Gambling on bare Jack

By Raffique Shah
January 19, 2013

Raffique ShahTHE ferocity with which the two main parties, the PNM and the People’s Partnership (yes, the PP!), fought the 2013 THA election, suggests that they see this battle for an anticipated 25,000 or so votes as a life-and-death struggle. Maybe it is, although I venture to add that this prognosis applies more to the Partnership than the PNM, as I shall argue. The intensity of the campaign, the media, ground and cyberspace advertising and propaganda blitz, which must have cost at least $50 million, certainly surprised me.

Up until November when Orville London advised the President to dissolve the THA and name a date for elections, I must confess that I had not given much thought to the looming political showdown. Like most Trinis, I imagine, I saw the elections as a battle for Tobago turf between London’s PNM and Ashworth Jack’s TOP. Of course, with TOP being an integral, even critical, part of the Partnership government, I expected Jack’s partners to lend him support as he sought to wrest control of the THA from the PNM.

What I did not envisage was that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her Partnership government would buy the fight, quite literally. Because while such direct intervention could pay some dividends if the TOP topples the PNM, should the PNM retain control, or worse, increase its majority in the THA, the backlash for the Partnership could be severe.

Put another way, should the PNM lose the elections, it would mean that the party’s losing streak, which started in the May 2010 general elections and included the two Tobago seats, is on an extended run. Keith Rowley’s leadership would come under scrutiny yet again. And the PNM would have to re-group, maybe re-make itself if it is to remain a potent political force on the national landscape.

In a worst-case scenario, a routing in tomorrow’s polls could leave the PNM fighting for survival.

Maybe these latter prospects, tantalising as they are (no more PNM … jeezanages!), enticed the Partnership leadership and strategists to commit themselves as fully as they have done to what otherwise might have been little more than an ordinary poll. With a very visible hand, they have ploughed serious resources into these elections, gambling big that Jack will win.

I referred earlier to a multi-million-dollar advertising blitz—it could be costlier than $50 million—that has attracted much attention, and maybe some support.

No one believes that Jack and the TOP are paying even a fraction of that bill. If he is, then surely he has found the magical beanstalk! It’s one thing to grow and sell pumpkins (among other activities) to afford a million-dollar house, over which I take no issue. It’s quite another to be seen throwing around tens of millions of dollars, commandeering beaches and resorts, and so on, based on home-based financial support.

Clearly, the Partnership has bought the fight with a war chest that’s bursting at the seams—which is a two-edged weapon. The perception that Trinidad-based financiers are funding the TOP campaign could turn off potential supporters who might see it as interference in the island’s internal affairs.

The heavy presence of Trinidad-based politicians on the TOP platform may prove to be counter-productive. In contrast, Rowley was the only Trinidad-PNM speaker on his party’s platform, and in any event, he is Tobagonian by birth.

Although I cannot claim to understand Tobago’s peculiar culture, I sense that Tobagonians resent Trinidadians who appear to be imposing our ways and our will on them.

During the first THA elections in 1980, some of my colleagues and I from the fractured ULF offered to speak on Ray Robinson’s DAC platform as he took on the might of the PNM. Ray welcomed our support but asked that we stay away from the island until election-eve (the Sunday).

A few of us made the trip and were present at meetings at Charlotteville, Roxborough and Scarborough. I was the only one invited to speak at the final stop.

Back then, and for several THA elections afterwards, Trinidadians who campaigned for either party were branded “strangers”. It could well be that Tobagonians welcome the Partnership ministers, especially the Prime Minister, who has all but taken up residence on the island. After all, they are in government and they can make things happen.

The PM chose the campaign trail to deliver an NGC natural gas facility at Cove, a new NP service station at Roxborough, and yet another promise to start reconstruction of the airport terminal and associated structures. These, and other “gifts”, may influence more of the electorate to vote TOP.

It would be interesting to see how Tobagonians react and respond to the frenzied, glitzy, ultra expensive campaign the two main parties mounted. In the 2009 elections, when Jack’s TOP made its debut (succeeding the NAR), around 56 per cent of 40,000 electors voted. Although the PNM won eight of 12 districts to control the THA, it did so by the narrowest of margins, polling 51 per cent of the votes cast. Bear in mind there was no Partnership back then, hence no “foreign” intervention in the elections, and nothing remotely close to the expensive campaign blitz we are witnessing this time around.

