Parties should allow Members to choose Leadership in Guyana and Caribbean
It was only inevitable that, in the event there was a major spread of COVID-19, the UNC would have been blamed for it. When the PNM says “candle light vigils are responsible for the spread”, they are saying that the UNC is responsible for the spread.
But should this really come as a surprise? The PNM and its supporters have a proven track record of absolving themselves of any responsibility and blaming the Opposition—regardless of who that Opposition is.
Eric Williams gets a free pass for sending us into a recession and nearly collapsing our economy, but the population was in uproar against ANR Robinson who had to clean up the mess. If you look at the excuses PNM supporters make, they’re all just different ways of saying the same thing: The PNM was only trying their best and we should not be too hard on them.
Were other governments not trying their best as well? Other administrations are accused of deliberately destroying the country—even though the facts show the economy was better under these administrations.
For far too long, the PNM has set the narrative in this country and manipulated their supporters. Anything that comes out of the mouth of the PNM is “the truth” but anyone who disagrees or opposes the PNM is peddling propaganda. The PNM has monopolized “the truth”. Only their version of a story must be believed. Everyone else is lying, creating mischief or trying to make the government “look bad”.
Racial politics and ethnic voting is a reality in Trinidad. Those who continue to bury their heads in the sand and pretend it doesn’t exist can continue to do so. But like most post-colonial societies, our political divide is not based on ideology. It is purely based on ethnic membership. Calls for unity are wholly pretentious, but they help maintain the illusion of political impartiality.
Some years ago, I was listening to a political talk show. The host kept going on about the need to “put country before party”. But when I listened closely to what he was saying—or inferring—his idea of putting country before party essentially meant compulsory agreement with the PNM and anyone who disagrees with the PNM is unpatriotic. Does “put country before party” mean put the PNM in front of any other party? Is this PNM country?
In a two party system, one party and its supporters cannot anoint themselves patriots. It is dishonest to begin any political conversation with the assumption that one party seeks our best interests and the other doesn’t. If that were the case, why does support for the other party exist? It is absurd to think that anyone wants to see the country regress.
On the issue of crime, there will never be racial unity. It simply can’t happen when party support is tied to ethnicity. The naked eye could have seen the preponderance of Indo-Trinidadians in the candle light vigils. Afro-Trinidadians were scarce. For them, attending the vigil did not mean protesting crime. It meant revolting against the PNM.
When the vigil for Andrea Bharatt began many PNM supporters were quick to accuse the media, the organizers and those who attended the event of racism since no similar vigil was held for Ashanti Riley. Of course, Saddam Hosein of the UNC did in fact hold a motorcade which was streamed on his Facebook page. But where were the efforts from the African population to organize their own vigil?
Crime is just another issue for which everyone else but the PNM is held responsible. Although crime has been on the rise since the suspects in the 1990 coup were released in 1992, and its true escalation began in the early 2000s, our current crime situation is blamed on the cancellation of three Offshore Patrol Vessels under the People’s Partnership. This narrative is religiously promoted on the nation’s airwaves not for its statistical accuracy, but for the simple reason that it takes all responsibility off the PNM’s shoulders.
Despite the cancellation, none of the murder tolls under the People’s Partnership exceeded that of the PNM—though they were nothing to admire either. The fact is the PNM has overseen the three highest murder rates in our history (2019, 2018 and 2008). If cancelling the OPVs led to more crime, then the award for Highest Murder Rates should have gone to the Partnership.
Our Coast Guard has never been more modernized and equipped with resources. We have more officers than the Irish navy. Yet, during a pandemic and a nationwide State of Emergency, 5 murders took place during a 24-hour period as if it’s business as usual. Illegal immigrants are pouring through the borders and the government has admitted that the Brazilian strain of the coronavirus entered the country via an illegal immigrant.
When a group of fishermen went missing for several days last year, calls to the Coast Guard went unheard. Thankfully, a current drifted them back to shore. Most recently, a boat of dead Africans floated into our waters and had to be brought in by the fisherman who spotted it. Perhaps ‘fisherman’ should be a requirement to join the Coast Guard.
If the government wants to hold the Opposition and candle light vigils responsible for the spike in coronavirus cases and deaths, then we ought to hold the government responsible for the reason why there was even a vigil in the first place. Crime is a PNM problem, one that occurs along the East-West corridor in their strongholds. Long before there was a spike in COVID-19, we had to deal with spikes in crime under the PNM.