May 21, 2010


If you want to get a pulse beat on what’s really going on in Trinidad and Tobago society, then all you have to do get down there during the carnival season and go to the calypso tents. Calypso usually reflects the harsh realities of life in these twin islands; and sometimes they can be brutally harsh with their truths. During the past three carnival seasons, many a calypso singer has recorded his/her disgust with the leadership of Prime Minister Patrick Manning and the ruling political party (PNM).

As I write this column, the naked truth is this: on any given day, you are about ten times more likely to be murdered in Trinidad than in New York. And if you compare crime stats coming out from the island(s) with those from England, then London is over 50 times safer than TNT; similarly situated (though lower) is Canada, Cuba and near every other state in the USA.

Over the last twenty years, Trinidad has been stubbornly climbing towards becoming one of the murder capitals of the world. Since the turn of the new century -and within the western hemisphere- it has already made top ten lists in the murder and kidnapping categories many times over. And despite the fact that kidnappings have ostensibly abated over the last few years, other crimes such as theft, fraud, gun violence, carjacking (s), daylight and highway robbery, continue to occur unchecked and unabated. It’s a mess. It has been a mess for years now. 

What has been baffling to many is the inability of the ruling political party to advance even basic ideas for solving the crime problem facing terrified residents. 

The ruling party is the People’s National Movement (PNM). It was founded in 1956 by a noted historian (now deceased) named Eric Williams (PhD). The PNM has held the reigns of power over these twin islands for about 42 of the past 54 years. The party itself has been elevated to iconic status within the polity. Some of its supporters/members gladly (and ridiculously) proclaim their loyalty until death. And therein lies a major problem affecting all island residents -PNMites or not.  

When it comes to objectively evaluating PNM as a successful political entity, there is no rationality (or common sense) from the diehards. This has been going on since the party’s inception. I know this all too well, because my father was one of the founding members of this party. He was also an official, a once elected councilman, and one of its original general council members and candidates in 1956. 

When it comes to evaluating how successful the party has been -when given control of the instruments of government/power - there is little or no honesty from its puerile dependents. When it comes to critiquing (or questioning) the performance(s) in office of successive PNM regimes, one can be viewed as treasonous: especially if you are Negro. When it comes to challenging myths created by its leaders one can be viewed as a heretic. The PNM sycophants can be obscenely loyal: and to a fault. The saying: “PNM till ah dead”, has taken too many innocent lives without being properly re-evaluated.

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