Herculean Task for PNM

PNMDr. Selwyn Ryan,

I always perceived you to be a relatively intelligent man, although I may not always agree with everything you write. I could not, however, help but comment on your commentary/editorial in the Sunday Express dated July 11, 2010, and entitled: “Is the PNM really back?”

While asking a seemingly elemental question, your commentary seemed to give the impression that you were somewhat impressed with the large number of PNM attendees at the Convention and the vibrancy of the crowd, despite the inclement weather and the comprehensive blows recently received by that party in the national election.

Your commentary also seemed to focus on possible outcomes of the upcoming local elections based largely in part of the PNM party attempting to make it appear that “Patos” is no longer around and that the party has surgically removed the cancer of corruption, malfeasance, maladministration, etc.

You failed however, to truly and seriously analyze the true import of one of the most salient points made by the new leader, Dr. Keith Rowley. Simply put, that point is that, while the PNM formed the government in the nineties and in most of this decade, no one in the leadership of the party then seemed to have critically and seriously analyzed those election results.

It is my belief, and I believe that it was also stated by Dr. Rowley that the percentage of votes as well as the absolute number of votes obtained by the PNM in those elections were constantly diminishing. As an example, in November 2007 the PNM received a total of 299,813 votes, which constituted approximately 45.85 percent of the votes cast. On May 24, 2010, the said party received 285,354 votes which approximated 39.50 percent of the votes cast. Additionally, even in the 1891 election when most of the PNMites boasted about “Patos” bringing back the PNM after that 33-3 crushing defeat at the hands of the NAR. I believe even in that election the combined votes of the UNC and NAR exceeded the number of votes obtained by the PNM. In 1991 the PNM obtained 233,950, while the UNC and NAR obtained 278,881 votes.

The plain fact appears to be that the PNM has relegated itself to be an old-fashioned anachronistic and feeble party that no longer serves the needs and aspirations of the masses of the citizenry. More particularly the PNM appears to be a party of Afro-Trinis (of course interspersed with a few Indo-Trinis for good measure) concentrated in the urban areas of the Republic.

There appears to be no serious recognition by the new leadership of the party that the majority of citizens in the Republic (the Land of Oil and Music) live in the suburban and rural areas. Just to put it in context, while the PNM was able to garner only 285,354 votes, the People’s Partnership Coalition garnered 432,026 votes.

As an aside, I was able to see and hear PNM’s Ken Valley on C-News last week and one of his main justifications for his positive outlook that the PNM would win the local elections was that the country needs a two party system. This point of view appears to be in consonance with your view. While I left Trinidad many, many years ago, I fail to see how local government (not even mentioned in the Trinidad Constitution) could curtail or stymie the national government. Maybe you may have the answer to this.

While I believe that Dr. Keith Rowley is a very talented and honorable politician, I believe the task that “Patos” left for him (after tanking the party) may be too Herculean for him.

I sincerely hope that you are more analytical than to permit yourself to be swayed by a large crowd of exuberant “Red Shirt Palancers” packed in a convention center. The results of May 24, 2010, would be instructive in this regard.

Moreover, I am of the belief that crowds at a political gathering do not win elections, but people who go out to vote do.

Hopefully, gone are the days of race-based politics in Trinidad, I believe that the May 24, 2010, elections clearly established that fact.

Edward A. Roberts, Esq.

Brooklyn, New York.

16 Responses to “Herculean Task for PNM”


  • Dey eh hah Panday to parade around anymore. So come back for the time being is not in the cards. As for the PNM, people have lost faith in the party. The biggest problem was crime and criminality, and their failure to stop the out of control blood flow in T&T. It is amazing though that in the place where the body bags were being filled every day, their support was the strongest… That I can’t figure out. Maybe the goodly doctor could explain the reason for that… I must be missing something here.

