Assessing Manning’s Ill-Conceived Summit-Related Latin American Safari

By Stephen Kangal
April 13, 2009

Egoism Gone Mad

PM Patrick ManningFor the host of the Fifth Summit of the Americas to decide to travel to 6 out of 33 Latin American countries with leftist leaning Presidents within a short period of four days using a most expensive private jet merely to ascertain the perspectives of these heads of state on the summit agenda of energy security and the Cuban question is nothing short of egoism gone mad.

Work of a Special Envoy

That is the remit of a special Summit emissary or an accredited ambassador- not of a Prime Minister. The ground must be carefully tilled before a Head of Government visits another to prevent a counter-productive further deterioration in delicate and sensitive bilateral relations as the Chavez last minute cancellation symbolized.

Manning adopted the same expensive shuttle charade when he visited Caricom countries to foster his Caribbean political integration MOU and was rebuffed by the Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding. He does not learn from history and is destined to repeat his past mistakes at the expense of the Treasury.

Chavez Championing Cuba’s Re-Integration and ALBA

It was quite clear to President Chavez that Manning had no business visiting Caracas ostensibly to pour oil on potential Cuban summitry when Chavez had been militant in championing the case for Cuba’s integration into the Inter-American System. Chavez has his ALBA initiative as an antidote to the FTAA. President Chavez has reserved the right to conduct his unique adversarial multilateral diplomacy at the Fifth Summit without any checks being put in his way. The cancellation of Manning’s visit while he was air-borne en route to Caracas is an embarrassment to T&T’s diplomacy/ bilateral relations with Caracas.

Manning’s abortive visit to Caracas was designed to silence the diplomatic artillery and canons that Chavez was activating to launch at the 17-19 April POS Summit.

What Visiting Criteria

Participation at the Summit is based on equality of all states, respect for each Head of State, constructive engagement and diplomacy.

What criteria did Manning use to select the six countries concerned that he intended to visit? Is it because they were leftist Heads of State? Will the other Heads of Sates feel slighted by their exclusion from the list? In fact was the expensive trip undertaken in defiance of the local outrage for the $2bn splurge for the Fifth Summit?

Did Manning expend our scarce and dwindling public purse to try to embellish his international standing to compensate for his total and abject failure and faux pas at home a la Burnham? Look at the photographs published on his visit to each capital except the abortive Caracas visit. His Latin American safari was exclusively designed to generate a photo opportunity for local political consumption.

T&T did not gain anything from his ego-driven, obsessive joy ride on his favourite Guardian private jet. These Presidents know how to conduct themselves in the international arena and does not need the pre-emptive diplomatic intervention of PM Manning to “… smooth waters as it were…”

His fleeting visits were an exercise in futility.

12 Responses to “Assessing Manning’s Ill-Conceived Summit-Related Latin American Safari”


  • Does Trinidad and Tobago have money to burn? Perhaps if more money was spent on the people and less on unnecessary trips, cars, and new mansions among other unnecessary things, Manning wouldn’t feel the need to let the world know that he is on level because the world would know that Trinidad and Tobago is on level because of he. He runs around like he won the battle and he never engaged in the fight. He is out of control. At least at first glance. Hopefully something will come from all of this that benefits the people of TNT, but I wish he could pay more attention to what’s going on at home.
    In my opinion, Manning believes that he needs more investment in TNT from the outside. I believe that for him to maximize TNT’s earning potential, he needs to get a hold on domestic issues and improve the infrastructure of the nation. He doesn’t seem to have a clue in regards to the reality of the country. He cannot market the country if it’s a mess on the inside. It’s like trying to sell a house that looks good on the outside, but it has a crack in the foundation, and termites rotting the floor.
    Manning please wake up and stop wasting the peoples money. Jet setting does not make you look good. You don’t look more prestigious pretending to be something that you are not. Yes the country could be worse, but it could be much, much better.

  • Amid the heightened security in our country it was reported that two children was murdered .In addition there were eight(8)murders over this easter weekend and there is not a single word on these issues by the prime Minister,Minister of National Security,and a lot of inaction by the Police Service of TnT since everyone seems to be on an ego trip to nowhere.Corruption,Crime , Drugs rule the roost supported by “community leaders” annointed by our Prime Minister

  • Did not Benny Hinn characterize Manning as one of the most foolish men he ever met. Manning with his latest shenanigans is supplying the evidence for that conclusion. Worst of all, he seems to regard the public treasury as his personal entertainment and self-aggrandizement fund, with the only co-signer he needs being Calder Hart. If the public let him get away with that, what can one say but “have a good time Mr. Prime Minister”.

