“You have to answer for Santino, Carlo,” said Michael Corleone, as Carlo Rizzo protests nervously in iconic mob film, The Godfather. “Ahhh… That little farce you played with my sister, you think that could fool a Corleone?
“[…] I’m putting you on a plane to Vegas; I want you to stay there. Only don’t tell me you’re innocent, because it insults my intelligence. It makes me very angry…”
For far too long, we, a people thrown together by historical design and circumstance, have been subjected to inadequate political leadership. Not even the task of primary and crucial importance has been accomplished—we as a people do not know who we are!
Yes, we were given mottos and slogans and have ‘arrival days’ and emancipation committees. But never, never a common ethos that we could embrace. Almost to a man and woman, we know where we came from on a superficial level; and almost to a man and woman, we have no idea where we are going.
It’s within this vacuum of collective self-awareness that the political manipulations have entered and brought us to this extremely dark place we now inhabit. To illustrate my point, all those reading my article will up to this juncture be in complete agreement. But the mere mention of any of these self same political manipulators; and the partisan/ethnic walls automatically go up.
Suddenly thrust into what could be a once in a lifetime happening, a nation immersed in a common ethos rather than superficial commonalities, would have responded with not only caution, patience and belief but an empathy and fraternity, even in these most difficult and dangerous of times.
We have shown some of the former for our own self-preservation but little of the latter. There is no explaining away, our inertia in response to the government’s absolute mishandling of the 33 Trinbagonians left stranded in Barbados.
When I wrote previously that the government should do the right thing—morally, ethically and probably legally—and secure the immediate return of our fellow citizens, I had no idea that most of the travel group would be idiotically described as ‘Trinbagonians of East Indian descent’. Truth be told, if the group of 33 were anything other than those citizens who identify as the ‘one percent’, I know for a fact that this government was not lifting a finger to arrange their return.
So those of us who do not identify as one percent or Trinbagonians of East Indian descent, feel free to take consolation with that fact. Knock yourselves out!
A government willing to do the right thing could have done the right thing, which is secured their return home, isolated the group, done the required tests and retested, and taken the subsequent appropriate measures. The political inflexibility shown was not good leadership, it was a foray into populist politics that once again exposed rather than healed the chasm of our national divide.
I am left to wonder if the callousness shown not only by the government but by those opposed will be the festering sore that never heals. Time will tell on this one.
Rowley and company would show no such lack of compassion in awarding security contracts expeditiously and surreptitiously to members of the self proclaimed one percent—the two smaller firms, given their relative size, could be termed necessary window dressing.
Alas, it was not to be, as an emotional outburst from the normally non-partisan TV6 Morning Edition host Fazeer Mohammed and an already ever growing and dissatisfied public, fed up with the monopolisation of state resources by a select few much to our detriment, led to the cancellation of those ill-advised contracts.
This monopolisation by the one percent, courtesy of not only this government but previous ones as well, is now in our faces writ large. Given the scarcity of resources that now manifest as we isolate, waiting for deliverance from the medical profession and the higher power we pray to, almighty God might find it funny or even ironic that the compassion we seek from Him, we refuse to extend to our fellow citizens. And still no words from priest, imam or pundit on the matter!
It is our yearning for good moments while locked in an ever deteriorating place that leaves us vulnerable. Our political leaders play chess while we still play checkers.
So Ansa McAl can organise the nationwide clapping of front-line workers for positive PR, while avoiding the more impactful effort of purchasing Covid-19 test kits and PPE for a government that has given them oh so much. And we lapped it up, unaware of our ability to truly clap with one hand and bring the entire rotting system down once and for all.
Listen nah man, you want to tell me that I am the only one who has noticed that our daily press conferences is more for the benefit of spin doctors than medical ones? Day after day of talk and we still have yet to know exactly how many people were actually tested, as opposed to tested and retested and tested again.
You are like Carlo, Honourable Minister of Health, you think you can fool us with your 10 minute rant of righteous indignation about, allegedly, Ian Alleyne. Or with an insipid attempt to blame some of our delinquent youth for encouraging a second or third wave of the novel coronavirus by breaking the mandatory social distancing guidelines.
Why the prevarication, minister? Be honest. Are there not enough test kits? Are the available test kits unreliable? Is CARPHA not up to the task?
Sure, WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recommended that ‘testing be done on suspected cases’; but the key point is the now beleaguered Ethiopian microbiologist never said that testing be done only on suspected cases—and this is what you tried to infer.
How can you be so cavalier with the lives of the citizens? Testing, testing, testing! That is the key to curb and stop this virus.
Spare us the halfway measure of ‘surveillance testing’. Unless you and the government come clean and tell us francamente:
“We don’t have enough resources, test kits, etc so we have to enact other inferior measures. We spent too much of your money filling the pockets of our financiers by paying for empty and overpriced buildings, bloating and then imploding Petrotrin, crash and burning our manufacturing and agricultural industry to the ground.
“So our dip into your Heritage and Stabilisation Fund is all we effectively have to fund the coming elections, since that pesky doubles lady made us close down all the unhealthy fast food places that our financiers set up, to have you flooding into the mega pharmacies they own to fix health problems that you never had 30 or 40 years ago, when blue food, pelau, curry anything, fresh fruits, oats and corn porridge was staple in your diets.
“So I have to demean my profession by coming here every day with another distraction to avoid the question that one day will surely come back to bite us in the ass…”
Tell us the truth, minister, and we’ll forgive you. Just don’t insult our intelligence. And we promise to get you on that plane to Vegas—just like Carlo.