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The Union frequently comments on events or receives news of general interest and these are documented on this page.

NURSES UNDER PRESSURE AS COVID RUNS WILD by Rae Samuel

posted 8 May 2021, 09:52 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 8 May 2021, 10:01 ]

Idi Stuart
As the Covid crisis deepens, as uncertainty lingers and fears remain, workers and the wider national community must stand behind Idi Stuart, head of Trinidad and Tobago Registered Nurses Association (TTRNA). In his latest virtual media conference, 06 May, on TV 6, Stuart brought a clarity and a context to the issue that the long running Government media briefings lack.

While Covid 19 has emerged only in the last 15 months, its impact could have been mitigated if certain operational structures and working conditions were in place. For almost 2 years now Stuart has been leading the health sector in a struggle for regularisation of the professional set up.

We in the National Workers Union (NWU have followed his ongoing calls to the Ministry of Health for consultation about the staffing and operations of the Nursing Council, the body that oversees professional matters. Health personnel have since 2019 protested in Port of Spain, Mount Hope, Sangre Grande, Point
According to 2016 official statistics, in the North Central Regional Health Authority there were, at least, six hundred and fifty vacancies to be filled, and in the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) there were three thousand four hundred and thirteen (3413) vacancies, nine hundred and ninety-two (992) of them being nursing vacancies.

At the San Fernando General Hospital, the nurse to patient ratio was close to one nurse to twenty-two patients and this has been made worse since the advent of the Teaching Hospital. This is unsafe and puts both nurse and patient at risk. (Editor's Note)

Fortin and Tobago. They have been warning about poor administrative practices, lack of meaningful consultations, horrible industrial relations and lack of resources.

Stuart pointed out in the interview that for two years now student nurses have not been paid stipends. "They are working students” he said. Two classes have not moved forward. This means that the critical staff shortages normally faced, have truly exacerbated the Covid crisis. Were they available, he pointed out, they could have helped with the "backroom work'' i.e. testing and other preliminary work. As the cases mount Port of Spain General is becoming a 'tent city'

Industrial relations in the regional corporations are notorious. Given that this is a sector that requires trained professionals, charged with nation's health care, one would imagine that they would be given the highest considerations re: terms and conditions of service. The opposite prevails with short term contracts being the norm.

With that type of instability being standard, it comes as no surprise that many of our health care personnel migrate. “If you are offered a 3000 pound signing bonus why would you stay here? That is just the bonus! The salaries would be better than anything on offer'' he pointed out. It is well known that our health professionals are forever scouted by agencies and institutions abroad.TV6 routinely interviews a Trinbagonian nurse who holds a senior position in a Saudi Arabian hospital.

What many forget, what the mainstream media does not highlight, what the ''jacket and tie '' crowd in the media briefings does not mention is this - that these front line workers, exposed daily to the virus, leave to go home to their families exhausted after double shifts sometimes.

Let us remember the level of trauma they are experiencing constantly. Like everyone else they face the domestic challenges Covid has brought on. As if to remind us how inhumane the administration can be, he told of a nurse who underwent major surgery and had her salary stopped while in hospital. What we do not want, if it is not already happening, is that the medical personnel have to choose who is going to treated and who is going to be left to die because of lack of resources.

The host asked if comparing what is going on in India and Brazil might be stretching it. He showed that analyses are made relative to cases and size of population i.e. deaths/cases per thousand. One recalls around this time last year when rubbish was being put out that we were in the top 10 in the world, according to Oxford university. Stuart went so far as to call for Cuban nurses to be brought back to Trinidad and Tobago. "Yes they are better paid than local staff but we have to address the crisis.''.

TTNRA is giving the story behind the multiple media briefings, regular sound bites and photo ops/'jabs'. Covid is not going away soon and it is the health personnel, on the front line who find themselves under-resourced, ill equipped and asked to go the extra perilous mile; without access to the splendid isolation/quarantine that heads of government and business instantly enjoy.

We must give our constant support. Our lives are/may soon be literally in their overworked hands.

WORKERS MUST TAKE BACK THEIR UNIONS By Gerry Kangalee

posted 22 Apr 2021, 15:45 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 22 Apr 2021, 17:29 ]

When the NAR government entered the IMF conditionality programme in the late 1980’s we had come through a period of intense struggle, with some success,
beginning in the 1960’s, led by the trade union movement, of moving to own and control some aspects of the economy of the country.

We saw the nationalisation of the telephone company arising out of a bitter strike by members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) which lasted for one hundred and twenty-three days; the nationalisation of bus services and the formation of PTSC after a strike by members of Transport and Industrial Workers Union which lasted fifty-seven days and which involved a petition campaign for nationalisation.

The Transport and Industrial Workers Union (TIWU) The held numerous public meetings and mass demonstrations all over the country explaining the reasons for the strike and its demands; and why Government should nationalise the Company.

The Union was also able to obtain the support of the commuters and on June 22nd, 1964, submitted a petition to the Acting Minister of Public Utilities supported by fourteen thousand persons demanding that the Company be nationalised.

Of course there were the tremendous struggles by the OWTU in the sixties and seventies to defend the jobs of oil workers in BP, Shell and Texaco and the subsequent pressure brought on the government to nationalise the assets of these companies.

This, of course, was bolstered by the revolutionary ferment of the sixties and seventies which saw a tremendous struggle to gain true independence; which saw the declaration of states of emergency and the jailing of revolutionaries and trade unionists; the enactment of the Industrial Relations Act which sought to fetter the activities of trade unions. There was the short lived blossoming of armed struggle against the state and the tremendous rallies of workers in 1975 and the disastrous foray into electoral politics.

But the constant pressure from below and the oil boom of the seventies saw the setting up of a slew of state owned companies and the development of the Point Lisas Industrial estate and the establishment of ISCOTT, which was to be the flagship of industrial development until it came under pressure from the established international steel giants and the US trade department and which led to its privatisation.

When the boom turned into the inevitable bust of the early 1980s, the trade union movement waged a decade long struggle to maintain the gains it had made in the previous period. There were tremendous strike stru
ggles throughout the 1980’s. There were occupations. There were arrests and jailing of trade union members. There were pitched battles with scabs. There were flying pickets and police repression and there was the general strike of 1989 which saw a complete shutdown of the country on March 6th – the Day of Resistance.

In the aftermath of our entry into an IMF standby programme in the late eighties, there was a tsunami of privatisation accompanied by mass retrenchment and the weakening of the trade union movement and an almost thirty year retreat of organised labour.

