Muslim Terrorists Fearful Of Sea Travel – Therefore Visas Are Not Necessary For Cruise Ship Passengers
IF THE TITLE of this article seems rather absurd, it is no more so than the Cricket World Cup visa policies laid down by “Mama Mia” Mottley and the CARICOM Security Committee that she chairs. For the last while, Mottley, the Deputy Prime Minister of Barbados, has been hitting the stumps telling all who will listen that “It’s all about security” and the ever-useful put-off, “It’s secret. You just don’t understand.”
If it were it only so.
Swiss Catholics Aren’t The Only Threat… Gotta watch New Zealanders as well. Those Killer Kiwis can’t be trusted!
According to Mottley’s CARICOM Security Committee, Catholic citizens of Luxembourg and Switzerland pose a far greater risk to Barbados than, say, identified Muslim terror cell members in Canada, America and the UK who are able to attend the Cricket World Cup without a visa.
The “security” aspect of the CWC visa policy is an absolute farce, but Mia and her peers can’t bring themselves to admit it.
Here are a few words about Cricket World Cup visas from two no-nothings: Barbados hotelier Adrian Loveridge, and ex-Caribbean diplomat, Sir Ronald Sanders.
Take it away, Adrian and Ronny…
It was explained to us that the reason why a Caricom visa was required and belatedly implemented for certain nationalities including citizens from Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg and even neutral Switzerland was due to ‘security concerns’.
We are asked to believe that citizens from these particular countries pose a greater threat that others.
Of course, without the information the authorities have, it’s a difficult point to argue.
But wait a minute! If these nationals are a higher risk, why is it that they can arrive on and be accommodated on one of the ‘up to 18 cruise ships’ moored in Bridgetown harbour and not require that same ‘security’ Caricom visa?
This according to a query I made to the Caricom IMPACS team who eventually responded stating ‘Cruise ship passengers on ships in port for less than 24 hours are not required to have the Caricom visa, despite their nationality’.
Is the rationale that those people contemplating terrorism acts only arrive by plane?
That should make it considerable easier for our security services!
20 January 2007
And Now From Sir Ronny…
To visa or not to visa: The challenge of tourism and terrorism
Anyone who has marketed or promoted tourism to the Caribbean knows that it is a tough business. Caribbean countries are competing amongst themselves and against many other countries around the world, and the slightest inconvenience imposed by one destination sends the potential tourist seeking a more accommodating location.
Therefore when hotels, tourist boards and tour operators have spent years of time and lots of money cultivating a market, they are rightfully seriously disturbed when events take place that adversely affect it.
Such is the case with the special visa now required by ten Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries for visitors between February 1st and 15th May except for certain designated states.
The ostensible purpose of this special visa was to create into a single space those ten countries that are hosting the 2007 Cricket World Cup (CWC) tournament. Persons in possession of the visa would not need to get 10 separate visas.
In other words, the visa was meant to facilitate ease of travel between the countries.
Logically, the special visa should have applied to those countries whose nationals previously required visas to enter any or all of the ten CARICOM host countries.
Thus, nationals of India and Pakistan, for instance, who always needed a visa to enter certain CARICOM countries should have been able to get one visa for travel to all the countries where the CWC games are to be played.
And, nationals of those countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, who did not need visas in the past, should continue not to require visas and should be able to travel freely to these countries to see the games.
Further, nationals of non-cricket playing countries, who have not needed visas in the past to come to the Caribbean on holiday, should continue not to require visas.
Curiously, the idea of one visa for all ten countries in order to facilitate the tens of thousands expected to attend the CWC games got turned on its head.
The special visa is no longer a document to facilitate the travel of people coming to more than one country for cricket; it has been transformed into an instrument to combat terrorism.
In this connection, people from countries that never required a visa now have to have the special visa. Thus, Australians and New Zealanders (two cricket playing countries) have joined Indians and Pakistanis in the requirement to have a special visa. But, nationals of South Africa and the United Kingdom (two other cricket playing nations) don’t need visas even though both Britain and South Africa require nationals of some Caribbean countries to have visas to enter their countries.
Others requiring visas are nationals of Sweden, Denmark and Austria who are among those tourists who come to the Caribbean during this time of year. But, Japanese are exempt even though they constitute a smaller number of tourists to the Caribbean than the Scandinavian countries and Austria.
The criteria used for deciding which countries should require visas and which are exempt is, of course, unknown to us. However, all the official statements point to a necessity to ensure the security of the host countries from terrorism.
Logically, if one were to strictly apply this criteria, nationals of Britain and Canada should require a visa. For the British police have confirmed that there are approximately 200 terrorist cells in the United Kingdom that are under surveillance, and there have been two terrorist incidents there since 9/11. Similarly, Canada has had warnings of terrorism from militant groups.
There have been no reports of terrorist cells in Denmark and Sweden and, indeed, none in New Zealand.
The further curious thing about this Special Visa is that the application form requires no information that could reasonably help to identify a terrorist. In fact, it is less investigative than visa application forms used by some CARICOM consulates abroad. For example, it requires no evidence of a return ticket or a list of the hotels (or other places) where the visitor intends to stay, or proof that the accommodation has been paid for.
It does ask if the applicant has been convicted of a criminal offence – a box which any terrorist would be most unlikely to tick in the affirmative.
At the bottom line of all this, those officials charged with the security of the 10 countries that are hosting the World Cup Cricket tournament have a tough job.
If something happens, they will be criticised heavily for not doing enough and for not adequately vetting visitors during this important period when tens of thousands of persons are expected to pour into the area. Their extreme caution is, therefore, understandable.
But, instead of requiring visas from countries that did not previously require one, and which will revert to not requiring one when World Cup Cricket is over, would it not have been a better way to vet potential terrorists by getting the cooperation of the authorities in the US, UK and other countries to provide a list of people on their watch list and to compare passengers entering the country against such a list?
Such lists do exist. After 9/11, US authorities sent governments all over the world a long list of people suspected of financing terrorism with a request that their assets be seized. What is more airlines are required to send passenger lists with detailed information prior to landing at US airports so that immigration and security officials are prepared for doubtful persons.
As it is, after World Cup Cricket, hotels and tourist officials will have an enormous task wooing back those visitors who have been turned off, and explaining to them that a visa will no longer be required. And, then, of course, the Caribbean still has to find an effective way of dealing with any potential terrorist threat long after the games are over.
… Sir Ronald Sanders at Caribbean360.COM (link here)