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DALY BREAD: Howe’s that? Daly ponders likelihood of a new storm in T&T

The gathering storm is a Churchill phrase. Winston Churchill used it as the title for the first volume of his massive six-volume history of World War Two.

The historical account is given from his perspective as a discredited politician who saw that Germany would re-arm and go to war but to whom no one would listen until Germany finally provoked World War II in 1939. Western Europe felt the German lash, the possibility of which it had chosen to ignore and Churchill had a glorious return to centre stage as the principal wartime leader.

Photo: Former Britain Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Photo: Former Britain Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Darcus Howe, the Trinidad born London based civil rights activist, broadcaster and commentator died on April 1 this year. Three years before the attempted coup and insurrection of 1990 in Trinidad he made a TV documentary screened in London, also entitled the Gathering Storm. In this case Howe warned of coming civil unrest in Trinidad.

We subsequently felt the lash of the attempted coup and the insurrection it triggered, the possibility of which we had chosen to ignore.

We Trinis did not like Howe’s warning because we must never “bad talk we country.” Internally, constructive or prescient criticism is dismissed as “negativity” and the authors branded as “naysayers”, “nihilists” or worse.  The crime of criticism is considered compounded if it is carried out before foreigners.

Howe was accordingly excoriated when he gave his warning, but it should be noted he came to Trinidad and publicly defended his views.  His excoriation was made official because he was condemned in our Parliament.

Howe related this in 2005 in the New Statesman magazine after he returned from a visit to Trinidad to take part in a programme about the events of 1990 and to reflect on the accuracy of his prediction.

Co-incidentally, on his way to the airport to return home to London, a bomb exploded in Port of Spain where a female citizen lost a leg. He referred to the speculation, rife as to whom was responsible for placing the bomb, and he ended the 2005 piece as follows: “A new storm. Of that I am sure.”

Photo: A soldier searches for a car bomb in the immediate aftermath of the July 27 attempted coup in Port of Spain. (Copyright Trinidad Guardian)
Photo: A soldier searches for a car bomb in the immediate aftermath of the July 27 attempted coup in Port of Spain.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

This might be a good point to remind readers that at the time of that bomb explosion, then Prime Minister Manning claimed to know about a “Mr Big.”

Concerned about where we are heading as money runs low and that the social problems, which we have tried to buy off but that have remained largely un-addressed, these columns have been focused again during this month on our instability.

I have focused again on our dysfunctional socio-economic conditions, the interlocking relationships with the “Mister Bigs”, and the dishonest assistance and wilful blindness that facilitate the perpetration of crime at all levels of the society. These matters hinder a meaningful response to the criminal work and pomps carried out or facilitated by the “Misters Big.”

I have asserted that successive constitutionally elected governments have lost or conceded control of aspects within their governance remit to an extent that we have already had a form of coup d’état.

The death of Darcus Howe at the beginning of the month naturally prompts the question whether the new storm, of which Howe was sure, is gathering?

Photo: Darcus Howe, was born in Trinidad, was a renowned British broadcaster, writer and civil iiberties campaigner.
Photo: Darcus Howe, was born in Trinidad, was a renowned British broadcaster, writer and civil iiberties campaigner.

Just to repeat this question will no doubt cause rumbling within the facilitating elites. The practice of those in the highest offices making coarse attacks on opinions that differ from theirs has continued unabated.

The practice has deepened since the official condemnation of Darcus Howe decades ago, although social conditions have manifestly deteriorated since 2005 when Howe made his new assertion of another storm to come.

We did not learn any lessons from the first oil boom, which commenced in 1973 and which we thoroughly enjoyed but which had completely dissipated ten years later. The current dramatic deterioration of social conditions happened despite our country again becoming loaded with energy sector money—oil prices having rebounded for a while commencing in or around 2003 and when natural gas prices were good.

Now prices have plummeted again and we have little diversified activity to sustain the economy but plenty attitude against competitiveness, productivity and self-restraint. We are living, consuming and still feteing on withdrawals from the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund, borrowing and subsidies and we freely indulge in killing as a form of dispute resolution.

We nevertheless have a solid core of creative, law abiding citizens but development of this core is not facilitated with the same level of investment and leadership to which the rotten core has easy access.

