Andy-Johnson-Columnist-use

The Defiant Ones is a 1958 adventure movie starring Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis, one black, the other white. They were escaped prisoners who were shackled together and who must co-operate in order to survive.

Its title and the drama which it presents say a lot about the disposition of various groups of people making their way in today’s environment, with impacts on the society in ways that call for attention, and skilled responses. Some of them require humanism and precision.

Untold numbers of Venezuelan nationals continue to defy the seagoing conditions, the possibility of watery deaths, the chances of ending up in danger and difficulty over here if they do survive the crossing. They are voting with their feet and their determination, against a regime that continues to strangle life away from them and their families. They will not be silenced, and stay on the ground, in their home country. It is a kind of defiance born out of desperation in many cases. The Caribbean Council on Human Rights pleads their cause, calling on local authorities not to send them back.

Members of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) continue thumbing their noses at all the righteousness of a commissioner who talks the defiant talk of independence and non-alignment, never mind his association with politics of most recent vintage. They are saying they have heard better, bigger cocks crow. He hasn’t been known to have touched them, in almost two years on the job. They are reportedly involved in the local sex and flesh trade, either directly or as enablers, in the human trafficking rings now being exposed. The Minister of National Security says it’s disturbing, only after the facts have been brought out.

How did information on such a matter escape the notice of those who get the security briefings on a daily basis?

How did it not go in with the information about politicians allegedly cavorting with criminals and gang members?

The same apparatus which picked up that people paid others to create the disturbances we witnessed on those two days at the end of June. The tone of the minister’s response in this disclosure leaves the impression that he was blind-sided by this latest revelation.

There are exposed gaps in intelligence-gathering, in areas too critical to the country’s stability to be comfortable with.

Now to Imam Yasin Abu Bakr’s claims as to why he staged the attempted coup in 1990. It is at least fair to assume that these statements are being further analysed. There was not a hint of remorse in his tone. He called names, Selwyn Richardson and Herbert Atwell among them, repeating claims that had been made and debunked. Richardson was killed mafia-style as he got out of his vehicle to open the gate to his residence one night in 1995. Is Bakr not implying that Richardson’s life was taken because of his alleged part in the killing of a young policewoman while on some armed training exercise?

Richardson, remember, had joined the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR), just months before the election in 1986, breaking with the People’s National Movement (PNM), on an anti-corruption agenda.

The silence to date, arising from the re-visitations in that statement in an affidavit is frightening, even more disconcerting than the revelations themselves, 30 years later. We are not taking any of this lying down, it would stand to reason.

Herbert Atwell was the chairman of both Karl Hudson-Phillips’ Organisation for National Reconstruction, and the made-over NAR, which came together in 1986, and wrested power from the PNM, winning the 1986 general election 33 to three. These were parties said to be the antithesis of the PNM. They were seen as the enemies of the people, representing those now reviled as the one per cent. Yet, when he returned as prime minister during his second stint, in the early 2000’s the late Patrick Manning made Atwell his closest personal adviser, who would tell reporters, by a show of fingers crossed on lips, he was not authorised to speak, on anything. And we still refuse to accept Basdeo Panday’s dictum that “politics has a morality of its own”.

Jack Warner is talking now about having held meetings and reaching agreement with Dr Keith Rowley, about matters on the political agenda. But Dr Rowley is reported saying yes, they met, but he made no promises. Jack Warner who, with the PNM under Dr Rowley, was the target of untold demands, that he leave or be removed from the Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration.

The President, meanwhile, says Bakr’s statement falls short of the apology, which she at least, believes is still overdue. What he did was to post a rationale, as none before. He said in fact, the troops under his command hit out because they were pushed to the edge. They acted pre-emptively, right from under the noses of joint police and army forces occupying their compound.

On the road to national coherence and consensus, we remain with many rivers to cross. Solutions in many cases, continue to defy our best efforts.

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