Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00072147/00177
 Material Information
Title: Tapia
Physical Description: no. : illus. ; 43 cm.
Language: English
Publisher: Tapia House Pub. Co.
Place of Publication: Tunapuna
Creation Date: August 31, 1975
Frequency: completely irregular
Subjects / Keywords: Politics and government -- Periodicals -- Trinidad and Tobago   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
serial   ( sobekcm )
Dates or Sequential Designation: no. 1- Sept. 28, 1969-
General Note: Includes supplements.
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000329131
oclc - 03123637
notis - ABV8695
System ID: UF00072147:00177

Full Text
Vol.5 No. 35 -, -O SUNDAY AUGUST 31, 1975 30 Cents


- -1 13. IL~-~ I1C1~ I 1. I


0 he e0 4

NOT too many months ago the
country awoke to read, em-
blazoned across the front page
of one of our morning papers,
the accusation made by Selwyn
Ryan, University lecturer, politi-
cal scientist, member of the
Constitution Commission, that
we were naught but a Nation of
Undoubtedly Ryan's bold and
blatant statement sprang, in part,
from the frustration and despair
which he, as well as other of his
colleagues on the Commission,
felt over the tepid reaction which
the publication of their report
had engendered from the large
majority of the population.
If this were simply the case it
would not be an issue worthy of too
much discussion. Yet Ryan's was
merely the most brutal articulation of
a viewpoint which finds ready accept-
ance in the minds of many of our
citizens as the country seems capable
of moving only from one crisis to the
next and incapable of charting a
course which would lead us out of
our present political and social cen-
Doubt, despair and pessimism
attend our every effort and there is
no faith in us. The people have no
faith in the leaders and the leaders
have no faith in the people. That
state of affairs, As Ryan is no doubt
aware, is the essential characteristic
of a constitutional crisis in the most
fundamental meaning of both those
It is precisely because of this that
we must question the validity of
Ryan's statement. For given the
assumption that a fundamental con-
stitutional crisis exists then it is our
view of the capacities and proclivities
of ourselves as a people that is
necessarily going to dictate the type
of lasting arrangement we arrive at.
The other side of Ryan's "Nation
of Sheep" is Senator Julien's "Bene-
volent Dictatorship".
To what extent then is Ryan
justified in his view of us as a people,
in terms of the reality of today's
political, social and economic circum-
stances? It was another of Ryan's
colleagues on the Constitution Com-
mission, Reginald Dumas, whose re-
servations on the main report, contain
the critical point which Ryan and so
many others appear to have missed.
"Strictly speaking," says Dumas,
in a footnote mind you, "we are not
yet a nation; we are only a State. And
in a state." Perhaps it was this critical
insight which permits Dumas to go on
to state,in radical opposition to Ryan's
later statement, that 'I cannot agree
that people's minds have been so
subverted, that people depend so much,
directly and indirectly, on the Govern-
ment for their livelihood, that we are
now practically a country of political
robots and zombies."
We are a State. Independence with
all its attendant and subsequent trap-
pings has given to us as a people a legal
identity. The problem is that the
mere fact of Independence could not
confer on us, in our own hearts and
souls and minds, legitimacy of identity.
Independence founded a State but the
Nation has yet to be born.
And if there is incessant turmoil in
the body politic today, if there is
lack of trust, 'if parochialism and

fissiparouss tendencies" are rampant,
if corruption is rife, if cynicism and
indifference seeem to have paralysed
too many a soul, we must see all of
this for what it really is.
The fact is that much of the tur-
moil, the upheaval, the despair is the
result, directly or indirectly, of our
agonising struggle to mould for our-
selves a legitimate and stable political
In this respect Trinidad and Tobago
is not unique. Few States are born
into Nationhood at the moment of
their creation. Always there is a period
of time in which the various forces
which make up the society; tribes,
races, classes, ideologies, religions;
struggle to ensure for themselves what
they perceive to be a just and rightful
place in any new order.
So that it is neither surprising nor
alarming that our political scene today
should exhibit such a wide variety of
political forces. Some of them cer-
tainly are merely opportunistic con-
gregations scenting the possibilities
of personal gain in a period of flux.
But many of them are espousing
genuine and principled, though badly
articulated, concerns about the future
And this is only as it should be.
Many citizens cry in frustration for
some sort of "opposition unity". The
plea is understandable in so far as
people feel that the splintering of the

Opposition forces merely ensures, by
default as it were, the continuation of
the present, unpopular Government.
It is nonetheless a limited view.
The democratic political process needs
to be informed by a wide range of
opinion and needs to ensure that
these opinions are heard. There is no
surer way to perpetuate and entrench
the politics of manipulation than
by seeking to close off, or force into
some arbitary compromise the wide
range of political opinion which exists
The true test of our political
maturity and wisdom as a people is
whether or not we can commit our-
selves to a political ideology or a
political view on the basis of our own
opinions and principles, whether or
not that view finds popular support,
while insisting that other views, other
people, other parties have the
right to be heard.
Any failure on the part of our
people and of the contending forces
in the struggle for Nationhood to
achieve this principle of accommoda-
tion will only lead to our total failure
to establish some system of Politics,
Government and Administration.
Such a system will not gain the
complete approval of all the citizens.
Nor is it necessary that it should. It
gains its legitimacy and authority
when people approve of it enough to
be willing to participate in its delibera-

The failure of a people to found
such a system leads a country
either into the stifling embrace of
despotism or up the greasy pole of
endemic anarchy.
Throughout the world today, in
Asia, in Africa, and here in the
Caribbean this is the scenario, em-
bellished by the pecularities of local
conditions, which is being played out
as a multitude of states,released within
the last twenty-five years from cen-"
turies of colonial bondage, struggle to
lift themselves into nationhood.
And already there is no lack of
examples of the infinite difficulty of
this task. In State after State through-
out the third world is the search for a
stable and legitimate political order
being abandoned for the easy discip-
line and order of authoritarian regimes.
The cases of Nigeria and India are
instructive here. For in both these
cases, systems which had been touted
as peaceful examples of the transition
to British Parliamentary democracy,
have broken down. The God of Politics
is not mocked and' legitimacy cannot
be counterfeited.
It would also do us well to remem-
ber that almost one hundred years
after the founding of the American
Nation, the Government had to fight a
bitter civil war to defend the integrity
of the Federation.
While comparisons over time and
space are at times infinitely malleable,
any judgement of our progress in
terms of the struggles that have taken
place in other countries must surely
be an optimistic one.
Trinidad and Tobago had its first
elections fifty years ago in 1925.
Thirty years ago in 1946 were
the first elections held under universal
adult suffrage. Thirteen years ago we
became independent. Thus by no
stretch of the imagination can it be
said that our political lifetime has been
a long one particularly when one takes
into account that we began as "the
crown colony system of Government
par excellence".
We have not, of course, escaped
unscathed. Here too we have witnessed
the bloody and violent confrontations
between Government ana people. We
have witnessed the frightening in-
crease in the power of the military
and police. We have witnessed the
increasingly oppressive stranglehold
which the Government has gainedover
the economic lives of the people. We
still witness the attempts by the
Government to stifle our political
Yet it is important that we have
survived to reach this year of decision.
The final judgement cannot be made
until the final settlement is reached.
But that wt have come thus far, in
spite of all the pressures, without
abandoning forever our hope in the
political process is a more than elo-
quent testament to the courage, wis-
dom and fortitude of our people.
And more than enough encourage-
ment for those of us who insist on
founding a democratic political order
and on laying the foundations for that
end by choosing means of unconven-
tional politics which are constitutional,
parliamentary and, above all, partici-





.THE historian J.H. Plumb has shown how
surprising it was that England achieved political
stability so suddenly after the upheavals of
the 17th Century when Charles I had lost his
head and so much else had tumbled. The
political pundits would do well to note the
relation between apparently enduring upheaval
and the subsequent jelling of the political
It has nothing to do with the peculiarities
of the Westminister Parliamentary model.
Whatever the model, breakdown invariably
sows the seeds of order by promoting the
articulation and consolidation of valid com-
munity interests. A chance is made for men
and movements to irrigate and cultivate the
plant if they possess the wit and the will to
do it.
On that reading, there exist few countries
in the world today better poised to win
stability and reconstruction than Trinidad' &
Tobago, our very own land. The record dis-
closes an agonised bunch of transients in the
throes of founding a nation at last out of
the many and varied fragments.
There are some of us who, in this historic
process of creation, see only a desperate_
struggle for advantage amongst opposition

Birth Pangs

of a Nation

leaders, men of genuine stature but too in-
individualistic and too hopelessly divided to
push over a tired, corrupt and incompetent
Government, a discredited, anachronistic and
rejected regime.
If the stumbling block is an inept op-
position, why then is it that the Government
insist on keeping the media closed to all the
rivival political opinions? Why have they been
mortally afraid to call a Constituent Assembly,
a Conference of citizens which alone could
have legitimate the Parliament and restored
moral authority to the governors of the day.
They have been scared even to call general
elections to win a reprieve before the op-
position finally becomes united.

A Chro
A Chronicle

Is this reluctance due simply to the fact
that the governing party is even more divided
than the rest of us? No historian would evei
believe that, the records reveal our problem
as a lack of political experience and an absence
of the professional organization needed for
long-term effort. We are therefore forced to
compress our revolts into brief moments of
intense involvement as step by step we acquire
superior resources. But always we have shown
a sure instinct for progress.
The Government's peril is that they fear
what we might do if they dared to open up a
free discussion and placed decision before the
sovereign citizens. They cannot gauge what
insights we have gained from the February
Revolution, how much strength has been
built by the anguish of enduring frustration.
Nobody can know for certain but the historian
must certainly be getting vibrations and seeing
suggestive evidence in the survival and growth
of unconventional operations.
Soon the February Revolution will reach
its consummation and we will know if the
upset of old receptions has equipped Trini-
dad & Tobago with means for a new step
forward. Lloyd Best

1946 Constitution Reform Committee reports. Solomon
presents Minority Report.
1946 First General Elections under Adult Suffrage; first time
all constituencies contested.
1950 General Elections itroduce Ministerial system dominated
by Albert Gomes, first among individuals.
1950 Pioneer Industries Ordinance passed.
1955 Sinanan Constitution Committee appointed. General
elections postponed. People's Education Movement
comes to the fore led by Williams.
1956 PNM inaugural Conference January
1956 PNM wins general elections September
1957 DLP is founded
1957 West Indies Federation established
1959 Cabinet Government following Select Committee on
Constitution Reform.
1960 Capildeo becomes DLP Leader March.
1960 Oil workers strike follows telephone strike. Agitation
wins full Government support and leads to nationalisa-
tion of Telco. George Weekes and Carl Tull begin to
1960 April 22 March for Chaguaramas.
1960 Chaguaramas Settlement and Education Concordat
reached in December.
1961 Federation collapses in Jamaica Referendum.
1961 November elections. PNM beat DLP 2 to 1.
1961 Full internal self-government Hochoy becomes Governor.
1962 Bus Strike. Joe Young emerges.

