Coming to an Airport Near You


by Caribupdate Weekly

23 March 2017

This past week, the United States and Britain issued an order barring passengers traveling from airports in several Muslim-majority countries from bringing laptops, tablets and other portable electronic devices on board with them when they fly. The British ban also includes some cellphones

We know it’s only a matter of time before the policy is applied to Caribbean-to-the-US and Caribbean-to-the-UK travel; perhaps, not even with Britain or the United States asking us to. We are well-known for being fidgety and ready and willing to do almost anything that will not affect travel to the region and negatively impact tourism and visitor arrival from the Europe and North America.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in America, there has been no region in the world more zealous than the Caribbean in screening passengers – even when in-transit for a few moments – in having travelers remove belts and shoes and other items.

And, there was a time when staff at Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) were preventing Canadian citizens from boarding Canada-bound flights, saying they must be in possession of a valid Canadian passport and could not use any other document to board the aircraft. Many travelers, thus barred at MBIA, after checking with immigration on return to Canada, were told they know of no such policy as being applied in Grenada at the time.

So, anyway, gadget-users, you soon will have to be more circumspect in what modern technology tool you pack when travelling out of Grenada. Because it’s certain that this week’s UK ban that applies to 6 countries, and the American ban – which covers 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries – is coming to an airport and a country near you, including MBIA and Grenada.

The U.S. restrictions were prompted by a growing concern within the Trump administration that terrorists, who have long sought to develop hard-to-detect bombs hidden inside electronic devices, may have put renewed effort into that work.

Now, Caribupdate Weekly would like to use this article to join in the tribute to the late Sir Derek Walcott, one of the great modern poets and writers of the world. And the world recognized his immense talent by awarding him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992. Walcott died last Friday at the age of 87.

Walcott, though born in Saint Lucia, had some direct connection to Grenada. In the 1950s, he taught at the Grenada Boys’ Secondary School.

However, more than his teaching role here, Walcott made an observation on a subject that many Grenadians are uncomfortable discussing; and that is race and colour. Grenadians are in denial on these issues, even though they manifest themselves in daily life including in politics, at the workplace and in the education system. Not too long ago, for example, Catholic Priest Father Gerald Paul lamented that too many parents and teachers still refer to children by calling them derisive names.

Walcott did not like Grenada, complaining that the country was too fixated on class and colour. It’s a provocative observation; one we may do well honestly examining today, to see if it was true back then – when Walcott worked in Grenada – and if true now. And if true, how far we have come – if any – in dealing with the questions of class and colour.

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