  • I am always amazed when intelligent people who feel that they are speaking with integrity and concise appreciation of facts always seem to apply those facts in subjective rather than objective terms. The writer states, “Hopefully, gone are the days of race-based politics in Trinidad, I believe that the May 24, 2010, elections clearly established that fact.” If by that he means that with the advent of the PP coming into government the idea of race has become irrelevant and that this is a government that does not see race in its policies then I wish to suggest that he is either blind, dishonest or both. While he claimns emphatically that the PNM is an Afro party (meaning it could not win with Afros), he remains silent on which of the parties of the PP that constitutes people of another race. All of the early signs have ‘R-A-C-E’ written all over them. In the aftermath of the victory Sat asked and got Kamla to change the name ofd the Ministry of Culture to “Multiculturalism’. This suggests that while we want to have ONE government, ONE foreign policy, ONE message, ONE central authority, ONE set of laws that that applies to all, we actually have people who after living side by side for more than 150 years have NOT learnt to assimilate but hold on to ideas, behaviour of our ancestors from the mother land and share no behaviour of commonality amongst ourselves. The truth is Chutney is a derivitive of the Trinidad experience and can be said to have been a product of our Culture NOT multiculture. There is a hard push by the new government for ‘balance’, with the emphasis that balance means more representation by Indians in areas that are heavily Afros. The same emphasis is NOT put on Afro representation on areas that are heavily Indian based. Devant Maharaj, a well publicised Hindu, and ITEC activist comes forward not as a nationalist but one based on his religious and racial identity seeking to place himself in the mniddle of the Guanapo church controversy (a christian religious effort). The only way to achieve a non-racial objective is to actively pursue a course that is geared towards efficiency with little tolerence for raciality.

  • What the writer fails to understand is that race-based politics are the cover for other instruments of taking and retaining power.

    In fact, race-based politics are a barometer for what is otherwise hidden, not deliberately all the time, but surely hidden because people are uninclined or unlikely to look there.

    In T&T, from the institution in the mid-19th century of the Gladstone Experiment, the stage was set for divisive politics and racial tensions between the descendants of enslaved Africans and those of Indentured Indians.

    The history of these two are well documented elsewhere. What faces T&T now is that while well-meaning individuals like the writer whose expressions of hope are more than welcome, they are, however, simply whistling past the grave yard.

    In T&T, the magnifying glass beneath which to analyse what the contours now and into the present are and likely will be are not the lens of politics, nor those of race, but are those of religion.

    If you have any doubt, look and see where Jack Warner, a Catholic recently went to give thanks for electoral supremacy over the PNM: a Hindu temple.

    Is it that Hindus in T&T mean harm to others, or are united in seeing this future come about? No, it is that in every instance where Indians and Africans have been thrown together by other forces inimical to both, for the Africans it has been like an egg in a stone dance: it matters not whether the egg bashes the stone or the stone the egg, the results, be it Fiji, East Africa, or Guyana are the same.

    Indians as Hindus in particular have had since their arrival a cultural leg up based on the integrating, uniting force of religious belief.

    Does it mean that the future is inevitable? Not necessarily, but the chances of it unfolding otherwise grow less and less likely with time.

    Thus on election night, after gaining the support of all the racial groups in the country was the triumphalism so evident it was, to many, especially Afro-Trinbagonian young professionals, as shocking as it was loathsome.

    Hopefully, too, the country, given its unmitigated spirit of picong, penchant for open debate and notorious aplomb, will be able to avoid what countries and like Sri Lanka and Rwanda were unfortunately unable to.

    • Race is more an Afro-Trinbago thing. It is amazing in the 21st century that this is what some people can talk about only. Racism is ignorance, plain and simple. You don’t hear about Indians harping about race, yet it seems some people see race in everything. Here is an example “we actually have people who after living side by side for more than 150 years have NOT learnt to assimilate”. The fact is 20% of T&T population is dougla. Now if that is not assimilation by choice I don’t know what is… ????? confused.