1962 Independence on August 31.
1963 Bhadase Maraj returns to lead Sugar Union in "Melon" deal.
1963 lMbanefo Commission of Enquiry into Subversive Activi-
ties. Weekes, Young, Manswell, Best summoned among
1964 Solomon Affair. Get To Hell Outa Here
1964 DLP Splits; Farquhar leads Liberals.
1965 Industrial Stabilisation Act. CLR James under house arrest;
State of Emergency.
1966 Participation in General Elections drops by one quarter
from 88% in 1961 to 66%. James WFP and Liberals anni-

1967 Finance Bill withdrawn; PM capitulates to business;
ANR Robinson shifted; first crisis simulcast on radio
and TV.
1968 Rodney demonstration launches Moko and Millette.
New World Group splits. Tiaia formed.
1969 TIWU Strike outlaws ISA. Williams proclaims fight
to the finish.
1969 Tapia Newspaper appears September 28
1970 Black Power Revolt and Army Uprising mark highpoint
of February Revolution. Caroni March repudiates PNM-
DLP Division of the political system. NJAC and Granger
storm the spotlight.
1970 ANR Robinson resigns from PNM after declaring loyalty
to the party. Karl Hudson-Phillips emerges as spokes-
man of public order. Bill almost ready, he says on June
1970 September. Citizens chorus shout down Public Order
1971 General Elections fiasco (May) followed by appointment
of Wooding Commission (June), State of Emergency
and restoration of Public Order repression in the form
of Sedition and Summary Offences legislation.
1972 Industrial Relations Act replaces ISA.
1973 Panday becomes President of Sugar Union May.
1973 National Union of Freedom Fighters initiates guerrilla
1973 PNM quarrel over Chairmanship. Hudson-Phillips emerges
as successor apparent to Leader. Williams returns in
December after refusing to seek nomination. Embarks
on rehabilitation plan based on oil revenue and direct
democracy on TV.
1974 Five-Year Development Planning openly abandoned.
1974 Wooding Commission reports February.
1974 Sugar unrest launches Panday and Shah into open politics.
1974 September. Wooding Report taken to Parliament.
1974 September. The Great Debate on Haves vs HaveNots.
Tapia follows Wooding Report to Parliament.
1974 Prime Minister denounces Wooding Report in House.
1975 United Labour Front emerges to fuse industrial unrest in
oil and sugar.







:I~xs1~----~11~-~1----------~~ '



The Rise and Fall of

Conventional Politics

Augustus Ramrekersingh

THE achievement of uni-
versal adult suffrage in
1946 marked only a
minimal reduction of
Crown Colony Govern-
ment. The colonial Gov-
ernor remained father,
son and holy spirit; one
in three and three in one;
an omnipotent being.
The multiplicity of in-
dependents and parties,
including a united front
of "progressive" staked
their claims not for
Power but for representa-
tion in the legislature.
Constitutional change
merely allowed the popu-
lation to elect nine repre-
sentatives to the legis-
Personality and race rather
than ideology and party
identification were the critical
factors in the elections. The
Afro-Indian conflict, for
example, which had been
accentulated by the move-
ment for self-government,
determined the election
results in several areas. In
subsequent years this conflict
-became an even more decisive
force as political power was
in the process of being trans-
ferred into local hands.


The elections of 1950 were
also held against the back-
ground of constitutional
change which, though
moderate, meant the same
limited executive power
would be in the hands of the
people's representatives. A
quasi-ministerial system was
to be established but ultimate
power was still to reside in
the person of the Governor.
As in 1946 the electorate
was wooed by a large number
parties and an even larger
number of independents.
There was as yet no real
concept of party, of political

organisation. Not unexpect-
edly no party emerged with
a majority of the eighteen
sets. Butler won six; three
other parties won two each
and six independents were
elected; two of whom sub-
sequently joined Butler.
Although Butler was the
leader of the largest single
group in the legislature (8/18)
Governor Rance did not
invite him to name even one
member to the executive
Through a combination of
conspiracy and manipulation
Rance chose five ministers
from the ranks of the
minority parties and inde-
pendents. Butler had been
outmanoeuvred and a pick
up side of Gomes, Bryan,
Ajodha Singh, Joseph and
Tang was elevated to
ministerial status.


Butler was denied his
rightful place not only be-
cause of the antipathy of the
Governor, the Colonial Office
and the powerful local white
elite but because the urban,
black, professional class re-
fused to accept his leader-
ship. In their opinion he
lacked the necessary
credentials to lead them; he
was too unlettered.
Like the local and foreign
Whites, they gloried in his
exclusion. As the hope of
office receded, schism ensued
in the ranks of the Butlerites
and several legislators aban-
doned Butler; the inherently
fragile alliance collapsed since
Butler had no plans to share.
The quintet of ministers
functioned in the context of
a very restrictive constitution
in which the controlling hand
was the Governor. This fact,
in addition to their rabid
individualism. and parish
pump politics, meant that no
coherent programmes for
social, political and economic

reconstruction could be de-
vised and implemented.
Myopic in vision, ham-
strung by ,a Crown Colony
Constitution, unable and un-
willing to create national
political organisation, the
"Knox Street Quintet", as
the unholy alliance was
popularly called, were seen
as individualists whose only
interest Was power and its
resultant status and patronage.
Their fatal decision to
postpone the 1955 elections
only reinforced this view.
The ostensible reason given
for the postponement was the
fact that the constitution was
under review and time was
needed to study and debate it
as well as to implement the
new provisions which would
get the sanction of the

Colonial Office.
It seems more likely that
they feared that the Hindu
PDP, founded'by Bhadase in
1954, might return the largest
bloc of representatives. But
in attempting to jump from
the PDP frying pan they fell
slam bang into the PNM fire.
They had indeed created
their own gravediggers.
Late in 1955 Williams let
his bucket down, launched a
political party in January of
1956 and won control of 13
of the 24 seats in the elections
of September.

The PNM, based on the
leader's charisma, came to
power on five major issues:
political education
morality in public
rational economic
In 1956 it was the only
party which was national in
scope, vision, programme and
organisation. It ushered in
Continued on Page 12


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THE Union of Trinidad
and Tobago took effect
from 1st January, 1889.
Prior to this date their
histories were separate.
Trinidad, until recent
times, and except for the
island of St. Lucia, was
the only British posses-
sion in the Caribbean
that had always been
governed as a Crown
Trinidad society at the
beginning of British rule in
1797 was both nationally
and racially heterogeneous -
Spanish, French and British
settlers, free men and slaves,
white, Negroes and persons
of mixed race and Amerin-
dians. This social condition
explains in part Trinidad's
constitutional history in the
early years ot the nineteenth
The Governor from 1797
to 1831 was an autocrat,
assisted by a Council of
Advice consisting of five of
the leading inhabitants of the
island. The Secretary of State
pointed out in a despatch of
1810 that the free.people of
colour, in older colonies that
enjoyed representative in-
stitutions, were reconciled to
their middle position, but in
Trinidad, where they out-
numbered the whites, they
would not be prepared to
accept such a status if popular
government were established.
It was not until 1831 that
the colony's first legislature
was established. It consisted
of the Governor as President,
six official and six unofficial
members. An executive coun-
cil consisting of the Colonial

Secretary, the Attorney
General, and the Colonial
Treasurer, with the Governor
as President, was also created,
but its powers were solely

By this date, however, the
British Government was
actively pursuing a policy of
ameliorating the conditions
of slavery and was on the
verge of abolition. This fur-
nished .an additional reason
for denying- representative
institutions to Trinidad, as
Britain had no intention of
being obstructed by another
assembly in carrying out its
Between 1831 and 1924
there was no substantial
change in the development
of the Trinidad constitution.

Indeed there was a trend to-
wards a purer form of Crown
Colony theory and practice
as the nineteenth century
wore-on, especially after the
so-called Jamaica Rebellion
of 1865.
In 1886 a finance com-
mittee was created to permit
unofficial members to parti-
cipate in framing the esti-
mates but the Governor's
power was not, thereby
It was in 1889 that the
Union of Trinidad and Toba-
go took place. Tobago, at
various times settled by the
English, the French and the
Dutch, had been finally ceded
to the British Crown by
France in 1814. It retained
the old representative sys-
tem of colonial government,
that is of Governor, Council
and Assembly until 1875.
Indeed in 1854 it followed

Jamaica and adopted the
Executive or Administrative
Committee form of govem-
ernment which was a modi-
fied form of responsible gov-
ernment as introduced into
Canada by Lord Elgin. St.
Kitts was to follow in 1857
and St. Vincent, Nevis and
Antigua in 1859.
Pronounced, without justi-
fication, a failure in Jamaica
it was to be abolished there
in 1865 with the smaller
islands following suit in the
years that followed. Strangely
enough it was to reappear
in Barbados in 1882 where
the white plantocracy was
By 1898 die legislative
council had grown to 21
members, 11 unofficial and
10 official, with the Governor
having an original and a cast-
ing vote.
By the end of the nine-
teenth century the social and
cultural milieu in which the
constitution was being called
upon to work had undergone
significant change. The Frenc"
laid the early foundations of
the sugar industry in Trinidad
and it has remained one of
the most important to the
present day.

