Stand up for our rights and demand accountability

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Minister of Sport and Community Development, Shamfa Cudjoe (L) and Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley

Dear Sir

I feel a deep sense of hopelessness and frustration about Trinidad and Tobago… this is how in genuinely feel.

How can we, in all honesty, say we live in a free country based on justice and equality when the government we elected to serve us serves itself in such a disgusting way as we have seen in the past couple weeks?

Conventional media in Trinidad and Tobago no longer deal with the real issues concerning us and our daily lives. We now have to rely on social media and the few media outlets that have the courage to take on the establishment.

The latest outrage is confirmation that Shamfa Cudjoe, MP for Tobago West and minister of sport and community development, was granted official permission by the ministry of national security to travel trip to New York on December 16 2020, (Authorization dated 15.12.2020 Ref: NS/70/5/2) ; during this pandemic when our borders are closed, when New York has been a hotbed of COVID19 and when travel and repatriation of our nationals is on hold.

The report is Cudjoe went on a shopping trip, returned on a flight from New York and was given priority treatment in leaving the aircraft (was she given exemption from Customs?) and not a word about whether she is in quarantine.

What makes this lady a God among us?

The simple answer: The Peoples National Movement (PNM) and its leadership.

They have all made themselves greater than the rest of us and we seem content to shut up and sit down in our respective corners, frightened by the bullies we elected to serve us.

In Canada, several Federal and Provincial ministers, including the powerful Ontario’s minister of finance have resigned after coming under fire for choosing to leave Canada as COVID-19 cases continue to climb in parts of the country.

Not in Trinidad and Tobago… it’s priority treatment.

Cudjoe seems a ‘fever’ that is the external manifestation of a deep infection that will destroy every democratic institution in Trinidad and Tobago. An ‘infection’ that will kill the freedom we cherish and cause the establishment of a dictatorship. Have we had enough?

Are we still living in false hope that things will get better?

Did we not witness the preferential treatment given to the son of the attorney-general?

Were the prime minister’s daughter (who is a permanent resident of the USA) and her ex-pat husband standing in line?

Did we not see the breach of rules for those who have the right PNM connections?

Why are we the only state in the world that demands that our citizens ask/apply to the government of the day for permission to come home? That is a breach of our fundamental freedom enshrined in our constitution.

During this pandemic, the rules state that Trinidad and Tobago citizens living abroad, holding joint citizenship with another country or citizens of another country would not get an exemption. Yet, that is exactly what happened with the prime minister’s daughter and son-in-law. And we have accepted the lies by the attorney-general, the prime minister and the national security minister that everything was done according to the rules and no one got any preferential treatment.

Trinidad and Tobago is no longer a free state; we are no longer a democratic country. It is painful to watch the demise of a once great Caribbean leader diminished to the present state. But what is even more painful is that we are watching it happen and apart from a few voices of protest we are letting it happen.

Those of us who are comfortable in our homes, who think that we are immune to the infection that is destroying the essential fabric of our once free and democratic state are short-sighted.

We fail to see that we are blinking and ignoring reality while ignoring the need to create a space for our children and future generations in which they can all live in peace as equal citizens, have the same opportunities and help grow and blossom.

If we don’t stand up for our rights today and demand accountability from those who we elected to serve us, our tomorrows will be filled with miseries and misfortunes the likes we have never seen.

People are more powerful than the leaders who govern them. If we want a better tomorrow, we have to act today, otherwise, that tomorrow will never come.

Capil Bissoon

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