“We are broken. We are tired. We feel denied. We feel rejected”.
This was the statement made by Wendy Dumas-John in a video as she and other nationals, stranded overseas, lamented the fact that they have not been granted exemptions to enter the country but that the Government will be allowing Caribbean Premier League players to come into T&T for the upcoming tournament.
“We want to come back to our country and live with our people we are part of the 1.4 million and we are not being counted, forget that our rights are being taken away as citizens and then non-citizens are getting invited to the country, they didn’t have to ask for an exemption they were invited,” she said.
Dumas-John questioned the economic benefit of hosting the tournament.
“I don’t understand why Dr Rowley says it is good for the economy because there are no spectators, which means no vendors, which means no security, which means no clean up, no CEPEP, so how is that economically good for the country,” she said.
Dumas-John said the stranded are not not asking the government to open the borders.
“We understand why you are not opening the borders but we have a right to be home,” she said.
Dumas-John will be celebrating her 63rd birthday in two weeks time on July 24.
“I am turning 63 and I would have loved to celebrate that birthday at home,” she said.
Unfortunately, Dumas-John anticipates she may be spending the day sleeping on her friend’s couch for her big day.
Dumas-John said she has been stuck overseas for the past four months.
Another stranded national Joanne Pantin, 61, also posted a video to explain her plight.
“I am not the same person I was and will never be. It is disturbing for me to see, hear and read that the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago Dr Keith Rowley has decided to have CPL and bring in hundreds of people into Trinidad and Tobago for this league,” Pantin said.
Pantin said she has been having sleepless nights .
Pantin said numerous emails have been sent for exemptions but no response has been given.
Attorney Kelvin Ramkissoon said he was “jolted” by Pantin’s emotional and justified video.
“Ms . Pantin’s pleas were both emotional and justified. Her position is not unique but represents that of thousands of nationals ,many of whom are without proper food or shelter and who have resorted to night shelters in metropolitan cities to receive a bowl of soup and a warm place to spend the night,” Ramkissoon said.
“I have heard of tales of babies being fed sugar water for sustenance and our citizens washing dishes at restaurants in NYC to pay for shelter,” he said.
Ramkissoon said the Government’s policy is undoubtedly based on the need to minimise the spread of the contagion and avoid overburdening the health sector.
But it cannot be inflexible .
Ramkissoon said it is regrettable that our citizens are being punished by exercising their right to travel abroad and for months cannot return to their home country.