Why I Support UNC This Time Around

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
August 04, 2020

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeIn 1955 when I was growing up in Tacarigua Michael Kangalee, who lived in El Dorado, a nearby village, was one of my best friends. We attended Tacarigua A. C. School and were members of the St. Mary’s Anglican Church. As soon as the People’s National Movement (PNM) and the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) came into being we were forced to take sides. I supported the PNM and Michael supported the DLP.

Michael and I were twelve years old at the time. Our decisions were not based on any objective criteria or the virtues of each party. I did not read the PNM party’s brochure fully nor was I super informed about its ideology. I supported PNM because my mother, my neighbors, and our friends did. I suspect that Michael supported the DLP for similar reasons.

Over the years I came to believe that PNM was superior to the other parties that were formed during that period in terms of its political philosophy (that is, its nationalist ideology) and its practice (how it conducted governmental affairs). I have never swerved from that path or belief.

In 2015 I predicted PNM’s victory because I thought it was better equipped to govern than the UNC, DLP’s successor, which was mired in corruption (or so we were told) and wrong-headed in its political philosophy. I wrote: “One only has to cite Section 34, $30 million dollars given to work not performed, the wholesale arrests of black men on the pretense they had broken state of emergency laws, an obscene amount of money paid to lawyers by the former attorney general….

“Anyone hearing the cries of Gypsy, Dave Persad, Inshan Ishmael, or the dissident members of COP, can only conclude UNC has lost its way and ended up in the clutches of a narrow, partisan minority. Such a shameful internal coup d’état pushed Muslims and other dissenting elements in the party into closer political association with the PNM, a formula that ensured PNM’s victory in 1956 and 1961;”

I accused Kamla Persad-Bissessar of turning the PP coalition “into a one-woman directorate” and argued: “There is no doubt that the hostile, recalcitrant minority within the UNC has pushed the party to an extremism that is inconsistent with the progressive democratic traditions of Trinidadians and Tobagonians” (trinicenter.com, September 1, 2015.)

In 2020 UNC removed the negative forces within the party which allowed it to deal better with the aspirations of all Trinbagonians. Kamla emerged as a more mature leader with a broader national horizon although she should avoid specious generalizations. She is abled assisted by the energy, intelligence, and hard work of Jerlean John who will emerge as one of our next national leaders. UNC’s candidates are exciting.

I believe UNC is best prepared to deal with the challenges that face Black people today. I do not think Kamla and the UNC like Black people more than PNM leaders but her party would come to recognize that it is in her party’s (and the country’s) best self-interest to attend to the needs of its Black citizens.

Two days ago Robert Le Hunte referenced the disparities in the financial, justice, and educational sectors that keep Blacks at the bottom of the national ladder.

He writes: “Africans in Trinidad and Tobago do not enjoy the same levels of success as other ethnic groups….Confronting the current reality, however, is the only way meaningful change can be effected….Due to the way in which our society is structured, persons of African descent are often unable to access support systems that help members of other ethnic groups” (Express, July 31).

This raises the question: If the PNM failed to improve the conditions of Black people over the last umpteen years, what leads one to think it would confront these issues in a meaningful way over the next five years? This is a challenge with which UNC must come to grips.

Although PNM began as a movement that was cognizant of the needs of the under-class-Indians and Africans alike—over the years it has come to take the support of Black people for granted. One only has to look at the conditions under which many Black people in depressed communities live to recognize that they have not been the recipients of PNM’s loving and tender care.

Sixty years ago Williams and the PNM laid the foundation of modern T&T and set out to create a society in which every creed and race finds an equal place. Today, Kamla and the UNC have an opportunity to close the racial gap, enhance the well-being of Afro-Trinbagonians, make Indo-Trinbagonians feel more at home, and create a society in which there is increased national harmony.

I do not know where Michael is now, what his politics are, or which party he supports. After all these years I hope he has made his political choices based on the quality of the party, what it represents, how it treats his group, and what it means for the future of our society.