It was emancipation, and
more particularly the desire
and need of the planter to
command labour at certain
seasons of the year, at rates
that he could control, that
led to the introduction of
indentured labourers from
Chinese sources, from Ma-
deira and, most important of
all, from India.
There are other social
factors of great importance
for a proper understanding
of the people of the territory
Spanish law was in force in
Trinidad until 1848 and
French influence was even
stronger than Spanish.
Gradually, however, the
English language and British
institutions came to prevail,
though the character of the
people has never been sub-
merged and Trinidad and To-
bago life has preserved and
developed its own distinctive
and recognizable quality.
Another feature of equal
significance has been the
substantial equality of all
persons in the eyes of the
law and the participation of
all classes, races and creeds in
institutions in the common
use of all schools, churches,
hotels, transport, and pro-
fessions and other occupa-
tions so that people, dif-
fering in many ways. recognize


Constitutional Reform

And Political Change

In Trinidad & Tobago

An Historical Survey-C.V. Gocking

each other as persons, entitled
to respect, capable of mutual'
understanding and coopera-
tion, and in the process of.
forming one community.
The early years of .the
twentieth century saw the
discovery and later the de-
velopment of the oil industry,
which has transformed the
economic life of Trinidad and
The 1914 War stimulated
ideas of democracy and self-
determination throughout the
English-speaking Caribbean
and this led to the Wood
Report and the constitution
of 1924; for the first time in
the history of the country an
elected element was in-
troduced into the Legislative
Council which now com-
prised thirteen unofficial
members, of whom seven were
elected and six nominated,
twelve officials and the
Governor with an original and
a casting vote. This arrange-
ment remained unchanged
until 1941. The Executive
Council remained purely

The 1937 disturbances and
the report of the Royal Com-
mission that followed were
decisive in introducing the
concept of greater participa-
tion by the people in gov-
ernment if schemes of social
reform were to be effective.
By an order in Council of
1941 the Legislative Council
was to consist of 18 members
of whom 15 were unofficial,
six nominated and nine
elected. The three officials
and the Governor's casting
vote still left the elected
members in a minority of
one. For the first time, too,
there was an unofficial
majority in the Executive
Council five unofficial,
three ex officio, and the
The end of the Second
World War brought changes
culminating in the dissolution
of the old European empires
and the further development
and transformation of the
British Empire into a Com-
monwealth of Nations.
The Trinidad and Tobago
constitution of 1950 repre-
sented a decisive change
whereby powers wholly in the
hands of the Governor and
his officials were in large part
transferred to the elected
members of the legislature
elected on a basis of universal
adult suffrage.
The Legislative Council
was to consist of 26 members.
three of whom were ex
officio, five nominated, and
18 elected, but the new and
most significant feature of
the reform was the in-
troduction of the ministerial
system of government and
after 1950 responsibility for
the internal affairs of Trini-
dad and Tobago passed pro-
gressively to elected members.
The 1956 Order in Council
created the new post of Chief
Minister and the elections of
the same year witnessed an
important innovation -- the
beginning of .party govern-
ment through PNM success
at the polls. The 1959 Order
in Council created a Cabinet
and the title of Chief Minister
was changed to Premier. The
Governor was required to act
Continued on Page 12

flappince ti iclpcnmant

on the taste

anb not on tlitng -

3t t by auing
wluat me lik

tl at wm are mab? Lappy.

Not hbyg auing

mu4at aot ri t ink hiertrable

o 6 n gu rar

a beer is a CCAB I

-- -- --

LISTEN to the man who was tipped to be Attorney-General in Karl
Hudson-Phillips' Cabinet, and who for a time carried on Hudson's
justice when he was incumbent in the Red House:
"We do not hear the other side. And anytime a man is condemned
without being given the opportunity to defend himself it is an infringe-
ment of natural justice.".True Hector. But when you and others of our
clique take it upon. yourselves without evidence to deprive an innocent
woman oa job on the presumption that she-isa security risk, is this not
an abuse of authority and a denial of natural justice?
Imagine Hector McClean of all persons talking simplicity, "we are
too fond of the authority given us. We feel we big jefe; we driving
motor car..."But openr confession is good for the soul. Let us"repent
and believe for the hour is at hand." There is a belief that the living
get glimpses of the truth before they die, so let it be with Hector!
Resently Dr. Taslim Elias, the
Chief Justice of Nigeria visited
us, and gave an address on the
right to a fair trial which was that the railway.be done away witi
dedicated to Sir Courtney Dr. Williams campaigned against suc
Hannays, who is acknowledged a move. In his opinion too mar
to have been one of the best people depended on it for their live.
constitutional lawyers we have hood, and if he had his way no
had. Hudson and a whole circle a wooden sleeper would be removed.
had. Hudson and a whole circe No sooner did he have his wa
of lawyers boycotted on the pre- than he began to phase it out
text that Ramesh Maharaj had existence. Neal and Massy and the hi]
been unjustifiably committed to cost assembly-type automotive i
prison for contempt. dustry were supposed to assist
There is a ceremony of souls in providing a cheap form of mass tran
which the conscience of the tribe is port. Today the PNM is clamourii
made to speak by invocations of the for the return of the railway, ar
dead. It is possible that Hudson could no doubt it will return with the ne
not go, would not return to the plans for an iron industry.
scene of the Mutiny Trials. By a McClean has said that "while the
supreme irony of history, in the might have been justification for ti
identical Town Hall where Colonel decision at the time it was made the
-Danjuma presided over the Court is equal justification for the call f
partial, at about the identical time the return of the railway system. B
when Danjuma was himself involved the mistake cannot be dismissed.
in mutiny to overthrow General Gbwon easily as that. What it shows is a la,
in Nigeria this eminent jurist of that of foresight in planning, and the over
country was launching a most severe failure of .Industrialisation by Invit
attack on the procedure adopted by tion.
hatchetmen who sit in judgement. What I really want to elaborate (
.Dr. Elias cited with great pride is McClean's admission that the PN
from the reasoning of the then acting is no great organisation, and that'it h
Chief Justice Clement Phillips against been ruling by-default all these yea
which Hudson-Phillips appealed to the due to the incompetence, bankrupt
Privy Council. As to the observance of and foolishness of the -oppositio
the rules of natural justice he stressed -This is a problem which the count
the need for openness, fairness and .has recognized since the early '60's.
impartiality,, and in an obvious But the solution is not so simp
reference to the Review Tribunal because bad as the Westminste
which met behind closed doors at the Model of democracy is, the PNM h
Convention Centre in Chaguaramas, not been playing even by ordina:
he said words to the effect that with rules which would allow the peop
very few exceptions such as in juvenile to form an alternative Govermei
ma,-ers a Court where the people are through free and open discussion in
not present is no court at all. He was public, not a private way.
also very strong in his condemnation Rather, the PNM has been usii
of that Tribunal's inquisitorial rather the machinery of the State, tl
than acquisitorial procedure where Treasury, the Courts, the Police, th
the accused had to prove his innocence Army, the Public Services, and pa
rather than the prosecution establish ticularly the media to keep the popul
his guilt. tion unfree to remove it from office
All this I heard on the air at The findings of the PNM probers int
11 o'clock, before midnight, a con-
venient hour for-the Government. That
the press here has not seen the im-
portance of publishing the full text
or so brilliant an address from so
eminent a figure speaks volumes for
its freedom.


But whatever shadows the coming
events are casting to haunt McClean
the validity of his statement cannot be
denied, and we must give him credit
for his frankness. Too often the grain.
of truth is thrown away by those who
question the chaff that bears it.
like so many others before and
now he could have chosen the way of
silence which is nothing less than a
condonation of abuse. The latchet-
looseis and those who insisted on
terror are no-more to blame than so
many other early PNM stalwarts who
failed to warn the country of the
danger that they saw because they felt
that they could safely guide the helms-
man from the cockpit. But in doctor
politics the course is determined only
by the need to survive the jagged rocks
and the clash of waves.
A glaring instance of such zig-
zagging was the scrapping of the rail-
way after the PNM took power. The
Gomes Government brought down an
expert called Jessop who recommended








Revolt And Reaction

In A State Without


the Special Works programme pro-
vide ample evidence of the largescale
bribery and corruption. And the recent
pledge of support which the head of
the Army made to Dr. Williams
personally is an open threat to the
forces of change here. Such an out-
burst is unthinkable under the West-
minster system.
But we must not be duped into
believing that the party criticism by
the PNM probers and the confessions
of disillusionment made by men like
McGean demonstrate a capacity for
rebirth and regeneration within the
PNM itself. This is only another step in
the direction of the one party system.
Like Mao of China, Dr. Williams is
only allowing the thousand flowers to
bloom before he cuts them down.


Many of these men who now make
noises are themselves creatures of the
very default about which they com-
plain. When the "gomes in which the
other side did not turn up to play"
started, the iectoring bunch padded
more and beat they chest like they win.
When Cutty drove to square at
Picadilly as though to infuse new.
blood he was reminded of the team
spirit that the party' must speak with
one voice. Composer has got the
hoax right: it's different strokes for
different folks?
The February Revolution came
about precisely because people wanted
to get rid of the PNM and they, did
not have the political means to do it.
The burden became unbearable, and
they made one desperate final effort
to throw it aside. Up to that time the
Police were not generally armed, and
dissent could still be aired in a public


It is infinitely more difficult today
when all the holes are. clogged. We
then .lacked the political experience
and the insight into the nature of
revolution. We still do. Generating
heat is one thing, creating light is
another. Because we did not know..
how to make the transformation the
Black Power revolt failed and the
climax of the February Revolution
was delayed. The highpoint of the
reaction was not the abuse of the
troops but the locking of the Square.
In colonial politics, starting with
the fulminations of Fullerton, who
was an Englishman, against Picton,
emphasis has always been placed on
the articulation of the social question.
The succession of agitators-and spokes-
men, of tribunes of the people, as it
,were, has been unbroken, and will
continue. In this century the most
prominent of them here have been
Cipriani, Butler, Williams,and Granger.
Each in his turn captured the imagina-
tion of the mass of the people, and
made the Square his parliament:
we threw our voices at the hill
and they reounded in the bay
like pebbles ricocheting from a
Their season lasts for as long as the
Square vibrates with fanatical alleluahs,
handclaps; and shouts of power:.
we were thrilled
by the howl of the terrier wind
that broke root and trunk
in that season of violence.
When therefore the chain was
-clamped on the' Square it was sym-
bolic of the end of an era in politics.
To quote Dr. Williams, "the days of
the big meetings are over." Had he
been in the, country at the time, the
40,000 strong mighty nothave been
allowed to assemble at Skinner Park.
We have to move from protest
Continued on Page 13

J btRumliEke


(1973) LTD.

Rum Specialists




Lennox Grant

NEVER one to temper
his rhetoric having regard
to the requirements of
good taste, diplomacy or
discretion, Brigadier Jof-
fre Serrette was true to
form on August 13 when
he addressed the passing-
out parade of 90 soldiers
the T&zT Raiment.
Assuiiing i. 't- I of
lism which he adopts on
such occasions, the
Brigadier recited on his
soldiers' behalf a litany of
florid pledges. Among
them: "We pledge our
loyalty and support, love
and affection t6 our
esteemed Prime Min-
inus- -d the Comiaiiandihg
Officer of the Defence Force
signal that his own loyalty to
the Prime Minister of the day
had not wavered, and that
he proposed to demand from
his men at least the overt
expressions of their loyalty.
As could be expected,
Serrette's pledge was noted,
and there was a mild flutter
or reaction in the form of
letters to the newspapers.
How, it was asked, could the
Defence Force swear loyalty,
support, love and affection to
a particular person, a political
figure, presumably removable
like any other?
It was the kind of question-
ing that Serrette would have
liked a provoke. A kind of
controversial discussion into
which the unwary could have
been trapped in a cul-de-sac
of absurdity, when all that
Serrette wanted-, in fact, was
to be controversial, to be dis-
cussed, reacted to, taken on.

