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Deafening silence from elected officials

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The communities of east Port-of-Spain and Laventille which were caught up in Monday’s tumult are represented at the parliamentary and local government levels by members of the ruling People’s National Movement. That is why the silence from those elected officials and others in the political directorate is so glaring.

This was not the first time that police action resulting in death and injury to members of a community triggered angry protests, complete with blocking of roads. In the recent past there have been flare-ups in other parts of Laventille and at Beetham Estate.

One would think that the process of restoring order and bringing sanity to such incidents would require that the politicians elected to represent those areas would swiftly stand up and speak out. Instead, their silence speaks volumes about inconsistent representation and lack of any kind of plan to address the social and economic issues that give rise to unrest and protests, particularly in those working class areas.

Monday’s events disrupted not just the communities involved. Nearby health centres and schools remained closed and effects were felt in varying degrees in other parts of the country. A few reassuring words, urging calm and offering support, make a big difference at such times, cutting through the anger, fear and misinformation that add fuel to instability.

Even a single, simple statement could have made a difference, particularly as social media was rife with videos and voice notes highlighting the worst of the unrest.

Something needs to be said, even now, if only to demonstrate a level of care and concern to the residents who were caught in the cross hairs on Monday.

Rebuild Tobago’s tourism

It was reassuring to hear from a top official of Virgin Atlantic, Andre Bello, commercial manager for the Caribbean region, that Tobago is still an important destination for the carrier. This means there is still hope for rebuilding that island’s tourist industry which has suffered a series of setbacks in recent years, made worse by problems on the seabridge.

The challenge now is to grasp the opportunity to repair the damage done to the sector and come up with new and innovative strategies for a more attractive and competitive Tobago tourism product.


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