The government cut public expenditure as one important aspect of expenditure was to repay their debts to the external lending agencies from whom they took loans. Interest payments on the external loans moved from 3.2% in 1983 to 20.9% in 1992.

One major way of cutting expenditure was to reduce salary and wages. There was a salary cut of 10% and COLA was removed. Public health care expenditure fell 17% in 1982 to 8% in 1992. Similar cuts were felt in Education, public transport and public infrastructure.

Many public service workers couldn’t continue with their mortgage payments. Banks foreclosed on their properties and many migrated which exacerbated the barrel children phenomenon.

The private sector followed suit. They also removed COLA and engaged in retrenchment. The major conditions focused on curbing government expenditure, monetary and exchange rate policy, and on price and import control

The dollar was devalued and food prices increased by 50%, salaries were already cut and the cost of imports increased. 15% VAT was imposed on most items.

Corporation tax was reduced from 50% tax to 30%. Price control was removed as were agricultural subsidies. By 1990, unemployment rose to 22%. By December 1989, 49% shares were sold to Cable and Wireless. Services provided by the state were outsourced to the Private Sector e.g. Prison Transport went to Amalgamated.

Many unionised and non-unionised private companies were closed down under receiverships. By 1993, 1,694 businesses went out of operation. Between 1986-1990 0ver 10,000 cases of retrenchment
were reported to the Ministry of Labour. Many of these workers were never paid their Severance. By 1991, over 25% of the population was living below the poverty line according to a UWI study.

According to NATUC (National Trade Union Centre) figures, trade union membership fell from 118,750 in 1980 to 66,257 in 1998 which is a 44% cut. Trade union percentage of the workforce has been declining ever since.

The economic crisis we are experiencing today has its fore-runner in that of the 1980s. But today the situation threatens to be more catastrophic. We are in a new stage of barbarism, with the working people under more pressure than ever before.

We have become a narco-state based on massive corruption of politicians and public officials a repressive police force, ghastly criminality, a country littered with guns in the hands of dispossessed youths, tens of thousands without hope of employment, rampant exploitation of labour, and if the ruling elites have their way, the Covid restrictions may very well become the new/old normal.

In the 1980s the trade union movement engaged in a decade long struggle to defend the interests of working people and the poor. Today, the movement has lost credibility in the eyes of working people, including their membership which is shrinking at an alarming rate. The trade union movement is the weakest it has been since the nineteen thirties.

Working people and the poor cannot stand aside and look. To do so is to co-operate in our own destruction. The workers in the public utilities, WASA, TTEC, TSTT, PTSC, LAKE ASPHALT, NATIONAL PETROLEUM, TTPOST, MUNICIPAL CORPORATIONS must take up their responsibility to defend their jobs and their children’s future.

My comrade, Rae Samuel, has for years been calling for building a united front of workers in action; not of federations, not of maximum leaders, nor of election agendas. I think we should take a serious look at establishing mechanisms to make his call a reality.

One suggestion is that the shop stewards, branch officers and activists of the various unions should take the initiative and not wait on their leaders, (many of whom don’t seem to have a clue and who seem more concerned about their personal interest than that of the members of their unions), and organise cross-union discussions or COSSABOs, if you will, to strategise and develop a fight back program. After all, as the late great George Weekes used to say, workers have brains dey ent touch yet!

The economic and political elites, the one percent, are using this crisis to advance their interests. We must ensure that we do not retreat in the face of these initial attacks. If we do not defend our turf now, we will be condemned to fight a long, rear-guard action where we won’t have the initiative and where we will always be on the back foot.

Let us show these hustlers, these confidence tricksters, these servants of the imperialists, these gatekeepers for the one percent that the people ent taking dat so! For unionised workers the first step is to take control of their unions and transform them into democratic, militant participatory organisations; take them out of the hands of political parties, conglomerate employers and leaders who are more concerned with their personal aggrandisement than with defending, protecting and advancing the interests of the working class in this era of capitalist collapse.

TOWARD A SUSTAINABLE STEELBAND MODEL By Andre Moses

posted 19 Apr 2021, 14:22 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 19 Apr 2021, 14:24 ]

Many steelbands don't have security of tenure
Andre Moses
much less a home for themselves. The patronage steelband model is based on inflows of funding from the private sector through sponsorship, or from the public sector through grants and the proceeds of competitions.

A third model that is emerging more strongly, is a sustainable model that facilitates the development of autonomous income streams from business ventures. For this later model, security of tenure opens up a capital base from which steel bands can build. All Stars and Birdsong are examples of steel bands that are actively exploring this third option.

Pamberi, also, is working towards its version of a more sustainable model. Siparia Deltones is another active experiment that embodies a more sustainable approach. Fonclaire, too, has recently been sharing some information about its business initiatives.

The entertainment industry in a relatively small economy like Trinidad and Tobago probably cannot generate the level of turnover to support 100-plus steelbands as year round organisations, and generate the level of funding needed for their sustainability, so the scope of the steelband business portfolio has to be more creative and broader-based.

Even before Covid the Trinidad and Tobago energy-based economy was shrinking, as the impact of the global transition to alternative energy options has become more manifest. While a popular default position is to look to the State to underwrite the funding gap, the reality is any sustainable steelband model that is based primarily on substantial public sector funding, addresses primarily the expenditure side of the economic equation, but conversely, underemphasizes the revenue generation side of the said equation.

Certainly, in this regard, there is an urgent need to maximise the steelbands’ revenue earning capacity at Carnival time, but undercapitalisation of steelband operations is an issue that must be addressed.

Too much of the funding inflow to steelbands at Carnival time, goes back out to various service providers such as Tee Shirt manufacturers and printers, transportation entrepreneurs, chroming facilities, caterers and paint shops, because steelbands have historically been consumers of these services and not producers. To stem that leakage, and ensure that more of that inflow is retained for sustainable steelband development, requires an investment in machinery, equipment and training.

While if the building of a Steelband Headquarters is conceptualised and organised as a collective enterprise involving all steelbands, it can become more realisable, it is also true that it is difficult to focus on external matters when utility bills and Panorama debts are so much more immediate and pressing realities for many steelbands.

We must applaud the professionalism and projection of the ‘Big Five’ of the steelband world, because they set the standards of excellence. We must, at the same time also, recognise that the prevailing community steelband model is in need of a rethink and fundamental reorganisation if it is to survive in an economic sense. Every single panyard is a music school, that collectively, creates and has created a massive critical mass of panists, arrangers, composers and a mind-boggling collection of orchestral music.