It is the Brigadier's prob-
lem that, for all his years as
Regimental Commander and
now Brigadier of all the
forces, he has never been
taken on. The only real at-
tention he got was highly
That was at the time of
the mutiny and the court
martials that followed it,
when he projected as a
thoroughly untrustworthy
hatchet man for the regime.
By the time the trials came it
was not certain that even the
Government would sub-
sequently given him its un-
equivocal confidence.

In a

Was he not reported as
having referred to Dr. Williams
as "the deaf bitch".? And
did he or didn't he agree with
Shah and Lassalle to "con-
done" their mutiny?
P-.erhaps nobody will ever
know. But there was enough
reason to doubt his own
'versions of the story to cause
the Prime Minister to retain
a healthy distrust of the
Brigadier. "The deaf bitch" is
now "our esteemed Prime
Minister" to whom all love,
honour, etc. etc.


The truth is that Serrette
only escaped being proven an
outright prejuror through the
sympathetic protection of
Col. Danjuma, president of
the court martial, who at one
point ruled that Serrette
could refuse to answer any
question he chose.
It has since been revealed
by the Brigadier himself in
his "Conversing With History"
radio interview that he had
had previous acquaintance
with military officers of
Uganda, Ghana and Nigeria,
some of whom were chosen
to come here as supposedly
"imperial" judges.
What might have been his
moment of glory was in fact
tarnished with unsavoury over
tones of perfidy. The gentle-
man soldier, recalled from re-
tirement to save the nation,
showed himself to be a foul-
mouthed anancy-figure of
He wept with Shah and
Lasalle, begged them for the
keys and then to go with him
to Police Headquarters to
answer a few questions. There
the two young officers were
clapped in jail, never to be
released till Serrette himself
aided the miscarriages of
justice at the Court martial,

which the Appeal Court
judges later seized upon.
So much then for the
leadership of the Defence
Force. The Brigadier, a man
consumed with a desire to be
a power in this land, iinds
himself with all the trappings
but little else of importance.
Though he is head of the
Coast Guard and Regiment,
constituting the Defence
Force, it is with the Regiment
that he remains most closely
The higher status as
Brigadier has been down*
graded by the fact that the
Defence Force, in a context
of centralised-government, is
simply a division of the
Ministry of National Security.
An officer in the Regiment
complained to the Express'
Keith Subero last April that
even to carry, out simple re-
pairs which the soldiers could
do themselves, approval has
to be got from the Ministry.
With the memory of the
1970 mutiny at the back of

~ ~~~
L-jl ii p~l"ap~-
r': 1 .:-- -.
-Y ~rS.f~ i~ ~.r u~,. -k- )5

is of course n ~,
delegate more authority ,to
the likes of Brigadier Serrefte.
Late in 1974 Serrette ad-
mitted that only "some" of
the tiuckioad of weapons
handed over to the police
four years earlier for safe-
keeping had been returned.
Nor has there been ahy haste
to build up the Regiment
back to its full strength of


The other -implication of
his identification with the
Regiment is that that unit's
shadowy status and uncertain
purpose always cause its
officers to be seeking to de-
fine some role for it. Well,
somebody has to do it.
An unnamed officer told
a newspaper reporter earlier
this year that the most painful
deficiency was that of "a
clearly enunciated role". The

Coast Guard for its part -
has been identified with all
kinds of rescue operations,
and. generally with functions
of both a "security" and a
humanitarian kind.
Not so the Regiment. The
1970 Committee headed by
Eugenio Moore had charac-
terised the Army life as one
of "boredom, routine and
aimlessness". The same
anonymous officer described
the daily duties (in 1975) as
mi'.til dcg guard".

able drill aniu -
In March 1974 here wa,
announced the formation of a
"Marine Corps". "A marine
element for the Coast Guard,"
explained Serrette, "is abso-
lutely necessary." He des-
cribed it as "a real striking
The "striking force"
turned out to be just six men
posted on each of the Coast
Guard vessels. That this comic
miniaturization could be
touted by the Commander as
a matter for pride speaks for
On the other hand, when
it was suggested by Capt.
Spencer that the Regiment
could be approached to assist
in a clean-up campaign, Brig.
Serrette loftily rejected the
idea.The men he commanded,
he wished jt to be known,
were soldiers, not scavengers.
Continued on Page 14




Regiment of Scabs



For his part, what fired Gomes was not a revolutionary
vision, but rather resentment of his low status in colonial
society; the absence of any great desire to reorder the world
-is the corollary of his eagerness to gain quick advantage
within a colonial order the basic configurations of which he
implicitly accepted.

AFTER the 1950 Elections, Al-
bert Gomes acceded to Ministerial
office under the new Constitu-
tion introduced that year. In
1975, after more than a decade of
self-imposed exile, Gomes re-
turned to Trinidad for the launch-
ing of his autobiography, Through
a Maze of Colour. An almost
totally forgotten figure, great
publicity and praise attended the
visit of the man whose very
name had become synonymous
with the corruption and mis-
government of the 1950's. It
was as if, in the light of later
experience, he now appeared to
be almost a paragon of virtue.
Beyond these shifting sands
of public opinion, where does
Albert Gomes stand in the politi-
cal history of this country? Was
he a tireless defender of his
people's interests, a thorn in the
side of the imperial power? Or
was he, as in the judgement of
Eric Williams, "the barren fruit"
of the earlier labours of genuine
freedom fighters?
On the evidence, there is little
to suggest that Gomes was anything
more than a Crown Colony political
figure of the most conventional kind.
Scrutiny of that evidence yields the
added boon of insight into the real
nature of that much bandied about
concept, conventional politics. For our
assessment of Gomes' politics cannot
rest simply on the record of what he
did or did not do; what are appro-
priate tactics and strategies in one era
may become inappropriate in another.
We must also look into the underlying
perceptions and values which inform
political behaviour and which provide
the real continuity from one genera-
tion to the next.
For all its evident weaknesses,
Gomes' autobiography provides in-
valuable documentation of a political
method and a corresponding political
orientation, of which he was neither
the first nor the last exemplar.

The thesis of Througt a Maze of
Colour is that race was the major, if
not only, factor in the demise of its
author's political career: "For my
complexion skin not political -
qualified me for participation in the
West Indian national movement only
until such time as in its natural efflu-
xion it became an assertion of black
nationalism". (p. 173).
At one level of interpretation, such
a claim flies in the face of the common
understanding of what happened in
1956. For not only was the 1950
regime notorious for its "bobol" and
incompetence, but, in the eyes of the
politically aware, it was also- em-
barassingly backward. With the ram-
pant individualism of its public life
institutionalized in the Constitution
of 1950, Trinidad had established the
reputation of being politically and
constitutionally the most retarded of
Britain's colonies in the Caribbean.
Quite apart from anything else,
the promise of Party Politics, in those
circumstances, would have been
enough to attract the electorate to
Williams and the PNM. For all that
we cannot dismiss the racial factor
lightly, since Gomes may have pro-
vided a clue crucial to our under-
standing not only of his own downfall,

but perhaps more importantly, of
what was to come afterwards.
In 1956, the public had had the
experience of nearly two decades on
which to base its judgment of Gomes.
Almost from the outset of his career,
Gomes was prepared to accept the
corrupt conventions of the electoral
politics of his time. His whole political
life was characterized by a freewheeling
pragmatism which put the attainment
of office above every other considera-
tion. He is quite disparaging about the.
efforts of those whom he classifies as
theorists and ideologues to introduce
ideas and values which run counter to
the conventional politics, the prevail-
ing political culture. For him, they are
He sums up his philosophy as
follows: "In politics it is what people
experience and feel that they are able
to sublimate. The politician's appeal,
therefore, will strike a spark only if it
can make contact with what-has al-
ready passed into emotional reality. In
this sense, academic propositions have
little value..." (p. 178)
If it is true, as Gomes contends,
that race was one of the factors used
to engineer his defeat in 1956, how
then can he cavil? Especially since he
was not averse to manipulating the
issue for his own ends:
"Even before I occupied political
office of any kind I was widely
identified with a policy that sought
equal opportunity for all West In-
dians, irrespective of colour, to
such public positions as might be
available. I could hardly claim to
have been motivated entirely by
exalted ideas of social justice, since
no political action is without an eye
to electoral gain. I was, after all, a
politician and had to reflect the
wishes and aspirations of those who
elected me. Indeed, I could not
ignore in this respect even some of
their prejudices."
(p. 155: emphasis added)
By the late thirties, when Gomnes
"entered" politics, events on the world
stage had helped to upset the stasis of
colonial Trinidad society. If the up-
heaval of 1937 threw up Butler as a
major figure, it also provided the
opening for Albert Gomes. Gomes'
literary and journalistic activities
would have exposed him to several
strains of left-wing thought Marxist,
Socialist, Nationalist coming out of
the economic and political crises in
Europe or the anti-imperialist struggle
on the Indian subcontinent.
At home, he was involved in the
early efforts to organise trade unions,
and had contacts with such reform-
minded groups as the Negro Cultural
and Welfare Association. What is re-
markable, for all this, is the complete
absence of any major statement by
Gomes on the social and political
issues of the period; when they looked
back on his eighteen years in politics,
there was no vision or cause with
which the electorate of 1956 could
have identified him.
Admittedly, that period was one of
political stagnation, the major reason
being the Second World War, which
not only allowed the colonial authori-
ties to arrest the rise of Butler by
putting him in jail, but also facilitated
their general restriction of political
activity through the introduction of

Despite Gomes' appreciation of the Central importance
of the question of race, the great failing of his book is the
absence of a full and dispassionate statement on what, in all
its guises, is the thorniest issue of politics in Trinidad and

Between Race and Nati

Allan Harris


Albert Gomes

1 a large historical vision and penetration
sight to do full justice to the phenomenon
,preciate what it could have meant to West
ew World, history.


repressive measures under pretext
of war-time emergency. The distance
of Trinidad and Tobago from the war,
even when account is taken of its
crucial petroleum supplies, was of no
account to them.,Gomes is voluble on
the point. Yet, large as the impact of
the war was on Trinidad society, it
still baffles that there was so little
advance during those years. Universal
Adult Suffrage was conceded in 1946
and it is reasonable to feel that the
response was. totally inadequate.
To some extent, the conspicuous
lack of success of the handful of self-
styled socialists and others who were
attempting to build political conscious-
ness and organisation may be due to
the favoured method of the Imperial
power of granting freedom on the
instalment plan. Such a process must
have preferred in the short run those
opportunistic politicians who were
prepared to abide by the rules as given.
Thus, Gomes says that he was
instrumental in devising the 1950
Constitution. But that Constitution
was thoroughly retrograde, as Patrick
Solomon pointed out immediately,
and as Gomes himself was forced to
admit afterwards, when he came to
realize that all it "bestowed were the
trappings of ministerial office" while
it "reduced the incumbent to a status...
closely aldn that of civil servant..."
(p. 126)

