NewsBiden Trumps ‘Lucians’!

St. Lucia News OnlineJuly 1, 20221500410 min

Castries, Saint Lucia, September 22, 2021:– “Oh gosh, man!”

That’s how Saint Lucians with plans to visit the United States later this year responded to Washington’s recent announcement that only fully-vaccinated visitors will be allowed entry through US ports.

The White House decision, announced last week, is President Joe Biden’s response to the worsening COVID-19 situation in the US, where over 650,000 Americans have died from COVID-related causes, new positive rates are beyond 10,000 daily — and deaths are at 2,000 daily, for the first time.

Washington has been tightening on visitor entries while insisting on vaccination for Americans to fly or travel by land between states, in addition to making vaccinations mandatory for over one million American workers.

But, some ever-ingenious Saint Lucians who don’t wish to vaccinate and thought they could simply wait for the US entry rules to soften, have now been trumped by the Biden administration.

Many had openly said they didn’t really want to vaccinate but would have to if vaccination was required to travel.

Those — among them Saint Lucians holding regional jobs and required to attend meetings in the US and whose decision (not to vaccinate) has nothing to do with conspiracy theories — haven’t been stumped.

But the fact that the US has made vaccination before entry mandatory for citizens of the world now makes full vaccination an absolute requirement.

Also trumped by President Biden’s decision are those who continue to maintain blanket opposition to any kind of mandatory requirement by government, which they interpret as a violation of their individual rights.

Mandatory full-vaccination for anyone wishing to enter any US territory (including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands) will directly affect those who refuse to vaccinate, including those with legitimate reasons (health and religious grounds).

The increasing calls here and across the region for mandating vaccination of frontline health workers (and all health workers, in some cases) and the increasing number of workplaces requiring vaccination are being met with responses that range from life-threatening violence against the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, to colorful visions of a local Green Party leader, of strikes and riots of resistance if the Saint Lucia government (or employers) resorts to requiring vaccination to save lives and jobs.

But the critics (of mandatory vaccination) have thus far been silent about the steps taken (and still being taken) at Federal levels in the USA and Canada (as well as across Europe and increasingly in the Caribbean) to mandate vaccination not only for health workers and Public Officers, but also teachers, students and staff at schools.

Montserrat this week announced children and teachers have to be fully-vaccinated to enter classrooms; that’s after Antigua and Barbuda last week made vaccinations necessary to work in Public Service jobs. Meanwhile, Grenada intensified preparations for a worst-case scenario based on scientific assessments of the rate-of-spread that led the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) to suggest “half the population” could be COVID-positive in just a fortnight.

Those opposing vaccination (across the region) have invariably described the move by the Grenada government (to decide how best to manage available health facilities should they become absolutely overwhelmed under COVID) as “The government deciding who’ll live and who’ll die…”.

But the move has been welcomed as “proactive” by most in the region’s medical and health fraternity, while some here have been recommending that the Saint Lucia government “emulate Grenada” in light of the unavailability of sufficient beds to handle hospitalized cases should the virus continue to spread at current rates.

The new Saint Lucia Government faces a dilemma:

Out of respect for the rights and opinions of large numbers, who have opted not to vaccinate (on various grounds) or are simply “not yet ready” to vaccinate, Saint Lucia, along with other CARICOM governments, has cautiously opted for encouragement and inducement, instead of mandating.

But there’s increasing pressure from the citizenry (from doctors to minibus passengers) to make vaccination mandatory in the health service — and not rule-out making it a requirement in the national good, if needs be.

The administration – two months in office next week — is also expected to take note of the fact that a pregnant Immigration Officer has died, 150 police officers are in quarantine and (according to Commissioner Milton Desir) “over half” the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) is unvaccinated.

The effect of the Delta spread on the RSLPF has resulted in several police stations being closed or operating on skeleton staff, which has added national Security to the growing list of direct non-health COVID effects.

However, CARICOM governments, at a virtual meeting on September 13, agreed to take a common approach to troublesome issues like mandatory vaccination, sharing vaccines and responding to the common negative regional effects of anti-vaccination propaganda.

Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre and fellow regional leaders also agreed (last week) to take a common approach to “the Cruise Industry”, given its importance to the region — and the fact that it’s also a transporter of the virus between borders.

They also reminded London that its new “Traffic Light” system to determine re-entry into the UK will have unhealthy negative effects for the region’s tourism industry.

Since Washington’s announcement, unvaccinated Caribbean nationals with travel bookings to the US have been either scurrying to get vaccinated or canceling flights.

Meanwhile, the Biden decision has also trumped those in Saint Lucia (across the region and the world too) who felt that America, as an acclaimed global champion of human rights, would hesitate to impose its power at home and abroad, to defend the health of all (and not just the majority) at the cost of the individual rights of those who prefer, knowingly or otherwise, to risk theirs.

Like all his predecessors (and not only Donald Trump), but Joe Biden is, also, only reminding the world that when it comes to global affairs, it’s “America First” – and that includes protecting Americans from more COVID entering through its air and/or sea-ports.

St. Lucia News Online

One comment

  • The Fox

    November 6, 2021 at 7:40 pm

    Was it at all necessary for St. Lucia, a small Rock in the Ocean, with the audacity to be at such a high level of discussion, or was it just grand-standing politically at home, soon after an election victory? I am waiting to hear of the gains if any, but I’m not that optimistic. Good luck, any way.

    Reply

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