The issue is now that oil and gas are increasing becoming a part of our history, how can we strategize and organise to make the steelband industry an integral component of our future wellbeing?

US MILITARY OCCUPATION OF TRINIDAD PART 1 By Simeon Humphrey

posted 17 Apr 2021, 16:46 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 17 Apr 2021, 17:12 ]

Simeon Humphrey
The history of the US occupation of Trinidad is not widely known here or in the rest of the Caribbean. Caribbean people, including citizens of Trinidad and Tobago,
Amazon.com: Naval Air Station Trinidad, BWI Patch Full Color: Clothing know little about the American occupation of the then British colonies during and after the Second World War. During a recent discussion with some comrades, objection was raised to the use of the term “occupation” to describe the experience

We must not allow a definition of 'occupation' given by the British colonial power to mislead us into believing that the deal they made with the US during World War II to give lands across the West Indian islands in exchange for 50 old naval assets did not result in the military occupation of our country with its attendant violence, discrimination and plunder.

They engaged in land dispossession, rape, murder, bullying and violence against local people and created " Federal military preserves " where local law and authority had no jurisdiction. Both my father and grand-father worked with the Yankees during the occupation so my knowledge is first grounded in their oral histories and later records of the US and British Imperial archives.

There were several military bases in Trinidad but none in Tobago. The Chaguaramas naval base occupied the entire northwest peninsula of Trinidad and all the adjacent islands at the entrance to the Gulf of Paria. Military historian and former TT Coast Guard chief Gaylord Kelshall has written books on the history of the strategic role and importance of this naval base to the US /UK war effort and the battle for the Atlantic sea lanes.


ARMED FORCES RADIO WVDI

In May 1943 the U.S. Armed Forces Radio Station WVDI commenced regular broadcasts to the service men at the Chaguaramas base in Trinidad. Although intended for the military personnel situated at the U.S. Naval base in Chaguaramas, the 250-watt signal could also be heard faintly throughout the Island.

While the transmission was not intended for general consumption Trinidadians tuned in as rock and roll was dawning in America and gaining popularity in Trinidad.

The station also provided a platform for local Calypso musicians whose performances were broadcast and proved to be very popular. Holly Betaudier, during the 1950s, worked as an announcer at the American Naval Base in Chaguaramas and the WVDI Station. He was the host of "Holly's Happy Moments," a popular radio show that featured the best of local talent He utilised his position at the U.S. Armed Forces radio service network WVDI in the 1940s to promote calypso and parang music.

Boscoe Holder also had his own programme, Piano Ramblings, on the U.S. Armed Forces Radio Station, WVDI. The show aired every Sunday afternoon. His dance company also performed constantly at various Officers’ Clubs and U.S.O.’s, and Holder was commissioned by scores of servicemen to paint their portraits. On Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. you could her at least 4 episodes of comic strip heroes: Lone Ranger, Flash Gordon, Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers.
The Fort Reid army airbase at Wallerfield was the logistical hub for the North African campaign and was the largest airbase in the world during that period. It was not unusual to find the body of a local woman with her throat slit in one of the rivers traversing this base after a weekend.

The Andrews Sisters immortalised the prostitution driven by the Chaguaramas occupation when they stole the calypso composed by Lord Invader which celebrated "Drinking rum and Coca Cola, going
The social pathology associated with occupation by military forces repeated itself in the aftermath of the invasion of Grenada by the US and its regional puppet forces in 1983.

The Grenadian owner of the popular disco in the Lagoon, St. Georges bitterly recounted to me how a Jamaican soldier one Friday night loaded a round in his SLR and threatened to shoot him because he would not allow the soldier to enter his disco to party without paying the entrance fee like everyone else.

The Grenadian comrades from that period would know both the owner and the name of the business place!
down Point Cumana...
" Point Cumana and Carenage being the villages at the entrance to the US " Federal " territory.

The US Army established its first training school for jungle warfare on the north Manzanilla Peninsula and it operated thus until its transfer to Panama after the war.

A primary mission of the military occupation of Trinidad was to also protect the several oil refineries located here which supplied the fuel for the US/British war machine during and after WW 2!

Other smaller bases were located at Carlsen Field, Couva, Cedros and there was an emergency landing strip at Toco, Kelshall also created and curated the Chaguaramas Military Museum, which now faces demise since his death since, with the exception of the annual November Remembrance Day ceremony, none of the neo-colonial regimes since 1962 have examined that aspect of our history and paid proper respect, gratitude or reparations to the people who were subject to the occupation.

The Chaguaramas base was also the site of one of the OMEGA navigation stations which allowed Polaris submarines to circumnavigate the globe before satellites took over and it was also the site of one of the radar tracking stations used for the Apollo missions.

Much more information can be obtained from the archives of the Imperial War College and Pentagon and US Naval archives. I hope this helps you obtain more perspective on our region’s role in the military adventures of the empires.

IMBERT CANNOT COMPEL ANY EMPLOYER TO BREAK THE LAW By Gerry Kangalee

posted 15 Apr 2021, 16:35 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 15 Apr 2021, 18:38 ]

Finance Minister Imbert has tried to mislead citizens of this country when he made his infamous statement about the negotiations between the Public Services Association and the National Insurance Board. The statement was made in the Senate on March 9th 2021.

IMBERT IN PARLIAMENT


Let us deconstruct what he said? He said “The collective agreement in question was not authorised by the ministerial committee established to monitor the conduct of wage and salary negotiations. This committee is now entitled the human resource advisory committee of cabinet which took over from the ministerial committee established under the previous administration.”

The collective agreement to which the Minister referred covers the period January 1st 2014 to December 31st 2016. By memorandum dated July 31st 2018, management informed the workers, members of the recognised majority union, that their review and compilation of their proposals for the negotiations were receiving the consideration of the Board.

There is a Human Resource sub-committee of the Board that deals with industrial relations and that monitors negotiations and acts as the principals for the National Insurnce Board’s negotiating team and who are fully aware of the back and forth that takes place during negotiations.

By letter dated November 5th 2018, management received PSA’s proposals and informed the workers that they intended to submit their amended proposals, having received the union’s, to the Board of Directors in early 2019. Negotiations commenced on May 8th 2019 and were settled in October 2020.

