curious aliens from Mars took a satellite picture of us, they would see an
immobile mass, a country locked into its hunkered-down position—the only
defence available to it against a removed leadership.
in that jaw-locked position, we could be dismissed as dead, if it
weren’t for little figures who pop up from this inert mount waving a red
flag—their movement always in air—and hope for the rest of us.
Stephen Cadiz raised a red flag last year by forming The Keith Noel 136
Committee, after his employee became the 136th murder victim last year and
at a time when kidnappings were at an all-time high.
presenting a petition signed by thousands of citizens to the President,
Cadiz organised a march against crime.
Cadiz happens to be a middle-class, businessman, it was easy for those who
prefer us to be a dead body of people to question its credibility, saying
the flag was white not red.
after Cadiz pointed out that his family had been here for 200 years,
decades more than most of us, we could not deny his role in allowing some
oxygen in to a suffocating population.
Kirk Meighoo came up for air out of the ball of terrified inertia we had
fallen into when he launched the Committee for Transformation and Progress
(C4TAP) last September. In his speech, he was at pains to point out that
C4TAP was not a political party. He said: “On the Government side, what
we are faced with is cynical and reckless expenditure, with one eye
obviously on the next general election and the other on self-preservation
at any cost.
the Opposition side, we have confusion and selfishness...”
red flag sent some puzzling signals as to its real intent. (Was he paving
the way to politically cash in on a bad moment in the country while
appearing not to do so?)
he spoke up courageously, spoke for us all. And got us looking up a bit
aliens would have to zoom in to see thousands of mini-flags, men and women
talking in offices, homes, schools, car parks, restaurants, in porches,
streets, bedrooms, hovels, taxis, etc.
conversations about oil money not filtering down, nothing working, of
policemen being held for kidnapping? Of feeling unsafe.
asking: What was the army doing? Where are the tax dollars? People asking
why they had to hustle, with their bodies, their guns, smooth talk for a
living, rather than education.
was the training? Where were the jobs? Why did so many people they know
die from brutal guns or badly-equipped hospitals?
individual protests don’t make effective flags. Now flag-raiser Sheilah
Solomon, co-ordinator of T&T Citizens Agenda Network (T&T CAN!)
sent out a circular. She wrote: “The test of a democracy is whether
citizens have the power to influence the policies of their representatives
after they are elected. By that test, T&T has become a functional
dictatorship, rather than a constitutional democracy.
role of Parliament as the watchdog of citizens’ rights has been
cancelled by the overarching power of the Cabinet. “The right of
individual citizens to vote or challenge government rulings in court does
not in practice guarantee them any influence over the circumstances of
their daily lives, or the consequences of government policies at local or
tyres and marching in the streets are the only means available to them,
collectively, to attract attention to urgent public issues.
those means are subject to police permission. Much of the lawlessness in
our society stems from the unequal distribution of power permitted by the
effect, citizens have been marginalised. Marginalisation breeds
frustration. Frustration breeds violence.
constitution is a Contract between citizens as to how their state is to be
must not be changed from the top down by any government; it must reflect
the true concerns of citizens from all walks of life.”
another flag..? Maybe. But if we stood up, linked arms, joined flags, we
could collectively regain our power; our country.