The only result that would be positive for the Partnership is a landslide victory for the TOP. A narrow win would be nice, but it would hardly justify the Partnership’s multi-million-dollar investment and the avalanche of ministers who entered the cockpit to crow for Jack.

It could get worse. If the underdog-PNM manages to hold on to the THA or improve its standing, that would be bad news for the Partnership. With local government elections in Trinidad looming on the horizon, it would be folly to have gambled so much on bare-Jack when your opponents might hold Ace, King, and who knows, even Queen.

21 thoughts on “Gambling on bare Jack”

  1. Your prose (Shah)continues to “jump-off” the screen at me.It always presents a retrospective of the “good old days”.On occasion when I read your articles;immediately I am either at the roundabout in Marabella (smile)or the other roundabout in Mon Repos,San Fernando.

    “Gambling on bare Jack” (smile)is definitely a suicidal exercise;especially when you have dealt.I am eager to obtain the election results.Amidst the excitement sometimes the same person deals “twice” in succession.Bon chance!

  2. “If the underdog-PNM manages to hold on to the THA or improve its standing, that would be bad news for the Partnership”Shah.
    Chief Secretary Orville London is not an underdog in this election. It is always difficult to defeat the incumbent since he had at his disposal a war chest of billions over the span of his leadership. A leader is most likely to lose an election if the economy is bad or corruption and crime is very high. Orville has taken the time to craft his image very well in Tobago appearing regularly on television and presenting to the people all the symbols of progress. He has made sure that his regular appearance at events present to the public an image of a caring leader. Nevertheless Orville has mismanage funds and wasted resources however with the help of the media Jack’s image has taken a beating with the issue reading his mansion. Also the false poll presenting an picture of the PNM wining the election. The real issues of squadamania and wastage never really occupy the headlines. And so the enormous amount of money of the Scarborough Hospital gets a pass along with the Rahael deal. Billions in corruption ignored.

    1. Congratulations to Orville on his victory. It is not surprising that he won. As I wrote before he has a carefully crafted image engaging the Tobagonians in communicating to them via the media over the length of his term. The people knew what he was doing and so the wipe out of TOP comes as no surprise. Congratulations again…

    2. “and so the enormous amout of money of the Scarborough hospital gets a pass , along with the Rahael deal…..Billions in corruption ignored.”Mamboo
      In short, Mamboo, the historically victimized people of Tobago ,are to be blamed for they not having a viable hospital since one was constructed ,way back when Queen Victoria ,was running around Buckimham palace in knickers?
      In de interim , 5 new ones were constructed across Trinidad, with 10 more in de pipeline -during this ,racially skewed, decentralizeation era-as each time a Tobagonians get a gas pain , they have to hop on a rickety River ferry to come to Trinidad,or if they can afford, ever unreliable , Caribbean Airlines,death traps, as thankfully ,a few Cubans, and suspect Nigerian doctors……, well ,you get de picture.
      As for your corruption claims, just maybe they are learning quickly from their counterparts in Trinidad.
      Ohhh ‘AfroBuddahSunGod ,’ have mercy on his twisted soul. Basdeo Panday , his liberator , and similar corrupt others, are supported almost to their dying day ,by tribal voters,across the enclaves,irrespective of what 50 % of de rest of the nation ,law enforcement authorities, or DPP thinks,but Tobagonians, likewise support their own heroes -in spirt of immoral imposters ,attempts to tarnish their names- and somehow ,this is a major crime. Go figure!

