Editorâ€™s note:This is a guest post from Danielle Edwards – a Literature and History student and an aspiring Journalist.
Weeks after our Caricom leadersâ€™ agreement to market regional destinations as part of a complete â€˜One Caribbeanâ€™ regional experience instead of individual island territories, weâ€™re faced with the growing challenges of sharing each otherâ€™s problemsâ€¦
In the heat of this summerâ€™s Carnival festivities, the brutal murder of a British couple honeymooning in Antigua has sparked outrage among locals, government officials and foreigners alike.
Only a fortnight after blissfully cutting their wedding cake together, the Mullanys were attacked and shot before sunrise at their secluded luxury cottage in the Cocos Hotel last week. A Â£66,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of their murderers, and authorities in Antigua & Barbuda are now scrambling to implement â€˜extraordinary measuresâ€™ and â€˜beef up securityâ€™ to prevent such incidents from happening again.
Unfortunately, it seems like officials may be trying to play this off as an isolated incident as they are extremely frantic about the countryâ€™s tourism image. The Tourism Minister Mr. Harold Lovell has said that â€˜This isolated incident has deeply shocked our community and we wish to reassure visitors that Antigua and Barbuda is a safe destinationâ€™. This move has not gone unnoticed by the international media. According to a BBC news report, â€˜people who live there sayâ€¦that crime is increasingâ€™.
There have been a whopping 10 murders so far in Antigua for the year in addition to numerous incidents of armed robbery and sexual assault- a big number for a little island. Most of these crimes remain unsolved, but some persons have, unbelievably, found comfort in the fact that the majority of homicides have been committed against locals and not foreigners. However there is no doubt that the crime rate is far too high. In 2006 alone there were 19 killings.
Many Antiguans are upfront about the problem, citing gang war as the underlying menace. There are allegedly more than 10 territorial gangs on the island! In fact, days before the Mullanys were murdered police discovered 100 rounds of .38 ammunition and a gunmanâ€™s mask in a local residence.
But while some of us may be inclined to brush this incident off as an Antiguan problem, in reality it has implications for the wider Caribbean. It comes just weeks after our Caricom leaders decided to market the region jointly as part of a ‘One Caribbean’ marketing campaign.
Since, according to Mr. Ralph Gonsalves, â€˜We donâ€™t have the resources to be aggressive individuallyâ€™, our Caribbean nations will no longer be promoted as single islands, but jointly as a regional destination. There will no longer be different places and faces- we will all share one face for the prospective tourist.
While this agreement certainly has potential economic benefits, one of its foreseeable implications is likely to be that the negative impact of crimes such as the Mullanysâ€™ murder on the Antiguan tourism industry would also be shared by other islands such as Dominica and St. Lucia. In other words, one islandâ€™s crime would inescapably affect the image of all the islands.
Already, territories like Jamaica, which has one of the highest crime rates in the world, and Trinidad & Tobago are grappling with the suppression of crime at home.
So the question arises- have our leaders prepared themselves adequately for this new tourism strategy? Itâ€™s worth wondering whether or not they are all currently aware of the circumstances surrounding this particular crime, which has already prompted several flight cancellations to Antigua, and the fact that its criminal investigations are being impeded by a â€˜code of silenceâ€™.
We the people know how wonderful life is in the Caribbean, but many tourists can be easily discouraged from visiting the region by atrocious crimes, many of which are never easily solved. And now, our leaders are faced with the challenge of fighting crime all over the Caribbean and not only in their home territories- whether they wish to accept this reality or not.
And they may not be quite ready to deal with this challenge.
Sources: TheSun.co.uk & BBC.co.uk/Caribbean
I love Antigua. I hope this does not effect tourism adversely. Crime is every where.. Sometimes it is just bad timing.. My heart goes out to their families.
Poverty and lack of opportunity breed crime. And I think that bad examples, such as that provided by “gangsta” media encourage it. We need leadership in education from government and within families. We are English-speaking, so why are we not providing on-line services like India, for example? That provides opportunity and income. We should not be content to be consigned to agriculture and tourism.
I agree with you 100%, Dan – there are lots of opportunities to provide customer service as well as other online services – I have worked from home successfully with nothing more than a phone line and internet connection for the last 5 years.
I have also helped numerous people set up and run their online businesses. Besides customer service, the number of online businesses include recruiting, freight brokering, sales, blogging, graphic design, website development and promotion. All that is needed is a focus on businesses (outside of manufacturing that require special equipment and infrastructure) and coming up with a set model for large companies to view the cost savings. Particularly in the area of customer service, the greatest complaint Americans have in particular is that while the customer service representatives in India do speak English, at times the accent makes it difficult to understand what they are saying. This is the perfect opportunity for Dominica.
