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No ticket or house for Garcia


Al Gilkes

No ticket or house for Garcia

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I believe it was in January that Raul Garcia again made headlines in Barbados after originally doing so in September 1994 when he was arrested on drug charges, tried and sentenced to life imprisonment, along with being fined $1 million.
Five years later, the sentence was reduced to 20 years, which expired in March 2010, and at the start of the year I, like others, heard the news that he was still in prison and on a hunger strike vowing to allow himself to wither away and die if he was not released from Dodds.
With his first headline-grabbing act completely out of my memory, I – like other people – started doing some investigating online and reading every word that was subsequently published in order to remember who this Raul Garcia was.
What we found was that he was a Cuban by birth and had emigrated with his parents to the United States in the 1960s. However, having found himself in the land of opportunity, rather than further his education and seek lawful employment, he got into the illegal drug trade.
If you play with fire, you bound to get burnt and Garcia got his when he was arrested. But having done the crime he decided he wasn’t doing the time and jumped ship, escaping to Colombia in 1988 where he renamed himself Edilberto Coronell Munoz.
And it was that Munoz who landed in Barbados with the sizeable load of drugs that the courts felt merited life imprisonment.
He was also unmasked and his true identity revealed. His real name was the one that has continued to grab headlines this year. Headlines about his plan to starve himself to death. Headlines about his native Cuba denying him entry because of his criminal past. Headlines about his adopted country, the United States, taking the same stance for the same reason. Headlines about David Comissiong stepping forward to champion his cause.
But the headline that sent me reeling over my toilet bowl was the one about the Prime Minister – yes, Barbados’ Prime Minister – leaving his all-important job of steering the ship of state during these turbulent financial waters to have a tête-à-tête with Garcia in prison.
More headlines. Garcia would be released from Dodds and allowed to live in a comfortable house with the best security paid for by the state.
Extra, Extra, Extra. Garcia is planning to go on another hunger strike.The reason? Government is taking too long to get his home ready.
You know what I wonder when I hear all this nonsense about Raul Garcia? I wonder how many times, before he was caught in 1994, did he manage to enter Barbados undetected to put the lives of untold numbers of young people at risk with his deadly drugs.
As far as I am concerned, Raul Garcia does not deserve a plane ticket out of Barbados or a house in Barbados. He should be placed on an old flying fish boat with a map and GPS with directions back to whence he came, Colombia. Go back the same way you came.
• Al Gilkes heads a public relations firm. Email [email protected]

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