Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Do as we say, not as we do

Angry over the treatment of their children by a Caribbean neighbor, they came out by the thousands – young and old, rich and poor, artists and athletes.

For three hours Saturday, they braved the sweltering heat, singing, dancing and walking shoulder-to-shoulder in an unusual display of Haitian solidarity to protest what they are calling Jamaica’s discriminatory and humiliating treatment of Haiti’s Under-17 soccer players during a World Cup qualifying tournament in Montego Bay.

. . . According to Dr. Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, the team was forced to withdraw from the competition after Jamaican authorities were pressured to send them home because several members became ill with a fever that was later determined to be malaria.

Jean-Bart, a medical doctor, said the problems began as soon as the delegation of 28 arrived in Montego Bay on Feb. 3. The players were immediately subjected to medical screenings at the airport. Days later, two of the players came down with malaria. After Bart visited a local pharmacy to get medication, Jamaican authorities showed up in the team’s locker room with a medical brigade and armed security, he said.

After more tests and visits, the Haitian team was told that everyone would have to undergo testing. Bart said team members were later placed in quarantine and armed guards "blocked the exit" preventing team members from leaving.

. . . "It was so urgent for them to get rid of us that they chartered an airplane that had 176 seats, all the way from Washington, D.C., to Montego Bay to come get us," he said. The delegation had 28 members. Bart said he believes Jamaican authorities reacted the way they did because they believed the players had cholera.

Jamaica subjected a group of foreign visitors from Haiti to medical screenings at the airport. After two of the group of foreign visitors developed malaria, the entire group was subjected to medical tests and visits. Thereafter, the entire group was placed in quarantine (under armed guard), and then expelled from Jamaica and deported back to Haiti.

Yet, for some reason, Jamaica went on record as opposed to the Arizona law which might require Jamaicans in the United States to produce their driver's license and passport upon reasonable request.

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