Connecting our Foreign Policy with the Diaspora

By Stephen Kangal
October 21, 2010

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-BissessarPrime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar and her itinerant Foreign Minister Suruj Rambachan have both been extolling the important benefits of establishing closer functional links with our diaspora based in metropolitan Caribbean enclaves in North America and Europe as the rationale for radically reforming the priorities of our foreign policy. In fact both now have a shared political/administrative responsibility for the conceptualization and conduct of our foreign policy.

These diasporic communities demonstrate a clear, continuing and compelling emotional attachment to mother T&T whom they adore with an unbridled passion even though living thousands of miles away. That is the genetic link resulting from the principle of the territorial imperative. It is therefore not surprising that our Prime Minister during her recent visits to New York and Miami was showered with such overwhelming adulation and received pledges of support for her Children’s Life Fund and foreign investments.

Our diaspora represents a strategic beach-head of foreign political influence and power that can serve as an effective conduit for our Government officials to gain access to and lobby the power-brokers and entrepreneurs in metropolitan countries. Many of our citizens are elected local and central government operatives.

They are also a skills bank that can contribute to the technological and administrative development of T&T especially in the health/IT sectors. T&T societies send on an on-going basis various forms of assistance to the local NGO’s not to mention the remittances sent to their loved ones. In fact Jamaica is solvent today only because of huge remittances received from its diaspora.

Our diaspora serves also as an increasingly lucrative market for our exotic foods, fruits and vegetables, condiments, cultural products including carnival costumes, fashion industry and the chutney and soca artistes of our local entertainment industry. They alone provide our artistes with all-year-round revenues.

In the face of this compelling scenario what kind of strategic foreign policy refit must we adopt to connect with and tap into this huge reservoir/outpost of foreign political influence, foreign currency earning markets, loyalty and patriotism and expanding pool of bankable skills?

As a starter let us accredit our Inspector of Missions as an ambassador to the T&T diaspora with a special assignment to service these communities in close collaboration with our respective embassies and to be annually accountable to our Prime Minister for his/her stewardship.

The Government of India has appointed a Minister of Overseas Indians/ annual Pravasi interface to serve/reclaim and benefit from its 25 million diaspora with telling results. Our PM may attend this annual homecoming, Moolook pilgrimage in January next.

2 thoughts on “Connecting our Foreign Policy with the Diaspora”

  1. I’ve always maintained that I have no resentment with any T&T citizen who leaves T&T to live in another country. It does not matter if they speak with another accent, either: they’ll STILL be T&Tians, even if they decide to change nationalities (NOTHING is wrong with that, either…).

    The problem I have is with T&T citizens, particularly some of those from the UWI, who go to the U.S. and then want to ‘spit and defeciate’ on the place with their comments, etc, just to show ‘de wyte boy and dem’ that dey ‘black’ and dey ‘unique!!!’

    I’ll give you an instance:
    A few years ago, I’m walking on the UF campus (near a steel-art structure nicknamed, ‘french fries’), and I saw two people there whom I felt, ‘looked Trinidadian.’ As I was about to approach them (to enquire), one of them, (female) ‘ups’ and exclaims (in her quite obvious T&T accent) for all (de wyte people) to hear, “But this is so fake!” The other person (male) appeared to be taken aback by this, and he let ‘things’ calm down; good move on his part…
    I walked right past (them and) that woman (the male who was with her has my pity…)!

    I subsequently found out that she was on a Fullbright scholarship pursuing a PhD. Right now, as far as I know, she is a ‘lecturer’ at UWI St. Augustine, is an associate of Sewlwyn Ryan, and has even written a few columns / articles for the T&T Guardian (with the ‘Dr.’ appellation in front of her name, no doubt acquired with the help from the same ‘fake place’ she so vociferously screamed at…).

    In general, though, the T&T diaspora in North America ARE aware of those kinds of Trinidadians, and have moved beyond them…
    They still want to help ‘home,’ (as best as they could) but they have no time for the kind of ‘schuppidness’ from Trinidadians, as I described above…

  2. Yea Bacon172000, I am with you on dem fake Trinis that you so lucidly described, but go easy on our few conscious Black UWI grads, and save some of your outrage instead for the likes of the British fakes such as V.S. Naipaul and similar others , who unlike your Fulbright Scholar , and mentor Dr Selwyn Ryan , still care enough about their country – irrespective of who is in political power- to wish to contribute to it’s development, hmmm? Let me see some venom for others who can graduate from elite British Law school on Monday, and on daddy strength come to Trinidad on Tuesday , and seek to stand up in Parliament on Wednesday to lament on issues they haven’t a clue about, while biding their time to take over from Nepotist in Chief dad on Thursday, only to be nipped in the bud on Friday by our Siparia Queen , ably assisted by an underestimated FIFA genius,with big political ambitions of his own that he hopes to put into place sometime over the weekend .
    Ah tell you , what a country indeed!These folks with their creative sobriquets , are so transparent , dat it ain’t even laughable anymore.
    We know that many don’t believe in a god , or a heaven as the majority of us do, but if they did , one can be assured they would be asking him when they visit the pearly gates some day , why he made these savage , big butts, kinky head, thick lips crazy , uncivilized Africans, in addition to dem, and beautiful European brothers and sisters, eh Bacon uno,dos , thres, cuatro cinco ,mucho denero?
    I wish you well my friend.

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