The Union frequently comments on events or receives news of general interest and these are documented on this page.
News & Comment
The Credit Union Bill 2014 and the Co-operatives Societies Amendment Bill 2014' were supposed to be tabled in the Senate on that day.
Members and leaders of the Credit Unions, among them Joseph Remy, President of the Credit Union League and Vice President Desmond Baxter, agreed that the People's Partnership administration must be mad or desperate to make such a move 9 days after the debacle of February 2nd's "Night of the Long Knives'.
The effects of The Credit Union Bill 2014 and the Co-operative Societies Amendment Bill are destructive to the Co-operative credit union movement. If these bills are passed into law ordinary citizens and persons of modest means will not have a say in their economic destiny and we will see the elimination of small, medium and community based credit unions
The bills will prevent you, the ordinary member from becoming a director or a member of the supervisory and credit committee because it requires you to possess very stringent academic qualifications.
The bills will now impose severe, stringent and excessive reporting requirements to the Central Bank, which will swamp credit unions with administrative costs. They also restrict the type of business activities that your credit union can participate in, thus reducing the possibility for your credit union to earn surplus for distribution among you the members. This will reduce or eliminate the payment of dividends.
The bills will impose high court action against board and committee members.
The bills give the central bank through an inspector the powers to vary, restrict and revoke the operating certificate of a credit union; dissolve the board of directors of a credit union and voluntarily wind up a credit union
The bills treat credit unions like banks where they would now be required to have limits on lending and investments and have stringent capital adequacy requirements. This is inappropriate and would inhibit the growth of existing credit unions and prevent the start-up of new credit unions.
The bills will drive credit unions away from their ideological imperatives towards a more commercial/corporate orientation. This will destroy the co-operative principles that provide the foundation for the sustainability of the co-operative movement. This will be the most severe impact on this indigenous, noble, people centered movement.
Those of us who know how animals are fed on a farm will remember that the centerpiece is the trough. Food by the bucketful is emptied in the middle part of the trough and the pigs will grunt and snort, using their size to put their snout into the largesse. If you pay attention one will notice that the skin and rejected parts end up at the end of the trough. If any discards fall to the ground the chickens will clamber over each other to get enough to survive.
When a political party wins an election in our neck of the woods they know they have earned the right to automatically position themselves at the centre of the trough. History shows us that within two to three years the norm is to establish an enterprise that enables the goodies to flow.
Here are some examples: a Toco retreat and resort beach front; a restaurant in the St Ann’s area; or it could be as subtle as letting your husband be the receiver of some juicy contracts; or it could be as bold-face as when a senior parliamentarian considered people rats for objecting to a substantial pay and pension increase; and the feeding goes on.
It gravitates to a city councilor becoming very indignant and making a public hue and cry about not getting the perks others received. No wonder there was venom and malevolence aplenty towards Patrick Manning when he called an early election and lost the ability to continue feeding at the trough.
So what is this present imbroglio really about? Its rationale is simply damage control; hoping that the people will accept that the Prime Minister is strong, courageous and looking after the public’s interest. They are all trying to score points against each other. Present yourself as lily-white, god-sent Samaritans while all others are anti-people, corrupt and incompetent.
One side trying to force a new mandate and the other stalling for time to dazzle the population with smoke and mirrors and we, the chickens or sheep, must accept the crumbs. This situation has to end but the present crop of governors is in a feeding frenzy. They don’t realize that inequality stalks the land and it is this growing inequality which will finally change our society.
The Prime Minister demonstrated, on Monday 2 February 2015 that she is good as any and even better than many, when it comes to using a three canal cutlass to remove the heads of those, who by their actions or lack thereof, have brought, or perceived to have brought, her government into disrepute.
She demonstrated that neither Ramesh Maharaj nor ISIS can lay claim to the art of beheading, because, she was in that business before ISIS came on the scene, and no one can contest the fact that she caused more bodies to fall than Ramesh did in his hanging days.
Her expertise in that field, qualifies her to become an advisor to the military of countries where such skills are required to train Navy Seals, the British SAS, the Israeli Mossad, as well as the Russian and Chinese Security and Intelligence forces. These countries should not allow such skills to go to waste.
Ninja Assassins and Japanese Samurai Swordsmen, I am certain, will be lining up to acquire such skills.