I remain a member of PNM but membership of this great institution demands more than blind loyalty. In this day and time, no one should vote for policies that ensure one’s enslavement. One should support what’s in the best interest of one’s group and the society at large. Habit should not be the major criteria for supporting a party.

The election of UNC to office on August 10 offers our society an opportunity to move a step closer to making it more whole which is why I support UNC this time around. I hope UNC constructs a comprehensive program that speaks to the needs of its Black citizens.

32 thoughts on “Why I Support UNC This Time Around”

  1. Selwyn Cudjoe is voting the UNC this election. The human mind is a complicated, mysterious and strange thing. Aristotle called man – the rational animal. Others have defined humankind in different ways, there is a Woody Allen movie called “Irrational Man”, humans have been described as creatures of passion, seeking simply to fulfill their desires. De Sade drew attention to the essential perversity of human nature. Saint Francis spoke about its essential goodness. So, it’s complicated. Jokes abound about different types. One joke making the rounds about Selwyn – a genie gives Watty, Selwyn and a UNC businessman one wish each. Watty asks to be famous and on TV every day, the genie makes him a TV weatherman; Selwyn asks for 2 billion dollars, the genie tells him – “well you will have to wait until your partners get in power”, Sello says ok; the UNC businessman says “All I want is that fella Cudjoe number and address and I good.” Another joke going around – plenty people looking to sell Sello a ten acre piece of land in the Oropouche swamp. I don’t know why people think Sello stupid, the man almost get the St. Augustine seat to fight, I hear he wants a Senate position now, I’m pretty sure he will almost get that. The man is not like Jack. Jack started off in the party with loads of money, he financed the party when they had no money, now I hear he’s paying the courts here, there and everywhere.
    Anyhow jokes aside, Selwyn reminds me of Herman Cain, the black American politician who was a Presidential Candidate in 2012 on the Republican side. His life is quite an inspiring story of how a poor, black boy in Tennessee rose up from poverty to become the chairman of a national pizza company, Godfather’s Pizza. He studied for a BSc and MSc in mathematics and computer science and worked his way up to eventually become the CEO of Godfather’s Pizza. He was the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. His run for President was quite interesting; at one point he was leading the pack, eventually however his Presidential run collapsed, not without some surprising successes. Cain was active in the media, he wrote a syndicated op-ed column. He famously said that social security or welfare is worst than slavery. He became an avid Trump supporter, one of the few black supporters of Trump, becoming the Chairman of Black Voices for Trump. Trump said that he intended that Herman Cain would be on the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank. He almost got that position. He attended a Trump rally in Tulsa, not wearing a mask, on June 20th, 2020. He opposed the mandated wearing of masks. On July 30th 2020, he died of the Covid 19 virus, his death almost bypassed and forgotten. What a tragic end for a black man who started out so poor and yet was able to run for President of the United States. What do we remember of such men? As Shakespeare says, “the good is oft interred with their bones”. But as he also reminded us, “The evil that men do lives after them”.

  2. This declaration is an act of courage and bravery. Your world is about to become very hostile and unforgiving. The worst reaction is going to come from the PNM Women’s group which is a racist organization with the qualities and disposition similar to the White Supremacist organization in the USA.

      1. Love everyone and you will be fine. Hate only destroys the haters. I notice in continent truth that is all you got….hmmmm.

  3. All the factors of a failed economy is there (1) Four years of economic contraction up to 10%, every year negative growth. (2) Over $70 billion in borrowing $45 billion by Colm and $25 billion by state enterprises. Over $41 billion Central bank overdraft, HSF draw down by $1.2 billion U.S. (3) the death of Point Lisas starting with the closure of Mittal and several companies (4) the closure of Petrotrin and the loss of thousands of jobs, (5) cut in GATE, Cut in money to Corporations, no laptops, no baby grant, cut in food card….etc. (6) nothing done to stimulate the economy. (7) Tax, tax and more tax, if they win is Property Tax that will drive the cost of everything up. Businessmen will simply transfer that cost to the citizenry…..

    People are afraid of the PNM so many are just silent. Thankful that the professor understands the future of this nation is in balance…….