Following industrial relations procedure as set out in the Industrial Relations Act, the Minister of Labour forwarded the new collective agreement to the Industrial Court for registration without any objection
Minister of Labour Stephen Mc Clashie
whatsoever. On February 10th 2021, the collective agreement was registered by the President of the Industrial Court. On registration, it became a legally binding document, a court order, so to speak.

Nowhere in the legally mandated provisions of the Industrial Relations Act does it call for authorisation of any negotiated collective agreement between statutory authorities and recognised majority unions by any sub-committee of cabinet, whatever it chooses to call itself.

For argument sake even if there was such a role laid out in the law, it was the Minister of Labour, a member of the cabinet who you would expect would be a member of this human resource advisory committee, who forwarded the agreement to the Industrial Court for registration as he is legally required to do.

Anyway, let us look at the thinking of the Industrial Court on this issue. On the 20th August 1987, the then President of the Industrial Court, Justice Brathwaite sitting in Coram with Justices Awang and Khan on a matter involving thirteen matters heard together involving three unions, eleven bargaining units, the employer of which is the government, and three statutory authorities stated: “no Minister, whether or not expressly empowered by statute to give special or general directions, can give directions which, in effect, amend the Act by absolving any particular employer in any particular circumstance from his obligations under s 40 (1)."

The statement is clear. The minister is not empowered to “give directions, which, in effect amend the act…” Minister Imbert is not above the law and cannot instruct anyone to break the law. Yet he gets all hot and sweaty and spews a lot of hot air about a letter which was issued to the Board in 2011 which purports to give instructions relating to negotiations and which he implies brings an order of the court into question.

This letter does not alter the fact that the collective agreement between NIB and the PSA is a legally binding document that is not subject to the Minister’s whims and fancies.

Let us look at another example of the court’s thinking. In IRO 16 of 1987 and 10 of 1988, in a matter between Communication Workers Union and Trinidad and Tobago External Telecommunication, delivered on July 1st 1992, Justice Riley-Hayes, sitting in Coram with Justice Ashby stated: “the evidence adduced by the company reveals nothing short of disregard by the government not only for the industrial relations process but also for the consequences that flow therefrom…. they cannot by their actions or inactions occasion breaches of the provisions of the Act or indeed any other statute. In this case there is no statutory provision for the issuing of Ministerial directives with respect to negotiations. Even where statute makes such express provisions, as is the case with the Minister of Finance with respect to public sector bargaining, Ministers are statute bound to issue directives in time so as to facilitate smooth running of the industrial relations processes instituted inter alia by the relevant legislation.”

The Minister, then charges the management of the NIB with withholding information from the Board with reference to the letter of March 25th 2011 and has initiated an investigation. This seems to be the modus operandi of this government. Petrotrin – blame the Board and management; National Petroleum – blame the Industrial Court; WASA – blame the management and the union; NIB – blame the management.

Let us move away from the technical to the political. It is mind boggling that the Minister can claim that the Board was unaware of this so-called directive. Of course, as was stated before, he implied that management concealed the letter from the board for some unstated reason.

According to the National Insurance Act Section 3 (2) The Board shall consist of eleven members designated Directors, who shall be appointed by the Minister, as follows: (a) three members nominated by the Government (b) three members nominated by the associations most representative of Business; (c) three members nominated by the associations most representative of Labour; (d) a person, who in the opinion of the Minister, is independent of the Government, Business and Labour, who shall be the Chairman; (e) the Executive Director as ex officio member.

Helen Drayton, Chairman of NIB
The Chairman of the Board is Ms. Helen Drayton and the executive director is Ms. Niala Persad-Poliah. Is the Minister accusing Ms. Perad-Poliah of withholding
Niala Persad-Poliah, Executive Director of the NIB
information from Ms. Drayton, a respected professional, and other members of the Board?

Is the minister suggesting that the government members of the board are just along for the ride and have no clue what management is doing?

Imbert is unbelievable! The practice over the years has been that all board minutes go to the Permanent Secretary and the Minister of Finance. At the end of each month the Chairman of the Board and the Executive Director report to the Minister of Finance.

If this practice, which seems to be an eminently, sensible one has not changed, how can the minister claim ignorance of the substance of the collective agreement, which his cabinet colleague, the Minister of Labour, forwarded to the court for registration without any objection whatsoever; which his representatives on the Board presided over the period during which it was being negotiated and which the Chairman and executive director, would surely, one would expect, have reported on to him during their monthly meetings.

In closing, it must be stated, that the workers of the National Insurance Board are not public servants and are not subject to the public service commission and the Chief Personnel Officer, so all this ole talk from Imbert about the effect of the wage increase on government finances is just a distraction and an attempt to, once more, blame working people for the gross incompetence of the Rowley administration.

His investigation seems designed to scapegoat the board and management of the NIB, because he knows full well that no minister of government can compel any employer to break the law or in the words of the Late Judge Riley-Hayes “they cannot by their actions or inactions occasion breaches of the provisions of the Act or indeed any other statute.”

US SANCTIONS: COLLECTIVE PUNISHMENT ON VENEZUELAN PEOPLE By Jesús Rojas

posted 12 Apr 2021, 17:21 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 12 Apr 2021, 17:37 ]


Jesus Rojas
Washington’s aggression against Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and other countries is a flagrant violation of human rights since its prime objective is to destroy these societies’ material and spiritual foundations by attacking their prosperity, health and the sense of well-being, joy and autonomy.

Regrettably, this crime against humanity has not moved international bodies to demand that Washington put an end to these policies. Nor has it moved into action the large number of NGOs, supposedly concerned about respect for human rights, who look the other way when it comes to condemning the crimes of the empire in the above mentioned countries and many others.

The aim of these cruel policies is the destruction of nation states. For nearly twenty years, the government of the United States has been attacking Venezuelan sovereignty, and with heightened ferocity during the last five years, aiming at regime change, trying to remove President Nicolás Maduro from power through violence and terrorism.

The US government has imposed multiple "sanctions" on Venezuela. It has embargoed the export of oil which provides 95% of the nation's income. It has blocked the Venezuelan state from using its bank accounts abroad to import medicine and to carry out its social welfare programs.

Between December 2014 and July 2020, the unilateral coercive sanctions targeted 401 commodities and individuals, adversely affecting Venezuelan economy. Furthermore, even amid the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, the US has denied access by the Venezuelan government to the foreign exchange required for importing food, medicine, spare parts and essential raw material for its economic activity.

The aggression against Venezuela comes not only from the United States’ imperialist government, but also from its European allies. In January 2019, about 14 tons of gold reserves, with an estimated value of $1,359 million, deposited by the Venezuelan government in the Bank of England, were illegally confiscated by the British government.

