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You eh shame, T&T?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Dear Trinidad and Tobago,

Though I frequently use this space to write “about you,” this is the first time I’m using it to write “to you.” Either way, there’s a good chance this letter won’t be well received; no one likes to be criticised, even if it’s for their own good.

With that being said, I won’t bother to inquire how you’re doing… it’s plain to see that all’s not bright and cheery. Saying that times are hard would be an understatement; they’ve been that way for as long as I can remember. If anything, I think they’ve only gotten harder.

To be fair, it’s not entirely your fault. I mean while you do have a preference for a laid-back, laissez-faire, “once de ting working” approach to most issues, you did entrust people to look out for your best interests.

But the fact is they’ve screwed you. And it’s starting to show.

You need proof? Look how easy it’s been for aspects of your life to come grinding to a halt. In the last two weeks alone, major thoroughfares were clogged because a few people decided to make things hard for everyone else.

At Piarco International Airport, a facility that’s supposed to be the epitome of orderly procedures and professionalism, visitors and returning nationals were made to endure the wrath of disgruntled civil servants.

Imagine coming off of a four-hour flight only to end up standing and waiting in a line for another four hours just so immigration officers could draw attention to their grievances about being paid what’s owed to them.

Then a few days ago, an unruly mob from Beetham community took to the streets to protest the arrest of two “community leaders,” a common euphemism for gang leaders. As if their motives weren’t already questionable, they proceeded to obstruct and intimidate law-abiding citizens who were just going about their daily routine. It’s quite a contrasting contradiction—people who were trying to make an honest living were held to ransom by those who would resort to violence and banditry.

These two groups—the civil servants and the unruly mob—are just two sides of the same coin. Both are intent on getting what they think they deserve by mistreating you. They don’t care if they waste your time or brutalise you. And why should they? Just look at the examples they have to follow.

Remember those “trusted” people I mentioned above? They take advantage of you too…just in a less intrusive, less forceful way. Those who serve in the parliament, with their penchant for picong and desk-thumping, are aggrandised at your expense. Even those who claim to speak on behalf of the working man, wearing militant jackets and calling each other “comrade,” they too enjoy the privileges that come with position. They all enjoy champagne tastes while you live on a mauby budget…not that there’s anything wrong with mauby, but you’re also footing the bill for the champagne.

But here’s the rub in all of this? While your life is made difficult and dangerous by such strikes and protests actions, those “trusted” people are spared from any of the intended ill effects. They get to skip the tediousness of lines and traffic jams via VIP lounges and police escorts. So you are made to suffer and it’s all for nought. Because why would they try to make your life better when they have no idea of just how hard it is?

In the words of our vernacular—“you eh shame” Trinidad and Tobago? How long are you going to allow this to continue? Aren’t you tired of being talked down to by Dr Rowley, of the empty promises from Mrs Persad-Bissessar, and of the disruption to your livelihood caused by Ancel Roget and Watson Duke? It’s time you realise that those whom you call leaders aren’t really leading. You deserve more than they ever have or could ever provide. Just think about it.

Just a fed-up columnist

Ryan Hadeed


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