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COUP ANYONE? By Burton Sankeralli

posted 25 Mar 2015, 13:13 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 25 Mar 2015, 13:16 ]

With apologies to my comrades in the movement permit me to act, for the hypothetical moment, as if I were an advocate of liberal
Burton Sankeralli
democracy.

So what have we here? Do correct me if I’m mistaken, but it seems as if one of these special groups of armed men (along with some armed women I suppose) without due authorization took to the main roads and highways of the nation and by force of arms seized a fair chunk of state power by effectively locking down the country.

It appears to me that this unsanctioned action by the coercive arm meets the basic definition of a coup, albeit a limited one. But of course having a limited coup is at the end of the day a lot like being a little pregnant.

Amazing scenes were witnessed and I indeed listened and watched in disbelief as the Minister of National Security and the top brass of the police washed their hands of it this while Sergeant Beyond The Tape and his riding pardner on national television proclaimed their grievance to the population and explained to us that this is good policing.

It kind of reminded me of something… er… Oh yes! The goodly religious gent also with grievance who also went on national television back in 1990 telling us that the government was overthrown. What really was the difference between the bodies of armed men involved except one is called “police”?

But then again I suppose this little detail makes a great deal of difference. I fear we have crossed the Rubicon and there is no going back. The entire population including a fair number of police and army now know how easy it is to lock down the country and it is really not rocket science to predict that this will happen again. And I say “again” as we can no longer say it can’t happen. It did.

Put bluntly the genie is out of the bottle, we now officially belong to that category of country where illegitimate military intervention can become the order of the day. Really! Why should we take on stupid asshole racist politicians when we have the guns? Did somebody say Banana Republic? We’ve worked hard to attain this Republican status, and we finally reach.

Farfetched? Well we are now in a position to describe specific scenarios. Suppose when (it’s no longer an “if”) this happens again it occurs on a larger more sustained scale involving the police; the government declares a state of emergency and sends in the army. Except certain elements in the army for whatever reason (and we can easily think of some) side with the police. What happens next?

Or suppose the government proclaims the electoral run-off provision and the General Election is as a result hung with the PNM in the lead. The PP claim they are still in power and seek to enforce the run-off but the PNM will have nothing of it. There are incidents of rioting and looting and the coercive arm of the state takes it upon itself to fill the power vacuum.
Farfetched?

Well my dear friends after the limited police coup of March 23, 2015 we now have to reckon on such episodes in our political calculations.

Moreover there is precedent, genealogy and context. The precedent happened some years ago in a country close to us geographically and culturally. If my memory serves it began, like here, as a pay dispute, but with the army, involving a certain phys-ed colonel. Next thing Desi Bouterse knew (and it may not have even been his plan) he was the President of Suriname.
As for genealogy in our nationalist period we’ve had the 1970 army mutiny, 1990 attempted coup, the 2009 undeclared state of Martial Law for the Summit of the Americas, the 2011 rachify SOE by vaps, and now the 2015 limited police coup.

As for our present context we’re having the increased militarization of law enforcement involving police and army. All this while our politicians court racial polarization with Kamla’s run-off and Rowley’s kyat. Notice how our political exchange is becoming increasingly crude.

So it took a while to get here… But here we are! Now let me point out that Marxist analysis is not at all impressed with the bourgeois state and its assertions of legitimacy and law and order. Legitimacy is merely a mask for class oppression and as for law and order there is a beautiful line in the movie Syriana that says that the purpose of the law is to protect corruption.

But in this place, this graveyard of process, we can’t even get this right. And yes some see in our Trinidadian anarchy great hope for creative change: that a crisis is a possibility. But for this to happen we the people have to be ready. But what I am instead seeing is hustling and feting as we drown in the detritus of late Capitalism and go wining over the brink.

Am I growing cynical in my old age? So here we are waiting for the next shoe to drop. In whe whe terms, any number can play. As for my comrades, doh take me on…I only ackin’…But seriously – coup anyone?

LATIN AMERICA AND THE “SPECTRE” OF SOCIALISM by Sai Madivala

posted 19 Mar 2015, 19:47 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 19 Mar 2015, 20:00 ]


Sai Madivala
America is the Canaan of capitalism, its promised land.”

                                                                                 – Werner Sombart, 1906 –

Socialism, as a tangible political and economic project for organizing society, has been cast-off to the dustbin of history.  According to this reasoning, it is anachronistic to speak of contemporary movements rooted in a socialist tradition.  A serious consideration of non-western socialist traditions is in itself a revolutionary paradigm shift.  Socialism was never simply a logic developed in the west and assigned to the rest of the world.  Europe and the United States may historically have been the centers of capitalist production (and self-valorizing standards of Enlightenment and Reason), but the colonial peripheries generated enormous surplus value through forced labor and resource extraction.

