The Greatest Show on Earth

The opening ceremony of the Fifth Summit of the Americas took place yesterday in my home city of Port of Spain, Trinidad and after months of not blogging on any developments of importance or interest, I now feel like I can chip away at my writer’s block, shake off my malaise (Internet fatigue) and finally write something.

In the weeks leading up to the Summit, the media were filled with commentary about the event, the pros and cons of Trinidad and Tobago’s hosting (a moot point), the impact of any decisions (economic, social, political etc.) made at and implemented out of the Summit, Cuba and of course, Obama.

T&T seems to have truly lived up to its claim to fame as home to the “greatest show on earth.”

Where is the Carnival mentality evident?

Hmmm? Let me see…

The masquerade/r – the clean up efforts along the main transportation routes, the area immediately surrounding the venue (berm-building, road-paving, painting, removing of vagrants, upgrading of signage), the “appearance” of increased vigilance on the part of our national security (want to patent a “tint scraper” but not sure if it will get much use again until the CHOGM).  Ministers, I really believe that these campaigns will be sustained.

The spectator – Vex like when the band doh pass their way, Trinis all ahow about not getting to meet Obama.  If he had tong-hall meeting with Germany and Turkey, why not we?  But the real question is “who are we?”  Do we play as critical a role in the international relations / strategic plan of the United States of America?  If he wants to meet the people he will.

The double-entendre (double-speak) – with the exception of local, general elections, I do not think that I have quite seen a media blitz like the one that preceded this event.  But after all that was said and done, still unsure if Joe and Jane Public really understand what is going on (or maybe the arrogance of authority is such that we are not expected to).

There was all this talk about the visiting “democratically elected leaders” but no productive dialogue about Trinidad and Tobago’s infringement, in the shadow of Summit security, of the democratic rights of people.  This year: no “social justice” march for workers and trade unions in Woodford Square on a weekend.  Read story here.  Last year: fine to bus political supporters to the heart of the city on a weekday, to that same Square, to show their support for the PM.  Read story here.

What is it with the banning of entry into Trinidad to “known protesters”? Given that every week, there is the likelihood that drugs and ammunition are being brought into T&T, the intention to protest does not seem all that damning.  Read the full story here.

Curious as to whether T&T’s Constitution can be trumped by “government policy” regarding freedom to express political views, freedom of movement, of thought and expression and of association and assembly.

The excess – when the ordinary taxpayer cannot get reliable services (healthcare, water, electricity, transportation), we have footed the bill for a fleet of must-have luxury vehicles, surely paid for the hundreds of fancy costumes for the lengthy, but certainly very entertaining (Hilary has already deemed it “fabulous”), cultural showcase at the opening ceremony and sponsored many other hidden, “necessary” things.  Quality, quantity, economy. Waiting on accountability Mr. Mariano Browne.  Read money story here.

So what now?

Will the leaders of the thirty-four nations gathered here from North, Central and South America and the Caribbean be able to put aside their many differences (a motley crew if I ever saw one) and get beyond “ponging” the US (albeit at times deservedly) in order to have meaningful discussions about matters of common interest (drug trafficking, energy, environment, HIV/AIDS, immigration, trade and the economy)?

Will those discussions lead to the formulation and implementation of sound policies and practices at the regional and national levels?

Thus far I have heard much about North America – Latin America concerns, but will the small island developing states (SIDS) of the Caribbean get their moment in the sun?

Only time will tell.


P.S. Nicaragua’s Ortega made me laugh with his complaint about a three-hour wait at the airport (a passing reference in the midst of his long rant through history). Join the club senor presidente.  Trinis have waited longer in Immigration.  Trinis face that kinda traffic every day travelling to and from work (more PTSC buses, fewer of those luxury vehicle woulda help…).

BTW. Did anybody else see the transportation for the entourage that accompanied the various leaders? Saw some PTSC buses, but what are private maxi taxis doing there?  Who got the bligh?


~ by mangoandmosquitoblog on April 18, 2009.

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