    1. So let me correct the facts about the T&T economy that you quoted. You said “All the factors of a failed economy is there (1) Four years of economic contraction up to 10%, every year negative growth.” Here is the World Bank’s report about economic growth in T&T. Economic growth for 2019 was 24.10B a 1.23% increase for 2018. Economic growth for 2018 was 23.8B a 5.93 % increase for 2017. Economic growth for 2017 was 22.47B a 0.85 % increase for 2016. 2016 is when the Government came in and found an empty treasury. Check the World Bank report.

    2. More on your comment. The closure of Petrotrin saves the T&T taxpayer 2 billion dollars a year. The new company is now making a profit, 1 billion in its first year. Many of the workers left Petrotrin with very good pension packages. Land has been offered. The new refinery can be a profitable enterprise that can result in many jobs.

  4. Cro Cro ‘Compare and Contrast’

    The only peeve is i have is the pseudo black nationalist commenter corey gilkes’ attack on Cro-Cro.Any african descended person (he’s ‘mixed’) that listens to this song and hopscotch-es around cro-cro’s bleeding heart over the unc/pp racist firings and abuse of african people to trivialize the song as a ‘political’, song does not care about african people OFF-PAPER! Corey Gilkes’ disrespect of an actual conscious african icon like cro-cro, IS A DISGRACE! The U.S. liberals are littered with ‘blacks’ like corey…their concept of african-ness is funneled through the lens of white and non-african liberalism…”acceptable blackness”, which is not organically african or far away from the heart of african self-respect! I cannot stand these second wave black power-ists, whose main goal is not what’s best for africans, but in the case ot trinidad, indian-acceptable african-ness/black power. Cro-Cro was and IS DAMNED RIGHT! This is why african trinidad is the way it is…rampant, unchecked racist abuse of africans in every sector of society from the indian community in particular, BUT, THAT does not anger the coreys. All these literate, manicured negroes care about, is how the very said racists, WILL REACT to the african response to their racism! SICK! That mindset, is the true disgrace! I do not care how many books you’ve read, if your heart is not WITH or FROM african people, you are IRRELEVANT to the african struggle! Real african, conscious intellectuals’ goals are not to “bring everyone together”, but to speak UP & OUT for african people! This is what kaiso’s roots are in….African rebellion and advocacy!…not being enslaved by the sensibilities in their racist oppressors!
    Damned Disgrace!

  5. Oh.. maybe I will read the rest of it later.. but, enough of the BS.. Dr Cudjoe..

    All you need now is a sign like the Blank-Man at the Trump rally saying, ‘Blacks for Trump!!’Remember Herman Cain, Professor.. This is Judgement Time..


  6. Two articles were published this week. One by Raffique Shah indicating support for the PNM and the rejection of Kamla. The other article by Cudjoe advocates voting UNC.
    The reactions to these articles are an interesting study.
    Cudjoe’s article brought out the intolerant racist views of PNM “till ah dead” supporters, breathing fire.
    Shah’s article brought out comments outlining the specific failures of the present government, emphasizing objectively why the PNM should not be re-elected.
    Notice any differences?

  7. Here are some of the things Dr. Rowley did 2015 to 2020
    I’m pretty sure if you are not in some delusional UNC bubble you will think it is a fair assessment.
    1. He kept us from the hands of the IMF
    2. He saved us from widespread COVID-19, Number 1 in the world. Yes.
    3. He fixed the sea bridge, bought new ferries
    4. He kept our foreign exchange rate stable, but the UNC wants to devalue the TTD
    5. He recovered billions in lost and stolen revenues (SIS, Curepe Interchange)
    6. He gave us worldwide recognition for something positive (Oxford University recognition, Addressed Wall St and Rang the bell)
    7. He finished the licensing office building (Caroni)
    8. He completed the Brian Lara Stadium cricket academy
    9. He built the Curepe interchange and saved us hundreds of millions. Yes.
    10. He is building an A class highway to Toco
    11. He is building a port in Toco
    12. He’s finishing the Pt Fortin Hwy
    13. He tried to get Sandals here (until the UNC and its allies made confusion and ran them away)
    14. He made Caribbean Airlines profitable again
    15. He shut down a money hemorrhaging oil refinery
    16. He found a new buyer for the oil refinery
    17. He built 2 hospitals
    18. He built new police stations
    19. He hired a permanent CoP
    20. He kept us from getting locked out of the global financial markets (that the UNC tried to block)
    21. He revamped the justice system
    22. He changed the $100 bills to clean up money laundering
    23. He open a new Agro processing plant
    24. He defended us against the UNC attempt to get sanctions placed on us
    25. He restored our relationships with CARICOM members (you destroyed)
    26. He is building a new Tobago airport terminal
    27. He did not fire any public servants
    28. He did not steal our money
    29. He finished the Red House, White Hall, Presidents House, and sites.
    30. He got oil exploration investments going again
    31 And there is more, plenty more. I will get to them, don’t worry.

