Anguilla asked to revisit visa requirements decision
June 9, 2002
Articles on the Caribbean
The Caribbean Congress of Labour (CCL) has written to the government of Anguilla asking that it revisit its decision to impose visa requirements for nationals of Guyana and Jamaica visiting the island in the interest of Caribbean unity.
Meanwhile, the CARICOM Council of Foreign Ministers at its last meeting in St Lucia last month had asked CARICOM Secretary-General, Edwin Carrington to use his goods offices to consult with the Anguillan government on the issue.
At the meeting, the Jamaicans had raised the issue in the context of free movement and the establishment of a single market economy and asked that the secretary-general intercede.
Anguilla, a British self-governing dependency, is an associate member of CARICOM. It has also been reported that the British Virgin Islands was also considering imposing similar visa restrictions.
A CARICOM spokesman told Stabroek News that it was likely that Carrington may travel to Anguilla to consult with the government prior to the upcoming Heads of Government Summit to be held in Guyana from July 3 to July 5.
Urging the Anguillan government to withdraw its decision as early as possible, the CCL, "as the central body of trade unions in the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean" suggested that it should discuss the problems being experienced with the governments of Jamaica and Guyana, and the CARICOM and OECS secretariats.
The decision, the CCL said in a letter dated May 28 to Chief Minister of Anguilla, Osborne Fleming, ran counter to the efforts being made, by the governments of the region to foster the growth of a true Caribbean Community, "something which is highly desirable at this time."
The Anguillan government's action, the CCL said smacked of discrimination against nationals of sister CARICOM countries.
Noting that next month the Caribbean Public Services Association, has scheduled its annual conference for Anguilla, the CCL said that the conference will bring together some 200 to 250 delegates and observers from all over the region including Guyana and Jamaica. The CCL asked "what will be the position of these Caribbean nationals and where are they expected to obtain their visas?"
The CCL also said that it "would welcome the opportunity to meet and have discussions" with the Chief Minister on the issue.
Fleming had told Stabroek News that the influx of Guyanese and Jamaicans to Anguilla seeking jobs had been causing a strain on the island's economy.
CCL General Secretary George De Peana who signed the letter said that he was pleased on behalf of the CCL to extend congratulations to the OECS countries "for their progressive decisions to relax freedom of movement of nationals of OECS states and to allow "hassle-free" entry by such nationals to any OECS state without passports. (Miranda La Rose)