The down side to all of this bloodletting, however, is that it is doubtful whether the cleaning crew will be able to remove the blood stains from the creases and crevasses of the Diplomatic Centre in time for the elections whenever it is called, or whether the Prime Minister is able to win the support of a sufficiently large portion of the population to the side of her government based on the action that she has taken in this matter.
There is no doubt that that the Attorney General should be asked to resign. The question as to whether other Ministers should perish with him is debatable. In some cultures, when a King dies other individuals volunteer to die with him. In this instance, it would appear that some individuals have become collateral damage.
But this is not something new to T&T, where we have become accustomed to drive by shootings which result in the loss of life of innocent persons who were deemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
What is very interesting in all of these scenarios, is that on the one hand the Police is claiming that crime has gone down, while, on the other, at the highest levels of the state allegations of criminal activity are being made against a central figure in the PP government. How then can we persuade the young men who have been misguided into a life of crime to turn away?
What are the lessons, young people at school are to learn, from the action of the current government?
Should they follow the example of the Speaker of the House of Representative who apparently, believes that an apology to the Parliament is sufficient for the “blunder” he made when he misled the house over the High Court/Howai letter affair?
How should a Prime Minister act in such circumstances? Well, faced with the rising call for blood it would appear that the Prime Minister decided to put on a show which, I suspect, the Mexican Cartel could not rival. All that is required now is to place an advertisement in the newspaper that we have acquired the long-hidden manuscripts of the Japanese Ninjas, and we dismantled its components as we would a Japanese made car, and modified its designs and that we are now the masters of the art.
I am making the following statement fearless of police investigation, loss of Ministerial office, cut in pay from our media department, loss of parking privileges, or complimentaries to Soca Monarch.
The Prime Minister has addressed the nation re the imbroglio in Cabinet centred on allegations of witness tampering and efforts to pervert the course of “justice”. How do you pervert a chimera, a myth, a fallacy is beyond explanation. Ask any worker who has to prove he or she is a “member in good standing'' so they could get their day in the Industrial Court.
When are we going to ask police complainants to prove they are really law enforcement officials? Anyway even as the media coverage of the event signs off the reporters are still trying to find the Prime Minister.
"My witness statement'': I swear before God and the MSJ that the Prime Minister is on the phone to "Big Phil Scolari'' former Brazilian national coach in the 2014 World Cup. But for his nationality he surely would have received a Cabinet post.
Remember versus Germany, Brazil was 7 goals down with some 35 minutes left to play. Phil chopped changed and reshuffled but it changed nothing. Old warhorse Fred was brought in and David Silva thrown forward to earn the accolade of being booed by his own home crowd. Some people are questioning her new team. Like Phil she has a collection of Freds to choose from.
A word on a practice I have noted and criticised consistently. A good sportsman does not automatically make a good administrator or leader. Pele never captained Brazil. Lara was a disaster as a captain. Yet Brent Sancho is plucked out of thin air or midfield or from SIS to become Minister of Sport.
No, no; I would immediately like to make another witness statement here. This is not envy on my part for being overlooked for Cabinet posts, per diems or foreign media junkets. The envelopes I am given usually have stamps on them and are sealed. Such is the generosity of my 'line Minister'.
Of course the political game will be blown off very soon, mercifully for this "Worst Cup'' eleven? I do not know how many are in the Cabinet turned closet now. Its doors and hinges have certainly fallen off. Hey did you all see Vasant? His face looked like a tyre in need of a dozen recaps.
I was thinking of going to Police headquarters to seek an interview although it seems even they do not want to call me. So if all yuh doh see me in print for a while I did not resign…am in Brazil tracking the P.M
Yours in justice.
"I is Comrade Samuel”
Professor Ryan beating up on Fidel Castro and Raul Castro? Why has he become the mouth-piece of the minority Cuban exiles in Miami who oppose the revolution?
First of all, Professor Ryan is incorrect by asserting that both Fidel and Raul hijacked the Cuban Revolution. While both figures have become symbols of the revolution, the Cuban revolution is much bigger than Fidel and Raul. Julia Sweig, has noted that, “Despite Fidel’s overwhelming personal authority and Raul’s critical institution-building abilities, the government rests on far more than just the charisma, authority, and legend of these two figures” (Contemporary Cuban Reader First Edition, 237).
