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FREE THE WEED by Rae Samuel

posted 9 Feb 2016, 16:14 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 9 Feb 2016, 16:19 ]
"here we stand one and h'all
wid our backs against de waal
to de right everthing so tight
prices outta sight
to de lef' de IMF
like dem born ah dem deaf
we need foreign currency
ah whole bag ah money"


Check out Lovindeer on You Tube. I consider it a classic in presentation in the way it summarises how the present PNM regime is preparing us for IMF intervention. We have to remember what happened in '80's when the IMF went for direct intervention. There were food riots in many of these countries as the IMF imposed their conditionalities.

The package was and remains standard: privatisation, removal of subsidies, wage cuts, cuts in public spending, review of labour legislation, currency devaluation. That's where the tag line of the IMF asking for workers to tighten their belts and the workers responding by asking for belts, came from.

One recalls a visitor from Benin, William Tanifeani, at an OWTU Book Fair, angered by the fact that food riots were taking place in Algeria when that country used to provide food exports to France as a colony. How many of us know that UWI was once the home of England's "Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture''? VAT, then, was not a 'withering tax' but the age and name of a rum and one was not forced to face it.

Trinidad and Tobago was lined up for the same treatment that the PNM is preparing the working class for in 2016. Ken Gordon, without one day's campaigning, was brought in as Minister of Trade and Industry and was running the programme. We were not signed up yet but conditions were being prepared. Many revisionists like to forget that Yasin Abu Bakr was leading hunger marches in this country at that time.

The strategy adopted in response to the numerous uprisings was no longer for the IMF representatives to visit the member country and direct the
carnage. Like good neo-colonisers they used the hidden hand. The client states' governments would implement the cuts themselves so when the IMF did visit they would not draw the fire. That was when Trinidad and Tobago met Davison Budhoo, a Grenada born IMF economist who was the original whistle blower on this lending agency. (Check out the OWTU library for Budhoo’s book Enough is Enough, first published by the OWTU).

It is necessary to note however one significant difference then. The ANR right wing cabal had to face a united labour movement in which the Committee for Labour Solidarity (CLS) provided significant leadership. The CLS was also able to influence community groups and other people's organisations. Even the defection of George Weekes to the other side did not derail the fight back. This led to the formation of the umbrella organisation Summit of People's Organisations (S.O.P.O).

The leadership of the movement today is its opposite. It could not be bought or fed in high places. While NATUC correctly defends itself against the brazen incursions of the present Minister of Labour it is not seen to be mobilising its units. FITUN as a fighting force does not exist. The Movement for Social Justice is, for all intents and purposes, part of the PNM People's Partnership. Liberation theology where the 'church exercises a preferential option for the poor'' seems dormant in the traditional church, never mind the efforts of the new Pope to promote “authentic” social justice.

So where does that leave the man/woman in the street after Ash Wednesday has exhausted so much of the energy with a crying need to "Organise the unorganised'