  • This is the very worst PM we have had in the history of our little twin island state.
    One day he is going to trip on his very large ego and the fall is going to be hard.
    He as PM has no concern about the needs of the citizens of our nation. Heaven help us all under his leadership.

  • Mr Kangal,

    You seem to have the answers to all the problems besetting the western hemisphere, I think that you should run for The Office Of Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago. I would really like to see perform, as the P.M. of Trinbago.

  • Who put this guy in charge anyway? Why don’t he fix the roads, clean up the garbage at the beaches and provide affordable housing for the masses that don’t look like sweat box slums, get some help with crime instead of posturing. I am so sick of the mismanagement of resourses for generation of outrageous leadership. A beautiful country in a head lock.

  • Is it Media exposure we in T&T want so badly? well just pay CNN and get it over with TOURISM DEVELOPMENT COMPANY! Allyuh slacking off here!

    As for Mr Manning and the PNM lackeys and the UNC-A’s in public positions who don’t want to do their work and look after the country I hope they can maintain the fervour they displayed in preparing for President Obama when it comes to delivering services to the ordinary citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.

  • All you idiots want change without bloodletting…! These transitory comments without context is the true “exercise in futility.” Have you not learned from the lessons of history? Clearly not. Until humanity acknowledges its origins and make it a self evident truth, all else is balderdash. The notion that all of the country’s problems can be laid at the doorstep of one man (blameworthy or not) is poor analysis at best. You are not going to defeat “white supremacy” on the basis of efficient allocation of resources. In short,coming first in test,as Williams so ably demonstrated,is a means to an end and not end in itself. We can and must do better.

  • Who is fighting “white supremacy”? That would be an out dated approach securing a better nation that represents the interest of all of its inhabitants. The leader of a nation is supposed to lead the nation am I right? Isn’t it up to the leader to make decisions that best suit the nation? If so, in this case the Prime Minister was wrong and deserves the criticism. There really isn’t much to say about it. Prime Minister Manning is out of touch with reality and is not helping the people of Trinidad and Tobago by grandstanding and pandering to global and or regional leaders.

  • The main tragedy about all of these comments and observations–all of which contain grains of truth–is that we have been conditioned by fear and psychology to accept our condition. The objective reality in TNT is that the mass of our citizens are in distress. The litany is well known: crime, poverty, housing, health care, prices for basic necessities, etc.

    A government sets priorities based upon the interests it must satisfy. Clearly, when you look at spending for the goods and services that the people require, this pales in comparison with the expenditures for buildings, programs and projects that Calder Hart administers, as the bag man for Manning and those who provide financial and political backing to Manning. This conspiracy consists of both foreign and indigenous exploiters who share the same interests as a class, under the slogan and banner of “globalization.”

    What may appear to some as Manning’s eccentric and bizzare conduct, is essentially a realization that he has taken on the personality of a marginal individual. He must “balance” the risk of neglect, incompetence and malfeasance becoming the powderkeg that ignites a mass action against the anxieties being experienced by the oil and gas barons, the bankers, the financiers, and the billionaire shareholders, in the current world economic situation. They want to accumulate as much capital and profit as they can, quickly, and by any means employable–even a brazen government embezzlement of the taxpayers’ money, under the guise of a “bailout.”

    Manning’s attitude and response toward conditions on the ground are bifurcated. On the one hand, he pretends that there are no serious problems in TNT. This is to allay the fears of investors and also has the effect of conveying to his PNM rank-and-file that he has the situation under control. On the other hand, he has given assurances to those to whom he must answer, that he is prepared to use brute force to crush even the semblence of organized opposition to what’s taking place in TNT.

    An already serious situation is now becoming even more complex. The parliamentary opposition is a token force of able debators which lacks the will and the credibility to enlist the support of citizens to mount any serious challenges to Manning. Moreover, UNC-A is itself divided and when closely examined, is like the tail side of the same coin, on which the PNM is the head. The labor unions are infested with opportunists and careerists who have demonstrated their inability or unwillingness, or both, to engage in any mass organizing efforts to exert the leadership that would forge the mass coalition needed to empower the people to have their demands addressed.

    Please tell me that our steady diet of mas, calypso and soca has not made us numb to the pain and suffering of the exploited and the oppressed—ourselves.

  • We love mas, calypso and soca like a fat kid loves cake! However we cannot stomach opposing “growth”, regulations, laws, or leaders when they prove poisonous to our health.

  • Excellent point, Curtis.

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