As another Trinidad minister walks, the cabinet crumbles. The expected domino effect follows water woes, energy excess, deadly disease and repression of home comers. Caiman are at the door of swamp-dwellers fragile with hunger. Jobless, homeless, helpless and oppressed citizens suffer as hapless, lawless, careless CARICOM regimes level the economy, spinning out of control. Humanitarians are dismayed by the perennial plight of poor people after years of neglect when diaspora took the initiative to rescue victims in disaster. WASA denies 600 families the water of life in Penal oilfield paying taxes to state coffers, with water in trucks, vital for hygiene in a pandemic. The utilities ministry approved this crime against humanity Families in substandard shacks need income. I and colleagues tried to help one, with 6 children on paltry public assistance, apply for housing after they lost everything in 2017 floods in the breadbasket.
Democracy entitles the opposition elected by the public to do a job, yet it is vilified for having the temerity to challenge abysmal governance and an egregious policy of inhumanity which the pandemic is cynically abused to hide. The opposition must hold the state to account on behalf of citizens while chilli bibi chiefs bank massive aid from international taxpayers to end the crisis.
Divestment of 50 state assets can remedy the financial burden. WITCO with profits from unethical, unhealthy tobacco has $784 million. It can divert to beneficial bamboo to conserve water, sequester carbon, supply materials and end waste of gas to dry tobacco. The state can divest profitable First Citizens, Angostura and Heritage with fence line communities in Penal.
New hazards will soon exacerbate flooding and water shortage reported last month. Infrastructure and delivery failures are symptomatic of fundamental deficiencies, particularly law and order. Every street needs a boat in wetlands. A lax legal landscape incites drug trafficking, fuel fraud and other satanic spawn. As a donor of 3 rescue boats to corporations I deplore the predicament of the persecuted populace.
On26 OCTOBER 2017 after a CARICOM-Mexico Summit, the prime minister offered $35 million for flood victims. Mexico offered help to the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management to improve ability to handle natural disasters. 14 corporations were strengthened as first responders to disaster. Vociferously denying Opposition claims of passing blame for flooding on the ODPM, he said, “There are some people who actually enjoy a good flood.” While Government coordinated relief, people “came out in their party clothes and their little boats.” Divali was around 19 October). Some were “genuinely happy” there was flooding in South Trinidad. “I have seen Members of Parliament accusing the Government of racism because some parts of the country flood.” Ministers are assisted by technocrats. “I am not taking any advice from the Opposition.” Even if water courses are dredged or cleared, heavy rain can cause limits to be breached. He visited flooded coasts but not Penal, admitting “we have to review and strengthen our ability to respond.” Flood alleviation saves lives, wetlands, food, farms and fisheries
The cassava cabinet refuses to implement strategies known to the public. The maptoboost election prospects is dead on arrival as the recumbent regime eschews a parliamentary team. The opposition needs technologists as senators and MPs.
The scandalous UWI plan to cut spending follows closure of icons that could fund UWI. Merger with UTT and UGwill ensure survival.Universities Caribbean can share resources. The reparation wheeze wasting time and finds can support reparation of atavistic iconoclasts rejecting a cosmopolitan world, to AU ancestral domiciles of origin. UWI can cultivate patrons among entrepreneurs and maintain assets for schools to study science. An Indian ensemble from the community can promote oriental cultureto raise funds. Aradio station can boost income.Acookery school can sell local health food to visitors.
Divestment can release revenue to spark optimism. Divesting lame ducks will mop up liquidity and avoid bailout. State assets can offer shares to their public owners, to stimulate thezombie economy and resurrect the ravaged private sector. Banks can offerstockbroking. Unethical rum, tobacco, tattoos, cannabis, casinos and vice perpetuate a culture of low-life, drowning high standards and refined culture. Root and branch reform will usher in a new era in a new world. Constitutional reform can abolish the presidency, consuming wealth in a palatial mansion for prestige which belie the counterfeit character of a rotten regime. It is ideal for the office of the Caribbean Academy of Sciences to spearhead a science-based society. CAS has strong links with regional universities which will be enhanced at its November conference in Guyana.
Health services must supply medical workers and materials. UWI can boost training of health staff to end imports from Cuba wasting forex. Privatized utilitiescan deliver water to every community, and institution. New industries can increase self-sufficiency, manufacturing PPE,medicineand condoms to curb population and HIV/AIDS. International Covid-19 grants can fund UWI research on medicinal plants like neemand copper-rich avocado, pumpkin, nuts and other superfood which build immunity against viruses. Agricultureneeds the lion’s share of the budget, Nestle, can boost dairy from water buffalo in wetlands. Unilever can produce detergent, soap, cosmetics and perfume from citrus, coconut, moringa and flowers. WITCOwith assets at $784 million must divert to beneficial bamboo to sequester carbon, conserve water and supply materials. Fertileland must be donated tofarmers for food from classical crops and fruit trees to withstand infection. Land unsuitable for food can be donated to homeless families. Markets and Fisheries can be modernized with refrigeration and air-conditioning to promote hygiene.
The refinery must be divested to process Heritage oil to ensure energysecurity. As Trinidad companies expand in Guyana Heritage can invest in exploration there to secure feedstock.