One may not agree with some of the policies that they pursued but to lump them as totalitarian dictators is another matter. To argue that the U.S. should not normalize relations with Cuba because of a perceived notion of the practice of totalitarianism is very spurious. If we go by Ryan’s totalitarian logic of Cuba, then, the U.S should not have normalized relations with China, Vietnam, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Pinochet’s Chile, Somoza’s Nicaragua and on and on. Moreover, it should stop conducting business with governments in Latin America, (Mexico, Honduras) that continue to violate the Human Rights of their citizens.
The History of all the major revolutions has shown that these revolutions were not democratic. Over time, the people have struggled for democracy against those who oppose the expansion of democratic rights and freedoms. The people in Cuba have not stopped fighting for democratic rights and freedoms just as African-Americans and other minority groups in the U.S have not either. Because we say that a country is democratic, it does not mean that democracy is extended to everyone? I ask the learned professor, is Trinidad and Tobago a democratic society? Has the Westminster model of government worked for all the citizens?
Secondly, it appears that Professor Ryan has become a lobbyist for a small right-wing minority of Cuban-Americans who continue to oppose any normalizing of U.S/Cuba relationships. I don’t know why he took that approach to critiquing the policy, but I hope he does not have a sinister agenda. While this group is still a force in Floridian politics, President Obama has recognized that their influence on the national level is dwindling because of the growing influence of a younger generation of Cuban-Americans who are much more progressive than their parents.
Last week on HardBall with Chris Matthews, Howard Fineman, journalist and editorial director of AOL Huffington Post Media Group, argued that data has shown that a large percentage of the younger Cuban/American generation supports Obama’s decision and they want the U.S. to end the embargo on Cuba. If this is the case, why did the learned professor side with the small minority of Cubans and write his tirade about Fidel and Raul? It is quite clear that Ryan is on the wrong-side of history.
The U.S has come to the realization that its Cold War policies as they relate to Cuba have not worked. President Obama even called the policy insane. I strongly urge Professor Ryan “to get with the program.” The Cold War is long over. Fidel and Raul will not live forever; the Cuban people will accept the normalizing of relations on their own terms and not on terms dictated by the U.S. or the minority Cuban right wing fringe in Miami.
I strongly urge the learned professor to use his pen and begin a discourse on this new paradigm rather than obsessing on what Fidel did or did not do. The train has already left the station. The U.S./Cuba representatives have met to iron out the policies. Like it or not Ryan, get on board and use your influence at the University of the West Indies to begin a discourse on this important historical process.
One Week before Christmas 2014, President Obama declared to the world that his administration was taking steps to normalize relationships with Cuba which had been disrupted for fifty years as a result of the Cold War.
Stating that the Cold War policies had failed, Obama proposed the following initiatives that would reestablish diplomatic relations; more effectively empower the Cuban people by adjusting regulations; facilitate an expansion of travel to Cuba; authorize expanded sales and exports of certain goods and services from U.S. to Cuba; authorize American citizens to import additional goods from Cuba; initiate new efforts to increase Cubans’ access to communications and their ability to communicate more freely (www.whitehouse.gov).
When the President announced these changes, Cubans took to the streets in Havana and other parts of Cuba. For them Christmas had come early. However, not everyone took the news kindly. One of them was Professor Selwyn Ryan.
Writing his regular column in the Sunday Express (12/28/14), Ryan penned an essay entitled “Fidel in Retrospect.” Rather than analyze the policies and examine the implications for the Caribbean region, Ryan, instead, went out his way to thrash the Castro brothers.
By so doing one would think that Ryan was a Cuban exile living in Miami. From my observation of these folks, this is how they talk. They trash everything about Cuba since the Revolution of 1959. But Ryan knows better, so we should think. But his essay exposes his ignorance. His essay makes no mention that the Cuban people staged a revolution in the 20th century that challenged U.S hegemony in the region. Moreover, he never discusses the role Cuba played in Latin America and the Caribbean despite facing a blockade that severely wrecked its economy.
Furthermore, the learned professor failed to articulate Cuba’s role in Africa, especially its role in bringing down the Apartheid regime in South Africa. Additionally, he failed to highlight the achievements the Cuban people made in medicine, education, sports, and culture.
