Congratulations to the [Trinidad and Tobago] government for its effort in working feverishly to try and pull off the upcoming summit without a hitch.
Congratulations to them, too, for the various beautification and clean-up exercises they are urgently and zealously engaging in to make a good impression for our visitors, but all this simply goes to beg the question: Aren’t we good enough?
In other words, aren’t the people of Sea Lots and Laventille good enough to warrant attention and governmental intervention to clean up and beautify and improve their surroundings? Aren’t the people of Beetham good enough or fit enough to be seen that the plan was to block and screen them off from public view? Aren’t we, the people of Trinidad and Tobago, good enough to deserve decent health care and proper public hospitals and accessible, affordable medication? And it is not to begrudge the multi-millions being spent on this whitewash and face lift of the city and environs, but the issue we have to consider is whether we are still such a backward Third World little banana republic that we now have to be rushing and running helter-skelter, trying to clean up our act to impress our visitors?
What about trying to impress your own people, the ones who put you there in power in the first place?
What about trying to impress us with water on a 24/7 basis, or water for all? What about trying to impress us with a reduction in the price of electricity, now that world market prices for natural gas have fallen drastically? What about trying to impress us with a reduction in the price of gasoline, since oil prices have plummeted around the world and some of our Caribbean neighboring governments have since dropped the price of gasoline for their citizens?
It is a serious question, because we are beginning to look like in days of old, when you were small and your parents had some important visitor coming to the house and they would be scrubbing, cleaning, mopping, dusting, polishing, all in a desperate effort to put on a good show. This is exactly how we are behaving as a nation in our approach to these matters. Our leaders continue to treat the general public with a certain degree of contempt and derision, always seeming to think that certain basic necessities are not to be given to the public, because we are not good enough.
We are not entitled to a proper education system that functions to the benefit and improvement of the society.
We are not entitled to a decent public transport system. We are not entitled to full transparency and full accountability in public affairs and the spending of billions of the public’s money, because it seems that we just aren’t good enough. But mention the word “foreigner,” mention the word “overseas” and we suddenly come alive, all of a sudden we could find resources, energy and talents, we could fix roads, clean up the stinking swampy trenches in the Beetham and possibly roll up and scrape vagrants off the streets, but we can’t do this for our own citizens.
We still seem to be stuck in a culture and mentality of worship of everything foreign while ignoring and neglecting so many of our own talented and hard working people. There are so many companies in Trinidad and Tobago, many of them State companies where they pay foreigners many times more than they pay locals for doing the same or substantially the same type of work. We have a love affair with so many of these “foreign-used consultants” and we put them up and fete them royally. In the meantime some of our talented, bright, young professionals we continue to treat with disregard.
Aren’t we good enough? If we can suddenly see it to improve and do so many things when foreign delegations come down, why can’t we see it fit to do it for our own people who are here all the time? The people who have supported us, the people who have walked with us the people whose blood, sweat and tears have built this nation, why can’t we see it fit to do good things and make improvements for them? So when the citizens of T&T look around at all the spectacle and the pomp and ceremony of the Summit events, and you look around at all the improvements made because of this Summit, you simply ask yourself, “aren’t we good enough?”