Dawn Ritch, Columnist
Any reader will know that I think the country's domestic financial sector was handed to Trinidad and Barbados on aplatter. By any measure this is a strategic industry.
Also by any measure there is nothing more bombastic than a Trinidadian. The Barbadians are still conscious of the fact that they occupy a little atoll, even if its real estate prices now beat those of the Bahamas, which were high to begin with. Their sea-front villas are being snapped up by rich people from the industrialised world. As a direct consequence, the Barbadian prime minister has had to defend himself against charges of selling out the country to rich foreigners. In effect, he's replied that he doesn't regret it.
In the case of Trinidad, nobody wants to live down there because there are poisonous snakes and no mountains. Murder down there makes a speciality of mutilation. The only part of that country which is any good is the island of Tobago. But a luxury hotel there has made its guests violently ill three times over the last five years according to the Sunday Times, a U.K. newspaper. It seems to me nobody would want to go there, except another Trinidadian.
But they all want to come here, and they've always wanted to come here. First, the black ones came because the Indians were running them out. Now that the blacks are in control down there, the Indians have come to Jamaica to run our show up here. They're making a very bad job of it.
Trinidadians recently bought our cement company. For the first time in its long and proud history, this venerable institution under their ownership manufactured and sold rotten cement. An absolute disgrace, this brought the Jamaican construction sector to its knees, and sharply reduced our overall growth and income while costing us individually millions of dollars, not to mention the lost time for which they refuse to compensate.
A j'can would not dare
No Jamaican, nor Jamaican company, would have been able to go to Trinidad under any circumstances, and have the freedom to do that without being immediately terminated, and run out of the country on a rail. Indeed, no Jamaican in Jamaica would have dared to do that without Dr. Omar Davies, Minister of Finance, intervening, and with police to boot.
This raises the question of how, after such reckless and disastrous management of a major strategic monopoly and resource, the Trinidadians could have continued to own the Jamaican cement company. This is an outright failure in public administration.
The Jamaican Manufacturers' Associa-tion and the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce were silent throughout the whole thing. Not a word was heard from them about the Trinidadian buy-out and the Trinidadian-engineered collapse of the Jamaican construction industry. Now that Trinidad recently reneged on a deal to sell this country liquefied natural gas (LNG) so one of the bauxite companies here can expand, these local organisations are beside themselves with indignation.
There is no doubt that the bauxite industry is vital, but so were the financial and construction sectors. Nevertheless there is suddenly a big hue and cry, about how wicked the Trinidadians are, when all they're doing is what comes naturally.
I'd much rather buy oil and LNG from Venezuela any day. The Bol?var letter is the symbol of the long historical relationship between our two countries. These Trinidadians, all they do is pack up the place and get in the way.
The Jamaican Prime Minister's first overseas trip was to Trinidad to tie up the LNG deal. Then she made an arrangement for fuel with Venezuela. Trinidad went into an uproar saying we'd broken the spirit of CARICOM. Even the Opposition greatly lamented the Venezuelan deal at the time, and cited the politics of its president Hugh Ch?vez as a concern. But the Opposition has been remarkably silent about Trinidad's reneging on its fuel supply deal with Jamaica. This leaves one to wonder whether or not they now support the CSME, thereby reversing the policy of the Jamaica Labour Party.
art of double-speak
It seems to me therefore, that a too precious and highly selective species of condemnation is making the rounds. Everybody is talking as though they have mastered the art of double-speak.
The Trinidadian government has run a full-page advertisement to say, among other things, that they advised ours to ask Venezuela to supply us with LNG instead. Chronologically and otherwise, why would we need their advice on the matter?
Now that Venezuela has agreed to supply us, Trinidad wants the credit for it.
That Government effectively scuttles our bauxite expansion, and now they're claiming to have helped us along.
Well, bauxite expansion plans are back on track, but no thanks to them.
What the Jamaican Government must now have realised are baleful consequences of the Amerindian heritage of Trinidad. They are not Taino but Carib, and those were cannibals. We were not, and it's not part of our make-up. Murderous today, but still not cannibal.
The only thing to do with cannibals is drive them out with prosperity. That way we will have the economic independence to buy back that which they have gloatingly captured here on the cheap.
It really is an indignity to have been re-colonised by a people who were themselves colonised. Jamaica is supposed to be the leader of the Caribbean. We should not be dragged around like tin cans from the back of their ramshackle cart.
My one consolation is that Jamaica has long been the grave yard of champions. Even the once mighty Cable & Wireless has discovered that to their considerable discomfort.
The irony is that Michael Lee Chin who is a champion business sprinter in Jamaica, has stumbled in Trinidad. This has been met with great sympathy and surprise in Jamaica, though why I can't imagine.
Nobody goes to Trinidad, and I could have told him so.
But our economic collapse of the 1990s has made us mendicants, even to them. It was not always so, and will change again.
Trinidadians were among those who burnt down the computer room at the Sir George William University in Canada decades ago. Then it was a black power argument. Next, an attempted armed coup in their own Parliament. Now in that twin- island statethere is a Muslim problem. Can't anybody keep them away from us?