  3. Raff, P.P the big spender try bluffing and got. Jack Hanged.
    !2 to 0 It’s time for C.O.P to be on the move.

  4. The infusion of big money into the politics of a yet to be understood people is intriguing and enticing at the same time.
    The election results of the past few elections is definitely NOT the prowess that our local ‘Madison Avenue’ appears to have commanded to win the hearts of our beloved population. The people are much smarter than they are being credited for. Manning’s loss was self-inflicted. He had much more time to correct himself or the direction that he was heading and calling election at that time was totally unnecessary, but he was greedy and selfish and cared little or nothing about his party and those who genuinely thought that while the party was going through a rough time, an election at that time was definitely not the right cure for the illness the image of the party was experiencing. While Manning has never offered a credible explanation of why he called an early election many believed that he felt it unwise to banish Dr. Rowley on his own and needed a big electoral victory to make that move. A digusted population on the other hand was fed up with the way he was handling the running of the government. He made the government appear to be incapable of administering good governance. On the other hand, while the UNC as an alternative was not attractive, it allowed the population as a whole to view the election of a woman prime minister as something attractive and one that may not hurt the country and can only enhance the standing of Trinidad and Tobago. While Kamla’s political history is not necessarily attractive or showed great promise for leadership, her comparison to Manning and Panday seemed worthy of consideration because she appeared to be saying the right things and did not appear to be motivated by race or other divisionary kind of rhetoric. The money spent on that election was more incidential than commanding. The money may have been elevational in promoting trust in the leadership of Kamla but not necessarily in the policies she may provide. Manning never provided the confidence he needed in the people he was depending upon to re-elect him with a resounding majority. He had simple options which could have saved the PNM from defeat but was way too selfish to consider it. Had he decided to resign and maybe occupy the presidential mansion while at the same time (putting aside his dislike for Rowley) and allowing him to elevate to the prime minister spot would have saved the PNM from the degrading of the party. The subsequent winning of the election of the People’s Partnership and the occupying of prior secure seats in Arima and elsewhere by the COP means that anyone could have beaten Manning at that time. The electorate is a simple one. While race always played a significant part in our politics it seemed of little consequence (especially from the expected PNM base) that he was still in command of the party. The electorate was good and king in feeling that it can give Kamla the mantle of leadership and expected her to be a safe pick. Her success woke up a sleeping giant in the Indian population who longed for governance by one who looked like them and they got it. Successive loses by the PNM that followed were based on the momentum this change provided. The continued infusion of money into the electoral process cannot help the democratic institution it can only spoil it more.

  5. Excellent analysis, Kian, except that the detailed results of the election show that the PNM base did not vote for the PP in spite of Manning’s failures.

  6. The elections were determined by Orville and his communication style but Rowley took the time to extend thanks to the PNM Tobagonians living in Trinidad whose disdain for the PP saw them returning to the sister isle in droves to vote for the PNM. Knowing that it is possible to change an election result when the electorate is such a small number by a few thousand people coming in for the specific purpose shows the determination and help afforded by PNMites in Trinidad.

  7. Sorry Mamboo, but some ,much wiser than us both would say ,desperate times , calls for desperate measures. This election had nada to do with Tobagonians, if so your PM would not have driven out on a limb ,to try and win it, at all cost
    UWI high end Professor / administrator ,in DR Hamid Ghanny, an esteem POlitical scientist , in his own right ,if he is not too busy lobbying to be our next President , would be honest enough to admit , dat it was essentially a referendum , for ‘Her Majestick , Queen K ,’ and her government.
    Hopefully de people of Tobago- dat mattered – spoke loud enough, for de rest of the nation to hear , and maybe follow. Afrikan folks would no long be disrespected, their heroes would not be maligned,race has no place in our politics , since Tobagonians have no conception of what it entails – outside of suffering from de receiving end, over de last 50 years, due in great measures to Trinidadian tribalism interplays.
    Talk about a thriving democracy we have here in T&T. Let’s see if our Queen , would be more contrite , and understanding , as far as interpretation , after close , post election analysis , by policy wonks, and handlers.
    The fear by many is ,Tobago would suffer de same fate , that it endured when dat vindictive Papa Eric Williams ,was at the helm , and uncle ANR’s DAC ,was making his successful overtures back in de day.
    Ever de optimist, I say instead ‘Nyet,’ ain’t happening , since dis is ‘change Obama style , we can believe in.’
    In short, a new era has arrived, and we have what ,1095 days more to see how it plays out, come next election?
    I luv dis land, and so should you Mamboo- through good , and bad times.

