Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says “absolutely not” did he contribute to the politicisation of the airport. (IWN file photo)

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves may receive an apology from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Barbados over his treatment by airport security there on April 14, Barbados Today has reported.

Additional security officers were after Gonsalves refused to comply with orders from a female G4S officer to return for further screening at Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA).

He was in transit at the airport en route to St. Vincent from Guyana.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves (centre in white shirt and brown pants) converse with GAIA officials after the incident.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves (centre in white shirt and brown pants) converse with GAIA officials after the incident.

The Prime Minister’s bag is said to have triggered an alarm in the screening mechanism during the initial security check.

Prime ministers and other diplomats are generally exempted from such security checks.

But the incident also suggests other breaches of protocol at the airport, which recently became a hub for regional carrier LIAT, on which Gonsalves was travelling.

Barbados Toady has reported that not only was Gonsalves — the region’s longest-serving prime minister — not recognised by security, but he was also not met by a protocol officer after his flight arrived later than scheduled from Guyana.

Gonsalves is said to have refused to comply with the female security officer’s instructions, and she then summoned back-up security.

The incident occurred at Gate 9 at GAIA, from which most LIAT flights out of Bridgetown depart.

“The PM refused to take his shoes off after [he] went through the x-ray machine. That caused chaos. It attracted all the heads of security,” a witness told I-Witness News of the incident.

Despite the female security officer’s insistence, the prime minister refused to do as he was told and she then called for back-up security support “in her quest to ensure that the ‘unrecognised’ passenger underwent more rigorous security checks,” Barbados Today has reported.

Senior airport officials are said to have issued an unequivocal apology to Gonsalves before he left Barbados.

Gonsalves, left, and other passengers in the departure lounge after the incident.
Gonsalves, left, and other passengers in the departure lounge after the incident.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bridgetown has called for a detailed report on the incident.

The incident comes amidst numerous complaints by Vincentians and other CARICOM nationals about the manner in which they are treated at the GAIA when visiting or transiting in Barbados.

The incident also comes even as the Government of Barbados last year paid Jamaican Shanique Myrie US$38,000 in damages awarded to her by the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Myrie had filed a lawsuit claiming she was subjected to a dehumanising cavity search by a female immigration officer at GAIA, locked in a filthy room overnight and deported to Jamaica in March 2011.

17 replies on “Gonsalves may receive apology for treatment at Barbados airport (+ photos of incident)”

  1. C. ben-David says:

    I would like to see some statistics supporting the assertion that, “The incident comes amidst numerous complaints by Vincentians and other CARICOM nationals about the manner in which they are treated at the GAIA when visiting or transiting in Barbados.” Of the hundreds of thousands of transiting passengers every years if there were say 100 written complaints this would be nothing of consequence.

    We have to be told what proportion “numerous” represents and what “the manner in which they are treated” means before any judgement can be made about GAIA.

    Personally, I’ve never had any problem — or witnessed any problem — with security there, only a few issues with unprofessional (but not rude) behaviour by LIAT personnel over a 45 year period.

    As for these arrogant tin-pot Caribbean politicians, why should they be treated any different from ther rest of us outside their little fiefdoms? Doesn’t the Honourable Prime Minister realize that the moment he sets foot anywhere outside SVG he’s a nobody, a non-entity like the rest of us commoners.

    1. If it was Arnhim, you would have something else to say. I hope he’s treating you well.

      1. C. ben-David says:

        Unlike many of you, I am not a bought-and-paid-for-man. I have independent means and a free mind, unlike many of you.

        I say what I mean and mean what I say, including burning the opposition, which I will do in my last instalment of essays on Argyle International Airport.

        I dare you to come back and say that I am in Arnhim’s pocket after you read what I have written.

        I truly believe all hope is lost because our people are so politically sick that they take any criticism of those who rule us as support of those who wish to rule us.

  2. TeacherFang says:

    There are protocols afforded to head of state when visiting or passing through a foreign country. Clearly someone ought to be reprimanded for not doing their job and that person shouldn’t be the security officer, she is actually DOING HER JOB.

