Thursday 7th April, 2005

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No money, no love in T&T

IT recently occurred to me that we appear to have run out of two commodities for which it is said we’re well known: money and love.

What with the oil and gas deposits, it is generally accepted that ours is a very rich country. And we like to boast that we are a very loving people.

One would think then that if we are as rich as we’re purported to be, every public utility would be state-of-the-art. Such, obviously, is not the case. So where is the money?

Thousands of our people are still crying out daily over the lack of such a basic need as water. Where is the money?

Every day on the sidewalks we’re stepping over or around our indigent brothers and sisters with no heed to their plight. Where is the love?

We are demanding action from our law enforcement officers. We expect them to protect and serve, while across the country the police stations are collapsing on their heads. So where is the money?

Just recently I heard a few dozen voices raised in concern over the plight of a young woman and her six children living beneath a tree, exposed to the elements. Then shortly after I heard over 50,000 voices raised in concern over the problems of a millionaire cricketer and his buddies. Is this the love of which we boast?

Here we have a Ministry of Tourism wooing foreigners to come to our beaches, while we have our lifeguards marching in the streets, begging for improved conditions and pay. Again, where is the money?

Everywhere you turn there is lack, there is need, there is want. With all the impoverishment, hardship and discontent, one has to ask: where is the wealth? With all the murders, robberies and kidnappings, I have to wonder... where is the love? We appear to be in dire need of a supply of both commodities. Heaven help us.

Tyrone T Evans


Wanted: quality auto service

I REMEMBER well the ’70s when cars were at a premium. The waiting time could be as much as three years and inducements were not frowned upon to obtain not-so-fully-loaded, locally-assembled models.

Today, a vehicle is the most available product, taking price, financing, repayment time, model, configuration, and other factors into consideration. The roll-on, roll-off vehicles are now readily accepted as of good quality and good value for money.

What, however, is questionable is the level of quality service to the consumer after his purchase, which in many cases is a significant investment.

It is not surprising in many instances to have to wait a considerable amount of time after one’s car has been delivered for a service. This fortunately does not apply to all dealerships.

I was recently subjected to some disturbing verbal abuse on learning that my recreational, all-purpose, all-wheel drive vehicle could not have a simple oil change and brake adjustment in four hours, because all the relevant technicians would be going for lunch.

My humble suggestion to introduce an auxiliary team to cater for the workload in this nation on wheels was met with hostility from the service manager, who did not recognise the practical measure as one of efficiency (and customer satisfaction) benefiting the company.

I am now divorced from that company but having the experience of owning and operating a filling service station for over 20 years, the mechanics and maintenance of a car are not problems. Management however can be the difference between success and failure.

Fidel Gonzalez


A campaign for vagrancy relief

We pass them daily on our streets, sometimes in fear of an unprovoked attack, sometimes in disgust as they block our pathway, sometimes with pity because of their age or infirmity.

We try to distance ourselves from their existence. But they remain with us, a sad and glaring reflection of the fact that our society has little regard for the homeless, destitute, mentally ill, victims of drug abuse and street children.

We call them vagrants and routinely accept them as part of our national environment.

They are human beings like ourselves, but they exist at a level which prevents them from being part of the mainstream of our society and from functioning at a truly human level of existence.

Our society has become too materialistic. We view progress in terms of material structures, oil and natural gas, cars and the size of the budget, but not in terms of the real quality of life of the people or their state of happiness and well being.

It is such considerations which prompted the chief servant and political leader of National Joint Action Committee, Makandal Daaga, to propose to NJAC’s national executive at its commemoration of February 26, a significant date in the life of T&T, that National Women’s Action Committee be mandated to spearhead an initiative in a campaign to remove the homeless from the streets. This proposal was unanimously approved by the national executive.

In accepting its responsibility to carry out this mandate, NWAC has been mindful of the fact that this problem has a history behind it. We recall that since the early 1980s, NJAC, our parent organisation, through its publications, meetings and interfacing with the public, was alerting the nation to this problem of vagrancy, which was then developing.

During that period also, NWAC, in our magazine, Caribbean Women and in our newsletter, published articles on the growing problem of the street children and spoke of the need as well to honour the old. We have held zonal consultations and national seminars on these issues.

The problem, therefore, is not new; neither is our concern. What has happened is that it has developed to alarming proportions, becoming a totally inescapable reality.

The despair and hopelessness of these unfortunate individuals whom we term vagrants are always in full view, right before our eyes, a constant reminder that our values are not what they should be.