  8. Mamoo, you have shown that you are very capable of understanding complicated political realities and this election result is NOT complicated unless one is NOT willing to accept hard realities.
    I would venture to say that if there were dynamics playing in favour of the TOP, Kamla changed it when she decided to make it a PP vs PNM election. This was a Tobagonian election that would have been best to be run, campaigned and voted by their own people.
    Having power is one thing and how you use it is another. You will never see Barack Obama electioneering in Utah or Nebraska telling its population that they will be batter served by the Democrats. I will risk being called a racist for saying this: it is not likely that you will see Rowley going to Debe asking its residents not to vote for the UNC because the PNM has something better in store for them. It is simply a case of picking sense out of nonsense.

    1. Point taken but that was the decision that was made. Ash was the one to kindly ask the PM to step aside on this one. But again I say Orville crafted his image very well over the years, speaking directly to Tobagonians via television outlining his projects so the people saw what was happening in their nation. If people are getting jobs and they are satisfied with the status quo they would not change. In Canada one of the mayor is in her 80s does not campaign but won every election for the past 30 years. Why? People can see how their city is improving each year..her name is Hazel Macallion.

  9. I miss you Cuz Kian , and welcome back. Once more , high praise to a blogger, who understand, and appreciate de finer intracasies of global politics-be it in Calcutta,Nirobe, Las Lomas , or Bacolet Tobago.
    To build on your Barack Obama anology , some 4 tyears ago , the then politically naive,though well intentioned Obama ,almost lost the swing state of Pensylvania ,and maybe the Domocratic nomination to rival ,Hillary Clinton, simply because he had de audacity to go into those pristine , and often wild bears/deer,bushy ,gun loving suburbs , and lambaste the good folks , about their weapons addictions.
    The fall out was so scary , that it took native boy ,Joe Biden, on the ticket, as his VP later, to make team Obama , breath a bit easy , as he went on to crush that semi coherent military elite John Mc Cain.
    Barrack was careful to not broach that gun subject ,too much , until his new term of office began , but now is skillfully using the repeated massacres on innocent folks -especially kids- to help sell what is a most contentious issue- gun control/2nd Amendment tweaks.
    ‘Me think,’Afrikan majority , that comprise de Tobago population,ain’t the cultureless idiots , after all, that many like to -erroneously, and in the most derogatory fashion,often categorize ,their Trinidad cousins, eeeeh?
    I could see the battle that many voters battlted with, two days ago. Most were taught dat, ‘Charity begins at home, ‘but when they look at the way their brothers and sisters are treated along de East West corridors, who adomped the almost revolutionary PP changed ides,and compare dat with de sudden luv extended to themselves , two weeks prior to an election, they felt that …….nah man, something ain’t kosher here.AsI alluded in a previous post, it’s there right, but almost certain , there is a price to pay- T&T politics being what it is.
    Having said all dat Let me add in ending the following:-Not too certain how folks in ‘PNM Nation,’can take away from this recent Shellacking, as delivered against the PP? Let’s just say there is mucho work to be done, in terms of rebranding .
    More importantly – Trinidad is a different animal, with overall ,differing concerns / issues.
    We wish dem well

  10. Neal I’m glad to be back especially when I see people like you, TMan,Mamoo and other regulars are participating in the discussions on voter behaviour and participation in the electoral process. I see a new theme developing here and one that is pushed by people like Jack Warner and the local political academics who now use the media to tell us everything that is wrong with Black people. The same people were quiet when Sat Maharaj use all kind of racial superiority language to make his points about hinduism and its positive effects on this plural citizenry. They failed to even voice an opinion when Tim Gopeesingh charges that the PNM were practicing racial genocide (or words to that effect). They failed to voice opinions when the now Attorney General allowed the Police to arrested and jailed over 4,000 African people under the disguise of a ‘state of emergency’. All these people were ‘suspects’. The Americans arrested and interned several people of Asian descent during the second world war. Anand Ramlogan’s behaviour under the state of emergency was under the same kind of thinking. The Prime Minister (using the same kind of thinking) under the state of emergency powers allowed several members of the black community to be arrested and in a few cases even charged for attempting to maim (or worse) the PM. All this without providing sufficient evidence to prove (beyond a reasonable doubt) that these people were in fact the perpetrators of such thinking. There is the case of the Chairman of the Police Service Commission who decided that the time have come to change the racial mixture of the Police Service because he felt that it was too heavilly laided with African people at the top. These incidents and many more were blatant acts of disrespect, cunning, malaise and racist attitudes toward a people who in the past supported a party commonly called ‘African’ by the people now in power. All this took place in the last three years. Does any one remember these things? Were are now being asked to believe that in there attempts to gain power in the sister island of Tobago their efforts were ‘stopped’ (thru the electoral process) because one African/Tobagonian man said that if they were to win the election a boat full of people will be coming from Culcata (or words to that effect). The burdens were are asked to bare are racist, ill-founded and wrong. The statements of Mr. Sandy does not physically hurt anyone. Yet we will wait till ‘cock get teeth’ to get an apology from the PM, AG, Gopeesingh and others for their actions which caused mental and physical pains to many people of African descent. Is this fair and balanced?

