Washington (Perhaps Unwittingly) Unleashes Another Onslaught on an Already Preca
Date: Wednesday, November 22 2006
Tuesday, November 21st, 2006
Press Releases, Front Page, Caribbean
Washington (Perhaps Unwittingly) Unleashes Another Onslaught on an Already Precarious Caribbean Economy
Just as the predecessor Clinton administration dealt a mortal blow to the Caribbean banana sector in exchange for a hefty donation from the then head of the Chiquita Corp., Karl Linder. President Bush’s initiative – perhaps inadvertently – similarly could bring great woe upon the Caribbean tourism industry
The WHTI will foster crime and illicit money laundering throughout the Caribbean, stimulate drug trafficking, and encourage illegal immigration, thus undermining important regional interests and objectives
The Clinton administration, fought to strip away the preferential benefits provided by the Lomé agreement to small-scale banana producers in the English-speaking Caribbean. This was done at the behest of campaign donor and CEO of Chiquita banana, Karl Linder. Just as with the Clinton initiative, the Bush administration’s Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) is now heedlessly threatening the region’s all-important tourist business, regardless of the negative consequences that could follow. These include increased drug trafficking because gainful employment will be more difficult to find.
On October 4, President George W. Bush signed into law the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which will severely impede travel by U.S. citizens to the Caribbean. Beginning January 8, 2007, U.S. citizens, specifically those returning by air from any Caribbean destination, will be required to carry passports. By June 1, 2009, more than two years and a half later, this mandate will also begin to apply to those taking cruises and making border crossings as well as start being applicable in Mexico and Canada. The leading Caribbean hotelier, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, has described the initiative as “the single most destructive economic catastrophe that could happen, short of a nuclear attack on Caribbean countries.” While this may be hyperbole, nevertheless, the effects of the WHTI are sure to be widespread and will prompt a series of damaging consequences upon the Caribbean tourism industry as well as causing significant job losses. Essentially, the WHTI translates into an act of trade war against a series of Caribbean nations with already marginal economies, and their ministers of tourism, who will soon witness an undeniable reduction in the inflow of U.S. dollars. Caribbean officials will have to stand by, watching a shrinking economic sector incomparably vital to the region’s survival. More crime, drug trafficking, money laundering and illegal immigration is sure to come about as a result of a loss of jobs stemming from cut backs in the local tourism industry.