Don't shoot the messenger

Minister of Foreign and Caricom Affairs Dr Amery Browne.  Photo by Jeff K Mayers
Minister of Foreign and Caricom Affairs Dr Amery Browne. Photo by Jeff K Mayers

SEVERAL aspects of Monday’s meeting convened by Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Amery Browne and Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds with the US Embassy’s chargé d’affaires Shanté Moore suggest it was a gratuitous exercise.

The meeting was reportedly held to discuss an updated US travel advisory which has now moved this country from Level 2 (exercise increased caution) to Level 3 (reconsider travel).

A media release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs quoted Mr Moore as saying he would convey the views expressed at the meeting to the US Department of State, whose Bureau of Consular Affairs is responsible for travel advisories.

But why Dr Browne and Mr Hinds felt it appropriate to hold discussions in person with Mr Moore, who holds the lowest rank of diplomatic representation at the embassy, is unclear.

Both ministers must have already known there is an incoming, substantive US ambassador.

It was only a few months ago that Candace Bond was put forward by US officials as the next ambassador to this country. Her nomination was confirmed in the US Senate by voice vote in September, and she was sworn in on Monday – the same day as the ministers’ meeting.

The Government grumbled about the last travel advisory issued by the US and with the latest advisory escalating warnings further, the ministers may have wished to escalate their own response by calling in Mr Moore.

But if they were truly serious about continuing ongoing collaboration between TT and the US to address the issues highlighted by the advisory, surely it would have made more sense to take things up with the ambassador herself?

And surely it would make sense to take up a matter to which there is a plausible reason to object?

While Dr Browne and Mr Hinds clearly felt there was some urgency to the issue, their Cabinet colleague, Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell – whose portfolio is arguably most affected – on Wednesday said he was “not too concerned” about the advisory.

Yet judging from the Government’s reaction to this country’s previous Level 2 ranking and the urgency with which two senior ministers convened a meeting about the latest advisory, it is clear it is a source of concern, despite Mr Mitchell’s statement.

No one can contest that the crime rate is spiralling.

So much so, the police are preparing to heighten their patrols this Christmas. They will do so without a top cop in place, thanks to the latest delays in that recruitment process.

With a new crime record being superseded each day, the Government’s continued focus on these travel advisories, the contents of which are based on facts that are clear for all to see, is baffling.

Cabinet officials should stop wasting time shooting the messenger and focus instead on the task at hand: reducing crime.


"Don’t shoot the messenger"

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