A number of newspapers in Trinidad are reporting on the death of Michelle Samaroo of Arima, Trinidad and Tobago, who disappeared on April 26th when she traveled to Arouca to obtain a job on a cruise ship. Ms. Samaroo had responded to an advertisement in a local newspaper and had told her family that she was going to a cruise placement agency.
Ms. Samaroo was requested to take $5,000 TT ($790 U.S.) for a visa and medical examination as part of the hiring process. She did not return home and her family mounted an investigation. The unidentified hiring agency allegedly informed Ms. Samaroo that she did not qualify for the job and returned her money.
Ms. Samaroo’s body was found on May 14th. The cause of death was not determined.
We represent many men and women from Trinidad, St. Vincent and other islands in the Southern Caribbean. We have heard many stories about unscrupulous hiring agents who try and extract payments up front or "bonuses" from young men and women when they are hired to work on Royal Caribbean or Carnival cruise ships. Sometimes the "bonus" will be equivalent to several months of a crew member’s salary.
The "hiring agents" in the Caribbean are unregulated, even though they conduct the pre-employment screening and coordinate the medical evaluations of the prospective crew members for the U.S. based cruise lines.
Many young women like Ms. Samaroo dream of traveling to a U.S. port to join a cruise line for a better life for themselves and their families back home.
A website focusing on abduction in Trinidad, Missingtrinbagonians, raises a number of questions about this case:
What is the name of the placement agency? What is the name of the owner of the agency? Why hasn’t a copy of the ad been reproduced by the newspaper which ran it? Has anyone else used this agency’s services? What is the name of the clinic where the medical examination was conducted? What is the name of the doctor who performed the examination? Have records been found for her appointment? Did the doctor corroborate the information given by the placement agency?
Other questions to be asked. Which cruise lines use this hiring agency? Are the cruise lines aware of these type of hiring practices?
Video TV 6 Trinidad