    1. Under Rowley every year the economy contracted to 10%, the loss of 100,000 job. Eight companies closed in Point Lisas, 14% unemployment, Colm Imbert borrowed $45 million, State companies borrowed $25 million for a whopping $70 billion.
      All the PNM has done is increase taxes on gas, food and everything else.

  8. Here are some issues with Kamla Persad-Bissessar that explain why sane people are not voting for her.
    1. May 2010 – Dr Rowley objects to the appointment of Jack Warner as Minister. AG and PM defend Warner citing legal advice.
    2. May 2010 – whenever – Awarding Contracts without proper procedure
    3. July 10th 2010 – Dr. Rowley’s Protest on Nizam Mohammed’s Appointment as head of the Police Service Commission – Nizam eventually fired by the President
    4. August – November 2010 – URP Workers Fired
    5. August 2010 – Pension promise of $3,000 for 60-year-olds withdrawn
    6. August 1st 2010 – Court Award Soca Warriors outstanding payments – TTFF still owes Soca Warriors.
    7. August 18th 2010 – 28 Litter wardens at Tunapuna/Piarco Corporation Terminated.
    8. August 27th 2010 – Acting Commissioner of Police James Philbert Contract Terminated before expiry after AG threats.
    9. August 2010 – Head of the ODPM forced out
    10. September 1st 2010 – Volney: “Hang then in the square”
    11. September 2010 – Senior Journalists take up positions in the Government and GISL.
    12. September 8th 2010 – Cancelation of the Smelter Project
    13. September 8th 2010 – Curtailment of Rapid rail
    14. September 16th 2010 – Volney’s attack on the Chief Justice
    15. September 2010 – Cancellation of OPV’S
    16. September 2010 – SAUTT Head Fired
    17. September 2010 – New CoP and his Deputy appointed with million dollar salaries
    18. October 1st 2010 – Poor apology by Volney for Attacking the CJ in the HOR
    19. October 2010 – 400 Contract Clerical Staff at Primary Schools contracts not renewed.
    20. October 2010 – Award of Airport lighting contract by Jack Warner without a Board or tendering process at Airports Authority.
    21. October 13th 2010 – San Juan Market refurbishment halted by Sharma. Later reverses decision.
    22. October 27th 2010 – Ingrid Isaac resigns as CEO of CNMG with over 3 years left on her contract. Subsequently sues CNMG.
    23. October 2010 – Maxi Taxi Operators protest changes in PBR
    24. October 27th 2010 – Ken Ali hired as CEO without Board and Advertisement
    25. November 6th 2010 – Jack Warner says payment for Contractors in Bonds
    26. November 10th 2010 – Dookeran says payment for Contractors in cash
    27. November 19th 2010 – Hiring at Airports Authority: Communications, Property and Human Resource Managers without Board and Advertisements
    28. November 2010 – Security Intelligence Agency (SIA) Files revealed in HOR
    29. November 20th 2010 – URP Regional Managers Fired
    30. November 7th 2010 – Firing of Fazeer Mohammed after interview with Rambachan.
    31. December 4th 2010 – Justice Minister Volney claims that SIA Files were erased by two Israeli men.
    32. December 7th 2010 – Anil Roberts fails to Account – Niki Minaj Show
    33. December 15th 2010 – Ganga Singh appointed CEO at WASA – without Board and Advertisement
    34. December 21st 2010 – Warner announces Regularization of PH Drivers
    35. December 30th 2010 – Minister spoke of the reintroduction of Ghost Gangs in URP
    36. December 2010 – Jack Warner was accused of betraying England in USA in world cup bid.
    37. December 2010 – $13 Million Flood Relief for Farmers – within one month
    38. December 2010 – Government claims Contractors owed $7 Billion. That figure is now in question.
    39. January 2011 – CLICO payout – $7 Billion and still outstanding. What is the Correct figure?
    40. January 12th 2011 – AG Ramlogan announces that a Grand Piano went missing from the PM Residence after Mr Manning Vacated. The piano was subsequently found at the same place days later.
    41. January 17th 2011 – Gypsy claims that his supporters are not getting jobs in the URP
    42. January 20th 2011 – Appointment of Reshmie Ramnarine as Head of SIA