But the major shortcoming of the
Constitution is glossed over by Gomes.
This was the provision which allowed
the Governor to by-pass Butler, whose
party had secured a majority of elected
seats in the Legislature, and to choose
as his Government a pick-up side of
Ministers, Gomes included. For Gomes,
Butler and his followers became merely
another of those "intolerable pressures"
to which his "Government" was sub-
jected: "In our case we had T. Uriah
"Buzz" Butler, the hero of the 1937
disturbances who at long last acceded
to the Legislature with a handful of
supporters and hurling the full force of
his bravura opposition at us." (p. 130)-
Only a man of severely limited per-
spectives could have been "instru-
mental in devising" the Constitution
of 1950. That cast of mind is amply
revealed in the contemptuous dismissal
of Butler. Recounting Butler's activi-
ties in the Legislature, Gomes states
that "Every speech was a recipe for
Utopia and almost exactly like the
other"; he speaks of "the whole
farrago of overblown ideas"; in later
years he was to discern in Butler "the
imperishable innocent that resides in
everyone who harbours grand designs."
As it turns out, the "grand de-
signs" consist of nothing more than
"houses for all, unemployment in-
surance, health insurance, increased
old age pensions in short the com-
plete welfare apparatus". Butler's fail-
ing, it would seem, "was that the
requisite revenue to implement all
these desirable things was not avail-
able. But that, of course, was unim-
portant, at leas to those who would
not be called upon to fit them into
the budget's capacity." (p. 130)
Despite the admitted power
of these ideas to stir the masses, they
were but the foolish dreams of wild


But the -true proportions of the political disaster that is
the 1956 regime, can be grasped only if we understand that,
far from representing a revolutionary break with the past,
Williams has been the consummation of the colonial, conven-
tional politics so unwittingly and copiously documented by
Gomes ...

men, vain aspirations to the un-
attainable level of rich countries.
Not surprisingly, the proudest
achievement of Gomes' years of
stewardship over the economic affairs
of the colony was the attraction of
a number of foreign industrialists and
hoteliers to set up shop. In that
strategy was seen to lie whatever hope
there was of overcoming the extreme
economic problems that had been the
cause of the eruption in 1937. Gomes'
prognosis of the economy was nothing
if not deeply pessimistic.
In his view, the people of the West
Indies existed precariously on the nar-
row margin between increasing numbers
and rising expectations, on the one
hand, and the small size and limited
resources of the islands, on the other.
Sugar, our major export, was subject
to the fluctuations of the international
market. Not even Trinidad, which
possessed oil, could escape the vise,
for production costs of the oil were
high and it was a wasting asset. This
was the background to the desperate
attempts to secure guaranteed markets
and preferential prices in the U.K. for
sugar and citrus, and the equally
desperate measures, with the Aid to
Pioneer Industries Ordinance, to
attract foreign capital in order to
provide much needed jobs and to
cushion the anticipated decline-'ifrtr .
There was little hope, as far as
Gomes was concerned, of breaking
free of the shackles of colonial de-
pendency. What lay beneath his econo-
mic policies was an unqualified accept-
ance of a mercantilist view of the
world in which the natural role of the
West Indies was to produce sugar
and citrus for Europe:
"In the final analysis, it is, I think,
a country's suitability, in terms of
climate and other ecological fac-
tors, that ought to be the prime
determinant of what sort of econo-
mic development is best for it, and
not pervasive and fashionable
economic theory. But we do not,
of course, live in a rational
world; and countries like Britain
and France continue to produce
high-cost beet, while the sugar-
growing countries, that are more
suited to this kind of production
and can in fact produce more
cheaply, are driven to revolt against
intolerable economic and social
conditions." (p. 125)
Gomes appears to have missed the
point that Britain and France were
viewing the issue, if not from a
rational, at least from a national
point of view.
It might be argued, in defence of
such a passive response to the needs
of the time, that Gomes had to operate
within the frameworiiof the prevailing
ideas. After all, the theory of in-
dustrialisation by invitation was being
propounded by no less a scholar than
Arthur Lewis and being propagated
by the- equally formidable figure of
Eric Williams at the Caribbean Com-
mission. It might also be argued that
men's views are shaped by the reality
with which they live, and that Gomes
had grown up in a society which
knew nothing else but the influence of
strong external powers.
Such explanations throw little light
on the nature of a figure like Butler,
the impact of whose visionary message
on the multitude was readily admitted

by Gomes. For his part, what fired
Gomes was not a revolutionary vision,
but rather resentment of his low status
in colonial society; the absence of any
great desire to recorder the world is
the corollary of his eagerness to gain
quick advantage within a colonial
order the basic configurations of which
he implicitly accepted. Seen in that
context, the conventional economic
ideas of the day accorded well with
the spirit of the man.


Such a philosophical orientation.
had practical consequences also in
terms of Gomes' political methods,
which in turn helped to perpetuate
the colonial order. For once the right
of the Imperial power to rule was
conceded, and popular alienation from
decision-making and control taken for
granted, what was left was a syndrome
of irresponsible politics going through
the stages of vociferous opposition
and agitation, occasional imperial con-
cession, accession to office and total
capitulation to the established interests.
Failing a revolutionary departure,
this cycle could repeat itself in-
definitely, and, as we shall see, suitably
modified could survive even the attain-
ment of formal independence. In his
own case, Gomes, whose stint as a
trade union agitator had provided a
launching pad for his political career,
makes a complete turnabout when in
"How the wheel hJs cjjjlP fn
circle for persons lik myself who,
outraged by the economic and social
imbalance of an era in which all the
advantage was with the employer,
joined battle in labour's behalf,
only to live long enough to realise
that the irresponsibility of labour
is today the outstanding threat to
that rational ordering of economic
and social forces, involving both
industry and lab our, without which
development is impossible."
(p. 127).
Since there was no notion that the
large majority of people would play
any decisive and continuing part in
the business of government, there was
no need to create widespread and
permanent organisation either to
educate them in the issues or to articu-
late their positions. As a consequence,
political activity was sporadic, limited
largely to election time, and centered
on the ambitions of the individual
political. His intermediaries with the
public were the canvassers in the
different constituencies, who, in the
absence of organised parties, were the
greater power brokers of the day,
bringing out the vote for the highest
bidder, and not unknown to switch
their allegiance on polling day itself.
Given Gomes' wholehearted partici-
pation in that corrupt system, it is
difficult to agree fully with his final
assessment of the political capacity of
West Indian. people:
"In retrospect, it can be seen that
colonialism imposed a condition of
political invalidism. Colonial peoples
had others do their ruling for them.
Not surprisingly, this arrangement
bred both dependence on strong
government and compulsive anti-
government attitudes, the latter a
response to the alien presence whose
removal was sought." (p. 240).

Continued on Page 10

1 3 1 i ~_



From Page
We ought to add that dependence
on strong government was perpetuated
by the failure of political leadership
and that compulsive anti-government
attitudes derived in no small measure
from a sense of betrayal at the hands
of politicians. More than that, Gomes'
arugment fails to account for the later
transference of dependence from gov-
ernment to a political personality in
in the guise of nationalist leader, nor
does it explain the resurgence of anti-
government attitudes after the removal
of the alien presence.
It would be unfair to Gomes not to
take into account the constraints of
the Crown Colony system. When he
entered the political arena in 1938,
Gomes encountered an Imperial power
which disposed of nearly absolute
power and which was very far from
any idea of retreat. Beyond the extreme
choices of outright opposition and
spineless accomodation,he could adopt
some form of spirited protest. On the
hand there was the prospect of a long
and arduous struggle, on the other
the best hope was to win a series ot
marginal adjustments toward demo-
cracy and independence.
Given the absence of popular or-
ganisation (trade unions were in their
infancy), the conditions of widespread
poverty and the hostility of the
established classes in society, political
mobilization was sure to be a difficult
and hazardous affair. In the event
Gomes went over to the other extreme.
He admits that his early campaign
against Cipriani was marked by
"denigration" of the man, and by the
most irresponsible demogoguery,
techniques that had ready success in
what he calls the "politically inchoate
Trinidad of the day." Once set on that
opportunistic course, there was to be
no turning back.

SThe values which informed the
public career evolved from an early
colonial ambivalence into what was to
become in the more mature years a
full-blown admiration for the "English
way of life". Speaking in the Federal
House of. Representatives towards
the end of his political career, Gomes
could argue that:
"If this Federation goes, everything
will go with it; let us not fool our-
selves, chaos will supervene.
Minorities will not be able to survive.
It will be the end of all those who
have always believed that what was
important in the British nexus was
the preservation of those funda-
mental institutions: an independent
judiciary, an independent civil
service, freedorp of the citizen, a
police force free of political
pressures and influences...I feel so
strongly about this...that if the
Federation should go I will cease to


live in any part of these- West
Indian territories." (p. 219)
Beneath the surface lurked the fear
of a racial dictatorship which only the
imperial presence, or some surrogate
like the Federation, could contain.
Gomes had come a long way from
that time in the early thirties when
with other young "intellectuals" he
had launched the journal The Beacon
in an attempt to counteract what they
considered to be the cultural aridity
and "mildewed Victorianism" which
surrounded them. On one level it
meant speaking up for such repressed
indigenous forces as the Shango and
Shouter religious cults. On another, it
represented an attempt to satisfy the
thirst' for whatever was current on
the literary and intellectual scene in
the wider world.
As a member of the Portuguese
minority, Gomes saw his quest as a
"search...for identity with the West
Indies. But the West Indies has a limited
history and in any event West Indians
of my ancestry are forced to steal or
borrow someone else's cultural clothes.
For this reason it is easier for us-to be
alienated from things West Indian."
S(p. 81). By claiming the cultural no-
man's4and, Gomes achieved detach-
ment and therefore some insight into
the love-hate relationship of the
cononial, French Creole or African,
with the culture of the coloniser. For
one thing it freed him from the
obvious bias which sought to suppress
not only Shango and the Shouters,but
also calypso, steel-band and Carnival.
Yet he, too, was subtle affected by
the tendency to cultural ambivalence.
Too often he seems to view indigenous
art forms as exotica, a kind of tourist
attraction, an earthy, elemental com-
plement to the over-cerebral world of
Europe. Such ambivalence ran deep
and had far-reaching consequences:
"There is nothing wrong in West"
Indian culture being essentially
African. Indeed, the history of the
majority of West Indians would
seem to have predetermined that
it should' be so. Rather the danger
lies in some of the aberrations that
as a rule accompany the desire for
cultural distinctiveness. Inevitably
the effort involves historical re--
treat; and, withdrawn and introvert-
ed, one easily becomes a prey to
xenophobia." (p. 105).
And as if such a dark warning were
not sufficient, it is repeated a few lines
later, with an added dimension of
potential disaster: "It would also pose
a serious threat to economies that
must look overseas for both the capital
and expertise that are not available at

