Signs of the Times

The flap over Caribbean Airlines’ (CAL) use of the image of the balisier on its plane/s surely shows that Trinidad and Tobago’s society still has a voice that can be heard and that can effect change (At least with respect to certain matters.  Smelters, blimps and the like are another story).

It must have been pure naivete on the CAL’s part to think that in a country so politically divided (the 2007 General Election results are evidence of that), that no one would notice the balisier, that no one would consider it to be a political symbol, that no one would take offence to the use of the image, that no one would say anything.

Trinidad Express had a very sharp Editorial on the issue (Read the full text of the article here

All of this has led me to think about the importance of signs (formal and informal) in T&T and the commentary that they make / lend themselves to.  

Of course, I still do not have a camera for the following, so my words will have to do.

The 2007 General Election campaign period was a time of great political ferment.  The usual party and candidate posters and flyers were plastered everywhere, but for some political supporters / detractors spray-paint was the medium of choice.  The clean-up efforts after the Election concentrated primarily on the removal of those posters and flyers and so the political graffiti remains (perhaps deliberately so) as signs of the times.

Along the Western Main Road, in the heart of what can be considered PNM territory, one can still see the “works” of various opposition advocates.  Across the Cocorite walk-over is the (strategically) placed “THE DICTATOR MUST GO!”  Further along that same stretch is the seemingly ominous PNM IS BLIGHT (later creatively amended to PNM IS BOSS).  A Constituency Office is located obliquely opposite. 

Within recent weeks, that Office has erected a spanking new sign. The good condition (pristine, gleaming) of which almost seems to be in contrast to the area’s poorly maintained pavements, streets, parks and recreational areas.  

Right outside of that Office, is a light-pole on which many a sign is illegally affixed. One can always look there to find out what is the latest “Back in Times, Good Fellas / Naughty Girls, Lingerie” fete. Those signs cannot be missed as they are very distinctive in design – fluorescent-coloured font, white / black painted background, on cheap board (You must know them!).

Within the past two weeks, water problems in G*****, provoked some resident to post a sign of his/her own.  Needless to say, it did not last there too long, but the fete placards have endured.

I am certain if you look elsewhere along the transportation routes of Trinidad and Tobago, you will find more (humorous?) examples and references to other political parties.  They all give us a piece of the puzzle that is Trini life.



P.S. In the past, an oversized billboard with the constituency rep’s image had been tossed to the back of that same Constituency Office, like a piece of garbage.  Guess the new sign is evidence of his political rejuvenation.

~ by mangoandmosquitoblog on March 7, 2008.

2 Responses to “Signs of the Times”

  1. Update: Had cause to drive past said Constituency Office and rep’s billboard is still at the back/side of the building. Maybe I am reading too much into it. But anything can mean something. That’s the power of the sign.


  2. One of my friends handed up his doctoral thesis in the Netherlands recently. After the ceremony, he received a bouquet of flowers with, what else but a BALISIER as the focal point flower. Throughout the whole evening I was unnaturally drawn to this bouquet. Later on I even saw a lot of plastic balisiers on sale. It turns out that the balisier is considered an exotic tropical flower over here. Despite the new environment I am in, the balisier still unsettled me… the power of symbolism right there.

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