Where we stand‎ > ‎News & Comment‎ > ‎

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

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.

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?