Guest Column: “The Plantation is Back!

The opinions in this piece are the author’s, not the newspaper’s

Paralysed with fear. That’s TT at this moment. Stupified. Panicked, frenzied, crazed, throwing caution to the winds. And it’s not because of Covid. Naaaaaah! Covid don’t bother Trinis: they refusing vaccine en masse. What are they afraid of? A little middle-aged woman who has never been known to commit any crime, namely Kamla Persad Bissessar. 

Reading a Trini newspaper these days is like entering the twilight zone. The Prime Minister offers idiosyncratic insights into the global problem of vaccine hesitancy: “People are afraid of taking the vaccine because Bill Gates will know when they visiting other people’s wives”. 

My response would be: “And what will Mr Gates do with this info – phone the woman husband and offer to rent him a backhoe?” But the TT media doesn’t think like me. I didn’t say they don’t think at all (though some observers are of that opinion) but it’s like they have an override programme installed in their hard drive that flips into action every time the PM ramajays. It drones: ‘Play the K-card’, and they start scrabbling around for some action or inaction of Kamla’s that they can find an outlandish reason to condemn.

‘She talk in Parliament!’ ‘She didn’t talk in Parliament!’ ‘She give a press conference!’ ‘She didn’t give a press conference!’ 

It feels like bullying to criticise a press corps that doesn’t even know that there are rules governing the punctuation of the English language. TT media personnel are not chosen for their punctuation, grammar, vocabulary, fact-checking, fact-finding, fact-identifying, newsgathering, editorial judgement, intellect or talent. A PNM party card will buy you a 10-days in a CEPEP gang or a 10 years in The Guardian’s editorial office. Both jobs have the same applicant profile but, with CEPEP, you don’t have to work… you don’t even have to exist. With the Guardian, your job description is: ‘Shove Trinis into the twilight zone’.

The unremitting flow of contradictory and absurd accusations against the leader of the Opposition makes you feel like you’re living in an Orwell novel. Everyone with a smattering of literacy knows that the Opposition has no power in the Westminster system.

Lloyd Best called it a ‘parliamentary dictatorship’. And everyone knows that the Opposition has only ever briefly run TT.

The place has been PNM-istan for most of its existence.

Yet the media shares blame for Rowley’s disasters the way parents used to share licks in the past. ‘I doh want to hear who do it or ent do it! Bring your father belt!’ Politicians are evil, drones the TT press night and day. 

This ideology is also spread by all ‘opinion leaders’ with a Wifi connection north of the PoS lighthouse. For the rich and the ruthless, Kamla as the source of all evil has become an item of faith, like the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. Express a doubt about this and you yourself become suspect. If you are Indian, you’re racist. Social acceptance depends on Kamla non-acceptance. CEPEP-class PNM rhodents scurry busily about social media while aspirant Kamla-replacements in the UNC cast off all scruples to join in the unsavoury orgy. So the nonsense spreads like the legs of a George Street hoe.  

But believing that Kamla is Satan means that there’s no solution to the problem of Rowley. Trinis are stuck in a political pothole.

They can push and pull, but that only gets them deeper in the mud. They grasp at straws like Philip Alexander and Gary Griffith, but straws break easily. If the entire political class is anathema to the great and the good, who or what is to lead TT? The answer, my friends, is blowing in the foul wind emitted by the owners of the media.

Trinidad’s elite is untouchable. It controls a paramilitary known as ‘private security personnel’ and has circled its wagons in the west. Let the rabble kill out each other: we’ll bring in Venezuelans to hew the wood, draw the water… and do whatever other dirty work we require. New migrants don’t buy into the need to preserve social cohesion, mores and morals. They are, by their very nature, disrupters of the status quo. 

This is the source of the increased social disorder in the country. At some level, the powerless recognise that they have been abandoned. The trade unions are part of the irresponsible elite, as are church leaders. It is no wonder that wife abuse and murder is at epidemic levels. People have no hope, nothing to live for. 

This is what is called ‘totalitarianism’. The plantation has returned. Or perhaps it never went away. 

– Robin A. Browne

Vol. 1, Issue 3