority treatment above the citizens of that country?
Does Stuart Young believe that another country will waste its resources trying to save the life of a Trinbagonian over the saving of the lives of their own?
Is this the kind of indignity that the Minister of National Security is inviting for citizens of this proud country?
There is nothing wrong in extending the deadline to bring our people home, nothing absurd about seeking the interest and welfare of our people, nothing immoral about incurring expenditure by sending a flight to take care of the little “red, white and blacks” in Margarita. That is what we are expected to do for our people.
For our citizens we are “their ride or die” regardless of how silly or even ungrateful they may behave. In other words, Minister Young, they are our sons and daughters.
As a former Minister of National Security such a thought would have never entered my mind. The idea to forsake my own would never have never been entertained because as long as you are from this country, I would have never placed a citizen to be the object of humiliation and derision in another man’s land. Not me!
The Minister of National Security is wrong. Every effort should be made to bring our people home, especially at this time.
Do the right thing Mr. Minister and open our borders until our prodigal sons and daughters return.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This articdle was written at noon on Monday March 23rd 2020.