Because we live in a world that is really a global village, one day we are here and the very next day we are there – on the other side of the world. Even long before we were jetting about the place, life was never static, and so here today and in another country some other time, has characterised our nomadic lifestyle. Out of that sense of our wanderlust emerged the discoverers, Columbus, Drake, Raleigh etc.
Since America was discovered and turned out to be the real Biblical land of milk and honey the world has headed West – even those countries of the West – of Canada, Central and South America – have seen the United States of America as the Promised Land.
So among the millions of the world who have migrated to the US is one Vishnu Bisram from Guyana in South America. In almost all cases. Bisram left his homeland seeking a better life in America as he escaped the hardship of his homeland. Because that was the ambition of all immigrants to rise and shine, most actually did like the morning sun.
Bisram succeeded as an academic and financially as well making a name for himself in New York where he is known in the Caribbean diaspora there as somebody. Because he is a pollster covering elections in Guyana, Trinidad and other countries of the region, Bisram has become a recognizable name and face in these islands.
All that is well and good, but the mere fact that his talent and fame have not been utilised by these countries (Guyana, especially, Trinidad and Tobago, among other countries) as something of a springboard, a presence in America, is myopic. For here you have someone who is familiar with the territory, who knows the ropes, and who could help launch one’s diplomatic offensive there but is ignored when it comes to selecting persons for such overseas appointments.
One remembers Trinidadian born Mervyn Dymally, a former Lieutenant Governor of California and a significant member of the US House of Representative who befriended Panday in the nineties and was a significant player in UNC victory in 1995. One wondered how he might have been rewarded for his contribution – if as an Ambassador, Consul General or a lobbyist for the Trinidad government – all of which would have been to the benefit of this country. But in the pettiness of this banana Republic thinking, nothing was apparently offered him and he left. Today one hears we pay an American lobbyists millions of dollars to represent us in wheeling and dealing matters that some expat could have done for less and more patriotically.
So that Dymally was a classic example of a wasted opportunity gone awry, the question of Bisram surfaces as another Caribbean person whose expertise might be considered before it is too late.
- Mr. Orie is one of the finest writers of the Caribbean region.
By L Siddhartha Orie*