    Frankly, I don’t understand what is taking so long to investigate, this incident happened two weeks ago…an immediate apology should have been issued from the Management of the Airport and the Foreign affairs department of the Government of Barbados.

    Regardless of how I feel about Gonsalves politics…he is the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, he represents Vincyland where ever he goes abroad. And so when I see incidents like this, where our PM is being disrespected by another country; I take offense to that, as it is not only Gonsalves as an individual but also Vincyland, as a nation, that is being disrespected.

    1. Fang, its not an insult to anyone, certainly not the Vincentian people. Remember Tom Adams made him persona non grata, the imigration were never informed that the ban had been lifted.

      As it happens to be, he was profusely apologized to before he left Barbados.

      This has now been released to try and make a smoke screen to stop us making noises about other more serious things. Because this is little more than trivia.

  3. Patrick Ferrari says:

    In The News newspaper that was published on August 29, 2015, I wrote, “Barbados customs officials are pigs. But that gives pigs a bad name.” They are and it does.

    And by the way, St. Vincent customs officials at ETJ are delightful.

    1. Mr Patrick, the problem is all you white people look the same. Except in your case you are far better looking which must really annoy Wun Phatt Pratt.

  4. Hellooooo

    I wonder if those security officer would of recognized Mr Eustace?

    I remember Gunsalves said that George Bush would not of recognize Arnhim Eustace, but he would of recognized him Gunsalves.

    We know Mr Eustace is black and Bush is white. But how come black security officers cannot recognize a white prime Minister, it goes to show, a one eye man is king in a blind man land, but out side of that land, he is not that important, they cannot even pick him out amoung a crowd.

    SVG is a blind man land, so that is why Ralph is king there. Reality check for you PM, you not even on their list of important subjects, or they would of spot you from afar.

    1. They certainly didn’t recognise the comrade, or did they? Did anyone tell them about the persona non grata against him?

  5. It is a very well known fact that High Officials of Countries possess Diplomatic Passports . But
    as I have stated elsewhere in this Newspaper , the Grantley Adams Airport which is located in Barbados , is a Country in the Island of Barbados .

    It seems to me that the Government of Barbados , has either sold its Airport , or leased it
    to an Entity for a number of years . The Government of Barbados therefore aint in control of
    what happens at its Airport . If indeed that is the arrangement , that is an asinine deal . Because it is the Barbados Government that is on the hook for damages when people decide
    to sue for various damages they may receive at the Airport .

    The Question that people must ask the Barbados Government is this ; Why did American
    Airlines removed Barbados from being its Hub , and making Puerto Rico its Hub ?? I state this
    because I know for a fact that at a certain period , ALL Persons whose Countries , did not
    have an International Airport , got off at Barbados and took LIAT to their final destination . Then at some point , Puerto Rico became the Hub .

    That only sobered up those who work at the Grantley Adams Airport a bit , Ms Myrie case
    informs us that they are up to their old habits again . I can spend a day here rehashing my
    experiences at the Grantley Adams Airport . Especially regarding the Uncouth Louts that
    work for LIAT , who are citizens of Barbados .

    It is quite evident , that Many in Barbados , have lost sight of the fact that Visitors whether
    visiting Barbados or in transit , get their impressions of Barbados from the manner in which they are treated at the Grantley Adams Airport . This fact apparently is lost on the various Governments of Barbados & all the people who work at the Airport . Liat in particular for years
    has had a habit of telling people that the flight they are supposed to travel on is full , and use
    every trick they can to make people overnight in Barbados .

    Veridical

  6. I am a Barbadian..

    The Prime Minister should have been afforded the privileges as per outlined for PM’s and diplomats as it relates to searching.

    We live in a general society now where people are just blatantly or ignorantly disrespectful and to the point of ignoring protocol and this is sad, it happens even in churches.

    This oversight should never have occurred.

    The security officer needs to get a photo of all the Prime Ministers in the region and note them, or the incident could very well occur again.. Don’t wait for your superiors to give you a memo saying Mr. PM X is passing through. The officer should be in a position to recognize the Caribbean Leader even sitting in the departure lounge as a “normal” traveller.