Rather than celebrate with the Cuban people. Ryan played the “Grinch” and sought to steal their joy. In playing this role, he chose to quote Eric Williams to justify his reasons for thrashing Fidel and Raul.
However, it was the same Eric Williams in 1959 who declared, “…Castro’s revolution brings one step nearer the old dream of Caribbean Confederation and also the goal of the ownership of the West Indies by the West Indian people themselves” (Vanguard 1/3/1970).
Even though we know that Williams capitulated during the Cold War, he recognized the significance of the Cuban revolution and celebrated the Cuban people by writing From Columbus to Castro. Ryan, on the other hand, is not pleased with the good news and sides with the reactionary Cubans who fled the revolution.
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Mr. Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona SC
Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
I am writing to you as a citizen who has been involved in the Steelband art form for over fifty years. Those who have been involved in this art form for this length of time and more have struggled and made great sacrifices against great odds to bring the Steelpan to what it is today.
Today, it is the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago. I must say thanks to those who gave blood sweat and tears before my time; those who went to jail and lost their families and were considered outcasts by this very society, only for the love of the Steelpan. Today, the national instrument is still considered a noisy instrument by many in the country of its origin after all it has done to put this nation on the world stage.
This Steelpan instrument, has done more to improve the lives of more citizens and to promote the brand T&T, than anything else this country has produced and is still contributing towards holding the social fabric together. Why is this not being recognized for what it’s worth? It confirms the saying, a prophet is not without honor save in his own country.
I say all this to identify some challenges facing Steelbands in the South, especially during the Carnival season. Suddenly, some people find that the Steelbands are making too much noise in their communities, while practicing to represent the said communities at Panorama and the national festival.
So, the police is taking time off from crime fighting, to visit Pan Theaters to let the many young people gathered there practicing their culture know that they have to be EMA-compliant to continue making themselves useful. To me, this was the same thing the pioneers fought against and went to jail for. Is it that those times are coming back again? Are we to, once again, prepare ourselves for a battle with the police, in order to maintain and preserve our culture that is now sweeping the world?
One would have thought that the police would have seen the Pan Theaters as a welcome aid in its fight against crime; pan theaters where hundreds of young people, are engaged in meaningful pursuits, and not out on the streets creating problems for them.
Are we still in colonial mode? Are some of us still trying to understand what is our own, and what is imported? Please Mr. President, give us some clarity on this serious issue. Another very serious and sensitive issue that must be addressed by your good self, sir, is the carnival proclamation signed by you, giving citizens the right to play mas and parade the streets from 4:00 am on Carnival Monday to midnight on Carnival Tuesday.
This right is being infringed upon by the police, giving all sorts of frivolous reasons for their infringement. The Carnival is what it is and is adding much needed revenue to our treasure, but the police seem to feel overworked and unable to manage our national festival effectively. The solution is not in disrupting the people's celebration. The solution is added manpower. This is not rocket science. Let us call on our Caribbean neighbors for the much needed assistance. It was successfully done in recent times for something that was of less interest to the people.
But, the stopping of Carnival in the City of San Fernando at 2:00 am on Monday night, and 10:00 pm on the Tuesday night could lead to serious confrontation at some point in time. We certainly don't want such a situation exacerbated. There are people who live for this art form, and they invest a lot of money to make it happen. Please Mr. President, clear the air on these matters of national importance. All we want to do is play our part in the national festival without harassment and interruption.
Thanking you in advance for an early and positive intervention.
Yours in Culture
I write this full of fear and trepidation and hope than when I am gone at the hand of some law enforcement fundamentalist, Buddhist, Baptist or Adventist, all yuh kind enough to besiege the offices of NWU's wearing "I is Comrade Samuel'' jerseys for at least half day.
Bob Dylan in his classic "Just like Thom Tom blues” has lines that go "If you're lookin' to get silly you'd better go back to from where you came/ Cause the cops don't need you and ...man…they expect the same.''
Never mind the recycled appearances on the talk shows morning and evening. Clearly they plan to show what "police can do”, social media and instant viral re-play notwithstanding. And you do not even have to 'get silly'. You just have to be within arm’s reach to be man/woman handled.
So police women of late don't seem to give a @#$%^&* (Do not get me wrong. I am speaking of when they are in uniform. I do not know what happens when they change clothes. When they are not seeking to maim the already lame by staging their own police sports/para Olympics on High Street, they are practising what prison officers call "cell extraction' on Charlotte Street.
