Coup Wise, Stability Foolish.

I am posting this here as my response to Linda Edwards' comment at Trinidad and Tobago News Blog on the discussion about the ongoing Commission of Enquiry into the 1990 attempted coup.

Where there is no consistent intelligent evolution, the revolution becomes inevitable.

When people have to organise rallies and take to the streets to make their needs heard, something is already wrong. If in this stamp-sized country, an aggrieved citizen or his advocate cannot pick up a phone without any fanfare and call his MP or other service point to report a problem with the unspoken assurance that the problem will be immediately channeled and on the move towards a resolution, something is wrong. When citizens who employ the government have to walk through the streets to protest the poor performance or lack of performance of their employee, something is wrong. How funny it would be to see the owners of say, Joseph Charles Bottling Works and Investments Ltd., waving placards and walking up and down Brian Lara Promenade in Port of Spain to protest their senior executives' incompetence or corruption. Although it is a necessary action for us poor slobs, while taking part in the protests, bear in mind that although we are right to take action, something is very wrong with the bigger picture.

So while some may argue that a revolution is a necessary thing in desperate situations, I'd always trust more the evolution that is grown over time by intelligent consensus. And while on the subject of revolutions, my mind returns to our 1990 attempted coup d'état.

The only question that I would like to have answered by this Commission is if the masterminds of that attempt at imposed revolution genuinely believed that they were doing something that was necessary for the society's benefit and why. Apart from having great difficulty believing that they really cared about this country or the citizens that they murdered, I also cannot separate out that action from what is the everyday trauma of daily life in this country . When the Commission of Enquiry into the attempted coup d'état was announced last year, while I understood on one level the need for "closure", I couldn't help but think about a dozen other Commissions of Enquiry which in my opinion would have been more important for the march forward.

As far as I've seen in my lifetime, a coup d'état happens when opportunistic forces [and not necessarily ones for good] take advantage of a situation of instability to seize power. If a coup d'état succeeds, there is absolutely NO guarantee that apart from changing who holds the reins of power, that the preexisting and most likely flawed political system/form of government will in any way be ameliorated or replaced. This is why when I heard Independent Senator Al Rawi make the poetic comment during the debate on the Land Tenure Reform Act that they were the "green" shoots of the PNM, I wondered if he understood that when a disease is systemic the green shoots are as doomed as the preexisting roots and stem.

I am basing this only on gut feeling, but I would think that coup d'états are not attempted and usually do not occur where universal justice exists and where most, if not all citizens have a vested interest in protecting a state and government that serves them well.

Even when we can lay some of the blame on external and often imperialistic forces for fomenting the instability that leads to some coups, the fact remains that these external forces are also opportunistic and simply taking advantage of preexisting weaknesses in the socio-political system on the ground.

A Commission of Enquiry into a an attempted coup will not guarantee that our CITIZENS will not allow a coup d'etat in the future, or feel the need for a revolution. While it is an interesting exercise and for some, a necessary exercise, many others will simply receive another disconcerting message and that is that it is the preservation of THE STATE, pustular warts and all, which is the first order of business. It didn't help to lessen my disquiet that terms like "terrorism" and "counter-terrorism" were also slipped into the mix of what would be examined by this Commission. This is so typical of security obsessed states that don't want to ask themselves the harder questions about the more people-centered security that they have been neglecting.

I spoke recently to an elderly relative about my lack of interest in this particular Commission of Enquiry and his reply was an incredulous, "But people were killed!!!!" Out of respect for him, I just went silent and let the conversation flow on to other topics.

Those who know me and what I feel about my compatriots will understand that I mean no disrespect to any of the 24 citizens whose lives were tragically cut short during the attempted coup, no disrespect at all to their grieving friends and loved ones, and no disrespect to us as a nation who shared the loss and outrage...but I will also not disrespect the citizens who have continued to die violent and unnecessary deaths since July 2000. Who is keeping this gruesome tally? Who can refuse to admit that a coup, if not war, has been happening under our very noses, and that on a daily basis average citizens are victims of coups of various sorts? What about people dying because they cannot afford health care or because negligence in the health care system has dispatched them? What about people who are being primed by dysfunctional families, communities and education system to become gunslingers and gun fodder?

This is why I will judge a government by its Omissions of Enquiry rather than by its grand Commissions. As far as I am concerned, in the end, the dialogues that are consistently avoided are far more telling.

If it can appreciate that it's mostly the disenfranchised who will caca where they sleep or allow others to do so, the government must ask itself instead, "How are WE continuing to enable the ongoing, and not attempted, but actual coup against OUR people?" Forget about the UNC, about the PNM, about Afro and Indo-Trinbagonians and whose "time has come". T&T is so much, much more than the sum of its "genetic" parts and its time is long overdue. Forget about security advisors and "experts" from countries that don't even know how to fix their own business.

How are WE, if we are really the People's Partnership, coup-proofing OUR society?

"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!