Members of the Barbadian diaspora in New York have been lamenting the recent spate of crime and gun violence plaguing the country.
Hyacinth Craig, who has been living in the United States for over 30 years, is worried about the effect the “negative” crime wave has been having on the island’s bread and butter tourism industry.
“Barbados has to realize that [it] does not have a lot to offer besides tourism and you have to make the island as safe as possible to encourage people to come,” she said in an interview with Barbados TODAY.
Craig further warned: “You don’t want to have to be bottled up, closed up, looking back behind you and I think the police have to be abreast to what they [young people] are doing”.
During recent celebrations in New York to mark the island’s 49th independence anniversary, the issue of crime was on the lips of several Barbadians resident in the US, with Craig drawing a link between the present situation in her homeland and that which has been taking place elsewhere.
“They [perpetrators] are following whatever is going on in the world . . . they are too Americanized,” she said, while warning the authorities not to allow the policies of the United States to rule Barbados.
“They have to stand up for what they think is right . . . . I work at a school here with young people and I see the same thing, so they are really mimicking America,” Craig added.
However, Al Bannister, who is the Chief Executive Officer and President of Progressive Exports, maintained that the crime situation was not exclusive to Barbados. He expressed confidence that law enforcement officials would be able to arrest the recent crime wave.
“Whatever is happening in North America is moving into the Caribbean islands, not only Barbados per se, and I guess it is a matter of Barbados Government getting their hands around [it] to combat — be it crime, be it drugs, etcetera. It is something that is happening throughout the Caribbean,” he told Barbados TODAY.
However, this island’s Consul General to New York Dr Donna Hunte-Cox remains concerned about the number of criminal deportees from the US, who are being sent back home.
“The concern has been that these persons are not necessarily rehabilitated and are coming into the island,” said Hunte-Cox, who also raised concern about a lack of facilities to help deportees to reintegrate into society.
“There should be something that they are coming home to, where the Government understands that these are the people that we have to deal with, but also to try to help them in terms of their skills set [and] to try to help them back into society away from a life of crime,” she argued.
The Counsel General said the illegal gun trade across the Caribbean as well as the impact of the recent US advisory to its nationals about criminal activity in Barbados were also major issues of concern.