See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Trinidad & Tobago: The Real Political Losers

Trinidad and Tobago bloggers continue their discussion about the government's recent Cabinet reshuffle, suggesting that the real losers in the equation are the citizenry. Wuzdescene likens the move to a game of cards, saying:

So de deck get reshuffle …. an’ ah Jack end up on top …. which didn't really surprise me …. cuz as de Queen of de pack had say …. Jack is ah action man …. and den too …. Jack have experience on all sides of de law …. so …. now dat he in de National Security hot seat …. he good tuh go ….

The Eternal Pantomime, however, is not convinced that the rationale behind the reshuffle bears any resemblance to the skill and fortitude needed to survive a card game like “All Fours”:

I grew up in a house where All-Fours was a serious game. My uncle played tournaments…It was from him I learned to play cards, to understand the signs of the game of All-Fours, and to know that even if I was dealt a weak hand, if my partner had a stronger hand, and we both understood the mechanics of bluffing and kept straight faces, we could come out with solid wins.

Kamla’s much anticipated re-shovelling of the Cabinet yesterday, went far beyond my expectations, and yet fell short of it in some ways. She was right to call it a Cabinet Reconfiguration, because that’s what she did. Kamla took her old cabinet to a joiner and basically asked, ‘How I could make this thing look and function different, without wasting the material?’

She concedes, though, that “the focus of everyone, from layman, to political parties to political gurus, was the appointment of the Minister of National Security”:

Supporters of the party hailed it as a good move, detractors frothed at the mouth, and some dashed off hastily written press releases. I was more interested in the details of the entire cupboard.

By now we all know who the players are in this NEW CABINET…and that’s what it is. Yes they are still calling themselves the People’s Partnership, but the 2010 Cabinet and the 2012 Cabinet look very different. It’s almost as if we got a new government, without going to the polls…..that can’t be good, because it means that 2 years and 1 month into office, Kamla and her even larger Small Goal side are starting from scratch.

In the midst of an economic meltdown, spiralling crime rates, rising unemployment, meteoric food prices…..this government that promised to bring change, is attempting to press the re-set button and act like the last two years of misstepping didn’t happen.

She also makes the point that the positive change the People's Partnership government promised on the campaign trail has failed to materialise:

Understand that this Cabinet Re-Shovel comes in under one month since they spent $9m patting themselves on the back for being in power for 2 years and staying stronger than ever. In less than a month of that Eat Ah Food Fete the Partnership was destroyed when the MSJ broke ranks. “>Kamla referred to a depleted treasury, yet, we know that Dookeran came and met a stable economy; just as Devant Maharaj met a Caribbean Airlines that was in the black. We know too that in 2010 she met a crime rate that was lower than what we have right now. But of course, this government never admits to making a mess of things, just like the last regime.

Understand that this Cabinet Re-Shovel comes in under one month since they spent $9m patting themselves on the back for being in power for 2 years and staying stronger than ever. In less than a month of that Eat Ah Food Fete the Partnership was destroyed when the MSJ broke ranks. Indeed the four parties that remain don’t like referring to the MSJ anymore because they know that in truth and fact they are no longer the People’s Partnership, but rather a UNC Alliance All Fours Team.

Another point that The Eternal Pantomime takes issue with is corruption (allegations of impropriety in public life have been plaguing Austin “Jack” Warner ever since his stint at FIFA):

We have a high tolerance for corruption in this place, once our pockets not affected directly. Once we benefitting from a corrupt act or a corrupt person, Trinis will more often than not look the other way…and give people a bligh…Jack is beloved in his constituency because he gets things done…temporarily. And Trinis love a quick fix. Long term goals and vision does make them impatient…we like things to happen one time…and see immediate results… So, Kamla, aware of all of this, appoints Warner as Minister of National Security. Forget the SoE folks….the ultimate weapon in Kamla’s arsenal is about to be deployed.

Unfortunately this appointing of Jack as Security Minister means that the country will suffer in the short and long term. The appointment will further tarnish our international image. Even if Jack makes inroads into crime, it’ll be quick fixes.

Meanwhile, journalist and blogger Lisa Allen-Agostini writes a thoughtful post about one of the Ministers who was fired in the restructuring exercise:

Verna St Rose-Greaves wasn’t the biggest loser in Friday’s Cabinet reshuffle; we were. Fired from the post of Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development, Verna’s only sin was that she was too committed to serving this country according to her conscience, by seeking to protect our women and children. Instead of being lauded for this, Verna was thrown under the bus by the PP government. Given the choice between the Christian/conservative vote and the smooth introduction of the Gender Policy Verna championed, the PP government chose the votes, going against what its leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar had seemed to stand for before she became Prime Minister.

She continues:

I say without apology that this makes Verna a political martyr to the cowardice of the PP government and its failure to stand for what it seemed to believe in before it formed the government. There are those who feel Verna was fired because of the Cheryl Miller episode. [Blogger Wuzdescene suggests just that, here.] In March Millar was taken from her desk in Verna’s ministry and committed to the mental hospital against Miller’s will. It’s possible this is what led to Verna’s firing. However, it’s more likely that the government saw too many protests against the Gender Policy, and the imaginary LGBT marriage lobby. (Surely it’s imaginary, since most LGBT organisations in the country haven’t said a peep about gay marriage, and have only asked for equal human rights for LGBT folk.) Verna, being Verna, stood up for what she believed in and presented a Gender Policy that wouldn’t embarrass her as a longstanding women’s activist. Would that the PP government had the same courage.

Allen-Agostini leaves her readers with something to think about:

The take-away lesson of Verna’s firing is that conscience and integrity have no place in T&T politics. When you enter the government, leave your conscience at home. Verna’s firing is a loss for the country because it spells out in bold, clear letters to service-minded individuals, ‘Don’t go into politics.’

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site