Proclaiming itself as world's sentinel, the United States continues to insist that liberal-individualism and market fundamentalism is the way forward.  The claims of being a beacon of democracy and peace are overshadowed by a genocidal history and an expanding military-industrial complex.  A country founded on the principle of conquest in the first instance, it seems, can only be sustained if this principle becomes law and cannot be questioned.

There are numerous examples of US involvement in the overthrow of democratically elected governments, from Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala (1954) to

Patrice Lumumba captured by agents of Western Imperialism
Patrice Lumumba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (1961).  The menace was socialism.  The threat of democratically elected communist governments spread so fast in Latin America that Henry Kissinger, the former U.S. Secretary of State, declared that the advanced capitalist states should not “watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people” (Kissinger, Meeting of the 40 Committee, 1970).

The Latin American experience provides a tapestry for sober reflection on the past, present, and future possibilities of continental movements against capital.  By the 1970's, Latin America became a laboratory for American imperialism.  Ruthless dictatorships spanned the continent, with the elimination of tens of thousands of suspected left-wing activists.  American presidents, like Ronald Reagan, remained committed to right-wing rebel groups in Latin America, often providing covert funding.  The 12-year civil war in El Salvador sparked by the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero and supported by the US military targeted union officials, clergy, and academics.  The US crimes against Cuba have been well-documented.

Despite decades of US aggression in the region, socialism returned to Latin America by the turn of the 21st century.  Fidel Castro fostered alliances and friendships between various leaders, including Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Brazil's Luiz Lula da Silva, Bolivia's Evo Morales, and Ecuador's Rafael Correa.   Hugo Chavez looked to Simon Bolivar, the great liberator of South America from Spanish rule, for developing his indigenous socialism.

The resurrection of the democratic left in Latin America, despite Yankee intervention, remains a political force to reckon with.  Many of these leaders and intellectuals are seeking innovative approaches to socialism as a practical means of improving the conditions of their respective societies.  Socialism, as a philosophy that seeks to democratize resources, provides substantial tools for understanding the world, but also never accepted as a universal category.  These tools are constantly refined in the flames of struggle.

Non-western socialism comes in many shades.  It is a narrative that begs us to widen our lens for envisioning revolutionary movements that are not only against local conditions of oppression and exploitation (nationalist), but also internationalist to the core – a fundamental critique of western modernity, colonial morality, and imperial ambitions.

The movement of capital relations across the globe ossified social hierarchies along racial, gender, and religious categories.  Identifying the detrimental effects of such categorization and sub-alternization are some of the defining intellectual contributions of non-western socialists.  The injection of local cultures and histories impacts how an epistemology is interpreted and employed.  How can a national liberation struggle for self-determination also become a revolutionary movement for the abolishment of private property? In the case of Cuba, both stages were a part of the socialist project. 

Revolutionary socialist movements often coincided with struggles for national liberation, thus going against traditional understandings of class struggle.  Fidel Castro identifies as a nationalist socialist.  The socialism of darker nations could not afford the luxury of dogma.  The socialist insistence on materialism contributed to an existing politics of resistance that derived from multiple histories.  In the context of Latin America, the 'nature of the revolution' has been a central theme in discussions of indigenous socialism.  How can socialist revolution take place in a particular space, given its own historical and socio-economic contradictions?

This organic sense of a malleable socialism allows us to engage with history as a creative and collective process.  The leaders of national liberation struggles constantly questioned the ‘nature of the revolution’ because of their shifting circumstances.  These populist struggles maintained a devotion to uplifting the most oppressed and marginalized members of society.  For example, Liberation Theology, which became a relevant conflagration throughout Latin America, advocated for a fundamental shift in socio-economic relations of production (Brazilian Archbishop Helder Camara: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist").  In addition, the peasantry was considered an integral part of capitalist production and critical in the process of revolutionary change.

What historical lessons can be drawn from the success and failures of these revolutionary shifts in Latin America?  How has the nature of the revolution evolved in Latin America?  Do the failures of state capitalism (as CLR James recalled Soviet Russia) signal the end of socialism?  What does a “real” revolution look like?  How revolutionary can a revolution be?  The progressive elements and successes of Latin America's socialist turn cannot be denied, but the shortcomings of individualistic power struggles and the futility of achieving socialism through the bourgeois state are stubborn knots to be unraveled for the success of future struggles against capital.