Despite Gomes' appreciation of the
central importance of the question of
race, the great failing of his book is -
the absence of a full-and dispassionate
statement on what, in all its guises, it

the thorniest issue of politics in Trini-
dad and Tobago. Gomes had had to
face up to the issue long before 1956
and on his own admission he ducked it.
In recounting his successful campaign
against Butler in 1946,he states:
"But I could discern that while in
the more urban, middle-class areas
my support remained constant, the
further one went from these areas
the greater was the erosion. Clearly,
therefore, among the more under-
privileged black electors I could
-not hold my own when my
opponent was a Negro. But was it
Butler's race or his more extravagant
promise of social and economic
betterment that had influenced th-
result? Again it was difficult to find
a straight answer, for it might have
been a bit of both."
And further:
S"...I had done little campaigning on
my own behalf...It was less distress-
ing to believe that neglect to
campaign hard had been responsible
for the poor showing in these areas.
Best of all, one could expunge all
concern by bowing to the obscurities
and imponderables ..." (p. 163)
What follows, in a chapter devoted
explicitly to the question of race,
is a series of anecdotes, all recounted
to demonstrate Gomes' own colour-
free vision and to give vent to his
wounded pride. We might have hoped
for a more detached, retrospective
view. It helps little to be told that the
"appeal of race seems to lie in its
being an absolute, ready-to-hand, un-
contigent means of identity, one
built as it were into the flesh, in-

eradicable." (p. 168)
'"'4hen he comes to deal with the
S.. .. ,iarns and the PNM, Gomes
correctly perceives thar there was a
latent African sentiment waiting to be
tapped. As he puts it "... thismerely
awaited a deus ex machine. For when
Dr. Eric Williams appeared on the
scene he fulfilled all the requirements
for which the movement had waited..."
(p. 173) Then follows a totally m-
adequate attempt to account for the
new development. The tendency to
skirt the difficult issue of race is
evident throughout the book.
Thus, in dealing with the disad_-
vantaged position of Africans in the
world of business, he argues that:i
"It is likely that had he not been
exculed until quite recently from
certain types of employment, com-
mercial employment being the main
one, for no more cogent reason
than that the colour of his skin was
discordant, he would not now be as
ill-equipped as he is for the pivotal
role he has to play in the com-
mercial destiny of the country both
as its numerically largest voting
mass and as its rulers." (p. 137)
Anyone who understands that,
should appreciate its explosive im-
plications. Can Gomes really believe
then that the consequence of this
state of affairs has been merely
"antipathy and suspicion for things
commercial"? How can he summarily

Continued on Page 11




62 Queen St., P.O.S.







From Page 10
close off discussion of this issue with
the assertion that "in this sense the
instability of labour is traumatic, and
the total problem dauntigly complex"?
For unless Gomes is prepared to
follow through his insight into the
predicament of the African, he cannot
make full sense of the experience of
1956. For the response of Africans to
Williams, and his transformation into a
Messianic figure, has to do with a
collective memory of centuries of the
kinds of subjugation and deprivation
of which Gomes merely hints. It has
to do with a collective loss of faith in
the self and the impotent search for
an almost super-human leader of the
race. It has to do with the attempt to
make a bid for freedom and for glory
in the only part of the New World
where such p attempt appeared
feasible, in the West Indies where
Africans were-the "numerically largest
voting mass and..its rulers." Gomes
needed a large historical vision and
penetration of psychological insight
to do full justice to the phenomenon
of 1956, and to appreciate what it
could have meant to West Indian, in-
deed to New World,history.


For as he rightly points out, the
African population felt that in Williams
they had found the man who could
lead them out of Babylon. Whereas, as
he appreciated equally, the appeal of
Butler's "invocation of the New
Jerusalem" had been limited to the
unlettered, here was a figure of great
intellectual attainment, of command
of the word, of undoubted technical
competence. With leadership of that
calibre, our expectations soared
accordingly. It was far mere than a
case of the "Negro exulting in his new
found power and prestige" as Gomes
put it.
The full measure of our anticipa-
tions at the time is suggested by a
statement of Dr. C.V. Gocking, a man
of experience in public life and of
undoubted judgment, and obviously
not politically aligned with Dr. Wil-
liams, yet who could write as late as
1973 that he expects Dr. Williams to
"endeavour to hold the stage in the
second decade of Independence" with
the aim of making good on the un-
fulfilled promises of 1956. Dr. Gocking
had expected Williams "to give high
pnority to a decolonising process
through education"; "to develop a
body of thought which must be rele-

vant and indigenous"; to "have been
one of the fathers of a School of West
Indian History", and to be one of the
architects of the West Indian nation. In
retrospect, Gocking notes that "Much
of the disillusiomnent and criticism is
due to the fact that people expected so
much of him, perhaps too much."
(Democracy or Oligarchy).
Like so many abandoned wrecks,
our great dreams and hopes for morality
in public affairs, Federation, inter-
racial solidarity, economic planning
and political education now lie along
the wayside. As Dr. Gocking sees it,
Dr. Williams has failed to respond to
the "deeper yearnings transcending
the economic or his -people for
self-discovery, self-expression, spiritual
The extent to which that betrayal
has shattered African morale could be
dramatized adequately only by a move-
ment of the revolutioanry proportions
of that which marched under the
Black Power banner in 1970. But the
true proportions of the political disaster
that is the 1956 regime, can be grasped
only if we understand that, far from
representing a revolutionary break with
the past, Williams has been the con-
summation of the colonial, con-
ventional politics so unwittingly and
copiously documented by Gomes in
this autobiographical record.

One possible clue to the real nature
of William's orientation is his failure
in the ten years he lived in Trinidad
prior to the formation of the PNM
to put his great talents directly as tihe
disposal of the population. Would the
diplomatic requirements of employ-
ment with the Caribbean Commission
have precluded the possibility of a
programme of public education in
West Indian History and contemporary
economic and social issues? Had Wil-
liams embarked on such a scheme,the
record of the immediate post-war years
might have read very differently, and
the man who in later years referred to
us as a "bunch of transients" could
more reasonably have let down his

bucket in 1955 and aspired to take
power in 1956 on the basis of a move-
ment well grounded in the issues of
West Indian nationhood.
In the event, the early promise of
Party Politics was soon dissipated in
the reality of an election and patronage
machine controlled in all its aspects by
the Doctor Leader. This one-man show
at the political level was mirrored by
developments on the Governmental
scene. If we believe that Gomes'
approach to Constitution-making was
singularly reactionary, what are we to
say of the manner in which the "In-
dependence" Constitution of 1962 was
imposed by the Doctor from above,
after a sham consultation at Queen's
Hall, and of the way in which it
institutionalized, not just individual-
ism, but ubiquitous one-man rule?

The inevitable consequence of
such an arrangement of government
and politics has been the promotion
of manipulation as a principal means
of statecraft. There is nothing in the
era of Bertie Gomes to'compare with
Williams' 1973 resignation gambit, or
with his 1975 Venezuelan threat, as
crass attempts to play on the emotions
and sentiments of a largely unsuspect-
ihg public.
And lest we think that such devices
have been introduced only in the late
years of the Movement's decline, we
would do well to recall that at the
height of its glory, with the Movement
in full cry during its campaign for
Chaguaramnas, Williams saw fit to resort
to the scare tactic of raising
the spectre of lethal radiation emanating
from American installations ontheBase.
The irony is that it is precisely the
greater trust with which Williams was
endowed which allowed him to get
away with such manoeuvres. The
greatest irony is that the leader in
whom the African population invested
the charismatic power to lift the race
out of bondage, has found in the
racial fears of his people the most
effective device with which to keep us
all in our chains.
In addition, no one has done more



than Williams to perpetuate the.colonial
view of ourselves as being unfit to
exercise responsibility for our own
destiny. His career has been founded
on the same pessimism as regards the
the ability of Trinidadians and To-
bagonians to fend for ourselves, sc
evident in Gomes' statement. As we
have seen, the programme for in-
dustrialisation by invitation was being
propagated by Williams at the Carib-
bean Commission even before Gomes
adopted it as official policy in the
fifties. It is a policy which Williams
has never repudiated, as evidencedby
the way in which the doors are being
opened even wider now to multi-
national corporations and joint ventures
from every conceivable quarter of the
Such a tragic ending, with the anti-
colonial warrior of 1956 today the
greatest agent of the country's
reconlonization, ought not to surprise
us once we recall the cycle of colonial,
conventional politics. The difference
in 1975 is that the attainment of
Independence in 1962 represented the
final imperial concession. Now, what
we have are either the "tactical allevia-
tion of distress" or repression, both
at the hands of a national government
which controls the decisive resources
of the state. Bribery and manipulation,
on the one hand, terror and intimida-
tion, on the other, are the twin poles
of the new dispensation.
Sadly, a rump of conventional
politicians survives to maintain the
tradition of protest and agitation,
political techniques futile in the con-
ditions of Independence, unless
anchored in the politics of organisation
and articulation. Contrary to what
certain political scientists would have
us believe, it is these super-militants
who provide the real continuity with
the era of Albert Gomes. Weak imita-
tions of Eric Williams, they must,
indeed, be the end of a line rendered
obsolescent by that master of the
politics of robber-talk and grandchig..e
On our reading of the issues, the
Albert Gomes thesis merely dabbles
with the truth. In rallying behind a
new-found leader of the race, the
African generation of 1956 sought to
repudiate for once and for all a
colonial world in which the conventions
of race had been manipulated against
them from time immemorial. They
sought to leave behind them for good
"the dirty-track of colonialism." They
had set their sights on the "broad
highway of Independence." That we
are being manipulated as never before
in our history by the man we thought
to be our Moses, and that we are
further now than ever from the
prospect of a land flowing with milk
and honey, is, for us, an historical
tragedy of immeasurable proportions.