  11. “The Americans arrested and interned several people of Asian descent during the second world war”(Kian)Identical acts of internment were imposed on “all people” of Japanese descent in the Province of British Columbia,Canada during the second World war.Their property confiscated etc.There is another segment of Canadian History of which its people are reluctant to discuss:Canada had black people as “slaves”just as its cousins to the South..the U.S.A. In Atlantic Canada there is a rock known as “Nigger Rock”

    Meanwhile,what has become of Dwayne (a.k.a.”Batman” renowned crime fighter) Gibbs?….Please elaborate!!! LMFAO…

  12. It is interesting that Swordfish chose to ask about Dwayne Gibbs. I think it unfortunate that Dwayne Gibbs never understood the dynamics of Trinidad Life and more so its political and social shenanigans. On the surface he appeared to be a perfect fit. White, foreign, experienced, spoken word representing why he was called the natural fit and most importantly he was of the right racial mixture for that position. Too bad we never had another Tony May since independence. The reason why Gibbs faced a formidable force in the policing of the country because every problem our country faces emanated from the basis of RACE.’ The problem with our way of life is that we NEVER ever propose and initiate solutions. When a problem occurs, it is NEVER treated with professional soluble devices. It starts and never ends with competing accusations, ideas, counter ideas and missed contextual understanding so that the problem becomes too problematic before anything can be done about it. An example of it is the current AG. Here is a man who built a name for himself while in private practice and his appointment appears to fit his history as a man who fights for the people. His actions as Attorney General runs counter to that vision. ALL of his actions can be interpreted to be as an attorney whose support is fully for the PP and no other interpretation is appealing to him. He sees and acts in a way that is comprehensively political. With such behaviour be comes an ineffective and unrespected legal mind whom all of the people should residual confidence in. His approach to solving problems are therefore seen as political rather than as a reliable interpreter of the constitution and the law in particular. In this respect the underhanded passing of the famous ‘Section 34’ amendment. This incident not only personifies him but speaks volumes of his way of running the office of the attorney general, a culture could never be allowed to flourish into perpetuity. No wonder why criminals have no respect for law or people. On the social scene it is even more complicated. When in opposition the government almost always used the term ‘balance’ and ‘equal’ to describing how things should be. Those words have now been cemented in their grave since they have taken over the reins of government. Things always happen because of the PNM fault or people sympathectic to the PNM ( they never have a fault). The next government will do the same until society becomes a fractured and segmented model of a people being too fragmented to be governed. I am not suggesting that all of our social problems are the result of government but people who go to the polls to elect a government are always hoping that government will provide the operatus to solve the problems regardless of race color, creed religion or social standing. In reading or listening to the media one gets the belief that our problems are best understood and resolved by people who are either put in the limelight by party affiliations or written books or titled accomplishments (like BSc, MSc, MA, BS, PHD) or what is commonly regarded as institutional recognition to be called …………
    The problem with such individual is that almost none of them ever perform personally to earn the respect of the populace without the support of government, NGOs or social entities that have interests to enlighten their public standings. Names like Hamid Ghany, Bishnu Ragoonath, Sheila Rampersad, Dr. Natambu, the gentleman who runs the GSLI, Dr. Selwyn Ryan and others. This is not meant to say that these people are not worthy of their academic accomplishments but my point is what good is their service to society. Much unlike those quoted here are peop[le like Dr. John
    Spence, Dr. Kublalsingh and others who actively engage in public discourse in order to champion engage and help society to grow.
    This is what Dwayne Gibbs faced and he never got a handle of how to satisfy a meaningful course of how to apply the law and policing in particular to deal with the challenges that common folks deal with on a day to day basis.

