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Daly Bread: Tobago a la carte; how the ‘Sister Isle’ was nearly carved up over dinner

Our neighbour Venezuela and our own Tobago both remain in the news. The outcomes of their politics and ours will affect our quests for Dragon gas and ‘brands’ hotel rooms respectively.

Common sense will have already told readers, even though we must try, how little influence Trinidad and Tobago and the rest of Caricom is likely to exert now that control of Venezuela is up for grabs.

Meanwhile, we now know that the proposed entry of Sandals into Tobago began with a dinner party at a private residence attended by the Prime Minister.

Photo: National Security Minister, Communications Minister, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister and MP Stuart Young (right) has a word with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
(Copyright Trinidad Newsday)

With respect to the powerful personalities who were involved in that dinner, their expectations that they could cede a valuable piece of Tobago by means of a private dinner party and to proceed without dissenting opinions was an expectation belonging to earlier centuries when imperialism was unchallenged.

Even though we pray that war will not be fought over it, the eventual carving up of Venezuela is way beyond our influence. In contrast, even before we knew of the dinner party origins of Sandals proposed entry into Tobago, we have rightly insisted that we should have a critical influence in how Tobago should be developed, by whom and on what terms. Both privately and publicly I have expressed concern at the authoritarian response of the Government and its backers.

There are many examples in history of imperialist acts of great powers, disposing of territories, both within and outside of Europe, by treaty. Some of these may be of interest to readers.

Famously one such territory, in the vicinity of what was then Czechoslovakia, was the Sudetenland taken from Germany by the treaties concluded after the First World War, of which the Treaty of Versailles is the best known.

It is well established that German resentment of this and other indignities suffered after defeat in that war was one of the triggers of German aggression that led to the Second World War.

Tobago is not currently a spoil of war, but, ironically, if it is to be traded off again, Tobago does also have a significant history of being previously traded off. We were taught in school that Tobago changed hands frequently, being a prize because of its significant and profitable exports of sugar and other agricultural products.

Photo: Guardian Holdings Limited (GHL) and Associated Brands Group of Companies (ABIL) chairman Arthur Lok Jack.

After changing hands 31 times, Tobago was ceded to Britain in 1841 by the Treaty of Paris. By then, wars over the island between British, French and Dutch colonists and the collapse of its sugar industry had reduced its worth.

Earlier in that nineteenth century, during negotiations for the Treaty of Amiens, ownership of Trinidad, Tobago, British Guiana (now Guyana), Dutch Guiana (now Suriname) and French Guiana were in play together with Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), and Cape Colony in South Africa.

Hamid Ghany—in last Sunday’s Trinidad Guardian—helpfully explained the Munroe doctrine and its corollary by which the United States may justify foreign intervention, at least to itself.

Considering Ghany’s explanation together with the historical background, which I have outlined above, may assist readers in evaluating the realities embedded in the power plays in Venezuela.  It seems to me that we may have little say in Venezuelan realities except to demand consistent treatment of those who flee here, bearing in mind the harsh approaches taken with arrivals from some other countries.

Regarding Tobago however, at the risk of repetition, we the people of Trinidad and Tobago are not to be deterred from having a big say in what happens in Tobago with our money. Slices of Tobago cannot be eaten up a la carte.

Pesky though the views of others may be to politicians, power brokers and policemen, references to treachery and lack of patriotism are deplorable. Hate mongering and attempting to suppress the media, free speech and expression, which are fundamental to modern democracy, will neither win friends nor influence those who care for our future.

Photo: Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young (centre) with Sandals deputy chairman Adam Stewart and CEO Gebhard Rainer.

Do the work properly. Put out a request for proposals for the development of Golden Grove Estate and Rocky Point requiring investors to put equity into the project.

Is it correct that the Golden Grove site already has the necessary approvals for a 500 room hotel?

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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69 comments

  1. Business has always been transacted over dinner or golf etc. There was no tendering process inviting a hotel chain to Tobago. ALJ and others saw an opportunity to make something happen and they went about their usual channels in trying to get it done. Nothing new under the Trini Sun!