Still Self-Reliant

Your Family is well

1,4 fed with

Mneg BlueBand

on Bread



From Page 4
the era of party politics,
retrieving the nationalist
movement which had gone
off track as a consequence of
the failure of Cipriani and
Butler to establish coherent
political organisation. It also
made the devisive link
between the urban proletariat
and the urban, black pro-
fessionals. Thousands ralli-
ed behind the doctor seeking
a way out of Babylon.
Though unorganised, the
opposition to the PNM in
1956 was formidable the
PDP, the Roman Catholic
Church, the businessmen, the
Trinidad Guardian and the
leaders of all the major
unions with the exception of
The triumph of the PNM
was a victory for nationalism
and party politics; it marked
an important advance in our
constitutional and political
Control of the central gov-
ernment was soon followed
by control over the municipa-
lities. But in the interim
opposition to the PNM was
hardening into a new force -
the DLP. This was originally
part of the Bustamante chain
for the federal elections of
The leadership of the
local DLP was multi-racial,
bringing together a calaloo of
Bhadase, Gomes, Bryan,
Sutton and so on. Its mass
base, though, was largely
Indian. It also provided an
uneasy and temporary haven
for the local whites whose
privileged existence was
tl" atened by PNM rhetoric.

Racial polarisation, exacer-
bated by the political struggle,
was being institutionalized.
Williams' intemperate out-
burst after the federal
elections, his attack on the
Maha Sabha and the Hindu
lingustic movement, cul-
minating in Massa Day Done,
completely alienated the large
Hindu community, long be-
fore suspicious, from the
Though the mottley col-
lection that was the DLP

succeeded in stopping the
PNM in the federal elections
of 1956 and the local gov-
ernment elections of 1959,
relations within the party
were never cordial. Too many
man-rats found themselves in
the same hole. The non-Indian
elements in the party,
although they had no mass
base, frowned on Bhadase's
leadership in the same way
that Butler's was frowned up-
some years before.
The impact of Williams
had been so great on the
country, especially on his
opponents, that they invited
Rudy Capildeo, unknown and
untried, to take over
leadership of the DLP in
1960; to give it the kind of
respectability that Bhadase
could not.


The battle for political
power and the leadership of
Trinidad and Tobago, soon
to-be independent, resolved
itself into Doctor versus
Doctor; we doctor and dem
doctor. Racial polarisation
was expressed in the battle of
The 1961 elections were
bitter, characterized by naked
racism on both sides and even
bordering an open violence.
Capildeo, who had already
shown himself to-be an un-
stable person, broke down
under the pressure and ex-
horted his followers to take
up arms.
Whatever chance the DLP
had of winning disappeared
on that fateful October after-
noon. The PNM won by
twenty seats to ten; for the
first and last time it was to
enjoy majority support in
terms of the whole electorate.
The debate on the draft in-
dependence constitution in-
creased the hostility between
the two parties. The DLP
delegates, as well as the Maha
Sahba representatives, walked
out of the Queen's Hall Con-
ference. It was with daggers

drawn that the two parties
went to Marlborough House
in May 1962. At the last
moment a compromise was
reached and a Westminister
type constitution was im-,
posed on the country.
The DLP split twice
during the 1961 66 par-
liamentary term. First, in
1964 Capildeo's absenteeism
led to the formation of the
Liberal Party. Then in 1965
the parliamentary arm split
over the ISA. This produced
the WFP.
During this term intimida-
tion became a weapon in the
Government's armoury.First,
it was the Commission into
Subversive Activities (1963)
and then the ISA which
Williams, in his autobiography,
boasted was the greatest
achievement in his second
parliamentary term. The
rightward swing of the
Government was also re-
flected in the major amend-
ments made to the Finance
Bill of 1966.
The survival of the Capildeo
charisma, nurtured by his
absence, and Indian solidarity
won twelve seats for the DLP
in 1966. The PNM, campaign-
ing on 10 years of progress,
won twenty-four. The other
parties were obliterated.

From Page 5
in accordance with the advice
of the Cabinet-on any matter
on which he was obliged to
consult with it.
In December 1961 full
internal self-government was
attained and on May 28,
1962 the Trinidad and To-
bago Independence Con-
ference was opened in London
following on the collapse of
the West Indian Federation.
Trinidad came into the
British Empire as a Crown
Colony and after the union
of 1889 Tobago shared its
fate. The philosophy of the
Crown Colony system was
clearly stated by Sir John
Pakington, Secretary of State
for the Colonies, in a dispatch
of the 13th November, 1852.
Control by the crown over
the proceedings of the

etc, etc.

Race had once again been
decisive. But it should be
noticed that electoral partici-
pation in 1966 was just over
65%, a fall of almost 23%
from 1961. A certain with-
drawal from the formal politi-
cal system was taking place.
It was to be the last legitimate

.In its third term the PNM
Government fell further and
further into neo-colonialism
-wlSe the only noteworthy
.act of the DLP opposition
was the expulsion of Capildeo
in 1969. The initiative in this
period was slipping away
from the conventional parties.
It originated with the opposi-
tion of certain sections of
organised labour.
By 1968 New World
(Trinidad) emerged as a po-
tential political force. The
Rodney incident in October
catapulted the university
students onto the political
stage. Around the same time
New World split on the
question of now-for-now
party versus long term com-
munity building. Unconven-
tional politics was born.

political Change

"instead of being incon-
sistent with free representa-
tive institutions, is in
reality the only meahs by
which it is possible to
i*part the benefit of them
to a community of which
the population at large is
Signorant and barbarous.
Thke representative in-
,titutions of the mother-
a o u n tr y become a
&bstitute for local repre-
stitative institutions and
he Crown, whilst exercis-
.tg control, is, in its turn,
mnttroled by Parliament."
1p Oe has un4estoa1he
'; ?


The Rise and Fall of

Conventional Politics

unsatisfactory features of this
Crown Colony system of gov-
ernment better than the West
Indian. Jamaica memorialists
in 1976 had this to say:
"the grave additional...
effect the present form of
government has on the
people of the colony,
excluding, as it does, arl
men of worth and inde-
pendence from any real
share in the government
of their country, denying
them any voice in its
councils...the system tends
to render them indifferent
to the march of public
affairs, to create apathy
and indifference to those
vital interests which should
properly occupy a
prominent place in their
Continued on Page 15

Constitution Reform and


Eastern Main Rd.. Laventille
(Near to Trotman street)


Galvanise, Cement,

Blocks, Tiles,









With Distinction

Tapia was born.
The succession of political
crises spilled over into 1969
and it was out of one of the
confrontations of 1969
(February) that NJAC was
The climax of confronta-
tion politics came with the
February Revolution and the
quixotic army mutiny of
1970. Three streams con-
verged to produce the explo-
sion of 1970 the militant
unions, the university stu-
dents and the massive army
of urban, black unemployed.
NJAC emerged as the um-
brella organisation.
The cry of the marching
thousands went further than
a desire for political and
economic change; it was a
soulful cry for a cultural and
spiritual regeneration of our
nation. The declaration of a
state of emergency and the
incarceration of the leader-
ship laid bare the organisa-
tional wasteland of the
Nonetheless the events of
1970 marked the end of the
road for the conventional
politics of race and doctorism.
The P.N.M., a hollow shell,
survives only 'through its
control of the State.
And as the country's
mind focuses more and more
on the coming elections the
discredited practitioners otthe
old order try, even as
Gomes tried twenty years
.ago, to delay the inevitable.




In A State Without Foundation


From Page 6

politics to something else.
Granger and NJAC attracted
tremendous crowds because they gave
voice and tongue to many social
questions. They came to the rescue of
tenants at Five Rivers and Monserrat.
They entered the picket lines of trade
unions on behalf of the exploited.
They exposed corruption in places
high and low. They spoke for the
downtrodden and the unemployed.
The imposition of the 5% levy to
accelerate the crash programme was a
direct response to their demand for
more jobs. They pressed the Govern-
ment into buying into Caroni Ltd.
and into the National Commercial
Bank. They did these things and much
more. They gave the African a sense
of pride in ancestry and an awareness
of his beauty.
Why Dr. Williams remains significant
is that he attempted to found a state
that has foundered. Why Tapia remains
the only revolutionary force in this
country is that it is engaged not merely
in protest politics but in the pro-
foundly revolutionary act of found-
ing a State that will endure and not
only prevail.
"Under modern conditions," writes
Hannah Arendt in her book On Revo-
lution," the act of foundation is
identical with the framing of a con-
situation, and the calling of constitu-
tional assemblies has quite rightly
become the hallmark of revolution
ever since the Declaration of Indepen-
dence initiated the writings of con-
stitutions for each of the American
State, a process which prepared and
culminated in the Constitution of the

Union, the foundation of the United
States. It is possible that this American
precedent inspired the famous Oath
of the Tennis Court in which the
Third Estate swore that it would not
disband before a constitution was
written.and duly accepted by the royal
"Yet what also has remained a hall-
mark of revolutions is the tragic fate
which awaited the first constitution
of France; neither accepted by me
king nor commissioned and ratified
by the nation unless one holds
that the hissing or applauding galleries
which attended the deliberations of
the National Assembly were the valid
expression of the constituent, or even
the consenting power of the people -

the constitution of 1781 remained
a piece of paper, of more interest to
the learned and the experts than to
the people."
The French revolutionaries failed
because they abandoned their mission
of enshrining their freedom in a con-
stitution for utopian notions of
historical necessity. "Priority had to
be given to liberation, and the men of
the Revolution paid less and less
attention to what they had originally
considered to be their most im-
portant business, the framing of a
We continue to err because so
many of our radicals, academics, and
intellectuals in exile are fascinated by
the French experience, and the

Russian's which was a re-play of it in
this century. For them the act of
foundation must be wrought not by
constructive authority.
It must be a New Beginning in the
Machiavellian sense "which as such
seemed to demand violence and viola-
tion, the repetition, as it were, of the
old legendary crime (Romulus slew
Remus, Cain slew Abel) at the
beginning of all history." They know
exactly what course the revolution
would take, what classes are in con-
flict. They may be students of
history but they are not men of real
Although Lenin, like Robespierre
before him, was to yield to historical
necessity himself there can be no
doubt that he appreciated the im-
portance of the constitution as a
revolutionary instrument. When he
asked what in one sentence was the
aim of the October Revolution, his
reply was, "Electrification and
Soviets." In the language of Tapia this
means the technology required to
effect economic reorganisation and
constitution reform.
On one occasion when Bukharin,
the orthodox socialist, called for the
complete and immediate control of the
economy, the taking of the whole
bread in the name of the workers and
farmers Lenin attacked these ultra-
leftist views in his pamphlet on Left
Infantilism and the Petty Bourgeois
Spirit. Later he was to stress more
emphatically that "to proclaim in
advance the dying away of the State
would be a violation of historical per-
spective...We are a long way from
that...for the present we stand un
conditionally for the State."