    43. January 28th 2011 – Motion on treatment of SIA Files debated in Parliament
    44. February 2011 – Non – Renewal of Contracts for thousands of Government workers
    45. February 11th 2011 – Susan Francois appointed Acting Director of the FIU
    46. February 15th 2011 – 65 new Contracts for CEPEP without Board and Advertisements
    47. February 2011 – Jack Warner dispute with CAL Board
    48. Carnival 2011 – $2 Million Prize Money only for one year
    49. March 10th 2011 – Mary King’s dismissal in corruption scandal
    50. March 2011 -Vasant Bharath and promise of EU Money to Cane farmers
    51. March 24th 2011 – 27 CEPEP Contractors Fired
    52. March 25th 2011 – Nizam Mohammed Racist Comments at Parliamentary Committee.
    53. March 2011 – Treatment of Medical Staff at San Fernando General Hospital
    54. April 2011- PM’s Trips…too many?
    55. April 4th 2011 – Nizam Mohammed dismissed as Chairman of PSC.
    56. April 2011 – Eleven months – still appointing Boards
    57. April 2011 – PSA demand for higher wages – based on pre-election promise
    58. April 2011 – PSA Terms and Conditions. Many may not qualify for housing
    59. April 18th 2011 – Victoria Keys “Restoration and Renovation Works ”
    60. April 2011 – No invitation to Royal Wedding
    61. April 25th 2011 – Bulldozing Farmers Crops
    62. April 25th 2011 – True cost of Aircraft lease for Brazil Trip
    63. April 26th 2011 – Subas Panday claims in Parliament that Reshmi Ramnarine was Fired as head of the SIA.
    64. May 3rd 2011 – John Sandy claims in Parliament that Reshmi Ramnarine resigned as head of SIA.
    65. May 7th 2012 – Susan Francois appointed Director of FIU
    66. May 2011 – Jack Warner bribery scandal
    67. May 17th 2011 – NP Gopauls Scandal
    68. June 2011 – Delay in Infrastructure Projects
    69. June 18th 2011 – Threating emails sent to Journalists are traced to PM advisor Sacha Mohammed.
    70. June 19th 2011 – Jack Warner Resigns as VP of FIFA and President of CONCACAF as well as CFU.
    71. July 12th 2011 – Criticizing Mega Farms then moving forward with it
    72. July 27th 2011 – PM vetoes the top-ranked person recommended for Director of FIU. Prefers Susan Francois.
    73. July 2011 – Fuad Khan continuing Medical Practice as Minister
    74. July 2011 – PM and 3 Ministers in Charge of URP
    75. July – August 2011 – Wage Cap 5%
    76. 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 – Economy at a standstill
    77. August 19th 2011 – Gibbs Detained in Brazil. Out of Country during SoE
    78. August 22nd 2011 – “Limited State” of Emergency Declared
    79. August – December 2011 – Arrest of Persons with no evidence
    80. August – December 2011 – Unions claim SoE to supress their activities
    81. August – December 2011 – Continued deterioration of the economy due to SoE
    82. September 2011 – Wasa takeover of lands opposite West Mall. The POS City Corporation subsequently sues and wins the case against WASA in Jan. 2013.
    83. October 2011 – Devant Maharaj hires his mother Girlfriend
    84. October 2011 – Bogus Tourism Award
    85. October 2011 – Present – PM’s use of the Helicopter
    86. October 11th 2011 – $1,000 Allowance for Security Personnel, some feel left out.
    87. October 12th 2011 – Row with St. Cyr and Integrity Commission
    88. November 2011 – Robocop assisting in Stephen Cadiz Election Campaign
    89. November 6th 2011 – Ish and Steve win extradition hearing. To remain in Trinidad and Tobago to stand trial.
    90. November 23rd 2011 – Assassination Plot
    91. 2011, 2012, 2013 – Lowest Corruption Perception Index Rating
    92. 2011-2012 – Sharma Vs. Lee Sing
    93. 2011 – Present – CSO Statistics not being released
    94. November 2011 -Ministry of Education and Tunapuna Hindu School Issue
    95. December 2011 – Anil Roberts and the Boxing association.
    96. December 13th 2011 Medals to National security personnel, Police prefers money
    97. December 2011 – PM’s Toy Drive. Who is sponsoring the toys?
    98. December 2011 – Several Branches of the Security Services going under the Office of the PM
    99. January 2012 – Gibbs Aircraft Purchase
    100. January 3rd 2012 – Sale of Blimp for $50,000

