T&T Must Expedite Maritime Border With Grenada

By Stephen Kangal
August 27, 2008

Trinidad and TobagoT&T has a tradition in being tardy in establishing maritime boundaries with its neighbours until it was unilaterally hauled before a compulsory UN Arbitral Tribunal by Barbados, spent millions of pounds in the costly litigation and an unfair and punitive boundary was imposed on us. It took us seventeen years to conclude the 1990 Treaty with Venezuela and we have been in discussions on the subject with Barbados since 1989.

We seem to believe that there will be profit or advantage in procrastination. On the contrary as the hydrocarbon and fishing potential of the un-delimited maritime areas are revealed and/or oil companies get involved or express an interest in future exploration, as in the Barbados case, the negotiating positions of the respective parties become inflexible and extremist. Secondly there has been a gradual creeping extension of state jurisdiction into areas that were formerly high seas.

The negotiation of a boundary with Grenada has been on the bilateral agenda for the past twenty years without any substantive talks being held. Cabinet first appointed a negotiating team via Cabinet Minute 1373 in August 1991 and approved a negotiating brief. We never sought to use our close relations as a basis to expedite the conclusion of a boundary and the considerations invoked as the basis for 2006 Judgment will make it more difficult to conclude the type of boundary that we desire to protect our existing hydrocarbon leases located beyond the median line.

As for the boundary with St. Vincent and the Grenadines this has not even been placed on the agenda. We have established a platform of excellent relations with PM Gonzales and this has good prospects for a speedy conclusion. How can we now initiate a boundary with St. Vincent when political union is in the making?

In the face of the Agreement reached this week relating to a future political integration with Grenada and St. Vincent by 2013 one wonders why was the maritime boundary question placed on the bilateral integration agenda for talks with Grenadian PM Tillman Thomas. Is this an indicator of the lack of commitment to the political integration process or is the Communique mere diplomatic nicety? Imminent political integration within four years preempts having separate maritime boundaries because political integration involves having a common and unified jurisdiction.

How can newly elected Prime Minister Tillman Thomas agree to integrate Grenada politically with T&T during his first visit to T&T and when he has not consulted with his Cabinet or the people of Grenada? Was the issue part of the election campaign that he won?

Trinbagonians will however, recall that a T&T unitary statehood with Grenada has been on the cards since 1961 without any headway being made. This whole premature political union issue lacks credibility, is full of contradictions and duplication and is not supported by Guyana and Barbados.

One must also query whether the MOU for the proposed Eastern Caribbean Union (ECU) signed by the four leaders is merely a strategic ploy being engineered and fomented by PM Manning to retard the growing secessionist movement in the sister isle of Tobago and/or to promote the fashionable image of Manning being projected as a Caribbean integrationist. PM Gonzales has described Manning as a “… toiler in the vineyard of regional integration”.

A month ago Manning proposed a three-fifths majority to obtain parliamentary sanction of Parliament for his integration scheme. Now he states that all he needs is a simple parliamentary majority. Does PM Manning really understand what is involved in the political integration process from a T&T constitutional perspective that he can make these flippant statements? How can he inveigle PM Thomas to this process when he is on his first official visit to T&T?

Before we can enter into political integration discussions with our partners we must be certain that they are speaking for the electorate of the willing as well as for the Opposition because they are the future government of the respective countries. Political union cannot be treated flippantly because this can still lead to early disintegration.

Or is it Manning’s personal aspirations for becoming the future Executive President of the ECU or is political integration an aberration of his?

The population of T&T will never agree to any future political union with these non-politically viable and insolvent pimples of the Caribbean Sea because we do not stand to gain anything from any banana republican appendages and economic/political millstones around our necks. We know of the heavy financial burden that we have been called upon to bear to keep 60,000 Tobagonians at bay.

Manning’s mortar has more than the pestle. It has votes in mind.

7 Responses to “T&T Must Expedite Maritime Border With Grenada”

  • “We know of the heavy financial burden that we have been called upon to bear to keep 60,000 Tobagonians at bay.”

    Mr K do us a favor and explain exactly who is specifically referred to as the “ we” here, and what is the financial burden that you believe is being paid for keeping 60,000 Tobagonians at bay? Do you believe that the people of Tobago have benefited fully from this union, and if they decide it’s time for a divorce what is a reasonable price, bearing in mind the obvious huge discrepancies in resource allocations through the years, since the twin Republic’s good fortunes? I already know what former Lt. Raffique Shah still fervently believes is equitable, via his recent article dated Sunday, April 13th 2008, entitled A torch for Tibet…and Tobago.
    http://www.trinidadandtobagonews.com/blog/?p=490 However, since he is a now a new age journalist whose that prefers to provoke controversy and so possible media advertising revenues and all such good stuff, we won’t take him too serious on that score , in much the same way as we might be inclined for you . This incidentally is a much admired and carefully charted course of yours as you reach out in diligent search for the truth.

