Jamaicans appear split on calls for a boycott of goods made in Trinidad and Tobago, but an overwhelming majority are up in arms over the decision by that country to refuse entry to 13 Jamaicans, including a child, late last year.
Last November, a campaign was launched for a boycott of Trinidadian goods, following news that immigration officers had refused entry to the 13 Jamaicans. At that time, it appeared that local consumers were ready to stop buying biscuits, juices, peanuts, and other goods made in Trinidad and Tobago that stock the shelves of stores and supermarkets islandwide.
The call seemed to be getting traction as segments of the commercial sector as well as the parliamentary Opposition seemed set to join the boycott.
But a recently completed test of the public pulse commissioned by Jamaica National Building Society and done by Johnson Survey Research showed less than four in every ten Jamaicans (38 per cent) are supporting the boycott call. According to the survey, a plurality of those interviewed, 46 per cent, or a shade below half, said no to the boycott while 16 per cent were unmoved either way.
The public response is a disappointment for rural, primary-school teacher Kesreen Green Dillon, who initiated the boycott using the social media.
“I am very, very disappointed,” Green Dillon said. “So many things have been going on and so many Jamaicans targeted and I think a boycott would give us a chance to buy Jamaican, which would help us grow,” she added.
She accepted that persons would have formed their position based on their socialisation, but questioned how could Jamaicans not support a boycott in light of the many reports of unfair treatment by immigration officers in that country.
The latest incident came last week when a popular local actor claimed that he and his wife were singled out and mistreated by Trinidadian officials last Monday, shortly after arriving in Port of Spain.
But the less-than-convincing support for the boycott came despite the vast majority of Jamaicans, 75 per cent, saying they were aware of the incident when the 13 people were turned back at the Piarco International Airport, and 61 per cent was adamant that the Trinidadians were wrong in their action, even though officials in the twin-island republic have repeatedly denied that they were locked out because they were from Jamaica.
Only 15 per cent of the respondents agreed with the decision to refuse the Jamaicans entry.
The Trinidadians have listed several reasons for denying entry to the Jamaicans, including no indication of how they would finance their stay.
“For all 13 cases, the immigration officers had good reason to deny them entry,” Trinidad’s Minister of National Security, Gary Griffith, told The Gleaner recently, as he listed individual reasons why the persons were denied entry.
A total of 1,008 residents of Jamaica aged 18 and older were interviewed across the island in the survey conducted on December 7, 8, 14 and 15, 2013.