In a letter of October 9th 2020, addressed to the international community, President Nicolás Maduro Moros denounced the sanctions legislation, and seven decrees or executive orders, as well as 300 administrative measures, which together, since 2014, make up a sophisticated policy of multi-pronged aggression against Venezuela.

In a report entitled "ECONOMIC SANCTIONS AS COLLECTIVE PUNISHMENT: THE CASE OF VENEZUELA," published in May 2019, Jeffrey Sachs and Mark Weisbrot, North American economists at the prestigious Washington-based Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, concluded that the unilateral coercive measures of the United States government represent a death sentence for tens of thousands of Venezuelans a year, with more than 40 thousand deaths since 2017, a figure that, no doubt, has since increased.

According to these experts, such measures represent a "punishment" that amounts to collective suffering. They claim that if the US government had not taken these measures, the Venezuelan economic situation would be buoyant.

And it is certainly the case that Venezuelans had been enjoying an increasing measure of well-being prior to the imposition of the collective punishment by the United States. The Bolivarian Revolution had reduced poverty and social inequalities. Social projects and welfare programs had improved the quality of life for many Venezuelans.

The US’ unilateral coercive policies have sabotaged those gains, and the unbearable economic decline has driven a constant flow of Venezuelans across the borders.

One may justifiably say that unilateral coercive sanctions are, practically, weapons of mass destruction: a form of war where tanks, planes, bombs and missiles are replaced by economic and financial blockades dealing a destructive blow to national production and foreign trade.

The Bolivarian Government, meanwhile, has made great efforts to enhance its capacities in terms of social protection and welfare. So far, we have managed to prevent a famine in Venezuela and mitigated the disastrous effects that would have taken place in the absence of the socialist shield and the social protection measures that the Bolivarian Government has been implementing.

In response to the imperial aggression, and in defence of the national heritage, sovereignty, dignity, peace, development and well-being of the Venezuelan people, on October 8th October 2020, the National Constituent Assembly approved the "Anti-Blockade Law for National Development and the Guarantee of the Rights of the Venezuelan People".

This special legislative instrument will provide the Venezuelan government with the ability to improve the country's income, generate rational and adequate incentives, stimulate domestic economic activity, and form productive alliances which would generate foreign investments aimed at the development of our motherland.

In search of justice and seeking to uphold international law and institutions, Venezuela has complained to the International Criminal Court (ICC) against this continued abuse by the most pernicious power humanity has ever known.

The time has come for international legal institutions to denounce the egregious abuses of the North American plutocracy, which threatens peaceful coexistence, human rights and the lives of millions of people throughout the world, endangering the very existence of humanity.

The peoples of the world are advancing towards the building of a new global society. They are formulating new paradigms to achieve ecological and environmental balance, and overcoming the social ills and deficiencies endemic to capitalism, hence reinventing and expanding the limits and definition of democracy.

PRIVATISATION IN ANTIGUA - A VERY BAD IDEA By Alvette E Jeffers

posted 7 Apr 2021, 09:07 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 7 Apr 2021, 09:59 ]

Alvette Jeffers
The Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (A&BLP) government with support from the United Progressive Party (UPP), has announced that it will offer to the public 10 percent of its 51 percent holdings in the West Indies Oil Company (WIOC).

The other shareholders are Venezuela which owns 25 percent of the stock and Fancy Bridge owns the other 24 percent. The government hopes to raise EC18 million “to be utilized to fund a number of its critical capital projects” according to the Antigua Newsroom (AN) of 3/24/2021; additionally, the government claims, the selling of WIOC shares will afford members of the public the opportunity “to build wealth” according to the Newsroom.

Ten percent of the stocks amount to 301,920 shares. This means that with a minimum allocation of “50 shares per applicant ,” 6,038 people will have an opportunity to become private investors in WIOC, if there is no attempt made to manipulate the sale and purchase to benefit an already wealthy class of citizens. Both the UPP and the government see the furthering of the privatization of the industry as opposed to a deepening of social ownership, as a significant turning point worth pursuing which bodes well for a minority of Antigua and Barbuda’s population of over 97,000 people.

There is no doubt that if there is scrupulous accounting and public oversight and agitation, there can be an efficient and judicious allocation of funds to improve existing social institutions or the creation of new ones. These will significantly enhance the lives of the majority of the working class and everyday people as opposed to allowing wealth concentration in a few hands. The government and the UPP seem to think that the enrichment and enhancement of the few to the detriment of many is, in this case, a better option.

Antiguans and Barbudans are already vested in WIOC and there is no need to privatize public assets for all to derive some benefits from the company. The Public owns 51% of WIOC. That does not seem clear to Antiguans and Barbudans and the reason is that the government does not act as if its role is a fiduciary one. The government, therefore, is obligated to see to it that there is in place proper management and oversight of the disbursement of the public ’s profits from WIOC so that its usages can have maximum utility for the majority of the population. Being proficient managers of public finance is particularly important especially since foreign investors in Antigua and Barbuda are allowed to operate for years without paying taxes and custom duties; and this, in part, contributes to regular budget deficits which render the government incapable of meeting its obligations to the public.

Profits from WIOC do not eliminate this problem. They ease the burden somewhat. In light of this recurring deficit, it begs the question as to why the government continues to encourage foreign
Gaston Browne, Prime Minister and Harold Lovell, Leader of the Opposition both support the sell out of the assets of the people of Antigua and Barbuda
investment or a growth strategy that do not generate sufficient revenue to fund the building of the social institutions that a modern society requires?

The working class and everyday people in Antigua and Barbuda require socialized medicine. Women and men need easy access to universal day care and PreK for their children at minimum costs to them. Pipe-borne water should be available on a daily and consistent basis and infrastructure should continuously be improved. The population should have secured public spaces and parks for family gatherings and cultural institutions to entertain and fire their imagination. A national institution for research and development is mandatory. And, of course, beautifully constructed sport arenas for popular consumption.

A country, as small as Antigua and Barbuda, can aim to develop these institutions, but only if the economy is organized primarily to service the needs and aspirations of the great majority and not to enrich the few. It means that the economy cannot be organized to satisfy private accumulation of wealth and with it the concentration of social power in the hands of the few to determine the conditions under which the rest of us will live or die.

