By Nicholas Stix
I am presently stuck in a Third-World hellhole not named America. My in-laws think I’m on “vacation,” but I don’t consider cleaning up a dilapidated house that sat deserted, filling up with bat guano, sawdust from “wood lice” (termites), dust and wasps, since the last time we cleaned it two years ago, and cutlassing grass and vines till a blister pops on my hand a “vacation.”
The nieces and nephews with whom I have good relations either do not presently have working computers, Internet service, or they have moved out of their families’ houses, with their pcs, and are now living with husbands! Various computer cafes I used to use have gone out of business, and I had to walk a mile down the road to find the place where I am presently working.
With that said, there are fresh mangoes on the ground in my late father-in-law’s garden, some of the Chinese restaurants here have the best, “cripsy” roast pork I’ve ever eaten, and I’m about halfway through Scott Eyman’s epic, 2014 John Wayne biography.
Locally, a major potential scandal is casting a shadow on the September 7 national elections.
Jack Warner, a black loose cannon who travels from party to party, and scandal to scandal, was in the Indian United National Congress party, then left for the breakaway Congress of the People party, which allied with UNC to return to power in 2010, and recently formed his own, Independent Liberal Party. (UNC is the most powerful ally within the “People’s Partnership,” which also includes the Tobago Organization of the People and the National Joint Action Committee.)
Warner has been implicated in the FIFA scandal, as allegedly having taken bribes. This he has denied with the vehemence with which he does everything. He has never taken any money from anyone for anything. A regular saint, he is. However, what makes this incident unusual is that Warner was a big supporter of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who in turn used to say, “You can’t touch my Jack,” but now feels betrayed by her, and has thus turned on her, with a vengeance.
(The PM is known simply as “Kamla.” I ought to know; I have many of her campaign t-shirts, which she had made out of cotton of the best, most durable quality. Warner is similarly known simply as “Jack.” I possess none of Jack’s t-shirts, nor have I ever met him, though he’d surely make for a wild interview subject.)
Back in 1999, when Kamla was the MP for Siparia in “d’bush” in the rural South, one of my sisters-in-law, who worked for her, introduced us in Kamla’s office.
The Indians think Kamla’s the best thing to happen to Trinidad & Tobago since Independence. The first female PM here, she’s pretty much a by-the-book welfare politician—she’d previously been education and justice minister—but she helps the Indians. (UNC PM Basdaeo Panday, who tried imitating America’s Republicans during the late 1990s, had betrayed the Indian base on which he was completely dependent, and enough of them stopped voting for him, and he betrayed enough coalition partners, for the UNC to be toppled from power. Sound familiar? The black party, the People’s National Movement, then ruled from 2001-2010.)
Back to Jack. Since I don’t have a newspaper handy, I must paraphrase. It seems that not too long ago, the PM visited France, where she “lost” $6,000-9,000. Warner says she lost the money gambling. Warner has also made dark allusions to Kamla’s French hotel stay, and a mystery guest who was staying in the adjoining room to hers. Warner maintains that only four people know who the mystery guest was: Kamla, two security guards, and Jack.
Ordinary Indians I’ve spoken with identify themselves politically through their responses to Jack’s claims. One of my brothers-in-law asserted that no one listens to anything Jack says. Only a UNC fanatic would say that.
Conversely, an Indian lady I just met (she’s a friend’s girlfriend) believes that not only was the mystery hotel guest in the room next to Kamla’s Jack, but that they have been carrying on an affair for years.
That lady is obviously not a UNC fanatic.
Note that Kamla and Jack are both married, just not to each other… yet.
Between now and September 7, there should be plenty more fireworks.