United States air stewardess Kalina Collier was mere days from ending her state-sanctioned quarantine in Jamaica when the American lied to thousands of people that she was being held against her will and about to be human trafficked.
Collier, a 22-year-old Jetblue employee, went on her Instagram page crying wolf that she was uncomfortable and in fear for her life—becoming a trending topic on social media platforms all weekend in the process—just for it all to be a lie.
Several investigations and statements later, government agencies, including the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Ministry of Health and Wellness as well as the Trelawny-based Ocean Coral Spring hotel at which Collier was staying have all dismissed her allegations as nothing but salacious.
“The Police are advising members of the public to dismiss as rumour information that has been circulated via social and other media that American National Kalina Collier was kidnapped in Jamaica,” the JCF indicated.
“The police assert the information is baseless and mischievous. On arrival in Jamaica, Collier was tested positive for the COVID-19 virus [and] was placed in isolation. This is in keeping with Jamaica’s COVID-prevention protocols as stipulated by the Ministry of Health and Wellness,” the police tweeted on Sunday (February 14).
The JCF further noted that as it attempts to control the false narrative spread by Collier, she remains isolated and, despite her claims, authorities have been in touch with her mother since she arrived on the island. Government protocols for the pandemic mandate that persons in isolation must not physically interact with others to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
“She remains in isolation and awaits medical clearance to be able to travel back home. In the meantime, representatives from the Ministry of Health, the Jamaica Tourist Board and the local police have been in contact with her mother who subsequently arrived in Jamaica,” the JCF said.
“She was visited by the local police on Saturday, February 13, and she is not, nor was she at any time, in any danger. The Police are therefore warning persons to desist from sharing social media posts claiming Collier has been kidnapped, as sharing false information can constitute an offence under the law,” the police added.
This is all great and the truth has been laid bare but many Jamaicans, like myself, feel the authorities need to send a STRONG message to Collier and declare her persona non grata. She, and anyone else who attempts to besmirch our island’s good name, should be fined and banned from ever returning to Jamaica.
This isn’t an Anti-American op-ed or a rant against ‘weaponised Americanism’, but merely an illustration of why such persons need to be taught a lesson.
Here are a few reasons why:
Jamaica is already being eyed in the international community for human trafficking, with one of the highest rates in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), according to the US State Department.
In its 2020 report, the island, while performing better in recent years, was still left at Tier 2 for not fully complying with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000.
Now, Collier sets a very dangerous precedent when she blatantly lied about a “cover-up” and alleged she was about to be trafficked—as it automatically casts doubt on the legitimacy of claims by true victims of such crimes.
God forbids when an actual incident occurs, minds will already be tainted to discredit cries for help as new victims get little to no spotlight.
Especially as a woman, the gender most affected by trafficking, Collier, who the police state was not in danger at any time since her isolation, and her actions are an injustice to actual victims.
The question I need answering is why, out of all victims of human trafficking, were you Kalina, afforded the privilege of having a cellphone? You said you didn’t know what day or time it was but there you are with a phone. That comes with a clock. And calendar. And an option to CALL THE AUTHORITIES.
The second reason is the wide-reaching impact of her lies. Delano Seiveright, who initially sought to quell the raging firestorm on Twitter, was met with death threats as persons zoomed in on Collier’s “disappearance”.
How do you as a person, a confirmed carrier of an infectious disease, live with yourself knowing you could have gotten a man killed?
Deleting the video in hindsight does not (and should never) satiate Jamaica’s damaged reputation. No amount of PR could help the island’s already ailing tourism sector if visitors have to weigh kidnapping as well as a pandemic.
Government officials need to follow in Bali’s most recent footsteps and fine Kalina Collier for public mischief and wasting government resources. They must demand a public retraction of the lie, followed closely by a public apology; and then ban her from setting foot on our island ever again.
Use her as an example that regardless of one’s nationality or spending power, YOU WILL abide by our laws or be subject to STRONG, punitive measures.