Final Words on Elections, Other Thoughts on Race Relations in the Region

After my post dated Nov 9th 2007 at 5:43 pm (see previous mangoandmosquitoblog entry), as trini in the Comments section of an entry entitled Update:Trinidad Election Watch, November 05, 2007~Will The Trend Continue? [click on link to read the full thread], on the blog Barbados Underground, many other comments by others such as Puzzled, Anonymous, David and Straight Talk followed.

My response to them is as follows:

  • trini // Nov 11th 2007 at 10:56 pm

    I thought that my contribution would end with my last entry, but reading what others have written after me, have compelled me to add more to the mix.

    With reference to Anonymous’ take on my “spin.” I shared my own justifications for voting for COP. I am sure that other Trinis can offer just as compelling reasons for voting for the other parties and can cite shocking / if not appalling attitudes and policies of the opposing parties and their candidates. Every person thinks his/her point of view is the right one.

    David (Correction: should have been Puzzled), to answer your question – the population of T&T (%) in 2000, was as follows:

    African Descent – 37.5
    East Indian Descent – 40.0
    White – 0.6
    Chinese – 0.3
    Mixed – 20.5
    Other – 0.3
    Not stated – 0.8

    Source: http://www.cso.gov.tt

    As you can see, with a total population of approximately 1.3 million, it has made for and and will continue to be a tight race when people vote according to race.

    The UNC-A was merely and alliance of the UNC (an Indo-Trinidadian oriented party) with other small politically-conscious groups in Trinidad and Tobago. It was formed in the last few months leading up to this last elections.

    I prefaced my statement about the composition of the COP, with “at least from my own observations.” I never felt the COP to be an “Indian” party and I can say that with all honesty as a person of mixed descent – Indian, Black, Chinese.

    Of course, others are sure to disagree with that.

    From a campaign strategy perspective, it is understandable, that the votes gained by the COP, were taken from the UNC. The PNM was formed in 1956, it is a professed Afro-Trinidadian oriented party (even Anonymous cannot deny that). Most of its supporters have been “PNM from the womb” and say that they will be so until “the tomb.” It would have been very hard for a fledgling party like the COP to easily encourage long-standing PNM representatives to “cross the floor,” change the voting stance of persons that have voted for the party their entire lives. The UNC, however, (the pre-cursor of the UNC-A) was formed in the mid 1990s and perhaps its membership would have had less of a visceral tie to the party.

    To my knowledge (again, another prefacing statement), the COP, as all parties ought to have done, targeted its campaign towards all Tribagonians, supporters of the PNM and UNC alike. Perhaps if the COP sticks around long enough for the next elections, changes up its line-up (all candidates are not created equal Anonymous), it can make significant in-roads into the PNM support-base too. I am totally fed-up with race politics!

    With that being said, the PNM is a minority government. IF the COP and the UNC-A had joined forces (which to me, and many others, would only have been MINIMALLY acceptable, if the UNC-A’s corrupt leadership by Panday and Warner had gone by the wayside), the votes would have amounted to some 20 seats, leaving the PNM with 21. As it stands, those of us, who voted COP remain with absolutely NO REPRESENTATION in our country’s Parliament (but as was pointed out numerous times, we voted so).

    Interesting statistics: “The UNC-A got 194,425 votes (29.73 per cent) and the COP 148,041 (22.64 per cent) on Monday, a combined total of 342,466, 52.38 per cent of the total 653,800 votes cast, seven per cent more than the PNM.”

    Source: http://www.trinidadexpress.com/index.pl/article_news?id=161230770

    But enough about T&T!

    What really encouraged me to write some more was the vitriol that Anonymous has spewed concerning Indo-Caribbeans: “For the most part with few exceptions INDIANS GENERALLY DONOT LIKE PERSONS OF AFRICAN DESCENT.”

    I wonder whether Anonymous knows and likes any Indo-Caribbean person at all. In my own experience, problems in Trinidad and Tobago have found ferment amongst people who have little to no REAL and MEANINGFUL interaction with other ethnicities (it is entirely possible to stay insular in a cosmopolitan society) and stems from ignorance. This has been exploited by political parties as a convenient rallying point (fear of THE OTHER, like beings must stick together) and perpetuated by the media.

    The social, political and economic problems that the European Union countries (always admired by us post-colonial countries…) have attributed to immigration, stem from lack of planning (I agree David!) and a failure to implement policies concerning cultural sensitivity training (for the host countries and the incoming immigrants).

    Reading about Barbados’ so-called issues with Indo-Guyanese immigrants (skilled or not) and Trinidad’s own hullabaloo about Chinese labourers makes me wonder about our readiness as a region for the implementation of the CSME’s policies on the free mobility of labour, the exchange of skills. Some Caribbean countries desperately need to supplement their work-force in certain sectors. Will those of us who migrate to other islands in the hopes of making a contribution (and a dollar) and do not look Black, Indian, etc. (look like the majority group/s) face the hostility of people like Anonymous? Are White, “educated,” persons in management positions in multi-national corporations operating in the Caribbean, the only acceptable migrant group?

    Caribbean people (regardless of colour) are not exactly welcomed with open arms where ever we go. Why should we feel a-how about such treatment when we cannot even manage tolerance at home towards fellow human beings?! (Way to go Straight Talk!)

Mango

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~ by mangoandmosquitoblog on November 12, 2007.

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