      • Racism is indeed ignorance; ignorance that is intolerant, disdainful, self-righteous and as dense as the back of a soiled spoon.

        That you can claim racism to be an Afro-Trinbago thing, as if the social scourge of racism has been created by Afro-Trinbagonians shows, at least in you, the vast chasm which can possibly exist between Afro-Trinbagonians and Indo-Trinbagonians.

        Your views also show, and sadly, how ignorant you are of the history of some Indo-Trinbagonians at home and abroad. Have you ever heard of any Afro-Trinbagonian, to gain refugee status there, state on national TV and radio in places like England and in Canada that ‘Indian men in T&T systematically rape Black women?’

        Fortunately, however, for the sake of history, and the utter decency which because of the Creator exists in all peoples, views like yours are not the last word on inter-racial and interpersonal relations.

        In fact, for many, many people, Afro and Indo alike, the pursuit of truth and for jusice are not merely means to an end but are ends in themselves.

        Specifically for Afro-Trinbagonians, the views they have of the world at home and abroad are views arrived at, legitimately.

        • Your views also show, and sadly, how ignorant you are of the history of some Indo-Trinbagonians at home and abroad. Have you ever heard of any Afro-Trinbagonian, to gain refugee status there, state on national TV and radio in places like England and in Canada that ‘Indian men in T&T systematically rape Black women?’–Vic.

          Those things were merely melodramatic inferences that was not accepted by the refugee board in these nations. The majority of claimants got through under humanitarian and compassionate grounds. However, the media portrayed those things that you mentioned as the standard, now tell me how could an indo male claim he was raped by an Afro male??? And yet the majority who left were unemployed Indo males, simply wanting a better life.

          It must be noted that a lot of Afros left T&T also, something the media was quiet about. I remember the lines to the American embassy was long and winding. It was just a period in the history of T&T where Trinis felt that life would be better in America or Canada. In the 1970’s thousands left and in the late 1980’s it was a repeat… So there might be a history there Vic but for me it nothing but emotionalism by people like you, who simply don’t like Indian people.

          • It is very possible that not only are you not an Indian, nor even a West Indian but some KKK alien roosting on this site determined to stir up further ill-will between the various races in this country.

            Wherever you are from, return there knowing you will fail. What gives you away is your line … “people like you who simply don’t like Indian people.”

            You are rude! How do you know whether or not I am Indian? Or African? Or a mixture of both?

            One does not have to be Indian or African to love this country and its peoples. Not if like me, your parents as labour union people educated you as they did us to recognize, not only the tensions between us which are ruthlessly exploited by religious leaders pretending to be politicians, but also the many times when we sought and had solidarity as working class peoples together; both brought here to advance the interests of European plunderers who also exploited their own people and subjects as ruthlessly and in some instances worse than they did or foreparents on ships of enslavement and of indenture.

            Parents who taught their children how it was the breasts full of the milk of Black mothers who, in compassion over babies regardless of their ethnicity, suckled them from malnourishment to heealth; and how Hindu partisans and Moslem comrades, against the demands of narrow-minded and exploitative religious leaderships made common cause with African labour leaders as part of the struggle for Universal Adult Suffrage, and to free T&T from British companies intent during the two world wars on exploiting and taking ownership of the national resources of this country.

            You have much to learn. A task made even more difficult by the depth of arrogance in which you are drowning.

            I hope you are too young or too old to have children; and if you do that they are too young to learn how to light crosses on other people’s lawns.