  13. Well, all excellent points you have articulated here Cuz Kain, and I concur , but let’s call a spade a spade. To place ‘square pegs in round holes,can be a surefire ‘recipe ,for disaster ,’as some much wiser than me might say.
    In addition, and maybe more importantly , if ‘neo racial , agenda driven,non patriots ,assume’s power – especially Political/governmental power- we the citizens , would be hard pressed ,to see noticeably, positive progress, yes?
    Conclusion, is that our Trinidad and Tobago ,as presently constructed ,in in a most precarious state.
    Uncle Dwayne Gibbs ,was an abject failure, from de get go , for the same reasons that radical Islamist Yasin Abu BAkr, or better yet , Makandal dagga , and former Miss Universe Wendy FitzWIlliams might all be a disaster ,if either one was to try and be the head of the Sat Maharaj controlled MAha Saba, or Indian Arrival Day Federation, Chutney Soca competition, or Mastana Bahar JUdges panel. Makes no sense , as they’ll all be laughed out of de room/dismissed as useless ,mintruding fools ,with no credibility- and justifiably so.
    The UNC dominant PP came into power , where some disengenious hacks continued to sell their followers the distorted notion, that under dem clueless PNM bozo leaders, Trinidad and TObago is a runaway train wreck waiting to happen- especially on de crime front.
    In addition , voters were told , that the major reason for the problem , was neo racist ,incompetent , Afrikan police Commissioners, in charge of an Afrikan dominant POlice service , working hand in hand ,with a already politicized ,Afrikan luving , bias,DPP department , and essentially an entire judicial system that kowtow to Afrikan tribs , and their leaders. ‘If any ah you have doubts, then just look at how they treat our respected Uncle , Justice Shama, and Papa Basdeo, over some none sense ,’ they added for good measure.
    There solution was simply this.Bring in a white Canadian , pay him more money than any other Commissioner in the history of the police service, while simultaneously forcing anyone that look Afrikan , ornhad an independent streak ,out at the higher echelon of the service.
    To make matters worst , they took one of their hand picked military lackies in that Tethron Sandy fellow , who was way over his head in terms stewardship, and the rests is history.grass roots / lower echelon, and middle management police , Moral sank even lower , as crime escalated,even during unconstitutional , fake state of emergencies , leading to firing of all and sundry.
    Then ‘to add insult to injury ,’ we have the man that should have been next in line , in Uncle Williams ,brought in as an actor over the past year, but he remains muzzled ,in PP controlled handcuffs, and wads of scotstape around his mouth to keep him silent.
    His job , has evolved into freeing , non breathalizer taking /drunken junior ministers, then now give evidence as to why he has to charged him as instructed, , and again, moral sinks lower, crime escalates, while policy devoid ,alleged go getter ,in Uncle Jack ,walks around ,and blame every one , including the dead ERic Williams ,for every crime that takes place in T&T since his government’s illustrious reign- Excluding of course white color bozos ,who bring in gun , and drugs, in unchcked containers, while low caste bums are jailed exorbitant ant sentences to over crowded prisons, for having 1 ounce of marijuana , or stealing 20 dollars from a neighbor .
    Do you want me to continue up de chain,on all the ministers, and other civic leaders, who were selectively fired, and replaced by folks who toe a particular ‘party line ,’and why the failures continue’s?
    Succession politics ain’t that difficult to achive Cuz kian, is it? Next door Barbados, Jamaica , and most other CAribbean islands , with far less resources than us , does it , quite frequently , but it’t only Trinidad , and Tobago , as well as South American neighbors Guyana , where it poses a major problem , and we pretend to wonder why. What is de common denominator.
    Tribalist , triumphalism , neo racist scapegoating , social escapism , and finger pointing , idea deficient managers, non transparent politics, economic stagnation, and unequal playing field justice. Every one seems more hell bent on blaming de other , as opposed to looking in de mirror . Even some of dem ex pat comedians , on this here board , who should know better, prefer to indulge in cybernetic ,buck passing, and similar foolhardy proclaimations , as to problems ,and solutions.
    By de way ,in case you forgot , we still have dat anachronistic White massa Privy Council , as our final courts lof appeal, while housing leagal officials , and providing the bulk of de finance for the Caribbean Court of Appeal. Go figure!
    Still optimistic,huh?
    I subscribe to a view as given to me by a long time A level Political Science A level teacher , in Uncle Elder. His quote was ” something is good , of it works.” Your call T&T ! I luv dis land!