The economic elite does not need socialized medicine or universal daycare and PreK because they can purchase the best. Those who live by selling their labor need a social safety net and a society that mobilizes the energies of all for the benefit of all. It seems to me, that the idea of taking the wealth of the commons and placing it in the pockets of a minority of the islands’ citizens is driven by the perverse notion that everyone has to look out for him or herself and both should acquire, by any means necessary, as much as they can to enhance their personal life with no regard as to the wellbeing of the majority population. This promotion of vulgar individualismby the government and those who support the idea is not surprising given the fact that Ministers, past and present, are the most ardent practitioners of the gospel of “personal enrichment.”

The notion of transferring wealth from the commons into the hands of a minority of Antigua and Barbuda’s citizens is not just bad but also morally offensive. It is bad because it reduces the public purse and morally offensive because it ignores the suffering of the majority who need some basic security and are told that nothing can be done to ease their suffering because there is no money.

There should have been a little something stashed away from the profits WIOC made from 2015-2019. A public enterprise main economic objective is to accumulate capital for development all geared to promoting the wellbeing of the majority population since its profits derive from the collective purchase of its products by the people of Antigua and Barbuda. If this is not the case, we should insist upon it and if there are stumbling blocks put in the way we should remove those stumbling blocks and institute democratic control over public enterprises so that that they benefit the majority and not the few.

We Want to Know the Real Value of Petrotrin’s Assets

posted 6 Apr 2021, 13:59 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 6 Apr 2021, 14:08 ]

The Economic Analysis Unit of Labour Advisory Bureau is of the view that concerted efforts are being made to dispose of the assets of the Petrotrin Refinery as scrap iron. This is the strategy being

employed by the one percent (1%) elite to acquire those assets at prices which are way below their true market value.

This strategy is well supported by international interests who have a vested interest in enjoying a steal of a deal especially against a background in which the P.N.M administration is strapped for cash and the trade union movement is the weakest it has been since the 1930s.

The thinking in 1% circles is “Now is the best time to strike. We already have the Prime Minister and his cabinet in our back pockets and the trade union movement is in a coma.”

Our investigations reveal that the government and some international publications gave the general public the fake impressions that the refinery was 100 years old and is in a totally dilapidated state. Furthermore, it was communicated that the refinery was a ward of the state; plagued by high and rising debt; low production levels; escalating manpower costs and the loss of billions of dollars.

The governments and their international allies hid from the public the list of major upgrades of the refinery undertaken in the early 1970’s and the mid 1990’s. (See)

Most importantly, no mention was made of the Gasoline Optimization Programme (G.O.P) which operated from 2006 to 2014 at a cost of US $1.8 billion and produced a number of new plants at Pointe-A- Pierre including the Ultra- Low Sulphur Diesel Plant.

The Economic Analysis Unit of the Labour Advisory Bureau is of the view that the assets of Petrotrin belong to the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, we the citizens, and not the members of the Rowley Cabinet and the (1%) elite.

Does the the PNM administration not have a legal and moral responsibility to account to all the citizens of T&T for all the assets of Petrotrin, including, but not restricted to, the assets of the Refinery? But since when does morality or legality come into play when the objective is to convert public property into private capital accumulation?

The Ministry of Finance Valuation Division, the official arm of the Government, must undertake a comprehensive valuation of Pointe-A- Pierre refinery and of all the other assets both land and offshore that belong to Petrotrin. These include among others:

· The two thousand acres or 809 hectares of land (prime industrial real estate) on which the refinery is located

· The Point-A-Pierre harbour.

· The Augustus Long Hospital. (The private medical mafia are scrambling to privatise it)
Former Petrotrin hospital ready for COVID-19 patients - 103FM: First,  Finest, Forever
Augustus Long Hospital

· The schools, both primary and secondary

· The Golf Course.

· The new marine building and jetty

· The land on which houses and bungalows are located

· Guaracara Park and its Facilities.

· The water reservoir

· The Fleet of Marine Vessels.

The Express newspaper of Saturday 6th February 2021, page 10, reported that the value of 383 housing structures on the land owned by Petrotrin was put at TT$550 million in 2019 according to Minister of Energy Khan in response to a question filed by UNC Chief Whip, David Lee in parliamentary session of Friday 5th February 2021. This includes not just holdings at the Pointe Pierre refinery, but includes holdings throughout Petrotrin – Santa Flora, Palo Seco, Point Fortin, Barrackpore, Penal, Forest Reserve et al.

According to the Joint Select Committee Report on Petrotrin, the company has 1.1 million acres of State property in its portfolio, 22% of which are onshore – a total of 242,000 acres of land, which would be up on the auction block during the restructuring process. 14,000 of the 97,000 hectares of the Trinidad Northern Areas block in the Gulf of Paria has been handed over to EOG Resources, one of the largest crude oil and natural gas exploration and production companies, based in the USA.

The land grabbers and real estate speculators are jostling each other to get first dibs on this potential metaphorical gold mine like they did and are still doing with ongoing Caroni 77,000-acre land grab.

The Economic Analysis Unit of the Labour Advisory Bureau insists that the completed valuation report and analysis be published so that all and sundry can have access to information concerning the holdings of Petrotrin which belong, not to the government, not to the PNM, not to the UNC, but to the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

(The Economic Analysis Unit of Labour Advisory Bureau)

REVIEW OF NEHUSI'S A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF GUYANA by Eusi Kwayana

posted 31 Mar 2021, 05:55 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 31 Mar 2021, 10:54 ]

This is a rather late review of a significant work of Guyanese history by Dr. Kimani Nehusi which he titled A PEOPLE’S POLITICAL HISTORY OF
Eusi Kwayana
GUYANA
and published in 2018. This delay is regretted. It is regretted especially because the reviewer has had a long acquaintance with the scholar’s efforts to identify moments of consciousness as they emerged and became perceptible among various classes of the colonized peoples of Guyana.

This concern had engaged the scholar’s pursuits even while he was in undergraduate study at the University of Guyana and had begun to interview elders available to him across the society and make careful notes. A not insignificant measure taken by this scholar, and perhaps not included in this volume, was his fascination with Paulo Freire’s PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED, and activity and study coming out of neighbouring Brazil. The undergraduate student Kimani Nehusi, then using his birth name of Francis Drakes, in order to more fully appreciate the message of the “pedagogy,” joined a Portuguese language class at the Brazilian embassy in Georgetown. This was a measure of thoroughness that informed his efforts even in his undergraduate days. This reviewer was made aware of the scholar’s concerns as he responded to numerous detailed questions about Guyana’s politics as it unfolded from the middle 1940s.

