Some security measures for CWC should become permanent
By Heppilena Ferguson
March 30, 2007
Caricom Chairman and Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph Gonsalves believes that some of the security mechanisms adopted by Caricom states for Cricket World Cup should be looked at for permanent implementation. However he doubts that the Single Domestic Space would survive after the event.
Gonsalves is in Guyana on a three-day visit to the Caricom Secretariat and yesterday declared opened a timely mini-exhibition there under the theme, 'Celebrating West Indies Cricket'.
That exhibition consists of memorabilia of West Indies cricket: pictures of former teams, balls, boots and literature compiled about the team all displayed in the lobby of the headquarters building.
Staff also performed a skit imitating the opening and what takes places during a regular match being played by the West Indies.
Later Gonsalves met the media and was questioned about the likelihood of his government permanently adopting some of the measures which the region was forced to implement to enable the successful hosting of the CWC games in accordance with the International Cricket Council standards.
He was pessimistic as regards the survival of the Single Domestic Space. "I am doubtful whether this will survive CWC, because that involves among other things the suspension of visa abolition agreements and it is problematic for the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines to suspend, on an ongoing basis, its visa abolition agreements…," he said.
He said beyond CWC he would not support the suspension of the visa abolition agreement because of the nature and level of the co-operation and relations between Cuba and St Vincent.
Similarly he referred to an agreement between his government and the government of Ethiopia, which allows Vincentians to travel hassle free to that country.
"A Rastafarian brother or sister who sees Ethiopia as their connection with Africa and represents a certain level of spirituality …I will facilitate this process which I think is a process which is valid...I am not a Rastafarian but policies are not made based on what I am or what I'm not," Gonsalves said to an attentive media corps.
"So I don't think this would survive the world cup unless you have some real big changes in the arrangements," he said.
He was somewhat more optimistic about the advanced passenger information system. "I think this is something that is worthwhile and should stay," Gonsalves said while noting that the world cup precipitated this system in St Vincent.
He said through that information network, already the region has been able to catch some of the "bad guys and gals" and to limit their space of operations.
"In relation to criminals it is important to narrow the space within which they are allowed to operate," he said
He said too that the area of Caribbean security, sharing of information and sharing of personnel is another feature that should continue.
He explained that the independent territories of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and Barbados have a regional system where security is shared on an ongoing basis.
According to Gonsalves, those countries have coordinated Coast Guard and overflight operations, which provide tremendous intelligence for the capture of those involved in trafficking in narcotics, small arms and even human beings.
"That kind of co-operation has extended region wide and I think we need to continue that and very much so," he said. In countries such as Trini-dad and Tobago, Suriname, Guyana in this part of the Caribbean it's very important, he said. "…We all know the bulk of the cocaine comes through certain Latin Ameri-can countries and they have different points where they have franchises."
He said it was important that the region, now more than ever, works together to narrow the spaces of those guilty of these offences.
At the opening ceremony of the exhibition Gonsalves was treated to a hearty welcome by the staff of the secretariat. Caricom Secretary-General Edwin Carrington in brief yet witty remarks sent strong messages for Caricom member countries.
Expressing hope that the West Indies might still be able to win the CWC trophy, he noted that cricket still remained the most remarkable unifying force for Caribbean countries.
"I don't know of any other area of regional endeavour in which we are able to do this like the way we have done it in cricket," he said.
He said he hoped the West Indies performance yesterday in the match against New Zealand was not a reflection of the region's commitment to achieving goals and urged that the Caricom Secretariat was prepared to "pick up the mantle" and set things right.
Carrington also joked about his desire as a young boy to make it to the West Indies team and of being awakened by Sir Garfield Sobers who made him realize that he was not playing cricket but a game of "bat and ball".