This Week in the Caribbean: From ‘Shithole’ Comments to ‘Wining’ Laws

US President Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. Photo by Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0.

There’s never a dull moment in the Caribbean blogosphere, so to help you keep up, we’ve done a handy little roundup of some of the issues being discussed in different regional territories, for the week ending January 13, 2018:

The ‘shithole countries’

United States president Donald Trump has a tendency to denigrate whatever and whomever, no holds barred. On January 11, at a meeting with lawmakers, Trump insulted Haiti, El Salvador, and several African nations by describing them as “shithole countries” that he did not want residing in the United States.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump asked at the briefing, in response to a proposal to restore protections for immigrants from those countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal, which Trump opposes. He suggested that the US accept immigrants from countries like Norway instead.

Trump later posted a tweet denying the use of such offensive language:

The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made – a big setback for DACA!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2018

DACA refers to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an immigration policy implemented during the Obama administration, which allowed some individuals who illegally entered and stayed in the US as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and to be eligible for a work permit.

Despite Trump’s denial, it did not stop Caribbean netizens — at home and in the diaspora — from immediately weighing in on his comments.

Facebook user Stacey Marcial, who is Caribbean-born but lives in the United States, posted this colourful update:

Trinidadian Patricia Worrell explained why she stood firmly in solidarity with the “shithole countries”:

I don’t grant Mr. Trump, or any American leader, or any other leader of the countries that were once our colonizers, or of the countries that grew rich off our resources and our sweat and blood while we remained dependent, to do the same. I don’t grant people who continue to profit because we often don’t come to the negotiating table with the same resources that right. I don’t grant people who, historically, have helped develop and perpetuate our mindset of dependency, and who are now only too eager to profit from that dependency, that right. And I don’t grant people who are living in countries that, financial status apart, are as much swamps and shitholes as we (sometimes) can be, that right.

Bottom line – all the people who can appropriately claim the right to criticize my country, join me on this side of the line. Let’s cuss ourselves, when necessary, and then continue the struggle.

But – No! Not you, Trump, and not anybody who wasn’t either born here or put their bucket down to struggle and suffer with us on our turf! […]

On Twitter, Facts About Africa summed up the regional reaction (with documentation to back it up):

As President Trump brands Haiti and African countries “shithole countries”, note that it was USA & France that destroyed and pillaged Haiti, the first Black Republic.

A dozen twitter threads cannot contain the atrocities and exploitation of Haiti by USA & France.


— Facts About Africa (@OnlyAfricaFacts) January 12, 2018

Ironically, Trump’s comments coincided with the eighth anniversary of Haiti’s devastating earthquake, in which more than 200,000 people were killed.

Jamaica: Concern over killing of elderly couple

Like some other regional territories, Jamaica continues to grapple with its growing murder rate. Earlier this week, an elderly Jamaican-Canadian couple was found murdered at their vacation home. Located on Jamaica’s south-eastern coast, the house was built to withstand forced entry, so family members suggested that they may have been attacked by someone close to them.

Several Jamaican netizens expressed their concern. Sophia Sewell-Njie was dismayed over the “disgusting contempt for our Elders”, saying that a “double elderly murder […] utterly goes against the grain”.

Nikki Burke commented:

Why are people so heartless? What about Jamaica Land we love? We should be an island of love and beauty yet these people visit to enjoy themselves but they were murdered. No remorse at all. My condolences to their families and friends.

Nadine Scayle-McKenzie, meanwhile, had little faith that the local investigation would be fruitful, and said that she was “happy that the Canadian government [is] getting involved.”

The Jamaica Constabulary Force is investigating, but thus far there have been no arrests.

Trinidad & Tobago: Permission to ‘wine’ at Carnival time

On a lighter note, Trinidad and Tobago netizens are up in arms over a new law which prohibits Carnival enthusiasts participating in the country’s world-famous annual street festival from “thiefing a wine”. (“Thiefing” is local parlance for “stealing”, and a “wine” refers to the hip-rotating dance that is customary during Carnival time.)

Two masqueraders “taking a wine” during Trinidad and Tobago Carnival. Photo by, CC BY-SA 2.0.

The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) warned party-goers that they could be arrested for unsolicited gyrating: its public information officer, Michael Jackman, made it clear that touching someone without their permission is considered assault.

While the women’s rights advocacy group Womantra saw the move as a step in the right direction towards changing the country’s sexist attitudes, saying, “This is an assault, even within the context of Carnival! Let’s change the culture!”, others poked fun at the new law:

Everything is a joke to y’all lol

— Urban 🏝 Island® ✨ (@Urban_Island_) January 11, 2018

Twitter user Rhoda Bharath effectively bridged the gap between the two perspectives:

The No-Wining Law is a clear example of how we have failed to communicate as a society. We scream at each other with gender and body discussions. We have yet to actually talk.

— rhoda bharath (@rhodabharath) January 11, 2018

Written by Atiba Rogers · comments (0)
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Source: Global Voices (published under a Creative Commons license)