The solid core is forced to sail on the not so good ship Galicia, which has become the latest metaphor for the acts and omissions of the facilitating elites and state enterprises, which fatten the elites but leave the rest of the population to be stranded or to tread the rough waters.

Will we be able to continue treading these rough waters or will another storm batter us?

About Martin Daly

Martin Daly
Martin G Daly SC is a prominent attorney-at-law. He is a former Independent Senator and past president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago. He is chairman of the Pat Bishop Foundation and a steelpan music enthusiast.

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  1. Hmmm earlier today I mentioned the signs of turmoil in our country and now see this. Sadly many are seeing the signs but few are paying attention as usual. Is it that we must reach rock bottom to decide to fight for change? Based on the last few years of failed governing terms, rock bottom doesn’t seem that far away.

  2. I remember very clearly the NAR taking measures that we didn’t like and a storm came in the form of the 1990 coup . Today we have the same people who were vocal against those measures then , saying now that at the time it was probably the best advice from the IMF. Be careful of the storm being professed by people . We have to sit and ask ourselves , are the measures being taken by the govt intended to make us a better society or a worse one ? We will be called to defend this country violently if the unrest continues in Venezuela. Thats the gathering storm to watch .

  3. A fair critique Keston K. Perry?

  4. The common man would have this country in working order if it were not for the colonists, capitalists, elitists and chauvanists.

  5. This is not new, I said this over a decade or more ago to Robert Sabga who also agreed that a storm was brewing

  6. Prophet of gloom and doom? I do not think so..rumblings.could.be heard from the horizon…job losses are on the rise..

  7. One thing I dislike when I’m reading Martin Daly is his own blinkers. His inability to recognise his own place that may allow him certain privilege to comment on society and the rest of us, and his contrived empathy for the regular Trinnagonian person. He claims identification and objectivity but his “bad-mouthing” is actually perpetuation of the status quo (of elites denouncing the society except it’s often done behind closed doors but he’s been elevated to do such in public) and his actions as an attorney may further perpetuate same. He’s really one that props up so much that makes some groups and people untouchable and act with impunity. But he criticises “us” and the politicians and all else. It’s really strange conflict. But writers and commentators cannot be so simplistic as he is here about our history and what this means, oil booms and all; we must strive to be self-reflexive. Is he a part of these facilitating elites whether by inheritance, action or by design? They often say pay attention to the message but not the messenger, but I often wonder if we can get so much more as they both carry significance.

    • You think he helps prop up the system because he has made a good living for himself?

    • “Made a good living for himself” sounds like he ketchin his arse, yet a very simplistic deduction. Whose interests does he defend daily? No pun intended. That will give some indication of whether he aids and abets the same system he decries. A little more reflexivity in one’s writing and approach would offer balance and credibility for his critique.

    • Good point, Keston K. Perry There are too many like Daly in T&T.

    • Right now he is defending Thema Williams against the gymnastics federation, Keston.
      But, okay, it is generally the wealthier people who hire attorneys.
      If I were making a product that was consumed mostly by the elites, would that alone make a sell out and appeaser of the man?
      I just think that sounds a bit cynical.

    • Lasana Liburd that’s a bit unfair, we don’t know who his clients are, generally.

      • Nigel, Do we need to know who his clients are to that money earned in the practice of his profession is nor “dirty” money.

        And were he content to rake in the bread and shut his ass, I think Keston might have a point. But nobody is putting a gun to martin’s head and he’s been saying these things, freely, frankly, consistently, publicly for almost two decades now.

        What more needs a man do to establish his bona fides?

        But Martin’s writing speaks for itself; go read the Daly Chronicles with an open, unbiased mind and see if when you’ve finished you still find reason to shout “Hypocrite!”

    • That aside, I fail to see the basis for the Daly criticism, at least in this instance.

    • Well that’s why I said the people who can afford him for the most part Nigel.
      If my trade is utilized by the elites, does that alone make me a weapon of the status quo?
      I feel like that is a bit simplistic.

  8. Even more recently, didn’t Raffique Shah warn as Darcus did? We must begin ro listen