Divestment of NGC will liberate foreign gas producers to sell to buyers of their choice. Divesting
melamine will relieve gas shortage and raise revenue. Luxuries, fakes and ornaments swallow forex. Too manytrade unions inhibit progress. One union for state employees and one for private employees should maximize productivity and reduce militancy. UWI is the last vestige of CARICOM, now dissolving in deceit. CARICOM should cancel the meeting on goody Ghanato focus on regional issues to generate wealth and develop UWI, trade, transport and a regional stock exchange to promote a shareholding democracy. Losers CAL and LIAT must be privatized to streamline travel. Modernization of the Port of Port-of-Spain with removal of slums will facilitate a ferry service to eastern and southern states to foster trade and tourism. A single overseas embassy with rotation of ambassadors can represent the region. CARICOM states should synchronize elections in a single month. Guyana can be a secure regional breadbasket outside the hurricane path, with ample water, land and flora of tree fruits and nuts, vital for health. Theenergy windfall will fund infrastructure fordevelopment as moral values replace a stinking sinkhole of fraud, copying AU countries exploiting the pandemic to rig elections. Volcanoes with rich soil can supply yam and other roots, spices, fruits and vegetables. CARICOM reputation is shattered by the Guyana election debacle and the Trinidad dictator deal Divestment will allow the moral majority to reclaim the high ground and drain the putrid swamp where deadly reptiles lurk. Law-abiding, peace-loving, self-reliant communities will oust the criminals and rule withjustice and wisdom to benefit all residents. Trust is crucial for economic progress. The entire region is at risk with the two multinational CARICOM founderscompromised bybreach of trust, perfidy, treachery, dishonesty, mendacity and violation of treaties and constitutions. Guyana lost all credibility globally as the region rejects fraudsters. Asdrubal Chavez, president of PDVSA since April was known as a board member of PDVSA, as Oil Minister and CEO of CITGO, The claim that the PM did not know his sanctioned visitor is incredible, like the heavy-handed ban on law-abiding home-coming citizens as pariahs while state planes idled.. Criminals exploit the weakened populace with impunity in an orgy of larceny, banditry and murder. Daily the media reports misconduct, compounding the pandemic pandemonium, exploited by cynics to abuse power. They cannot manage the country after ignoring the WHO emergency in January to allow carnival and spend taxes on discretionary overseas travel. Early lockdown in February- March would have eased the burden, saved resources and prevented some deaths from respiratory illness from Christmas through Lent. Faith groups must hold government to account and remind leaders of the sacred duty of care. If UWI collapses, the region will sink into oblivion. Rational right-thinkers must rally to save crown jewels- the university, energy, food , health and private enterprise.
The People’s University UWI spending cuts will trigger dismay among its members, patrons, parents and pupils planning to study there. Coming on the heels of profits from state assets this plan is doubly disturbing. Divestment is paramount and must receive first priority to fund the regional powerhouse and nurture the seed corn of the future. Graduates I taught are creating prosperity from energy. Alumni lead the region in every field. Like parent London University, commitment to widening access shaped UWI history from foundation. From astronomy to zoology, this beloved pioneering institution is a beacon. Bedrock ICTA trained students from the empire at St Augustine and attracted Canadian founders of Archibald Institute, the first post-primary school for girls in the area, alma mater of my mother and many generations, This strategic icon must be funded by states to end a spiral of degradation and attract goodwill of companies.
As CARICOM braces for catastrophe on all fronts, merger of UWI, UTT, UG, University of Belize and Anton de Kom University of Suriname as a regional force for unity, deserves salvation from the HSF/SWF and rescue from economic disaster. A union enhances the role of Universities Caribbean including institutions of Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, French Antilles and Dutch Antilles, led by UWI Vice-Chancellor in achieving quality and financial sustainability. UNESCO and other UN agencies pledged commitment. Integration will benefit from wealth created by the energy windfall from the prolific Guyana-Suriname Basin, for which UWI, UTT and UG are training personnel in exploration and production. Collaboration and cooperation are key to success.
A litany of waste is evident in the public sphere. CARICOM squandered precious taxes when election observers were forced to leave Guyana, followed by a prime ministerial team, then a recount team and a second recount team. A month after WHO announced an emergency, leaders lavished public funds on travel to Barbados, UK and Ghana instead of protecting citizens in a lockdown. Delaying measures led to further waste in quarantine of healthy taxpayers forced to pay for charter flights. Litigation dissipates public money. Crime devours massive budgets. Imports of fakes and items which can be produced locally sink foreign exchange. Harmful tattoos, tobacco, cannabis and casinos consume wealth. With infrastructure in disrepair, utilities fall short and citizens pay extra for water, due to shortage and low supply amid floods.
Innovation is essential for survival. Delay at the refinery abuses assets which can save resources by producing fuel and oxygen for hospitals, welding and other industries and prevent venal deals with sanctioned companies. Guyana gas can provide electricity and LNG. Farmers need land to produce food and secure health. Oppression of rural communities compromise resilience and resistance to diseases in the face of headwinds.
Sally Radford PhD, FGS, C.Geol. Fellow of The Caribbean Academy of Sciences.