We need values which will serve as the foundation of a truly humane society, a society as exemplified in the following statement made by Daaga at a people’s rally in November 1972:

“We want a society whose ideological basis must be man. We do not want a society whose ideological basis is the machine, whose ideological basis is money, whose ideological basis is profit.

“What we want is a society whose ideological basis is man, you, you, you, where each and everyone has an importance, where our society is geared for the maintenance of you; where everything in the society is geared towards the care of you, where all funds, all resources must be utilised with one consideration—to make you happy.

“We do not want a society which is built on individualism and which is based on the exploitation of man by man...

“We want a society built on the psychological basis of man so that the old person who has given his life to the society can be cared for; the child who is coming up will be seen as the fruit of the nation to be nurtured; the man and woman would be provided with food, shelter, education, clothing and employment. And in return we demand of that man that he gives of his best.”

This campaign provides us with an opportunity, on the one hand, to bring dignity, self-worth and the ability to be a meaningful contributor to society into the lives of those of us who are less fortunate, and on the other hand, to engage members of the national community in a truly positive act of national and human service which could only see our country go forward.

It is not a campaign simply to get the vagrants off the streets because they are seen as rotting trash or garbage. It is a campaign to give a new lease on life to a sector of our society silently crying out for help. It is our obligation to be our brother’s and sister’s keeper and to extend a hand of compassion and goodwill.

We must begin to feel the pain for our homeless. We must not continue to accept the institutionalisation of the state of vagrancy as a societal norm, but as a symbol of a society in danger of losing its soul.

This campaign, therefore, must be a reflection of an awakened consciousness within us of the need to refocus ourselves and to reinstil within ourselves those values which serve to bring a human face to society.

This campaign crosses all boundaries—social, political, ethnic, whatever—for it is an issue which affects us all in some form or fashion. The National Women’s Action Committee is therefore calling on each and every one to be involved in some way in this campaign, so that there can be a final resolution of this issue.

Should this happen, then we can be certain that we are now on the right track and that the country will be provided with something it needs now more than ever—hope.

National Women’s Action Committee

Save nation from gutter journalism

GUTTER journalism is destroying the country. Each Friday, reputations and entire careers are carved up and left bleeding, if not dead. That is because the victims can’t descend into the gutter to answer. Or they feel that legal action takes too long and only gives the gutter trade more stories to cause more pain.

People who dare to do and say what is right, and stand up for principle, are the main targets since they block the work of evil people who then use gutter journalists armed with lies, distortion, vileness and ridicule to terrorise or ruin opponents.

Gutter journalism has been getting away with its satanic practices ever since it was first introduced officially some 35 years ago. Hiding behind freedom of the press, and public and government cowardice to take action against this increasingly smelly cancer, the gutter journalism has outlasted resistance, disgust and lawsuits, wearing down victims with a steady flow of written faeces.

Situations like this led the Law Association to condemn some media houses (we all know which) for their “scurrilous,” scandalous and unwarranted” personal attacks on judges. The association urged the DPP to “institute proceedings,” if appropriate, against the offending media houses.

The DPP himself has come under a constant barrage of filth from gutter journalists. As expected, they have moved away from deeds and policies and are relentlessly attacking him personally. This can’t be right. If they went to the US they couldn’t get away writing that sort of scatology against the US Attorney General. But they get away with it in T&T.

It’s rotten. Good people in this society must no longer stomach this character assassination. We “long time overs” that sort of ignorance. It’s high time to write laws to protect the innocent and to save the nation from a worsening cult of ambush and destruction by gutter journalism.

The Chief Justice himself recently condemned as reprehensible, outrageous and untrue the headline and article in a weekly newspaper. He described the article as a scurrilous attack on the personal character of a judge, which may constitute a contempt of court. Such journalism, he said, appears to have hit an all-time low. And he is right.

Mark Cicero


Our nominees for EMA awards

The Annual Green Leaf Awards of the EMA are once again with us.

In the past Fishermen and Friends of the Sea have not made any nominations, however this year we are forced to break our nomination silence and offer for public consideration the following nominees:

The board of the EMA for a laughable tragedy of unforgivable culpability.

The Prime Minister for his lack of human and environmental sensitivity.

The ALNG company for its medical examinations of residents for all organs except lungs.

The National Energy Corporation for its success in having the EMA approve the La Brea 30-hectare mangrove harbour without an EIA.

The Attorney General for not bringing to Parliament a single bill to create transparency in the gas and oil negotiation/giveaway that has caused almost 50 per cent of our citizens to live below the World Bank Poverty Index, and has created ministerial wealth in every offshore financial haven.

Those who live below the poverty line must be the best nominee for their tolerance and discipline.

Gary Aboud

Fishermen and Friends of the Sea

Via e-mail




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