The Ethnic Agenda


In case you missed it, Ambassador Neil Parsan's wife is black, which apparently is an actual ethnicity, not just a colour; and his wife's colour apparently gives the goodly ambassador carte blanche to make up information about Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean. Oh, wait you missed it? You missed the speech wherein the diplomat that is supposed to be representing an entire multicultural nation gave a speech that implied he is really only there to serve the interests of a particular interest group: the People's Partnership? Some of the key points in Parsan's speech was to point out that the "Indian Diaspora is a formidable force in Trinidad and Tobago, the largest numerical representation in the Caribbean." And let's not forget as well that Indians are " the most well-to-do and culturally strong and progressive ethnic group in the uniquely plural society of Trinidad and Tobago."


I can't tell you where to find Ambassador Parsan's speech anymore because it has since been removed from the embassy's website. What I can tell you is that Neil Parsan is engaging in a not very subtle game of Whose Ethnicity Is More Superior? And that is a game that the entire country will lose. Why? Because it is pitting groups against each other, and making the atmosphere of Trinidad and Tobago more toxic. A speech such as this says plainly that groups here don't yet view themselves as Trinbagonians but as ethnicities all holding their corner and struggling for a larger piece of the pie. That an Ambassador, a diplomat, representing an entire nation, would be caught delivering such a speech is beyond embarrassing and Parsan should hand in his instruments of appointment and just leave Washington DC because his conduct as an Ambassador in that speech is poor. He is not representing a country.


But  Ambassador Parsan is but one in a string of ethnicity-related gaffes we have had coming from the People's Partnership of late. Since the massive Section 34 March, we have had Minister of National Security, Jack Warner, on several platforms spreading a message of ethnic strife. The Section 34 march was negligible according to Warner because he saw only Afro-descended people in it. As if to imply that Afro- descended people aren't Trinbagonian enough to be taken seriously. As if to imply that it wasn't a march of citizens. As if to imply Section 34 is a race or ethnicity issue and not a national issue. Mere weeks after the march, on i95.5 with John Wayne Benoit, MP for Mayaro, Winston Peters in response to a question repeated that he is only representing the people who voted for him.


And if that wasn't insulting enough, Warner then, sulking and petulant, announced that he wasn't attending the opening of the Nagar because Keith Rowley would be there. Disingenuous as ever, Warner claimed he didn't want to politicize the issue. Then Sat Maharäj, pundit Harry Maharaj and Devant Maharäj jumped in to support Warner's position. Mind you, this is Divali and the Divali Nagar site. A holiday celebrated by the national community on lands donated by the state. What Warner was ostensibly saying to Rowley is we don't want you or your kind here. Please keep in kind that Warner is not the UNCs Minister of National Security, he is the nation's, obligated to serve the nation, and at a public forum this is how he speaks to the Leader of the Opposition, a man that represents the interests of another part of our society.


Of course, yes, you can argue that Warner was there in his capacity as Chairman of the UNC. And in that case, what are Warner's words and actions saying about the party's agenda and policies? Is the UNC, the party that is currently leading this coalition government, actively using strategies of ethnic division and polarizing politics as part of its strategy to stay in government? The COP agreed to this? Because I can't see what other way there is to define what Warner and his supporters are attempting to do if not polarize the nation yet again.


And to add frosting and cherry on top this ethnic agenda cake is our Prime Minister. A lady who is mum on most matters, but manages to break her silence at the closing ceremony of the Divali Nagar and used the opportunity to attack the Leader of the Opposition. And on trivial issues no less. What the Prime Minister fails to remember with the whole goar lagay incident, when she decided to bow before the President of India is simply this: the PM was there in her capacity as the head of government, greeting another head of government; two heads of state do not bow to each other. Simple protocol. But it seems the PMs advisers are not strong on protocol, just on beefing up her strategies for her ethnic agenda.


If sounding like a petulant child about the international bowing incident wasn't insult enough, the PM then lashed out at the Opposition Leader's decision to wear a kurtah to ceremonies at the Nagar. Apparently the PM has a monopoly on wearing ethnic garb in this country and we didnt get the memo.


The Partnership sounding scared. They sound jittery. Why else would they need to begin to deploy race politics so hard if not to rally their voter base around them. and that's an old Bas trick, eh. When under attack rally the troops. So in one breath the PM will talk about representing the nayshun....and in another, she scolding people to get in their section.


But I want to take a minute and examine this voter base that the PP appealing to. Persad-Bissessar can only be appealing to a group for whom policies based on tribalism and ethnic division will work on. So then, is the leader of the PP saying that her voter base wants ethnic division? Is the leader of the PP also saying that she is quite willing to use divisive tactics once it keeps her popular. Remind me what was the new politics we voted for in 2010 again?

We won't be getting any of that new politics anytime soon simply because Kamla and the PP must now rally the troops together and bunker down until 2015. Any loss of her voter base, or the Indian vote to the PNM will be a bad sign. Especially since she knows that she depended heavily on the PNM vote that the COP managed to capture. That's out the window now since PNM supporters see COP for what it truly is....a Trojan Horse of a party.

Kamla also knows that there is no way she can win the seat of government with just the Hindu government. So the struggle is on. Let's hope others keep their head on and see this Ethnic agenda policy for what it truly is....divide and rule so that the UNC can live another day....but still, you have to ask yourself what it says about the party's voter base that race politics appeals to them.

De Vice Cyah Done!