The failures of the Latin America's “pink tide” provide gaps for critical insight.  The modern state is a bourgeois political association that assumes legitimacy by claiming a monopoly on violence.  The classic definition of a state is provided by Max Weber: “a state is a human community that successfully claims monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.”  Latin America is no exception. Violence and coercion are integral to the project of modern state formation.  State sovereignty rests on the organized domination of the material forces of production necessary for mobilizing physical force.  The right to use physical force exists only to the extent that the state allows it.  

“We must bear in mind that imperialism is a world system, the last stage of capitalism — and it must be defeated in a world confrontation. The strategic end of this struggle should be the destruction of imperialism. Our share, the responsibility of the exploited and underdeveloped of the world is to eliminate the foundations of imperialism: our oppressed nations, from where they extract capitals, raw materials, technicians and cheap labor, and to which they export new capitals — instruments of domination — arms and all kinds of articles; thus submerging us in an absolute dependence.

Our every action is a battle cry against imperialism, and a battle hymn for the people's unity against the great enemy of mankind: the United States of America. Wherever death may surprise us, let it be welcome, provided that this, our battle cry, may have reached some receptive ear and another hand may be extended to wield our weapons and other men be ready to intone the funeral dirge with the staccato singing of the machine-guns and new battle cries of war and victory.”

– Che Guevara, Message to the Tricontinental, 1967.

The teleology of modern states must be understood outside the bounds of liberal tolerance and political dogma.  The contradictions inherent to socialist revolutions of 19th and 20th centuries operated within a world order determined by capitalist relations.  Capitalist modernity invokes repressive violence as a necessary socio-political phenomenon.  The complexity of war and the politics of violence allow for the primacy of state policy, establishing violence as a decisive, often rationalized as necessary, means for political legitimacy.  Positivism and Absolutism are configured into the formulation of the state at inception.

Today, the spectres of socialism and revolution are haunting Latin America once again.  Citizens demand accountability from their democratically elected governments. These progressive developments and inspiring social movements, over the past two decades, point us toward a new horizon for revolutionary change.  Cuba and Venezuela are the heart of this tectonic shift. 

The days of Henry Kissinger’s foreign policy diagnosis for Latin America are finished.  The lapdogs of imperialism can no longer orchestrate sinister coups and implement exploitative policies in Latin America for the sake of profit, while crushing popular dissent with an iron fist.  

The failure of ‘free trade’ agreements, initiated by Western ex-colonial powers, establishes a new precedent for fighting capital on a global scale.  How did we become patriotic soldiers with a duty toward the state?  A deeper, historical understanding of non-western movements against capital, like the recent revolutions in Latin America, may help us navigate the inherent contradictions of the modern state, sail toward action, and slowly unravel the beast:

BIN THE BILLS

posted 11 Feb 2015, 10:26 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 11 Feb 2015, 10:32 ]

Carrying placards reading "Take your sticky fingers off my credit union''; "Kam-liar only reshuffling, reshuffling"; "Bin d Bill" and "Our survival under attack”, hundreds of credit union members protested Government's move to amend existing credit union legislation on Tuesday 10th February 2015..

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'.

A flyer was distributed and stated:

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 movem
ent. This will be the most severe impact on this indigenous, noble, people centered movement.

JOSTLING FOR THE TROUGH By Frank Sears

posted 4 Feb 2015, 06:58 by Gerry Kangalee

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. 

NIGHT OF THE NINJA By Ken Howell

posted 3 Feb 2015, 16:13 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 3 Feb 2015, 16:17 ]

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.

KAMLA AND BIG PHIL by Rae Samuel

posted 2 Feb 2015, 18:35 by Gerry Kangalee

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”

TELL SELWYN RYAN THE COLD WAR IS OVER by Godfrey Vincent

posted 28 Jan 2015, 18:07 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 28 Jan 2015, 18:19 ]

If the Cold War is over, why, then, is 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. 

SELWYN RYAN: THE GRINCH OF CUBA by Dr. Godfrey Vincent

posted 24 Jan 2015, 09:14 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 24 Jan 2015, 10:28 ]


Professor Selwyn Ryan
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.  

ARE WE STILL IN COLONIAL MODE? by Michael Joseph

posted 21 Jan 2015, 11:36 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 21 Jan 2015, 18:17 ]

2015-01-18

                                                     AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

His Excellency

Mr. Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona SC

The President

Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

Your Excellency,

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.

 Respectfully submitted,

Yours in Culture

Michael Joseph

Citizen. 

BUY, PRINT AND WEAR YOUR OWN JERSIES By Rae Samuel

posted 19 Jan 2015, 12:39 by Gerry Kangalee

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

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