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Biography - F.A. Baron
Freedom to be Greedy
Farewell & Welcome
DA Response to Grenada
And, We were Misled
Local vs Privy Council
Thank You Dame Eugenia
Big Bad John
Travels and Travails
Trade Gap - USA & DA
In Case You Missed It
".. Your Love to Town"
Mad Men not to be trusted
Politics of Lies & Deception
Wide, Deep Transparency
Petrocaribe $ Bird Island
Nations Shall War No more
My Feeling of Insecurity
China, Admiration & Envy
Capitalism: Wounded ...
© Gordon Moreau
We Buy Our Cell…We Sell Our Souls
(October 9, 2004)
The recent Grenada experience should have reminded us how vulnerable we all are. I see little evidence that we have gotten this message, so it is worth repeating: it is not "if" we shall get devastated by another massive hurricane. It is "when". This is why our initial silence in the early days after the hurricane in Grenada disturbed me so profoundly. After all, Grenadians and so many other people immediately came to our rescue after hurricane David in August 1979. When our next catastrophe is at hand we shall expect them to respond again.
Yes there has been some response from Dominica, but I would argue, it has been too limited. I lived in Trinidad in 1979 and my view of our current response is at once coloured by, and related to my experience.
An immediate sequel to David was a total cut in communication with relations and friends in Dominica. Soon enough after, the late Eucief Nixon, a.k.a. By Trinee, found a way to visit Dominica. He came back to Trinidad, told the tale of the devastation, and like a man possessed he set about indefatigably on a campaign to secure assistance for the hurricane victims.
Dominicans living in Trinidad rallied. There were many others, but I recall Dr. Cecil Mathurine and family, Dr. Vivian Moise and family, Mr. Gregory Shillingford and others. I personally opened an account at a commercial bank on Independence Square for the Dominica victims.
The pretension that the principles and practice of integrity in accounting and accountability was invented by American authorities since Enron is precisely a pretension. In 1979 I knew a thing or more about integrity and accountability. I recommended to our group that the bank manager should be given the responsibility to forward money collected to Dominica. I did not consider it necessary for me to be a signatory to withdraw from the account even if I had opened the account.
One member of the group suggested that I did not trust myself. I responded with some sharpness: I trusted myself. What I feared was those such as himself who might ask me to give account and who might not be happy with my account. I had my way.
Within several days, as a result of the publicity blitz, the media of Trinidad and Tobago as a whole "adopted" our fund. It was now the "Media Fund" for the relief of the hurricane victims of Dominica.
Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT), Radio Guardian, and Radio Trinidad, among themselves, broadcast messages several times a day, everyday, reminding the population to make his/her personal contribution to the Dominica fund. By that time, other financial institutions had come on board. Now that it is Grenada's turn, where is the reciprocal intensity that the Dominica media should have demonstrated?
I am disappointed. I feel that our concept of modernity amounts to simply this: we buy our cell and we sell our souls. We have become too developed to remember those who assisted us years ago, and indeed not so long ago.
I remain to mention another facet of accountability: the role of the Trinidad and Tobago daily newspapers, the "Express" and the "Guardian."
Suppose at the end of Day One, ten dollars had been contributed. At the end of Day Two, the "dailies" would publish, say media balance brought forward…$10.
Balance end of Day Two, carried forward…………………………………...$3105. The balance at end of Day Two would be the beginning balance of Day Three. Contributors on Day Three would see their names published and their donations acknowledged. So, days, weeks and months went by.
Eventually, during the Eugenia Charles administration, to the best of my understanding, about EC$750,000 was transferred to Dominica as proceeds from the fund.
After David all the other territories were pledging. For a couple of days, the government of Trinidad and Tobago said nothing. Trinbagonians got annoyed with Prime Minister Dr. Eric Williams. It was embarrassing--they told him-- that all the small islands had responded and Trinidad/Tobago was silent.
Williams too responded with customary edge: Do not expect us to endanger the "coast guard" and the lives of our sailors in the storm. We do not have to pledge. As soon as we are ready, we will just send.
Eventually, the Trinidad/Tobago coast guard arrived and delivered to Dominica.
In Tobago a "small church" preacher ordered his congregation to give to Dominica…"Give until it hurts," he said. "Do not give things you do not want. Give things you want."
In other words, love is giving away those things you would prefer to keep for yourself. So, in recent times I have appealed to our people to cut out their cannibal propensities. I now urge that we rise from our slumber and respond appropriately to the catastrophe that has befallen our neighbors in Grenada and elsewhere.
It is arrant nonsense to question whether the government of Dominica should give US$50K. It is more important to ensure that before the end of this day I have made a personal contribution: personal and within my means. It may include accommodating a child while its school in Grenada is being rebuilt.