You see, dear readers, this dangerously parked female motorist could not be allowed to continue with her life of crime in the city. Next thing you know we would see a spike in illegally parked motorists sitting in their cars, opting for a parking ticket. The police, one imagines, saw the need to raise the threat level to 'orange'.
How they must cuss out Samsung and Steve Jobs! In the old days they use to beat up the camera man and smash the camera at will
So once again having heroically extracted the store owner from her Audi hideout, following a cuss-out of course, we can all walk the streets of Port-of-Spain safe in the knowledge that illegally parked motorists won't take over our city: day light robberies, murders and home invasions – yes! Illegal parking? Never!
P.S. Please remember you have to buy, print and wear your own jerseys
On the night of January 17th 2015, police entered the Pan Palais of the Southern Marines Steel Orchestra in Marabella, South Trinidad. Southern Marines is the oldest existing steelband in the Greater San Fernando and taces its naming to 1946. This video relates the rest of the story
Please allow me space to express my disgust at the crime situation in this paradise lost. Everywhere you go today, is crime, crime evermore! People are not safe anywhere, not on the streets, not in the sanctuary of their homes. Not even lying stiff in the morgue is one safe from violation. People are not safe from criminals and bandits in this lost paradise, and they come in all forms and fashion. It's so sad.
I remember, as a young man reading and learning about life and lifestyles, I learnt where banditry was a noble profession. In days of old when men were bold and chivalry was still in fashion, men used to be commended highly by their country. Sovereign rulers used to honour them by bestowing great titles on them. I remember names like Hawkins, Raleigh and Drake were men of high status. Those James boys, Frank and Jesse, are today etched in the American halls of fame. Even Ali the Baba and Robin with his hoods were held in high esteem in their day.
The great train robber Mr. Ronnie Biggs must be turning in his grave on hearing what is passing for banditry today. It is a shame and downright disgrace to see how these impostors today have brought banditry to its knees. The god of bandits should relegate them to a fate worse than death.
Those of yesteryear took pride in their chosen field of endeavour. Some of these men stole whole countries with all their peoples.
Christopher Columbus was chief amongst the thieves. We still honour his name in so many parts of this country and across the globe.
Bandits today have no class, hence the reason why their names will be lost in the dump heap of history. What kind of pride could one profess to have in the practising of one’s craft when one can find pleasure only in robbing and killing little old ladies and grandpas for pittance and sticking up poor people in the village bar, who only trying to drown their sorrows of the day in a beer or two, and you, armed to the teeth, mongoosing their cell phones and the small change they are squeezing to play the play whe.
Is there pride in robbing the Snack Shacks along the street, that selling some digestives and chubby to the children then boasting to your friends how much wuk you put down? Shame, shame, shame! Practitioners of professions, always try to emulate the best in their field. What joy could you find in distressing the very community that give you life? Bandits of yesteryear, used to protect and defend their communities.
That fellow, who robbed the Bank of Monte Carlo, must have cried long tears down in bandit hell, when the news reached him that one was coming in from Trinbago, who was shot dead by security, for robbing a Roti Shop. Shame on him! If he was so hungry and starved for food, he should have begged for something to eat. Someone would have bought him a roti.
Valmond Fat Man Jones in Smartman Heaven must be blue vex to be a Trini. After all, he became a media celebrity after he pulled off the Sam Cooke scam, gained the admiration of a nation and get immortalise in kaiso.
All you mocking pretenders have really dragged banditry through the mud and left it with no honour. But, the truth be told, you all are just petty thieves: the vagrants of banditry; common criminals without class. You don't have the knowledge and education to participate in white collar crimes and don't have the class of the likes of Morgan the Pirate.
If you distressers take a little time out and do some research, you would see that real bandits, those worth their weight in gold, used their exploits to help build better communities. Hence the reason their names live on. It is not too late to emulate those guys, and have your names etched in the annals of history.
Robbing and raping grannies in the communities is the wrong road towards success. Because of your action, the children are afraid to go outside and play freely. Innocent lives are always in danger, whenever you get the urge to go out and kill one another. Change that style! Try to get on top of your game. Emulate the best in your field! Maybe then, you may command some respect and etch your names in the annals of bandit history. In the meantime, Stop the senseless killing!