Dr Kirk Meighoo
In the middle of this Venezuelan crisis, Lloyd Best's thought couldn't be more relevant than it is today.
In 1965, he wrote the seminal piece Independent Thought and Caribbean Freedom, which became the foundation document for the New World Group.
Soon after Jamaican and T&T gained independence, and after the break-up of the Federation of the West Indies, it announced our intellectual independence from the Cold War rivalries and ideologies.
These imperial ideologies were sweeping the newly independent countries at the time, and preventing their development, by diverting their attention from their own real problems and getting them involved in unnecessary fights and battles.
In their innocence and ignorance, some younger people assert that today is much different from those days, and we cannot afford to be independent.
At the time Best wrote, however, the Cold War was at its height. The Cuban Missile Crisis was just a few years earlier, right in our region. You couldn’t get more dangerous than that.
Best’s lesson remains relevant: We must not get caught up in the ideologies and rivalries of superpowers.
We must think and act for ourselves, on our own terms, and in our own interests.
We must not get drawn into other people's wars. We are only pawns to them. As an independent people, we must have some dignity and backbone.
We have our own wars, which we are refusing to fight.
Because of the relentless diet of US and UK media, Trinidadians and Tobagonians all of a sudden want to save Venezuelans.
Yet, when Trinidadian fishermen are kidnapped, there is nowhere near the same amount of interest or passion.
It is like Trinidadians who cry when Manchester United lose a match. It’s not even our country or city. Strange loyalties, indeed.
If Guaido gets in power, I highly doubt he is going to stop this abuse of Trinidadians. We will not be his priority, as with previous Venezuelan governments. (In fact, some past governments have made claims that Trinidad is still rightfully Venezuelan territory.)
I don’t believe there will be some magical change occurring after Maduro’s removal. There is something chronically wrong with the Venezuelan economy, which I say even though ours is also extremely deficient. However, as Trinidadians, we always have heard about Venezuelan toilet paper shortage, long before Chavez and Maduro; since I was a little boy.
"If you go to Venezuela, bring toilet paper." That's what we've said here for decades to people going over to visit.
How can a country with oil reserves greater than Saudi Arabia have no toilet paper?
This is absolutely incredible. And it says something very symbolic.
It's not one man's fault: Maduro, or Chavez, or whoever. One man can't do that to a country. That takes a whole society to do that.
As someone observed earlier and shared with me: when poor Chinese come here they sell food, when poor Syrians come they sell gyros, but when poor Venezuelans come, some sell their bodies. I know this is a gross generalisation, it's not everybody, for sure, but it points to a kernel of truth.
Furthermore, their murder and crime rate is actually worse than ours! And we have one of the worst in the world.
Yet, we are falling for a script played over and over by the Americans and their media propagandists before a coup or intervention: sanction the country and make it abjectly poor, then have media reports on how evil the leader is; don't stop the reports, every day, all the time; demonise everything you can about them; fund foreign NGOs to have "colour revolutions" and mass uprisings because of the poverty exacerbated by the sanctions; whip up sentiments for war; if that doesn't work, bring out a picture of a dead baby, or hurt baby or threatened baby to push the call for US intervention further.
It's the same thing, over and over and over again. It is highly refined emotional manipulation by American news media which are subdivisions of the largest entertainment companies in the world.
Time Warner owns both CNN and Warner Brother’s movie studios. The media are literally following a script.
The movie Wag the Dog with Robert deNiro and Dustin Hoffman shows (in thinly disguised fiction) this media manipulation in the 1990s targeting Eastern Europe. In the 2000s the target moved to the Middle East. Now it's focused on Venezuela.
They manufacture these narratives. And they can flip the script whenever they want: make the bad guy seem good one day, and make the good guy seem bad the next.
In the meanwhile, the US is happy to be allies with the worst regimes one can imagine. But we are supposed to believe they actually care about people's human rights.
We must not get used in their games. I am not a supporter of Maduro or his brand of socialism. Neither am I a supporter of clearly orchestrated, neocon regime change.
How removing a president by force is supposed to produce democracy still makes no sense, especially after Afghanistan, Iraq, the Arab Spring, etc. We just need some stability there. Not to take sides in what is shaping up to be an externally aggravated civil war.
That is a mess that is not going to get sorted out soon. Whether Guaido and the US take over or not.