  • Vic said ,”hopefully, too, the country, given its unmitigated spirit of picong, penchant for open debate and notorious aplomb, will be able to avoid what countries and like Sri Lanka and Rwanda were unfortunately unable.”
    Unfortunately cousin Vic, the stupid defeatist skin and grin mentality ,cannot last forever, as we have to deal with the growing arrogant ,tribalist , mental midgets , led by the likes of khem ,who deep in the twisted recesses of his evil heart , fervently believes,that all the good that accrued to this wonderful nation of ours,were the results of the arrival of his noble tribe from the Asian continent, while the opposite applies with the kinky head brutes ,and savages ,from Africa.
    In addition , you have the sons and daughters of European imperialists, who never owned up to their ancestors responsibilities to destroying the psyches of a people that freely help build Europe , and so today sits on the sidelines, and greedily feast at the extremely lucrative socio carcass of the Trini socio economic jump-sticks ,pig roast , while riding the oil and gas , ‘natural resource gravy train,’ and still push the historical beneficial ,divide and rule buttons, that would allow stupid elitist , unmentionable fools, play out negative childish behaviors across the country , as they in turn all feel a sense of misguided superiority over the other.
    We globalist and social observers however , whose thinking brains are where it should be, and not some hole near our lower backs , knows fully well , the end results of such folly Vic, as the seeds of destruction are planted amongst the gullible, who are often poor ,and easily manipulated underclass .
    Let us therefore remain committed to the national cause , and keep doing what we can to ensure that obvious , and often thinly disguised ,conniving barbarians, do not muck it up for all of us, in similar fashion to that played out in some states ,on the list of you alluded to .
    Tell dem Vic , that the day our usually comatose people ,finally awake, behind a more energized ,patriotic ,passionate ,and caring middle class,then there would be hell to pay.
    Thanks my friend for two of the most excellent , and refreshingly honest analysis, I have seen for quite some time on this board.
    Keep dem honest my friend , continue to love this beautiful land of ours, and remain steadfast in the task of touting the potential of it’s peace loving , and sophisticated people.
    We wish them well, yes?

    • will be able to avoid what countries and like Sri Lanka and Rwanda were unfortunately unable.”
      -Neal

      I have met people from both these nations. Sri Lanka situation started under the British when they brought in Tamils from Tamil Nadu India to work in the government services. The Brits were concern that majority Sinhalese could easily start a rebellion and wipe them out. The Tamils occupied government positions until independence when the Brits disappeared. The Sinhalese took control of the government (and you guess it) start to get rid of the Tamils in government position. The result was a war that lasted over 20 years with thousands dead and displaced.
      Thankfully it ended.

      The Rwanda situation was started by the Belgium colonial government, again it was design to control the nation. They began by measuring the size of people nose (lol) and various physical features and calling them Hutu and Tutsie. This control mechanism worked so well that it resulted in over 800,000 people brutally murdered in a systematic plan that went on for about a month. It is difficult to grasp the enormity of this murderous rampage. The UN and the world simply looked on, the white blood was not going to be shed to protect the black man.
      Colonialism produced Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, South Africa, Zimbabwe…… The lessons from these nations should be carefully studied and taught in schools to avoid such extremism. We must avoid seeing the differences in people and instead focus on what unites us….

      • I couldn’t agree with you more, and no hard feelings since nothing said is personal. My hope in these tense times of unnecessary name-calling and a detracting hysteria is that ordinary people in these beautiful isles can work towards creating first, a more civil society; and second, one in which mutual solidarity between the races, and recognition of our humanity as being not only irrevocable, but also becoming option, numero uno!

        • Same here, I know I present a diffrent slant to the issues but as I said before my friends come from various backgrounds. We live as one and that is the way I believe it should be….. T&T will be better for it.

  • “Dougla” an anglicised version of the Hindi word “Duglah” meaning Bastard.

