We Must Control Our Destiny

By Raffique Shah
November 30, 2020

Raffique ShahIf there is not now on our statute books a law that empowers us to deny entry into Trinidad and Tobago to any alien, man woman or child, more so persons seeking to enter our territory illegally, then Government must move post-haste to rectify such anomaly that foreigners are using to breach our borders. Further, if some government in the past compromised this inalienable right that every sovereign state in the world must surely enjoy by signing on to some nebulous convention that purports to promote human rights, then unshackle us, damn it if we are deemed inhumane, sub-human or maybe animals.

It is incomprehensible that in the instant case, large numbers of our own citizenry would rally around the illegal Venezuelans, some of them even aiding in ensuring that their deportation was foiled, challenging the State to prove that its actions were lawful. I shall not comment on the issues that relate to the court matter since that is now sub judice. But I intend to show that most of us are hypocrites of a high order, that we are complexion-sensitive in an extreme way, often without knowing it, and these are what influence us to take action that appears to be driven by compassion for fellow human beings who appear to be persecuted or discriminated against.

The same people who are speaking out against the deportation of illegal Venezuelans insist that this country’s first prime minister, Dr Eric Williams, “opened the door” to allow thousands of Grenadians, Vincentians and other “small islanders” to flock into the country, to increase his political support-base, since those migrants were almost exclusively Afros. What they either do not know or will not admit is that migration from the West Indian islands to T&T took place over an extended period that started before Williams entered politics, and occurred in waves that spanned decades going back to the 1930s when the oil industry was expanding.

Tubal Uriah Butler, who led the oil and sugar workers’ strikes that exploded in 1937, was Grenadian. In fact, even before that period, hundreds of Barbadians and scores of Guyanese had migrated to T&T, the Bajans favoured by the British colonial government as police officers and experienced sugar factory workers, and the Guyanese as “chemists” in the sugar factories. One of my father’s bosses/friends, Guyanese Jubrasingh, was a “pan boiler” at the Brechin Castle factory. The islanders who worked in the sugar industry were mostly labourers who could cut canes almost like mechanical harvesters.

Carlton “Lord Blakie” Joseph sang a popular calypso in the 1950s, as far as I recall—and here I rely on the “hard drive” in my head—that “invited” people to flock Woodford Square because the police were catching and beating illegal Grenadians before deporting them. “If yuh see how dey holding de scamps and dem, friends yuh bong to bawl/Some ah dem could read and write but dey cyah pronounce at all/De policeman tell dem to say ‘box’ yuh chupid man/And as dey say ‘bax’, licks in the police van..”
Migration to T&T, legal and illegal, was always an issue. In fact, we are a migrant society, the Afros by and large descendants of slaves who had no choice in the matter, the Indians similarly pre-destined by indentureship, most Europeans by choice with huge tracts of land gifted to them… As someone who was born and who lived most of my life in the “sugar belt”, I was aware that many Indos from “BeeGee” (British Guiana) had come to Trinidad looking for jobs and ended up staying on, They endured discrimination from Trini-Indos who thought they were superior to the Guyanese, and from Afros, who just did not like them.

With respect to Venezuelans, few of them chose to leave the relatively prosperous mainland country and live in this two-by-two island. Our oil industry was miniscule compared with theirs, and there was the language problem. But there was always interaction between Venezuelans in the Eastern quadrant of that country and Trinidadians from Cedros and surrounding villages. Even before that, the Warao Indians (indigenous people) used to make their way to Trinidad by canoes, land at Moruga, and walk with their goods and trinkets to Naparima, later Princes Town, to trade. Thus came Indian Walk in Moruga.

As Venezuela advanced economically, becoming a fabulously wealthy country, its citizens, especially those of European descent who believed they were vastly superior to Indo- and Afro-Trinis, had little cause to come to T&T. There were few exceptions—the Bermudez family being one—mostly from among the educated and well-off Venezuelans who had run afoul of one government or dictator, but who wanted to remain close to base, hopefully to return “home” when the opportunity arose.