  14. There are Trinbagonians “scattered” all over God’s earth.For reasons which are “personal”;I will maintain my anonymity.It’s almost a quarter century since my last visit;because of a horrific double tragedy which occurred to my family.Within thirty-six hours of the information I left with an “expired” passport.Some of my peers insisted that “you cannot enter Trinidad with an expired passport” to which I replied:”you cannot rob someone of their birthright”

    Upon my arrival I literally “did not eat” for one week.After the funeral services somehow together with some “well wishers” at a Chinese restaurant food entered my system.

    I am and always will remain a Trinidadian regardless of my place of residence.To be more precise it is my “intent” to vote in your next election.Kian and Neal mere words cannot describe my gratitude for your “current” knowledge of the “goings-on”……….

    Gracias,Merci,thank you……God bless!!

    1. You are welcome Cuz Swordfish.Always great ,when progressive , humanistic ,voices of reasons, are appreciated, as too much is at stake , for us with the means ,to remain idle, or worst yet , become intimidated by self serving , detractors.
      I am reading you loud and clear . Trust me however ,when I say – even as I occasionally do my bit of Trini bashing- dat T&T, just like 99% of countries globally,do have some major challenges- obviously similar to that which existed 5 decades ago , if I understand you well.
      Hope you were able to acquire some substantive healing, even as I sense some lingering pain , laced -naturally-with a huge level of longing for home. There is still room for hope my friend.
      My turning point in contrast ,was 1990 ,when when one time horse police / footballer ,Lennox Phillip, turned ,phony Islamist ,Yasin Abu Bakr , with the help of conniving ,political miscreant, economic bandits,and equally destructive ,religious rogues, and vagabonds,did his disgusting , dehumanising ,jig ,and dance , on our wonderfulcountry, leaving my Prime Minister/eventual President ,disabled , along with several of my Blue & Gray-law enforcemnt colleauges dead ,in his wake.
      What’s even more pathetic , is the fact that – as demonstrated in the lead up ,and aftermath , of a futile ,recently concluded ,THA election in Tobago- a selective majority ,across this nation ,is still laughing , 23 years after , when ,as expected , ‘Her Majestick Queen K,’and her Commission of enquiry goes quickly towards de destination of no where, as far as unearthing the facts.
      Then Swordfish , maybe there is this underlying wish, that some of those said culprits, would go into the great beyond.
      Well, sadly enough , if rumor is correct, one oh dem , said , self made ,politically immoral , white color bandit ,is on de short list ,to be our next President -go figure ,Swordfish.
      I too have suffered my level of tragedy my friend , all be it in one of the major metropolitan enclaves de la ‘Global North,’where I had escaped to ,for too long.
      My aim moving forward is simple- connect with others who have suffered tragedies of any form, and are still traumatized. Develop a forum whereby we can address them ,then encourage ways ,whereby we can bring meaningful closures.
      As a first step ,by forming win /win foundations , that can bring awareness,and aid in curtailing similar cases.
      Por ejemplo, Harry lost a brother via AIDS,and so might heal better if he finds a way to bring awareness to young people like himself.
      Olauda is a refugee , still grappling with genocidal conflicts in his home land,and cringes each time he sees elements of a certain similar behavior creeping into his new adopted country.
      Janet,cannot have a normal romantic relationship , since he was abused by Papa , as a kid, then raped by a savage in the neighborhoods, and eventually ignore by a patriarchal Police department.To her Verna StRose Greaves, is a hero,not an anti PP villain , as some tribalist try to paint her , and so she too is about to declar her major in Political Science , and Social Work, to become an activist for abused kids , and unempowered women.
      Cathy lost her enterprising daughter ,via drunken driving victims,and looks on in disgust ,as she sees big wig lawyer Ismael Khan , tries so desperately to exonerate, a certain privileged former Junior minister, with loot to burn.
      Budding environmentalist, Chailain ,lost her mama to cancer , after living with her family ,very close to an oil rig in the Southern region, and so gave her support to Dr Wayne’s efforts,in Point Fortin. You get the picture Swordfish.
      About a month ago Swordfish, I met a 22 year old young man at La Joya, Sporting Complex St Joseph. His medical ambitions were dashed , since he could not accept a swimming scholarship ,to med school, as a result of almost fatal ,stab wounds he acquired subsequently .
      He is disgusted by the police -who he feels are dragging their feet-and maybe the world at large.Don’t talk about disappointment , as his family looks on , as he now grapple with the thought of paying for college.
      In light of all my examples given above , what advice would you give this young man,as far as moving forward, Swordfish?Is it to sit a wallow in selp pity, and even wasted hatred ,for his society/perpetrators of that ghashly crime, or…..?
      Stay in touch my friend , but more importantly ‘ keep the faith.’ It’s a beautiful life.I wish you well.