  • ” Colonialism produced Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, South Africa, Zimbabwe.”
    OK, so what does this really translate to ,in terms of solutions? Let’s see , in a different context,the extreme heat , forces evaporations, then clouds ,condensations , and rain , which flows into poodles , along tributaries to our Caroni River , which then eventually overflows it’s banks, through floods destroying the livelihoods of hundreds of nearby farmers ,between the months of June and December, in part due to unnecessary debris along it’s bed, that came down from the overcrowded , and unregulated Brazilian like Favelas hills that mainly grand children of ex slaves are forced to live in since the end of slavery. Where are we going with this Khem?
    In short what I am saying is that we are all victims of the white mans savageries,well!!!
    If we are not serious about this problem, as we never fully addressed the problem, but reverted to stupid politicizations, then why would kids take us serious when we attempt to teach colonialism, and it’s impact on genocide , and state terrorism in school ? Sri Lanka with it’s two female leaders, and tolerant Buddhist state religion , and outside interference by hegemonic India , had a long time to rectify the problem , but choose not to.
    Likewise Pakistan, India ,Nigeria, Sudan, Congo, SA ,Zimbabwe ,and Rwanda had ample opportunities to keep their respective tribes on the part to mutually beneficial sustainable development . Not sure if the Lot’s wife syndrome theories , can still work, for the 21century folks ,especially in resource laden places such as Trinidad and Tobago.
    Oh, I get it, as my girl Gladys Knight and her Pips said in song, “what’s too painful to remember , we simply choose to forget,”yes? Just leave for the next generation, or hope a white European foreign hope can be our end all savior to prevailing and pending woes, yes?
    So we afraid of breaking a few sensitive ego feelings eggs , to make a national omelette , eeh?
    Nation building, ain’t easy folks , especially for cowards!The next time I am hungry I would buy a five course meal and rub it on my stomach, as it too might feel good.
    When my greedy 400 pound , gluttonous , lifetime body abusing neighbor falls down with a mild heart attack or stroke , I would rush her , or him to the Eric Williams hospital , and make a request to the specialist surgical team to do a rain , jig dance , around them, as they lie on the gurney.
    Time to get serious , and quit trying to simply impress each other , as to how well informed we are about history, travel,science ,and anthropological irrelevances, of the ancestral homelands! The 1.2 million of our citizens at the bottom of the food chain , do not have the patience, alternative escape options ,or luxury of time for such thumb twirling shenanigans. They expect to hear of tough , unpopular choices, and feasible policies , not see TV glitz charades, but actions that move beyond the tribe , in benefits for all.
    Love country always.

  • Just one correction to Ivor St. Hill.
    Dougla does not under any circumstance mean ‘bastard’.
    Dougla is derived from a compound of two words – ‘Do’ meaning two and ‘gala’ meaning face. Hence literally it translates as an individual having ‘two faces’ – or essentially of mixed heritage. Compared to other words in other languages – Spanish, French, etc., Dougla is not really a derogatory term when you consider its origin. Its kind of a neat word for the descendants of East Indian/African mingling.

  • Who cares Kabir, really? They are still a bunch of ignored , psychologically traumatized ,growing confused , yet despised ethnic bunch ,across the land, with the ability – like other sub class-to be the X factor ,as far as political power swings go in our country , but only if they are mobilized sensibly into actions beyond trying to see who is more, or less African , or Indian, based on the time of the day, and the amount of wealth or power Daddy ,or Mummy possess.
    Time Kabir ,to stop wasting energies on such distracting non issues, and continually giving false glorification to opaque religious manifestations , and culture interpretations, that has no bearing on reality ,when put under the microscope in the places of origin.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10609407

    See what irrelevant symbolisms make you become obsessed with Kabir ? You guess it Nickey Haley , Kamla , Nuclear weapons, and elitism , but not the millions of folks under the poverty line .

    http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2010/05/26/india-journal-indians-or-rather-nris-are-taking-over/

    Can we get past this , in Sweet, Sweet, T&T , aka Rainbow Country, as our folks -especially poor bare feet, always pregnant , lower class women ,languish it seems into perpetuity, Kabir? These afterlife mantras , and dem whitegod heavenly returning saviors, ain’t cutting it for the masses right now with another costly election brewing.
    What a comedy of errors!

  • Cool it there brothers! We are all in this thing together! Always remember – “There Is Plenty To Be Thankful For”.

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