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American Tourists Frustrated With PM-Trinidad, Bjt

July 30, 1990

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) _ Boredom and lack of communications have been the major problems for the Americans stuck on this Caribbean island in crisis. But there is no lack of excitement for the battalions of looters.

″I didn’t come here to sit inside a hotel, doing nothing,″ said Rhonda Isaacs, a Queens, N.Y. resident here with her children, ages 11 and 13.

They were among at least 11 Americans in the downtown Holiday Inn, only a few blocks from the Trinidad and Tobago parliament house where the prime minister and 30 others have been held since Friday by Moslem extremists.

The country was under an 18-hour curfew enforced by soldiers and police at barricades.

Nevertheless, looters hauled away carloads of television sets and other appliances from stores. In middle-class and upper-class neighborhoods, residents banded together to stave off attacks on homes.

Widespread looting broke out along the Churchill-Roosevelt highway, the main artery between the airport and the capital. People pulled their cars up to warehouses and filled them with refrigerators, televisions and radios.

Supermarkets and clothing, hardware and appliance stores also were systematically stripped by convoys of vehicles.

Ms. Isaacs, a Guyanese-born U.S. citizen, had planned to stay in Port-of- Spain from July 19 until Aug. 9, but now wants to leave as soon as possible.

Her children have grown weary of swimming in the hotel pool and watching the two movie channels on the television, she said.

″They want to go home,″ she said.

She had been unable to get a telephone call through to New York to let her relatives know she’s all right. Despite gunfire and widespread looting, no injuries to Americans had been reported.

″There is some apprehension about the situation, but we have had no problems except boredom,″ said Dr. Craig Means, a dentist from Silver Spring, Md.

Means, who had been here as a dental consultant for the University of West Indies, had planned to leave Saturday and depart with his wife for a vacation in Alaska today.

He had not be able to call his wife, Patricia, but hoped she would go ahead without him.

Hotel General Manager Pierre Barrere said the hotel caters mainly to businesspeople because Port-of-Spain is not as strong a tourist area as other parts of the country.

There is little entertainment other than the pool and the bar.

″We are just trying to keep the guests informed, but it is very confusing,″ he said.

A friend had been monitoring television and radio reports for relay to guests.

Meanwhile, some Trinidadians flocked to foreign airports in hopes of returning home. Only one commercial flight, from Barbados, arrived Sunday after the airport opened for the first time since late Friday.

Soldiers and police with assault rifles and machine guns guarded the airport.

Trinidadian Phyllis Cumberbatch, 45, a sales representative for computer company, said she was stunned when she heard in Barbados of the crisis.

″It’s going to set us back at least 20 years,″ she said. ″We were just beginning to turn things around.″

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