This is us, true?


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Category: Trinidad Society Date: 23 Jan 05


If you want to lie to yourself, this is the best time of the year. Calypso and chutney and soca will help you drown out the voices in your head. But lying to ourselves is not new to us. ďWe accustomĒ as we say every time the outside world tells us how they see us, we say they lie.


Last year, the UN said we, yes we, the financial centre of the Caribbean, the oil and gas rich, were falling on the global development index, in literacy, in poverty levels, in health care. We were performing well below countries that had nothing. Where did our money go? Our oil rich islands were walloped by a tiny tourist economy like Barbados in every area. The percentage of our student population attending university is a joke.


The Bajans must laugh their heads off at us. All they have is sun and sand. And they rank third in developing countries. We are falling off the charts.


We have that and oil but canít provide decent health care. Our doctors are unaccountable. Our students are emerging clueless in their thousands to join a practically illiterate population to join the army of Cepep. Our Aids epidemic is out of control, shoved under the carpet so itís invisible. Thatís a lie, reply the politicians. It all depends how you interpret the figures.


Remember the global alert that was put out on Trinidad warning tourists off our shores, citing rising crime rate. They lie, said the politicians. We are safe. True, true we said, they lie, because who wants to think they are living in a country riddled with crime, with an over 50 per cent functionally illiterate population, and the among the highest incidences of HIV/Aids after Sub Sahara Africa. Lie. We have vision 20-20.


Some time back when the BBC portrayed Trinidad as a land of gangsters, a haven for drug barons, an employment agency for drug pushers, a banana republic where more than 40 per cent of our people live below the poverty line, the politicians were outraged. What a lie.


Just this month when the LA Times staff writer Carol J Williams observed that kidnappings in this tiny country has risen from 29 to 150 in two years, quoting kidnapped victims who said the police were collaborating with kidnappers, that witnesses were bumped off, that the Indian community felt under siege since they were the prime targets, that the Government didnít care since it didnít affect their votes, we said. Yes, you got it. They lie. Drug related.


Now as we witness everyday casual brutalities, a German artist gunned down by four men in daylight, bandits shooting a businessman dead for a car, we say they lie. Drug related.


We watch our politicians wine waist high in a sea of oil dollars, tinker with votes using Cepep as a payback for party hacks who run it like so many gangster outfits and ruin the lives of the poor and illiterate by making them more dependant, by paying them for standing around listlessly with a cutlass we say, They lie. These people like it so. Never mind that the Cepep employees, many third generation receivers of hand outs, votes, cant read, canít get housing, that they will never even know their potential as human beings.


Never mind that an entire community of former sugar workers is drowning in an isolated sea of hopelessness, illiteracy, (highest in rural areas) alcoholism, unemployment. Never mind that now that their VSEP packages have been handed out they are so forgotten they may as well be dead. They lie. These people have it good, so much rum and time.


This is us: Ruled by fear of persecution, ruled by envy and self-deception, and a mindless need to keep the party, the soca, chutney going at all cost, because to sit down and see the mess around us would be calamitous.


Now, where is that fete?


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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur