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It doesn’t take long to be reminded how sordid Jamaica’s image has become. Just travel on Caribbean Airways to Nassau, The Bahamas. Then, you will experience one of life’s ironies and ignominies. Sniffer dogs jump,over the arriving bags before they get loaded onto the baggage lets. Consequence? Yesterday, a choice one hour wait after an on-time departure and arrival, and a quick move through Immigration. I felt royally p****d off. This is life as meted out by one of our Caricom cousins. Meanwhile, visitors from the gun-toting, massacring and drug-using USA get near red carpet treatment. All for one and all for one!

The Jamaican government is in a wrangle with Barbados about possible systematic discrimination against Jamaican visitors, stemming from the Shanique  Myrie case; the governments are duking it out in The Caribbean Court of Justice. Her case is different from the now routine checks which planes from Jamaica get. I suspect that many arrivals feel a similar sense of violation. The ordinary folk, diplomats, imageand church dignitaries might all have had reason to fear their possessions being rifled through.

A few rotten apples have spoiled the barrel.

I can understand theory behind the checked luggage searches, but I wonder if they are really effective. In the absence of any published data I can find, I’m going to contend that they are not. Like America’s silliness with TSA procedures at its airports, which still do not stop criminals and innocents alike walking onto planes with dangerous objects, the sniffing or scanning is not stopping the bulk of contraband going into The Bahamas.

If the bag checking procedures used by Jamaica are deemed inadequate, then it would seem logical to doubt also the body checking and hand luggage checking at Jamaican airports. In which case, systematically screen all passengers.  On the contrary, there is no systematic check, merely random checks at Customs. Once we declared that we had come from Jamaica, our checked bags had to be opened. Once we staTed that we had no food items, we were allowed to proceed. No checks of hand luggage. No checks of persons. So, apart from giving Rex and Rover some extra play, what the Dickens is going on?

A senior diplomat, who enjoyed the long wait with us, said he would raise this whole issue with the Bahamian government. I wish him well. Nothing like battling against inertial processes.

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