Franz deFreitas says there is a deafening silence from Prime Minister Gaston Browne and Attorney-General Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin concerning the alleged African migrant-trafficking scandal.
Many residents are calling for a public inquiry into the matter, while the United Progressive Party (UPP) staged a picket of the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday, February 7, urging the Browne Administration to initiate an investigation.
DeFreitas, the UPP caretaker for St. John’s City South, notes that this saga began unfolding in the lead-up to the General Election, during which it is alleged that millions of dollars were spent by the Antigua Labour Party.
In his estimation, deFreitas says, the Antigua Airways debacle was a scheme for human trafficking and was concocted to obtain the funds necessary to bribe voters.
Whatever the agreement that was entered into, the UPP caretaker says the players cannot back out now; and this is why the Cabinet is contemplating residency status for the stranded West Africans.
According to deFreitas, Prime Minister Browne and others have remained silent on this issue since anything said can be used as evidence against them if the matter gets to the stage of being taken before the international court known as The Hague.
He says others, however, have been thrown under the proverbial bus.
DeFreitas says the promise of residency for the “visitors” and the fact that they will be allowed to work will put further strain on the country’s economy.
He says the offer of residency cannot be fair to the resident Caribbean nationals who are having a very difficult time being approved for such status here.
Meanwhile, deFreitas is curious to know which businesses will be able to absorb the over-600 Africans who remain on island, given that many locals are still struggling to find jobs.
Additionally, he asks what will happen to those young people who are completing their studies at college and university levels and even those leaving secondary school.