    The Prime Minister is rightly deserving of an apology..

    1. C. ben-David says:

      If the Honourable Prime Minister of SVG does not respect himself or his people, why should any foreign government show him any respect?

      Haven’t we been here before with the Dear Leader’s son and heir apparent, Camilio, who arrogantly claimed that he was disrespected in New York City a few years ago?

      These self-righteous people need a reality check: they are nobodies as soon as they take one step out of their countries.

      And respect has to be earned: it is not granted as a God-given gift to the chosen few.

      Respect yourself and others first and you will earn the respect you claim you deserve.

      1. Also David he was chased out of Barbados and made persona non grata in 1979. Was that ban ever lifted, should he even be in Barbados or is being the Gonsalves dynasty head give him some kind of immunity against being kicked out of Barbados.

        We should all be reminded how he had to flee Barbados under a tarpaulin in darkness, some say dressed in the disguise of a woman, in womans clothes. Captain King of Bequia who brought him from Barbados refused to confirm to me if this was true, but never denied it. Unfortunatly Captain King has passed, only his children now know the truth and are keeping mum on the matter.

        Dr Ralph Gonsalves was declared persona non grata by the late Prime Minister J.M.G.M. “Tom” Adams. At different times he was persona non grata of three Caribbean states.

        Now he wants an apology, is he kidding us, Tom Adams will roll over in his grave.

    1. C. ben-David says:

      Peter, I always thought the PM travelled with at least one member of his security detail and that all parties at the departing and arriving airports were well briefed and prepared for an in-transit high official.

      So this really has to do has to do with the incompetence, indifference, slackness, and poor training of our Caribbean officialdom.

      We are still very much part of the backward Third World yet we pretend otherwise.

      Saying so will immediately brand me as “negative” and “unpatriotic” but so be it.

      1. David- what it shows us is that it’s only Vincentians that he distrusts and SVG the only place he feels unsafe, hence all the armed police guards in SVG, but not elsewhere. He even walks about in Oxford Street in London without a body guard.

        But when travelling he gets accosted by the BBC reporters who were wanting to ask him about bribery.

        […]

        I really believe he should not ever be allowed to travel alone, I think it’s dangerous for him and dangerous for the good name of SVG to allow him to do so.

  7. Why must everything be reduced to the politics of who one supports and who one does not support? Can you not separate the man from the office? I agree with “Ricodee” and “Teacher Fang” – the office of Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines must be respected even if you do not like/support/approve of/vote for the present incumbent. That he does not “respect himself or his people” (according to C.ben-David) has nothing to do with the issue. (As my mother and grandmothers taught me “Two wrongs do not make a right”) I am certainly not a supporter of Ralph Gonsalves. In fact, even before he became Prime Minister I thought that he reminded me of Forbes Burnham, but without Burnham’s charm, really Machiavellian politics and ruthlessness. But so long as he is Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, he must be accorded the respect due to that office.

    And as for our “arrogant tin-pot politicians” – I have long thought that we need to be a federation, with one PM for the lot of us. But Caribbean people on the whole, whatever we say, don’t really want that, which is why the politicians can play of our fears of Jamaicans/Guyanese/Barbadians/any-other-Caribbean, you can take your pick, coming to “our” country and taking jobs from “us”. But even a federation, while it might remove the “tin-pot” factor would not free us from arrogance. That will change only when we develop the confidence to hold our politicians to account for their actions and behaviour. To do that we have to be prepared to recognise shortcomings in our politician(s), especially in those for whom we voted. As long as we hold to the “it’s my party and my party can do no wrong” ideology we will continue to have arrogant politicians. We also look for politicians who promise us the moon and the stars while refusing to recognise that getting anywhere near to the moon and the stars requires not a fairy tale hero who can make all things happen like magic but a great deal of hard work on the part of all of us. So we continue to believe that our “maximum leader” however he behaves, can solve all our problems and and we continue to vote for that person. It’s not much point blaming our politicians. They will change only when we as a people change in terms of what we will accept and out politicians are made to face the consequences of arrogance at the next poll.

Comments are closed.