      1. “The pen is mightier than the sword” Continue to write..”let every valley be exalted” Firstly:The youngman who was denied a scholarship because of “almost fatal stab wounds”…my advice:Soldier on!! Circumstances like this tragedy on occasion usually infuriates me;that I am not a “millionaire”.Young people who are victims of similar atrocities;and those who demonstrate the ability to accomplish academia;I will “sponsor” and guarantee accommodation and paid tuition.God’s plans are inexplicable….and “situations do change” (smile)

        Sometimes,we are tested and tried ( I have worked alongside members of an Aryan group;who had connections to the KKK)it requires much more than this column to explain.Nonetheless,please inform the twenty-two year old that:”love conquers hate”…(always) and if it’s God’s will that he becomes a physician…(Infinite Wisdom (God) “is in absolute control”

        God is Life,Truth,Love…..Blessings on your house….

  15. Swordfish, I am sorry to learn of your ordeal in reaching the country of your birth and being treated as a non-citizen. We are not as welcoming as we used to be, unless you are from Russia or India these days. So says the Foreign ministry (not mine). Our current behaviour is that if you dont think like the governing regime you are wrong. if you are PNM, were PNM, think like a PNM, look like a PNM or worse yet vote PNM you are wrong. When they do something wrong and it is brought to their attention they are quick to tell you the PNM did it too. Their Cuss word is ‘PNM’. Hate is the modus operandi. Even though their foreign policy allows it, people who reside in Culcatta and wish to “sail” to Tobago at will can do so without any documents that you were asked to present. A man from Tobago reminded us about that and the forces that be now want to “kill” (not literally) him, because he infused “fear” in black people so they were forced to vote PNM. Hate is NOT a recipe for longevity and this regime is full of it. All the hate you can hear is in the media. You just have to collect the information and digest it and what you get is hate in its totality.
    These are people who believe that the only “right” people are those who sympathise with them. People like Neal and me are best accepted if we toe the line and believe information that have holes in them as big as the country itself. The great Frederick Douglas was one asked what we should do in order to be free from discrimination and he replied “agitate”, “agitate”, “agitate”.

    1. (Some,most,all)The best selection is:SOME politicians speak out of both sides of their mouths.Coalition governments (my prediction)are the future of most democracies.Please keep an open ear as the next election approaches;and enemies coalesce in a joint effort to accomplish the requirements of the populace ad infinitum.

      Upon my arrival (25 years ago)in TnT everything went well.My major concern together with some Canadians:my “expired” Canadian passport.Although,a sad occasion there were a few “friendly” wagers;that I will be sent back to Canada. (ha! ha!..I won)

      I will keep in touch….Hey!! am I correct that Carnival is about one week away…..Enjoy!!

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