STEPHEN CADIZ, former tourism minister, yesterday took to Facebook to strongly disagree with statements by Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell that “the law is the law” as the latter justified the recent punishment of a Canadian for having three keyrings each made of the brass casing of a bullet.
Arima senior magistrate Joanne Connor fined businessman Brian Doubt $5,000 for trying to board a Caribbean Airlines flight to Toronto after an estate police officer found the items on him last Tuesday at Piarco International Airport, where he was in transit from Guyana.
Doubt was also jailed for a week at the Maximum Security Prison, Arouca while awaiting trial. Mitchell said, “They must obey the laws of TT in the same way TT citizens are subject to, and must obey and observe, the laws of the jurisdictions they travel to including Canada.”
Doubt has since gone public in Canada with his travails, warning people not to visit TT. Cadiz lamented the incident, as did many other commentators on his Facebook page and online generally.
He said the issue with tourism in TT is not so much a lack of five-star resort rooms but much more to do with the level of service in all areas, as shown by the Doubt case.
Cadiz wrote: “The jailed Canadian with the ‘bullet’ key chain is a prime example of officialdom gone crazy. Surely the individual could have been told of the laws of this country, while they seize the stupid empty casing ‘bullet’ and send the guy on his way. Instead, we create a news story that shows the country, not only a negative light but as the individual says ‘ not a place to visit’. When are we going to get it?”
A commentator on Cadiz’ thread agreed, adding, “It’s ironic that they would jail a tourist for having a bullet casing necklace or whatever and bandits with seemingly endless supplies of guns/ammo roam at large. Way to go, TT, showing that you’re so ‘tough.’ Another reason for tourists to go elsewhere.”
Cadiz yesterday told Newsday, “To charge a man and put him in jail for a week is really, really backward. “He wasn’t threatening anyone. He was in transit from Guyana to Toronto. The security at the airport should have just used their discretion. They should have simply told him the laws of TT are very strict and just confiscated it.”
This was not how you build your tourism image, Cadiz said. “This was a case of using a sledgehammer to kill an ant.”