Before we swoop down like
corbeaux to pick at the carcass of the reputation of Jack Warner with
the hypocrisy of the self righteous (as we do—oh how we love a lynching.
Oh how good it makes us feel about ourselves— oh how it helps to
distract us from our own infractions, our own little sneaky ways of
getting around the law in a small banana republic that operates on
getting away with as much as we can, on keeping the dial on a delicately
balanced mediocrity, on idolising a smart man). Before we get the gloves
out, let us hang our heads in SHAME. Yes, that was capitalised on
purpose. It’s my Shame, it’s your Shame, it’s our collective Shame.
On May 28, Jack Warner
surrendered to the fraud squad to face an arrest warrant issued at the
request of US authorities, which filed corruption charges against him
and 13 others tied to international football.
‘racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy’. The US
Department of Justice charged them with “hijacking” international
football to run “a World Cup of fraud” to line their pockets by US$150m.
Warner was arrested
alongside eight senior current or former Fifa officials—including Fifa
vice-presidents Jeffrey Webb and Eugenio Figueredo. Jack Warner spent a
night in jail. Jack Warner appeared in court in Port-of Spain, where a
judge read eight counts against him and then set bail at 2.5m TT dollars
Jack Warner was made to
surrender his passport and report to police twice a week. Who is this
man and what does he say about us? Instead of crowding around the
lynching party, we should all hang our heads in shame. Jack Warner, a
son of the soil, a man born in Rio Claro in 1943, brought up alongside
two brothers by a single mother, Stella. A man who won a small
scholarship from Trinidad Clay Brothers after which he attended
Presentation College in Chaguanas.
A self-made man who after
attending Teachers’ Training College graduated with a BA and earned a
diploma in International Relations from the University of the West
Indies. A man, who in 1972 taught at the Northeastern College while
lecturing in UWI in sociology, and the Polytechnic Institute till 1993.
His tactical brilliance
(and some other smart man attributes besides) took him from being a
teacher to secretary of the T&T Football Association (TTFA), to
president of the Caribbean Football Union, to the chairman of Joe Public
Football Club, to T&T’s Professional Football League, to Fifa vice
president and Concacaf president.
He resigned from those
offices in 2011 after facing corruption and bribery charges from Fifa's
ethics committee. Jack Warner today is at the centre of the US
Department of Justice's investigation into Fifa.
In 1998, Warner purchased
the Scarlet Ibis Hotel in St Augustine for $6 million (TT), which he
renovated and renamed the Emerald Apartments and Plaza. He also owns
Kantac Plaza in Arouca. He may well have earned it.
In 2002, after global media
publications alleged he made a profit of US$350,000 selling 2002 Fifa
World cup tickets via a family-owned travel company Simpaul, a red flag
was raised. Exposés from local journalists in 2005 led to Warner being
hauled up before the Fifa ethics committee that concluded Warner
‘abused’ his position to obtain personal benefits and failed to declare
In a report submitted to
Fifa in March 2006, Fifa estimated that Warner's family had made a
profit of at least $1 million from reselling 2006 World Cup tickets,
that Warner had directly ordered or sold on behalf of the TTFA. He was
ordered to pay a hefty fine to Fifa that he failed to do despite
After that, Warner became a
political star. In 2007, we elected him as chairman and co-leader of the
United National Congress. We then elected him as the MP for Chaguanas.
In May 2010, when the then
PM Patrick Manning called a snap election we re-elected him AGAIN. We
re-elected Jack Warner in Chaguanas West with the highest national vote
total. We made him Works and Transport Minister, who ironically
described the former government as the “most corrupt ever” and pledged
to enforce hanging for death row prisoners.
The then attorney general
Anand Ramlogan responding to queries from the Opposition Leader Keith
Rowley defended Warner. He said as Warner did not receive a salary from
Fifa, and ‘Trinidad benefits from Warner’s appointment’ conflict was
We made Warner act as prime
minister at least once during this period. We made him the minister of
national security. In 2011, Jack Warner resigned as Fifa’s vice
president and Concacaf president after facing corruption and bribery
charges from Fifa's ethics committee. A damning videotape of the
disciplinary process emerged.
Jack Warner was not fired.
The videotape was simply filed away. In 2013, a political fallout with
the UNC Warner resigned as chairman of the United National Congress on
April 22, 2013, and resigned as MP for Chaguanas West four days later,
triggering a by-election in his constituency.
What did we do then? We
voted him in again. Warner formed a new political party, the Independent
Liberal Party (ILP). We voted him in again. He won the by-election for
Chaguanas West in 2013.
Warner is not an aberration but a symptom of our society. We all have
filth on our hands.