    1. not that you have copared then which was was best for the country. How did the ordinary man felt about living in trnidad

      1. The ordinary man rejected Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the UNC in 2015. The PNM got 378,447 votes; the UNC got 290,066 votes. 52% of the vote went to the PNM, about 40% to the UNC. Kamla Persad-Bissessar is the same leader in 2015 who was rejected. She hasn’t given any explantions, no apologies, she hasn’t asked for forgiveness. She is coming back with the same attitude, only worse. So people are voting for two leaders, one who was rejected in 2015. What has changed?

  9. “In 2020, the UNC removed the negative forces from within the party…”
    Why not 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 or 2015? Are you serious right now? Election year, kamla “removes the negative forces from within the party” ? Why is she still there? Just like 2010, as soon as she gets in office, she will bring those same “forces” in through the backdoor of the senate and make them ministers or heads of major corporations within ministries! e.g Who elected Devant Maharaj? Who elected Anand Ramlogan? Who elected Ganga Singh? Eh? Please…those candidates and faces presented are for show to get into office! Rember the CONTEXT….”negative forces” were supposedly removed. So according to sellout selwyn, Kamla, Mrs “oreo” and “blank man” herself, is a POSITIVE ‘force’ in governance over african people?

    What has the UNC and Kamla promise the sellout in exchange for his soul?

  10. i admire you for standing up for what you belive . BLIND LOYALTY small mind would not understand.

  11. It’s like Kayne West who said – I want freedom of mind, just because people expect me to be against Trump why should I? That kind of loyalty is enslavement, I support Trump. Then when he saw what was going on, when he got ripped off good and proper, he said “My eyes are now wide open and now realize I’ve been used to spread messages I don’t believe in…I am distancing myself from politics and completely focusing on being creative” Or it’s like Adam living in the garden of Eden, he is give certain instructions, you can eat from any tree, but don’t eat of that one. So the serpent came in and asked why not? Try it. You will be knowledgeable, you will become powerful. Adam was dubious, but Eve was tempted and she took the fruit from the tree, and offered it to Adam. And he, in a fit of confusion, didn’t stick to his instructions, to the law he was given and he ate the fruit. I guess it must have been sweet to create all the trouble it did, but the holy book says that humankind has been paying for it ever since. The moral of the story is, be loyal to what you know is good, what you know is right. Stay on the straight and narrow road. Don’t play the fool and listen to the serpent who is tempting you with trinkets, small things in exchange for your soul, because you will be led straight into a disaster you can’t even imagine.

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