GUYANA, GANJA AND GRIFFITH

The political eruption in Guyana has morals for adversaries on both sides in Trinidad and Tobago.

The local opposition will point to the rising tide of citizen discontent racing through the Caribbean, as evidenced by the indignation of government backbencher Charrandass Persaud.

Persaud’s anguished remark that “my conscience is clear” indicates that he had bottled up frustration through the three-year life of the razor-thin Granger administration.

The loss of some 7,000 sugar worker jobs at Berbice would undoubtedly be at the top of the dissident parliamentarian’s displeasure.

St. Lucia’s Opposition Leader Philip Pierre has picked up a popular refrain among anti-government forces in the region.

Pierre is hoping for successes in his own no confidence motion, even though Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has a five-seat parliamentary majority.

In tiny St. Kitts-Nevis, the Parliament is debating a no-confidence motion against the Dr. Timothy Harris Government, brought by Opposition Leader Dr. Denzil Douglas.

Lightning is not likely to strike twice.

Dr. Keith Rowley’s five-constituency advantage will see him through to the scheduled national polls, although he is politically wounded by the biggest spree of social and economic crises of our times.

For his part, Rowley will argue that the virtual palace coup in Guyana confirms the challenges of running a patchwork coalition.

The issue makes for a delicious intellectual debate.

People’s disgust with non-performing, high-handed ruling regimes versus predictable mishaps with makeshift pre-election alliances!

But with T&T now 20 months away from a return to the polls, Rowley is stealthily churning out a re-election strategic plan.

He may have collapsed spectacularly as a national leader, but he has several political pots on the fire to capture swing constituencies.

A graphic example is the planned construction of 504 public housing units on lands of St. Augustine Nurseries, a preserved propagation site since 1930.

The Environmental Management Authority was clearly suborned to grant a certificate of environmental clearance to Housing Development Corporation, in spite of the obvious unsuitability of the lands for the purpose.

Yet, focused opposition to the project has been sparked solely by the triumvirate of Vasant Bharath, Dhano Sookoo and Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh.

Apart from destroying arable lands, creating traffic and environmental headaches, the project will place St. Joseph in a PNM safe zone.

A costly fishing depot and major road improvement works will create short-term posts at Tableland-Moruga, in addition to which some 500 CEPEP jobs have recently been tossed in.

At San Fernando West, the long-mooted waterfront project, Skinner Park and Chancery Lane ventures are all scheduled to begin within months.

The cuddling of Greenvale Park residents is just one of several undertakings at La Horquetta-Talparo.

Two inter-island boats and construction jobs at the billion-dollar Sandals Resort and Robinson Airport are among responses to Watson Duke’s insurgency in Tobago.

Several other nationwide projects – roads and bridges rehabilitation, for example – are timed to provide quick-fix jobs and to ease boiling citizen frustration.

Rowley’s sudden aggressive pursuit of marijuana decriminalisation could be his ace in the hole, since it particularly appeals to grassroots on the East-West Corridor, many of whom are burdened by the absence of job opportunities.

The Prime Minister is finally at the right side on the marijuana issue, but he has to walk through a minefield of attendant matters, which Attorney General Faris Al Rawi is, for once, handling properly by inviting recommendations.

The nuances of the decriminalisation plan aside, controversy will inevitably emerge when certain big businessmen lobby to start marijuana cultivation.

Two deep-pocket entrepreneurs – one with large arable landholding, the other an ex-media baron – attended a recent marijuana industry conference in Jamaica.

Within months, Rowley will have to defend his troubled tenure, but, with the election date in his back pocket, he has coughed up a plan to seek to earn political spoils.

Would it work amid the jumble of issues over which he has presided?

He may want to tame multi-purpose minister Stuart Young, to whom unbridled political power came early and who tosses around incendiary terms like treason and sedition in a cavalier manner.

Young was out of place to caution top cop Gary Griffith on meeting former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who cleaned up the crime scourge while he ruled the town from 1994 to 2001.

Giuliani has recently remade himself as a Donald Trump stooge, but that does not sully his copybook as a successful crime-fighter in one of the world’s most perilous cities.

Griffith will soon have to answer for his stewardship, including the fact that the homicide binge continues under his watch.

His theatrics will inevitably have to be supplanted with substantive results.

But for now, he must not be stymied by a zealous, ill-advised and patronising minister.

Those issues – and especially the raging Guyana discussion – would hover as we share the glad tidings of the season.

The festivities may well be the calm before the storm since 2019 is likely to see dramatic social and economic developments.

Merry Christmas!

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