The Judiciary remains in an unstable state but the Attorney General has stayed in denial and keeps making dangerously short-sighted statements.
In its recent decision, the Privy Council expressly reserved its position on whether quorum provisions in legislation outside of the Constitution could save all acts of an improperly constituted JLSC. This leaves the way wide open for further challenges.
As I write this column, the wonderful sights and sounds of last Tuesday night—when the judges visited the large band yards in the North for the preliminary judging round of Panorama 2019—are still vivid.
However, I do not fully feel the annual joy leading up to the Panorama semi-finals, which takes place today. The unresolved challenges facing the Judiciary and other current events are greatly disturbing.
The peaceful nature of last Tuesday night is at serious odds with the current murderous turmoil. On the morning after such a peaceful night, the news headlines were: “4 killed in 14 hours”, “Port of Spain gang war spirals out of control again—cops fear for the innocent.”
The impunity with which most of these killings are done continues. It seems so obvious to me that—while we clung to the delusion that Trinidad and Tobago is paradise—the country slowly but surely has been taken into a now near irreversible decline.
Thankfully, there is a general growing public awareness that the political system is totally unable to turn things around. Many of us—whose critical faculties are unaffected by the insults that pass for debate and discussion—have feared greatly about the future for two decades, because we know that the movers and shakers and the hand wringers among them are complicit in supporting a system that maintains shocking inequalities and explosive social conditions.
Another thing that the authorities have persistently denied is that we are deep in human trafficking, even though they must very well have known that. Now, we have had graphic evidence provided by the recent rescue of teenage Latin American girls from houses and business places where they were imprisoned, forced into degrading service for the traffickers’ customers being their only way of life.
One can be sure, however, that many of the top level traffickers and their upscale customers do not reside in the areas to which we flocked to hear pan, and they were not among the throngs of pan lovers.
Moreover, as with every high profile drug or human trafficking ‘bust’, we are not likely to learn much about the traffickers, their financiers, nor about their fronts—such as the proliferation of clubs and restaurants and the parties behind the sales and leases of properties in expensive areas, where the flesh trade in trafficked victims is facilitated.
Where Is the Immigration Department in all of this?
It is not unusual for the relatively peaceful and productive world of the ordinary citizen to survive in the same space as violent and corrupt criminality; but in narco states and micro states like ours, these worlds seem dangerously intertwined.
We are also jolted out of delusion by negative items about us in the media abroad, usually rapidly shared on social media. We have a temporary ‘tizick’ over them, but devise no plan or policy to reverse the related negative conditions. Such inertia also distinguishes us from more progressive societies.
For example, in the middle of this Panorama season, we have fretted over a foreign entrepreneur being touted on US television as a top pan maker. But, according to Michael Cooper of Panland, Laventille, we lost the opportunity to progress pan manufacturing for the lack of an investment of TT$6 million—mere pocket change when compared to several grandiose and questionable projects.
Meanwhile, the decision-makers in pan and culture, facilitated by the government, continue to inflict upon us the division of the cream of steel pan music into separate categories of medium and large, which make the semi-finals and finals an endurance test.
The crowds moving around the city from yard to yard were larger than ever in 2019; but they shy away from the endurance test finals which, in the present format, cannot possibly attract the same overflowing capacity.
Same khaki pants all around.