Letters - The real Caribbean war

Last October, I was one of those who initiated what we hope will become the first regional trade union for Caribbean fishers. I therefore offer comments on Darcus Howe's column (15 March) about "the war of the flying fish" between Barbadians and Trinidadians. First, this war is linked to a war over oil. The governments of Barbados and Trinidad are locked in a dispute over oil reserves and boundary lines, and fisherpeople have become pawns in this wider game. Second, the real conflict is not between fisherpeople of different countries, but increasingly between the fisherpeople and the Caribbean governments, which permit large Japanese vessels to take fish from local waters, and which displace coastal fishing communities through supporting hotel development. Fisherpeople stormed tourist areas in Jamaica in summer 2002 because their fish stocks were being depleted by hotel pollution. While the Blairs were holidaying in Barbados in 2003, fisherpeople, excluded from the waters that the Blairs enjoyed, were calling their country "Little Zimbabwe", rather than, as Howe suggests, "Little England".

Dr Jonathan Pugh
Woking, Surrey

This article first appeared in the 22 March 2004 issue of the New Statesman, After Madrid, does urban life have a future?