In St Lucia on my 40th birthday, a local told us, “I wish I had a French passport, then I would be able to travel freely, wherever I want.”
Effectively, he couldn’t leave the island. To travel almost anywhere in the world, he needed a visa, which he could only obtain from Barbados. St Lucia is poor. With 30% unemployment, the likelihood of most St Lucians being able to afford to travel to Barbados to get a visa was close to zero. The man did not have Freedom of Movement; his options were limited. He could not choose where to go to live and work nor could he go elsewhere for a holiday, to study or to better himself. He lived in what we would call paradise, but we had choices. For him, it might as well have been a prison.
I remember feeling humbled. By an accident of birth, I held a British passport; one of the most powerful passports in the world. I realised that I took my freedom to travel so much for granted that until then, I had never even given it a thought.
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