In the scholar’s perception, which is borne out in part by the events that are known, the Planters on the ground in 1838 were largely of British origin and exercised total domination of affairs in the country in their sometimes adversarial, but always mutually protective, relationship with the British Raj, represented by a British appointed governor or his deputy whose headquarters could be either in Barbados or the present Guyana.

It is instructive that the scholar describes the emerging Portuguese ex-indentured shopkeeping and merchant class as being, for a time, the spearhead of perceptible domestic political activity. This is not surprising as the Portuguese indentured workers, when compared with others, were indentured workers with a difference. They began to arrive in British Guiana in 1835 before the British laws against chattel slavery had been approved in the British parliament. Moreover, they were coming from Madeira, and were coming under conditions that allowed them small cargoes of tradeable items. Above all, there was in the colony something of a Portuguese diplomatic presence, by whatever title, that had the facility of some kind of advocacy and representation.

The reform associations, identified by Nehusi, wrote a signal page in the history of political agitation, and as he implies were the element that overarched and united all the groups armed with more consciousness than clout, like the African association and others yet to make their mark. This period was the beginning of a significant feature in Guyanese sociology in which to this day the Portuguese identity has never fully been accepted as European, but described as Portuguese.

In the second section of the work under review, the scholar understandably tries to explain the historical terrain between the Age of Enslavement, which saw both elements of the indigenous population and Africans enslaved with the status of chattel. In later times when elements of representation appeared in the bosom of the colonial system, this should not be forgotten. This period is always decisive for as we know and have experienced later class formations show the birthmarks of the social textures out of which they emerged.

Doubtless in his treatment of this period, Nehusi draws upon multiple sources to recall the activities of groups of the population involved in the process. The scholar leaves us with the impression, that apart from the fact that in these social classes’ formation the emerging middle stratum had been empowered by surpluses flowing from trade and kindred activities, this incipient class was most powerfully aided by the lighter skin complexions and elements composing it. Whoever was part of this particular class, the scholar singles out the centrality of gold mining, with timber and agriculture next in drain. That is the order in which these industries were established and became caught up in the whirlpool of developments.

Surprisingly, A.R.F. Webber records that placer mining was introduced by two Africans from Cayenne in the late 1890s, and this became not only a factor in itself but one of the main threats to the absolute domination of the plantation economy. Nehusi affords the reader much concrete information about the foreign companies that, two centuries after Sir Walter Raleigh’s THE DISCOVERIE OF GUIANA, were discovering El Dorado in miniature in multiple sites in Guyana’s interior. A study of this section will reinforce the reader’s understanding and appreciation of the lingering effects of underground deals concerning mining, as well as the geophysical basis of the claims of Venezuelan expansionists on Guyanese territory.

It is not out of place to mention here that the significance of gold and diamonds was felt well into the succeeding century. This reviewer has mentioned in BUXTON-FRIENDSHIP IN PRINT AND MEMORY the speech at Hopetown by Honourable Joseph Eleazer in which the candidate claims that mining by Guyanese in the Mazeruni river basin had by its linkages helped to stave off crisis of reduced activity in sugar and other sectors of the colonial economy. These asides should not detract from the reader’s attention to the scholar’s central point: that in networking for the extra-plantation activity, those engaged in it were developing a consciousness, not only distinct from but sharply antagonistic to, the economic, cultural and social Eurocentrism of the plantation.

Dr. Nehusi Kimani
In the next section, the scholar covers Popular Front dispositions that had activists of the middle classes speaking for the working people. As the reader shall soon see, those who too faithfully represented the needs and outlook of the working people were denied recognition. It should be noted that a very active sector, of what Walter Rodney termed “the masses in action,” comprised the audiences at public meetings and the petition signers who were initially the founders of the villages descended from the plantation experiences in the 1840s.

I wish to speak to an aspect of Nehusi’s study that may strike readers at home and abroad as particularly valuable. In dealing with the politics of “honours” conferred from above, the scholar follows in the footsteps of Harold Lutchman who perhaps was the first author to give voice to what the great mass of onlookers and supporters had felt about their use by the state and acceptance by representatives. In later decades of the 1950s before Lutchman had written, one platform speaker of the PPP “Boysie Ramkaran” had cleverly described these honours as MOCK orders, comprising as they did of the familiar MBE, OBE, CBE and KBE (Member, Order, Companion and Knight of the British empire respectively). Obviously, there was much popular ambivalence to these honours, since the mainstream of indoctrination in Caribbean society of that period was the effort to popularize the British empire. The effort had its obvious long-term objectives and in addition to those it had specific utility during and between the two world wars (1914-1945).

Nehusi’s contribution to the understanding of the instrumentality of these forms of weaponry against the anti-colonial movement is in the area of its subjective influence. Perhaps he, as a person of rural origins in the Essequibo county, was best placed to understand the significance of what defined rare individuals as “successful.” It is he who makes the judgment that many individuals, whose activity had marked them as potential change makers, not only accepted these “honours” when offered, but saw them as recognition coming from above of their own personal achievement and distinction. They were truly flattered by the conferment of these honours as valid recognition of their own exceptional quality. This false realization in itself could detach allegiance from the classes they had been serving and transfer this loyalty to the class intelligent enough to appreciate their merit and powerful enough to reward it. These sentiments were part of the internal dialogues of the colonized and were very likely present almost everywhere that empire occurred.

Before closing this review with some further comments on Guyana’s historical scholarship, Nehusi’s description of his own work may help the reader evaluate the depth of what is offered.

“Thus it was that in this rescued land, to the drama of nature was added… the drama of humanity’s various encounters between and among differing manifestations of itself, for the new breed of dominant humanity had brought its own plague of contradictions to this environment. These expressed themselves in the evolving new society as the interplay of class, race, colour, gender, and personality…” (p. 39)

Nehusi advises, added to Guyana’s natural environment and the potential of ecological disasters old and new, the hierarchies of oppression often expressed through maximum personalities were its own
epidemic spread initially by those who pursued domination through colonialism but also what was to come after. Fellow scholar Matthew Quest views Nehusi as also advising while peace is a worthy goal, it can also be formulated as a thin aspiration that denies the country institutionally is troubled. Quest suggests we will not have peace without exposing and clarifying the legacy of racial insecurity that impedes power sharing. While there is no especially guilty race, there is unhealthy rivalry. Nehusi wishes to clarify, as is clear below, the hindrances to tranquility and the basis of these burdens.

