For the past two years Joan Quamina was on a public waiting list for knee replacement surgery. Her other option was to pay $85,000 to have it done privately, which she could not afford.
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The elite fiddles while Trinidad burns
I felt like I was on the set of a movie I once saw. I’ve long forgotten the name, but it was about a war-torn Central American state. The scene was a luxury hotel in a besieged capital city. Inside, the country’s elite sips champagne, served by white-gloved waiters. Outside, fighting rages. Government tanks fire rounds at rebels, rebels launch rockets at tanks. Round after round, city blocks are reduced to rubble.
Insulated by wealth and position, the elite parties on in their sanctuary; but eventually, reality catches up with them. By the time an enemy has penetrated a capital city, it should be clear to all that the battle is lost. The movie comes to a close at the airport. The wealthy flee their homeland and the rebels inherit a ravaged country. Everyone has lost.
Maybe my fantasy had taken me on a ride. There are no tanks or rebels at the door but the elite surrounding me is real and my location is somewhat exclusive—that former bastion of late colonial society, the Trinidad Country Club. It’s a party to celebrate the national day of one of the more important European countries.