What would play critical roles in bringing us to the current sorry state—politics, geo-politics, narco-trafficking, human-trafficking mostly for prostitution—is a story that needs to be told.

9 thoughts on “We Must Control Our Destiny”

  1. Raffique Shah seems to be driven by a desire to speak plainly and honestly BUT…BUT he always, as most indians do, try to twist history regarding african and indian history to hide inconvenient truths on which indian caribbean history rests. “…The indians similarly pre-destined by indentureship…” BULLS###!! Indian indentureship, just as chinese, portugese and irish indentureship in the caribbean was a system used as a COME-UP by UNTOUCHABLES from india, to ESCAPE their ENSLAVEMENT by other indians in the Brahman-ist “Hindu” Varna(race/colour) hierarchy, referred to as the “Hindu” “Caste System”. Indians who lived under this system in india, like raffique shah’s forefathers who first tried to escape untouchability via islam, were forced to only do filthy, dehumanising jobs such as;
    *digging latrines,
    *cleaning latrines,
    *clearing dead human & animal faeces and bodies from the road, *drink from segregated, faeces contaminated water supply
    *prostitution
    *etc etc etc

    Raffique Shah’s forefathers SIGNED UP VOLUNTARILY, to LEAVE the persecution of their homeland, to start afresh and chart their own destiny. Indentured labourers, UNLIKE ENSLAVED africans, arrived AFTER africans had fought, begged, and humanized european intellectualism and politics to the point that it was universally, legally accepted as WRONG. Indians arrived in the caribbean as LEGALLY HUMAN and imbued with LEGAL RIGHTS & LEGAL REPRESENTATIVES. Indians packed ‘jahaji bundles” of personal belongings, fullynclothed and embarked on their joutney to the caribbean PURPOSEFULLY & EAGERLY! Why then, is Raffique Shah saying that indians’ destiny war “pre-determined” by indentureship? Indian trinidadians and guyanese are fixated on COMPETING with african history by making these false claims that DOWNPLAY AND OUTRIGHT DENY THE PRIVILIGES THAT THEY ENJOYED OVER AFRICANS HISTORICALLY! Indetureship contracts were SIGNED for 5 year and 10 year periods, after which, indians left with their saving back to india OR GIFTED LAND TO STAY IN TRINIDAD!! Why is Raffique Shah sigling out europeans as the only group gifted land as incentive to stay in trinidad????This is false history!! Also shah mentions that indian trinidadians believed themselves superior to guyanese indians and that africans “didn’t like them”.. What shah omits, is that BOTH indians from guyana and trinidad SEE (not saw) themselves as genetically, culturally and spiritually superior to africans. See how misleading? Shah wants to obfuscate his ethnic groups role as the VILLAN in the historical race relations bwtween africans and indians in trinidad, guyana and everywhere quite frankly!! However, at least he’s the MOST honest indiasn writer/commentator in trinidad and doesn’t appear malicious and diabolical as his counterparts in the media and social/political commentators….it’s something!

  2. There is no question that T&T needs a comprehensive immigration and refugee policy. It is not surprising that this type of legislation was not a previous priority of governments. After all, T&T was never such an attractive destination for mass migration from South America or from any other place for that matter.
    The government of T&T made its first mistake by establishing the policy to provide residency status to thousands of Venezuelans. What were they thinking? T&T is still a very underdeveloped country struggling with budgetary deficits and unprecedented borrowing. The country lack proper infrastructure and is still burdened by poverty, illiteracy and porous borders which propelled the problem to begin with. Triniboganians dislike hearing the former statement, but it is a fact, believe it.
    Now that the government has opened the can of worms, they are desperately trying to shut it. Maybe if the PM was not so focussed on shutting out his own nationals (a policy adopted by no other country in the universe) he would have been better prepared to make wiser immigration decisions. Did he not know that a tiny island like T&T was not in a position to absorb so many refugees?
    The recent outcry regarding the acceptance of more refugees was not based on some bizarre obsession with whiteness. People were demanding common decency toward women and children. What kind of creature would deport a boatload of children in a pirogue on high seas? No one is against deportation. Do it in the proper manner when dealing with children. It does not matter how they arrived. Show some humanity and return them in safe modes of transportation.
    Rowley and his cohorts seem to act first and think later.

