By Jean H Charles
My love affair with Trinidad and Tobago
dates back a few years when I visited that country for Carnival. I had such a ball so strong and so deep that, upon my return home, I made to God the irreverent prayer to send me to Trinidad upon my demise.
Jean H Charles LLB, MSW, JD, is a regular contributor to the opinion section of Caribbean News Now. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The women were all beautiful and glamorous, the men, gallant and generous, the people hospitable to the utmost. I have made the empirical observation that if a single woman is looking for a good man, she should look no further either for an educated black American or an ordinary man from Trinidad or from Haiti.
These two sister islands produce men that are elegant and courteous, women who are strong and beautiful and children angelic as before the original sin. They also share the passion for carnival and for soccer. These islands are going these days into a transformation so brutish that it might seem their paradise is being converted into hell.
The drug barons chased from Colombia, first took refuge in Mexico, and chased now from Mexico are casting their eyes on Haiti and on Trinidad and Tobago for their new venues. Haiti because it is immensely poor and vulnerable, Trinidad and Tobago because it is immensely rich and vulnerable are now the targets for all types of side businesses related to the drug enterprise.
A few weeks ago the Haiti National police descended upon a posh beach hotel to stop the ongoing business of human trafficking. In a room in the hotel some 30 young ladies, most of them underage, were lured from different parts of the country into an adventure where they would become sex slaves and subjects for organ harvesting.
The reports from Trinidad describe a country gripped into a circle of violence that attacks principally women, leaving almost everybody in fear for their lives in enforcing a self-imposed curfew which is inimical to the night life of gay Port of Spain. The people that write opinions as well as those who send letters to Caribbean News Now from Trinidad and Tobago have been ringing the alarm bell for some time but it was the poignant essay by Eve George
that exposed in minute detail the abduction and the organ removal of a young lady by the name of Shannon Banfield that shakes the conscience of all of us from the Caribbean, who should arise as one to say no to this army of Satan that chose to settle on these three sister islands as their new hacienda.
Before Abraham, the world was inhabited by rulers and people so cruel that God himself was disgusted. He regretted having been at the origin of man’s creation. We are seeing today the same revulsion at the atrocity and the cruelty taking place in Trinidad and Tobago and progressively in Haiti.
Yet these are nations with the most resilient and most peaceful people in the region. It brings to mind the recurrent incursion of the cruel Arawaks upon the peaceful Caribs, home in both Haiti and Trinidad some five centuries ago before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Antilles. This intrusion indicates one has to be careful in designing the shape and the scope of nation building in leading the destiny of one’s people.
Trinidad and Tobago was fortunate to have a strong leader in the persona of Eric Williams as the father of the nation, who infused until his death the sentiment of appurtenance in the spirit of the new citizens of Trinidad and Tobago. But nation building is a continuous creation. Your glory cannot lie only in the past.
Haiti is in the same situation. Toussaint Louverture, Jean Jacques Dessalines and Henry Christophe shaped Haiti to become the lantern on the hill for all people of the world to have light. But that country for some time, as Trinidad and Tobago, has now sunk into the abyss of a failed nation, where politicians, businessmen and foreign interveners have combined to take hostage the destiny of the nation for all types of illegal business, drugs, kidnapping, sex and organ trading that will destroy the very fiber of the country.
The blame fell upon first the Trinidad and Tobago citizens with Indian heritage represented by the UNC, the United National Congress led by Basdeo Panday, but the degradation in the security situation has continued unabated under the rule of the PNM, the People’s National Movement, with the late Patrick Manning as its champion and led now by Keith Rowley.
As in Haiti it has been the more things change, the more they remain the same. Because of the abundance of oil and gas, rich Trinidad and Tobago has not sunk into the misery of poor Haiti; but the moral decadence is the same with politicians washing their hands like Pilate, while insecurity has become invasive in all segments of society.
Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago must go back to the ancestral vision laid down by Toussaint Louverture or Eric Williams. It is woven with a vein of appurtenance that will create the chain of solidarity that exterminates progressively the inequality amongst the citizens. It should be the aspiration of leaders to build a city where felicity is the aim for all; it is last but not least the courage and the determination to chase out of the country those bad apples that pretend to be called belongers but are nothing more than international wolves taking refuge in a sheep barn.