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From Page 7
Then in March this year
the Lequay DLP charged that
there were soldiers wearing
police uniforms involved in
breaking up the ULF proces-
sion in San Fernando. To
this, Captain Grannum re-
torted huffily that soldiers
were proud of their identities
and "would never seek to be
dressed in borrowved robes".
In 1970, though,so-called
"loyal" soldiers were made to
wear grey police shirts for
some time. And the fact is
that the last word about their
"role", as much as their
uniforms, rests not with
soldiers .- Brigadier, Captain
nor Lieutenant but with
civilians in the government.
As early as 1967 Serrette
had been declaring his troops'
readiness to go into action
against those who might have
wished to test the army's com-
petence. Casting about to
find work for his idle men
in arms, he has always made
sure to show enthusiasm over
the deployment of the
soldiers in law and order


The joint exercises which
have now established them-
selves as a feature of law
enforcement operations,began
in 1970 when the soldiers
were hunting their mutinous
or absconded brethren. And
as that, too, was a police
operation, the police have
naturally been senior part-
ners in the joint exercises.
Throughout 1972 and
1973 the soldiers and police
hunted guerrillas. It of,
course suited the glory-
conscious police to be seen
to be senior partners; the
soldiers were simply more
men under arms and a reserve
So that the public remem-
bers that Burroughs hunted
the guerrillas to the end. To
his record were added the
names of the renewed
guerrilla chieftains. But the
most inglorious victory of
all the shooting of 17-
year-old Beverley Jones was
carefully credited to a
soldier's rifle.
Nevertheless, after that
bloody campaign of 1973,
Serrette and Colonel Christo-
pher were enthusiastic over
the taste of "action" they
had had. Hear Christopher:
"The army will hunt guerrillas
until all are captured...assist-
ing the police to destroy the
guerrilla movement." And
Serrette: "We are supporting
the police in an exercise
against purported guerrillas
and terrorists- in our own
beautiful island."
It is, after all, something
to do, they might have added.
So Serrette personally
associated himself with the
strike-breaking action ordered
by the government last April
against the wagon-drivers. He
was early reported to be
personally directing opera-
tions atSea Lots, operations
which had little military
relevance, but which con-
tained the opportunity to
show that the soldiers could
be useful if given the chance.
Rejecting scavenging, wel-
coming scabbing. The logic is
that driving and guarding the
tank wagons could be pro-

jected as saving the nation
from hardship and advantage
at the hands of "power-
hungry" unionists. And the
army brass would want to
share in that "honour".
Still, the soldiers were
only junior partners. For one
thing, Coast Guard personnel
were involved (unnecessary,
as they have no point to
prove about their usefulness),
and for another thing, the
police were again clearly in
The black-and-white Maz-
das led the way, headlights
blazing, showing the way to
the goons in the tank wagon
and jeeps behind.
It was the soldiers driving
the wagons who were actually
displacing the workers. And
long after it was necessary to
continue the military de-
liveries, as the government
persisted, to punish the
workers, it was the soldiers
who after some time, were
muttering complaint.


It's as if a role is settling on
the soldiers by default. Were
they to refuse (what!) work-
ing with the police in a sub-
ordinate capacity, what
would they do instead?
The officers, like Serrette
and Christopher, are con-
cerned to demonstrate their
own and their men's loyalty,
to allay the doubts and fears
that must still plague official
minds about the state of
things at Teteron.
.Their hope is that by
demonstrating good behaviour
in word and deed, and un-
questioning obedience even
when this means swallowing
professional pride as a soldier
and being beholden to a mere
cop the army would recover
something like its pre-1970
trustworthiness. That the
soldiers would get their guns
After all, they would
argue,wasn't it proven loyalty
in 1970 which established the
pre-eminence of the police
among the "protective ser-
vices". The police are now
the most numerous, best paid,
most prestigious outfit, who
would have had their own
air-borne arm but for an
accident of fate, it seemed.
The omni-competence of
the police and their capacity
to draw upon resources at
will are really fundamentally
disruptive of order and pro-
fessionalism. In this way, the
government has effectively

promoted the police above the
rest. The lines of demarcation
between the different
branches of the services appear
to exist at the pleasure of the
Armed policemen were on
guard in the jail in 1970,
usurping the authority of the
prison officers. Dr. Martin
Sampath has charged that the
police used the Fire Station
next door to his house to
spy on him.
Last weekend, it was re-
ported, the police were able
to deploy a Fire Services
turntable ladder in a rooftop
gunbattle with burglars in
During the gas crisis this
year, the police had use of
Ministry of Agriculture and
Ministry of Works vehicles
for long periods. The effect
of this on the work of these
ministries has not been
accounted for publicly.
It is not so much the
ability of the police to make
use of the other agencies of
government for legitimate
purposes as the ease with
which they seem able to do
this. Seldom is a complaint
There is a fundamental
acceptance of the transcen-
dent authority of the police,

- 4r

which is a dangerous notion,
for it denies any resistance
to the coercive forces of the
state, and opens the way to
totalitarian control.


One of the likely effects
of this untrammelled police
authority is the reopening of
the old rivalry between the
police and the army. Indeed
there are subtle signs of some
In October last year a
soldier-driver of a Regiment
vehicle refused to submit to

Police Paradise

police arrest, defying a force
of eight policemen, until a
Regiment officer arrived to
defuse a potentially explosive
situation. It was known that
the 1973 shooting by police
of Lt. Oliver Walker was
badly received by the Army.
A coroner held that it
was justifiable homicide,
totally exonerating and prais-
ing the police officer who
had shot Lt. Walker dead.
The Regiment has reacted
by naming a platoon the
Oliver Walker platoon.
Serrette has been com-
plaining bitterly that the
Regiment is still being
penalised for the 1970 inci-
dents. His own exploits that
year won him the Trinity
cross, highlight of a military
career in which he perhaps
never heard-a shot fired in
Examine his rhetoric
against that of the younger
Coast Guard Commander
Serrette: "Do not feel we
are incapable of practising the
jurisprudence given to us...I
hope no one will try to test
our ability."
Commander Williams: "I
have heard it said we are
military mite not might...
but we should be proud to
know that we are able to
strike at least one blow in
our own defence..."
It may well be that the
Army is being penalised for
having Serrette.


From Page 12

minds. It, indeed, strikes
at the roottofall manhood
and self-reliance, and will
end in making the in-
habitants of the colony a
weak, dependent and
childish people."
Participation in the politi-
cal process, first through the
principle of nomination, then,
in 1924, increased by the
introduction of an elected
element, with further progress
in 1941, culminated in full
internal self-government and
final independence. These
two last-carried participation
to the point where it em-
braced, in progressive stages,
control over Government it-
self. This is the road we have
But has anything like full
participation and control
over the Government been
realized under our 1962 In-
dependence Constitution? To
answer this question I can do
no better than invite attention
to the Constitution Com-
mission's Introduction to its
"The Constitution under
which Trinidad and To-
bago achieved indepen-
dence in 1962 was in all
its. essentials a written .
version of the constitution
al arrangements volved'-
in the United RTngdom
over many centuries...In
reality the Westminister
political system has a
propensity to become
transformed into dictator-
ship when transplanted in
societies without political
cultures which sivport its
opdrative conventions._.

editions the Executive in
the Westminister model is
so powerful that it has
been referred to as a
Cabinet dictatorship. Some
observers even claim that.
it is not really the Cabinet
which is dominant but the
Prime Minister himself,
assisted by his inner
Cabinet, the Cabinet
Secretariat and a few in-
dividuals who may n o t
even have any formal res-
ponsibility in the system."
The Commission then
identified the factors which,
in Britain, have nurtured
democracy into a much more
fully developed, evolved and
mature growth limiting the
powers of the Prime Minister
a vigorous press, powerful
interest groups, an alert
public opinion, the in-
stitutionalising of freedom to
criticise as part of the political
process, Cabinet colleagues of
stature, a large and vigorous
academic community with a
long tradition of political
participation, absence o0 a
disposition to label critics as
either subservient or subver-
With equal and com-
mendable fulness the Com-
mission identified t h e
obstacles in Trinidad and To-
bago's path to a more fully
developed democracy the
political culture is too
bureaucratic, no entrenched
tradition of political com-
mitment and involvement, the
silence of those most com-
petent to comment because
of the tremendous patronage.
enjoyed by the State persuad-
ing the intelligent and am-
bitious that the easier path to


Constitution Reform

success lies in cooperation
and deference.
In addition there is the
failure of the mass media to
play a really vigorous role in
the development of public
opinion, the restrictive terms
of their licences that keep
political controversy off tele-
vision and radio, reluctance to
offend, no anonymity, ex-
pansion of government ac-
tivity in industrial, com-
merical and financial areas,
control of employment in
public corporations by the
Prime Minister and his
Cabinet, control of senior ad-
ministrative and professional
posts in the public service.
The appointment of the,
Constitution Commission in

1971 was recognition that
the constitution was not
working, as democratically as
it should and every reason
which the Commission was to
give subsequently by way of
explanation has been known
to many for a very long time.
The Commission urged by
way of solution a mixture of
first-past-the-post and pro-
portional representation. The
case it makes is worth study
though it is largely in the
abstract with insufficient in-
dication of how it t
work in Trinidad and Tob*a .
Dr. Selwyn Ryan's "Race
and Politics", (Trinidad and
Tobago Index, September 1966,
No. 4) is worth reading
also. The Commission recom-

mended the abolition of the
The Government has re-
jected both these recom-
mendations and provided a
Draft Constitution which, in
these areas of government,
does not differ in any signifi-
cant way from the existing
constitution. We are there-
fore back to square one as
they say.
Greater popular participa-
tion in the political process
which was the raison d'etre
of the appointment of the
Constitution Commission in
the first instance and similar
aims proclaimed in the ruling
party's "Perspectives for the
New Society", 1970, have
fallen by the wayside.
When the Prime Minister
spoke -in the House of
Representatives on con-
stitutional reform on Decem-

ber 17, 1974, he spoke of
his party's wish to create a
"more meaningful Senate"
and said on the question of
Parliamentary committees
that it was not that the Com-
mission was wrong; that it
had some "right on its side"
and that his party and his
colleagues had not "gone into
this particularly with as much
carq" as they had gone "into
other matters". Something,
he continued, had "to be
done, agreed".
.But nothing has been done
and the overwhelming and
depressing impression left is
that the Party may have lost
the energy and the will and
the faith and the political in-
sights to undertake so great
an enterprise even though
History has thrust it upon

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1975 _4