    How much money did the government spend in order to regain Pigeon Point? Why was that necessary? Was it not so that ALL nationals can enjoy what is ours?

    Hilton Tobago opened with much fanfare. How long did that last? As other persons have mentioned, how has the Sandals brand and modus operandi and concessions etc worked out for the other territories?

    Someone used the phrase ‘fakesperts’ above BUT this is the information age with even more mis-information. If your business skills are what you purport them to be then certainly you can come and disseminate the correct information. If your not capable of doing that then how am I supposed to entrust you with something as tangible as ‘No Man’s Land’?

    The more ‘everyday’ people had their say the more and more these so called business people came out of the woodwork about the benefits for Tobago, when, what they really wanted to say is “Aye, allyuh interferring with the millions I could be making”.

    Can one hotel brand drive Tobago’s economy? No! Tobago Hilton proved that! But the Butch Stewarts and the ALJs and others feasting that night, plotting for concessions and subventions etc would certainly be laughing all the way to the bank!

  2. Another quote”There are many examples in history of imperialist acts of great powers,disposing of territories both within and outside Europe.”Is land to build ah hotel we talking bout to boost tourism.

  3. Martin Daley seems not to understand the difference between wanting a particular brand than wanting any brand.

  4. Martin Daley “With respect to the powerful personalities who were involved in that dinner,their expectations that they could cede valuable piece of Tobago by means of a private dinner party”now tell me wtf i suppose to say?

  5. wired 858 agree with all commentators. do not have or share opinions for fear of comments being labeled.

  6. Lasana, time to start another page WiredThinkOnlyTT868 – just a thought and be prescriptive

  7. If again Brian Harry, looking at some of these dumb ass comments l keep remembering the old saying ‘reading is fundamental’ …

  8. I wish there could be a discussion about what the writer said in his article. The side and off-topic talk is so………….. and we do easily slip into it

  9. Martin Daley never came up with an idea at a dinner party or golf course or buisness lunch never met a client anywhere only at his office.

    • Collin Cudjoe the value? The relevance? The point? So now what do you think of what he has actually written? Just asking ….

    • Brian Harry arm chair criticism.Sandals was interested in investing in Tobago in “Banga season and “ye of high moral values ” and political agendas chased dem away. Still trying to find d one buisness deal where everything was above board

    • Collin what is my political agenda? What criticism can you ascribe to me? All I’m saying and will continue to say – let’s have an intelligent and coherent discussion about these and other national issues. Daly’s article is interesting and raises some excellent discussion points. None of these comments focus on what he wrote. So what is the conversation about?

    • Collin Cudjoe If there were fewer of ‘Ye of low moral values’ T&T might actually not be in such a mess and considered by it’s own citizens as Corrupt. https://www.transparency.org/country

  10. I suggest before any opinions are shared that Tt examines the experiences of other countries where Sandals have an operations contract only and then talk, listen to the Prime Ministers of some of these countries

  11. So many Fakesperts demonizing everything. Sandals was a VERY positive initiative for the country as a whole. It always was. And there are MANY foolish people who are simply an echo chamber of negativity. Because they hear some fool say something speculative not based on fact and run to town with it. To save T&T we will have to suffer many a fool to the pain of wisdom or well will end up losing everything.

  12. It wasn’t about giving Tobago to Sandals

    It was about getting Sandals and using piece of Tobago

    If other hotels want in on Tobago let them tender

  13. What’s wrong with business ventures being decided at a dinner party? If the objective is to aquire the Sandals brand, how and why do you take that to tender?

  14. ‘Munroe’ Doctrine, Martin? Come on, do better.

    That aside, i didn’t read Ghany’s article, but I doubt the US interest has more to do with 19th century notions of neo-colonial expansion, than it has to do with naked avarice. Also, speaking of passé US foreign policies, he could have easily thrown in a “Gun Boat Diplomacy” reference as well, with economic sanctions being the contemporary weapon of choice.

  15. I love how Martin Daly the well off Trini knows whats best Tobagonians meanwhile in Tobago https://newsday.co.tt/2019/02/10/silent-majority-wanted-sandals/