“If peace is the absence of naked violence, peace here would always be troubled, always threatened by the possibility of open conflict rooted in the terrible consequences of a social system marked and marred by organised inequality that was founded upon difference as the recurrent occasion for enforced inequality of access to self-knowledge, power, authority, money, social value, influence and other material and non-material resources that are critical for greater human emancipation and development. The resulting rivalry, competition, mutual suspicions, hostility and—less often—collaboration, were rooted in the demeaning structural inequalities erected upon these differences, in people’s consciousness of these inequalities, and in people’s will to resist the oppression which held this unnatural system in place. For wherever there is oppression people will resist, since that is also a measure of our common humanity…” (p.39)

The reviewer, as it happened, has been one source of oral history for the scholar’s project for the 1940s through 1964. In pursuit of objectivity, I will not comment further on these events depicted here except for one notable memory. Dr. Rita Hinden – a member of the Waddington Commission that visited Guyana in the early 1950s made this significant finding in her remarks during a hearing, “race is a patent difference.” Although she made this declaration in Guyana, she may have discovered its truth in her experience at the center of imperialism in England. Some Guyanese historians have emphasized the patent difference imposed by race while others more inclined to class alignments have emphasized the fact that race can also be used to obscure and conceal patent similarities between communities of different races, moving when permitted towards class solidarity and a national sense.

I wish to place Nehusi’s book anecdotally in the context of representative works of Guyanese historical scholarship that I am familiar to clarify these nuances. Generally speaking, historians choose their terrain in the complex geography of history and select the topics they feel urged to explore. Writers of Guyana’s history have similarly specialized in their focus of treatment of the evidence available. Why did Nehusi choose his focus, “a people’s political history” but with an interpretive approach that is original, but as I will show, not without ancestors.

Norman Cameron, a descendant of enslaved peoples, produced an insightful encyclopaedic record of the African experience in Guyana and other selected locations, with the single theme to what he apologetically called THE EVOLUTION OF THE NEGRO. In at least three volumes, A.R.F. Webber, published in 1931 a closely written chronicle to mark the centenary of the union of the three colonies (now counties): Essequibo, Demerara, and Berbice. Webber was the only author of my acquaintance that commented that Europeans were very anxious to credit Indians with sustaining the sugar industry, and at the same time omitting credit to Africans with providing the country for decades after the 1830s, with supplies of food from their agriculture. Clementi, the colonial official, had written much earlier a so-called CONSTITUTIONAL HISTORY OF GUIANA, of what amounted to the foreign presence in Guyana. A work later updated and outdone by Dr. M. Shahabbuddeen in the 1970s. Significant among others were the writers, like Peter Ruhomon and Dwarka Nath, who left us informative histories of the Indian presence in Guyana. Noel Menzes wrote interestingly about the Portuguese presence and also what she called SCENES FROM THE LIFE OF AMERINDIANS. Nehusi offers scenes from the life of his native land that some may not wish to view – a perceptive prehistory of contemporary anxieties.

Ignoring several valuable tracts, we must add to these Harold Lutchman’s FROM COLONIALISM TO COOPERATIVE REPUBLIC, which was perhaps the first work on Guyana treating history as a behavioural discipline – this emphasis on behaviour must be highlighted for where Nehusi’s work enters the field. Then came Walter Rodney’s A HISTORY OF THE GUYANESE WORKING PEOPLE. This study best
Walter Rodney addresses June 19th labour day gathering at Fyzabad, Trinidad and Tobago, 1979. Left is the late George Weekes, then President General of the OIlfields Workers' Trade Union
illustrated not only what its title claims, but the dynamics of society as the effects of the 1838 emancipation petered out.

Soon after this, Guyanese became aware of books and publications by Clem Seecharan, a Guyanese writing from London, who published INDIA IN THE SHAPING OF THE INDO-GUYANESE IMAGINATION and TIGER IN THE STARS; the first stressed a mental element in the practical activity in the self-concept of a people, and the second explored in part how the most significant element of indentured labourers were drawn into the general struggle for labour emancipation. O.T. Quamina’s MINEWORKERS OF GUYANA deals with a new type of working class that arose at a certain time, that existed in isolation, though it was joined politically through the trade union movement with the rest of society.

Guyanese people, though we pursue a unified national community, have existed at times in isolation, and there have been silences on the culture, behaviour, and the inner consciousness of each sector that wish to come together. What we are – mind you not one singular race and ethnicity - when we are in plural spaces is not how we express ourselves in our own places. Rivalry and mutual suspicions are a product of not what we say to each other cross-culturally, but what we say about each other among our own ethnic sectors. There is not just resentment, but genuine admiration. In any event, what we say in our own ethnic places, spaces, and associations about the contributions of our counterparts to the national community is what counts. Nehusi gives us insight into the prehistory of contemporary ethnic associations in Guyana.

Kimani Nehusi’s PEOPLE’S POLITICAL HISTORY OF GUYANA arose out of his doctoral dissertation of 1985-1988 and then went through continuous revisions before completed in 2013. I would say at the risk of error, which I would readily admit, that Nehusi, Seecharan, and Lutchman have shown a common concern, not only with historical events and developments and modes of coping with domination, but also with the thought processes of actors or groups of actors.

The Rev. Doctor Dale Bisnauth is well known for his history of religions in the Caribbean. At a forum in Georgetown, Bisnauth, Rodney’s elder, and Rodney engaged over the question of ethnic conflict in Guyana. Bisnauth’s position was that in view of the European design the conflicts which had taken place over a decade earlier were inevitable. Rodney’s thesis was that, from all the evidence, the working people of various origins were influenced by the liberation struggles of each and all, evolving as a class. He held this view while citing the singular example he found of physical conflict between Indian and African working people, and while citing also the case of Rose Hall, Corentyne, in which the mechanism of Parate execution for the collection of rates imposed by Planter dominated institutions, was the cause of much African property in homesteads passing into the hands of Indians then favoured for plantation employment over Africans, in what Wazir Mohamed has labelled “penal indenture.”

At the forum referred, Dr. Bisnauth publicly withdrew his argument about the inevitability of conflict. Nehusi’s study takes in more of the social complexities of actual life in light of the Bisnauth-Rodney dialogue. This book not surprisingly has sparked new interests in new places among a new generation of readers. And at a time of much national despondency.

NWU EXTENDS CONGRATS TO TRADE UNIONS ON DECISION TO AMALGAMTE

posted 24 Mar 2021, 03:12 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 24 Mar 2021, 03:12 ]


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