  3. There is only one coast guard boat working in a fleet of boats purchased. Venezuelan fishermen are moving freely near Staubles Bay and boat loads of Venes are coming through unprotected borders. The south in particular are flooded with sex workers, cheap labour and men leaving their marital home for a red woman.

    From time to time they catch a few and it becomes headline news for a few days heated discussions. But the flood of arrivals continue. About 178 Trinidads can fit into Venezuela. The population of Venezuela Is a little over 28 million. So why leave so much to come to Trinidad. Simple reason Venezuela economy has “flat lined” and many gravitated to the city are now starving. Paradox is they have a long coastline, the mighty Amazon, and the right temperature to grow food. But they are leaving because the elitist control the wealth (sounds familiar) and the middle class has disappeared.. a lesson for all.

    1. Who has flooded and continues to flood T&T (North, South, East & West) with illegal venezuelans, colombian and guyanese indian
      Sex workers MAMOO?
      Talk!….Every ethnic group knows this one….The same persons and network that brings the illicit drugs and guns!!!…………………………………??
      Indian “businessmen” and “businesswomen”, who are also owners of nightclubs, bars, malls, contracting firms and other fronts for laundering money to finance UNC and indian politics of hate! Venezuelans are the new ‘brown’ buffer between all ethnic groups and africans, to economically starve out the blackest of the african population from jobs. These mulatto men and women are being herded in for economic and sexual exploitatation, as well as to “brown” and “redden” the anti-black indian population from their own blackness (better than VICCO).

      1. Inconvenient you are right, but I kinda disagree with some of your sentiments. Please oblige me a few moments to correct some of your misconceptions. Some time ago a boat was intercepted and found to have beautiful teenage Venes coming from the mainland. The police stepped in and found out it was a Chinese businessman who ran a business where northern businessmen were paying $10,000 for one of these girls per week. Every week they brought in these high priced beautiful senoritas. To date nothing came out of the case. That is the power of connections.
        Boats that go to the islands then Westmoorings filled with drugs are sometimes intercepted but nothing comes out of it. One minister of national security former step daughter was caught he said I dunno the girl. What came out of that?

        Now since you make a number of accusations of Indian businessmen and families bringing in these people. I cited two examples can you call some names!

        1. Mamoo,
          I don’t give a DAMN about what you PROFESS that you are inclined to agree with! I have already established you to be a pathological liar and deceiver, with a hateful, racist and TYPICAL anti-african agenda. Firstly, the chinese criminal organizations traffick CHINESE….NOT Venezuelans!! Secondly, indians are the largest representative group in Drugs, guns and human trafficking! The syrians, whites and chinese crime families/organizations are NOT represented as traffickers of non-chinese (south americans, europeans!) FACTS! aren’t you proud?

          1. Most of my friends are of African heritage. This Christmas I will be getting Cassava Pone, Ginger Beer and Black Cake from my black friends many of whom I talk to on a daily basis. None of that from my Indian friends.
            I will not exchange any of my black friends for an Indian.
            Inconvenient truth you need to come out of that misguided concept about people and live in the real world. You so dam ugly nobody want to be your friend and you blame it on Indian people. Anyway take care of yourself and try and have a few friends outside your race.

  4. T&T’s solitary alliance with Venezuela is perplexing. Has the government of T&T ever wondered why so many are fleeing Venezuela to not only T&T but to every country in South America, the Caribbean and also the USA? Is it because Maduro is such a generous and brilliant leader?
    Is it because of oil and gas deals between Maduro and Rowley?
    T&T should take note that Biden’s policy towards Venezuela is no different from Trump’s and fifty other recognized nations in the world. They all recognize Guiado as the legitimate leader of Venezuela and describe Maduro as a despotic tyrant.
    T&T needs to explain to its people and the world why their government has adopted this position. How does T&T know that Maduro was elected by a free and fair election when US and European intelligence are in disagreement?
    In short, do people flee their country by the thousands if conditions are great?

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