While tourism can be a lucrative business, it is not without its problems – you must change your infrastructure at times to accommodate the tourists, given that they are transient, they do not at times bring the respect to your culture that is due and sometimes inadvertently begin to change your society. Small things like movies and television shows that desensitize children to violence against their fellow man and video games that encourage children to stay in and lose their socialization skills do have a profound impact. This is of course one persons humble opinion based on what I have observed in my own home – my children do not watch television at home because I refuse to buy one and I do not allow video games or unsupervised internet activities – no IPOD either – all staples for a healthy childhood according to the average American child. When they are home, particularly in the summer and away from the influences of school, they learn to make Jam from our fruit trees, plant flowers, sew purses, volunteer and in the case of my daughter, write a book. They also have time to read books that inspire them to think about their place in the world. When I let them visit relatives for a short period, who have all the above mentioned items necessary for a happy childhood (so I am told), the change in behavior is drastic, (not positively so), my son has nightmares and we have to go through what I now call the “detox” period where we have to reintroduce them to the idea that the value of a man is not in what he has but rather his character.
I can understand why there has been an increasing level of crime throughout the world and it is directly related to this negative cultural infusion that devalues life. Of particular concern is the life that is devalued is almost always that of the poor, as though material wealth defines how valuable your life is – that is why you will find those who place little value on their own lives (as defined by the outside world) involved in crime. They commit the crime either to increase their value (rob and steal) or because they hold so little value for their own lives that it is impossible for them to place value on anyone else’s life.
These cultural changes are very important to consider when there is such an emphasis placed on tourism and this new way of marketing Danielle talks about – the question is dead on – and the analysis thought provoking – Are you ready?
Suki K Tranqille
I agree with you Suki, and I compliment you on your lucid writing style?
Do you reside in Dominica? I may need some help with freight — I don’t think that all we plan to ship will fit into a 20-ft container, and we cannot use a 40-footer (and it would be a terrible wast of money if we had to use one). Please drop me a line at [email protected] if you think you may be able to help us. Thanks.
Crime is becoming a part of every day Caribbean life. Government officials and law enforcement are working overtime to deal with the crisis and I hope they will find answers. People have to make themselves a significant part of the problem by becoming an eye for law enforcement officials. They have to understand that their communities are under siege and it is time to take back the communities from the criminal elements. I really was never in favor of the “One Caribbean”. Our diversity in the Caribbean makes us unique. This uniqueness makes the individual islands become a sight to behold. Let us continue to discuss the issue of crime because it touches the fabric of our economic survival. I am confident that we can begin to offer some constructive ideas that can be use by government officials to combat the crime wave. We shall overcome. Please stop by and visit: Antigua108.com. Tyrone from Washington, DC, USA.
You raise an interesting point Tyrone – I do agree that crime touches the fabric of our survival as a species – as it stands in the animal kingdom, every animal has its predator – man unfortunately is his own predator.
I don’t know if there is anything to discuss relative to crime that has not been discussed already, what we need to do is to decrease our dependency on government officials to solve our problems and take responsibility for what goes on in our homes and in our families. It is my responsibility to know what my children are involved in, it is my responsibility to tell my brother that he is wrong if I see him commit a crime or know that he commits a crime, it is my responsibility to tell my husband that we can not continue our relationship if he chooses a life of crime. If each one of us individually assumes our responsibilities, we will not have to rely on our government officials to solve this issue of crime.
I do not know how the crime mentioned above is being resolved because I make it a point not to read negative news, however, someone knows who committed this crime. It is likely that neither his/her friends or family are assisting in resolving this matter. Perhaps what we need is to change our mindset, if I consider every human being to be a member of my family, then I will not knowingly allow another member of my family to harm them or get away with harming them. Just a thought.
Suki K Tranqille
It’s a very sad and worrying situation especially given the fact that they were only married two weeks and havent even seen their beautiful wedding pics. I’m not being discriminative or shallow but too many tourists praise Antigua, St. Lucia etc and none one of them know of the beautiful island of Dominica. When I talk of Dominica, no one ever heard of it, they ask ‘is it Dominican Republic?’. I’m not praising the crime of saying Dominica hasnt got any but this kind of crime would not have happened there. It’s time people learn and know more about Dominica and even realise its bigger, better, more mountainous, hilly and lucious. We have tourism resorts as well, 365 rivers, falls, lakes, you name it. The government just has to promote our tourism sector properly and get this international airport going – thats our biggest problem.
The old saying bears mention here, “Be careful what you ask for, you might just get it”. Tourism can bring a whole host of problems that will have some wishing for their old Dominica. We don’t encourage children to run after they have just learned to walk – why push Dominica to compete with well established tourism systems? Would it not be prudent to study the other islands’ systems to determine what you would like to emulate and what you would prefer to discard? I for one would hate to see Dominica turn into an amusement park – don’t change to suit other people – other people in order to enjoy the beauty of Dominica must first make the change.
Sometimes when I read/hear about the urge to promote tourism on the island, I sense the undercurrent of fear, do the people of Dominica not have enough to eat? Do people have homes/shelter? If the answer is yes, then you have everything you need and there is no need to fear what the future may bring.
If the answer is no, and people do not have enough to eat nor does everyone have shelter, the sad truth is that this situation is not unique to Dominica and is shared by every sovereign in the world. The solution needs to be discovered before promoting heavily a new industry because new industry will not solve that or any perceived problems in Dominica. New industry only brings its own set of new problems and rarely solves the ones you already have.
Suki K Tranqille