Ralph Maraj

political analysts Ralph Maraj 

The picture was false. Stuart Young should have been there with Keith Rowley amidst lettuce and tomatoes in the garden!

The two are inextricably linked. The Prime Minister has given his National Security Minister free reign, Rowley praising Young as his “Garry Sobers”, his “all-rounder and man for all seasons and reasons” says the Express, his “inner cabinet of one” straddling several portfolios. Rowley cannot escape responsibility for Young. They are a perfect pair. How dare he pose in the garden without him?

These two have done deep damage. Both conducted those fateful negotiations with upstreamers that produced the higher gas price for downstreamers who have been consequently shutting down operations at Point Lisas which now faces abandonment.

Also, in a deliberate joint strategy to intimidate citizens, Rowley and Young have labelled nationals seditious and treasonous, for which individuals have historically been beheaded or imprisoned for life. In 2016, Rowley accused Sat Maharaj of being “close to sedition” for statements criticising the late Patrick Manning. Young followed, accusing Devant Maharaj of sedition and treason for actions arising from Maharaj’s social activism.

I am convinced their intention was a police state. For the strategy continued when the pair rejected modernisation of the Sedition Act, passed in 1920 for the benefit of the brutal, authoritarian colonial power. When asked whether the Government was reconsidering the law, Young, obviously speaking for Rowley, adamantly retorted, “It remains on the books. I am happy to see a police service enforcing the laws of TT.”

Indeed, when citizens questioned whether the police commissioner could use camouflage-type uniform on duty, Stuart Young sounded very much like his Prime Minister, blasting at citizens with arrogance and scorn, saying: “No one cares” about your views and instructing the police service to “ignore them, ignore the silly conversations, the stupid conversations where they talk about how our commissioner will dress and go about his duty.”

And who can forget that brutal chapter in governance written by Rowley and Young with their treatment of nationals stranded abroad by Covid-19, especially the 33 citizens in Barbados whom they subjected to an unforgettable trauma of harrowing, inhumane treatment. And peeved those in Barbados finally escaped their clutches, Young remonstrated hideously, suggesting the Barbados government was in league with mischief makers to “infiltrate” Trinidad and Tobago, when our sister Caricom nation was just being humane to our stranded citizens. Yet Rowley said there was no harm done! The region contrasted him with the humanity of his Barbadian counterpart Mia Mottley and pronounced, “Chalk and cheese”!

Last year, Young filled in for Rowley, preening on a sudden trip to Venezuela to meet Nicolas Maduro and a delegation including Delcy Rodriguez. We have been given no details of this meeting.

Then came that March 27 visit to Trinidad and Tobago by Rodriguez, now Venezuelan Vice-President and blacklisted by the US, Canada and European Union, a fact known by our Government. Young said Rodriguez requested the visit and “there was no question or asking what were they coming to discuss with us.” Really?! “No question”?! What power does Delcy or her boss, Nicolas Maduro, have over our government that they could just summon Rowley and Young to a meeting and these two would jump and open the borders to allow in a sanctioned individual on a sanctioned airplane?

Worse, as documents later revealed, Rodriguez came with a delegation of high energy officials, contradicting their earlier denials. But after the meeting, the pair insisted they had discussed efforts to combat Covid-19 though no notes were taken and no health officials were present on either side!

When questions persisted, the story evolved and Rowley said the meeting discussed not “the biological nature of the virus” but the possibility of “an unending flood of refugees” from Venezuela as a result of the virus. But one fact remains indisputable. The day after the meeting, a shipment of fuel was activated from Trinidad and Tobago that Rowley and Young said was destined for Aruba but which allegedly reached Venezuela. Since then the Aruban government has said the shipment never entered its waters. What is the truth of the discussions, Dr Rowley, “flood of refugees” or flood of fuel?

Not surprisingly, the US has given us an ominous formal reminder about the Rio Treaty with regard to the visit by Rodriguez. Worse, in an unprecedented move, its Ambassador has publicly rejected Young’s claim to Parliament, in the presence of Rowley, that in his conversations with the diplomat “there was no raising of the breach of any treaty.” The Ambassador said plainly he had “expressed concern to the Minister about the consistency of Delcy Rodriguez’s visit to Port of Spain with Trinidad and Tobago’s obligations as a party to the Rio Treaty.”

Young tried to brazen his way out of his morass. The Express saw it as “an insult to the intelligence of the population” and observed pertinently and poignantly, “the only question to be answered now is whether the Prime Minister is involved in this shameful attempt to pull the wool over the public’s eyes.” Indeed, most citizens are asking what is Keith Rowley’s role in “the unfolding saga of his meeting on March 27 with the Vice President of Venezuela.”

Speak up Prime Minister. You insult the nation with silly garden photographs while crises of your making abound. Speak the truth. If you can divorce yourself from your partner in the pair!


I hadn’t intended to write a word; my feelings were raw and I felt that everything I could possibly say had already been expressed. I had already begun writing about something else for this column, but I couldn’t do it. I didn’t feel that it was right to let my exhaustion with the ongoing brutality of humankind shunt me away from a principle I hold fast.

EARLIER this week, the Minister of Housing officiated at a ceremony organised by the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) in which 500 lucky would-be homeowners stood to benefit from a random television draw for the allocation of State housing. This was the expected end of the line for at least those persons, some of whom would have submitted applications since who knows how long ago.

I lived in Falcon Heights, Minnesota for most of the 18 years I resided and worked in the state, teaching at the University of Minnesota. I was offered the job there in 1990, and subsequently bought a house. Falcon Heights is a suburb that is equidistant from both Minneapolis and St Paul, the capital, about a ten-minute drive away from both cities. For most of my time there I was the only black person owning a home on my street, and indeed on adjoining streets.

To say that we live in difficult times is to minimise the challenges each and every one of us faces on a daily basis.

From viral pan­demics leading to broken economies which have given rise to a huge number of people struggling to feed their families.

A minority of social media users have voiced dismay that West Indians are fixated on opining about the injustice of George Floyd’s death due to police brutality.

Here in sweet Trinidad and Tobago, we have jumped on the bandwagon and stood up and expressed our diverse views on the ongoing racial tensions in the United States, but I ask us to step back and look at our country.