  • It never ceases to amaze me the ignorance and lack of judgment, the blatant prejudice expressed by people who seem to think they know it all, yet lacks the skill and language of co-operation among people, especially those of us on such small specks of land in the Caribbean Sea; Trinidad and all. Mind the language and the continuity of referring to your neighbors as mere banana republic appendages, pimples and specks of land in the Caribbean. I am not a Manning fan but perhaps he has the insight that his detractors like yourself lack. Perhaps he recognizes that as a group of people “united we stand and divided we fall. Yes Trinidad’s resources are aplenty by small island standards; these Vincentians and Grenadians do not covet. Regional cooperation is important as world affairs go, even by regional ones too. Before we as a group of people seek to savage each other with name calling and setting of virtual borders in the open sea around us, we must first seek to delineate the two hundred mile maritime boundary around each Caribbean nation and see how that works. Your main concern is not the islands north of you but the mainland neighbor next to you Mr. Kangal. Think of it next time you go off with your head in the wind while your eyes are closed blind. We will not allow people like you to split the people of the Caribbean into tribes via name-calling and taunts. Your nearsightedness is a gross disservice to the people of the region and the entire Caribbean, islands and mainland alike. Your opposition to the present government is without substance but seem to be rooted divisive absolutes.

  • I’ve read a host of posting by various parties on this blog. A lot of political jargon addressing issues that most Trinbagonians have little or no interest in. From the lingo generated I get a sense most of Trinbagoinian decent. The conversation of boundaries and borders appears to be paramount in these discussion. I fail to see the importance of borders or boundaries proclamation while the people within these borders are struggling to maintain themselves physically and financially. While these topics are substantive to some degree, other needs are more pressing to the citizens and politicians are failing them miserably.

    The cost living,unemployment, crime and health care are what every citizen take to bed with them each and every night. And to sit back and see arguments and political rheteric taking the fore front is depressing.

    Some of us were fortunate to have been able to skate from the borders of our troubled home land leaving behind the social problems and what is conceived as political dictatorship; destroying that which was once so treasured and worth dying for; much would agree that this is no longer the case. Notwithstanding, the connection we will always have via family and friends; we need to some how figure out a way to help them to escape the mental and dictatorial slavery that has engulfed them.

    With the education and social enhancement those of us who left and came to the U.S and Canada etc, we need to use it to help those we left behind to educate and motivate them to chase the life that they are entitled to. Help them “grow some balls” to stand up and be out spoken and demand that which they are entitled to. We can sit back in our expensive homes, condo’s, cottages and chalets and try to impress them with expressive jargon that only satisfies our own ego; thinkin that in some way we are contributing to their cause.

    They need us to lead them, to stand with them and point them in the right direction; when they fall be there to lift them up again and continue the march. The current leaders of Trinidad and Tobago are not interested in leading the people or have the welfare of the people in mind; they have their own interest at heart and use the people from time to time to get to their goals. The people of our nation needs those from the outside that has a grasp on creating and implementing meaningful strategies to take thier life, their country back; without it they will remain lost and at the mercy of those egotistical, power hungry and “don’t give a damn” government leaders like Manning.

  • A “maritime boundary” with Grenada is an IRRELEVANT concept if we do the right thing and unite. The West Indies should have been one country in 1958. 50 years later, regional unity is getting on track again. United, the West Indies will still be a small-to-medium country but will have a greater maritime territory than the current sum of individual maritime territories. This will be a shared resource for us to exploit jointly.

  • Totally agree with Mr Beharry

  • Such vile and foolish talk.

    “The population of T&T will never agree to any future political union with these non-politically viable and insolvent pimples of the Caribbean Sea because we do not stand to gain anything from any banana republican appendages and economic/political millstones around our necks. We know of the heavy financial burden that we have been called upon to bear to keep 60,000 Tobagonians at bay.”

    I cannot help but think that Mr. Kangal was probably not in the right state of mind when he wrote this. To refer to any of the islands like that is absurd and downright spews of racism if you ask me. I wonder when people like him will ever realise that without unity in the Caribbean we will continue the fight for the crumbs from the first world nations.

  • Jason I too can feel your pain on the extreamly hash comments by the learned Mr. K about our Caribbean neighbors , but was even more appaled by his ” financial burden/keeping Tobagonians at bay,” idle talk.
    Please tell me you are not sad to know that we have a forum like this were the former foreign service high official can spew his contempt for fellow citizens primarialy of a certain persuasion.
    Think of it as your opportunity to accord youself with some valuable reference materials to use against him when he finally decides to throw his hat into the political ring by running for office in an effort to broaden the UNC base in the hope of winning more than the average ten safe seats than his close mentor Bas were able to garner throughout the years.

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