Carnival 2011 has also had its time. For two months, TT has enjoyed shows and fetes, but last night it bid a fond farewell to the Merry Monarch. Until next year, dear friend. Now to the business of living in Trinidad and Tobago minus the relief of the revelry.
What does the Lenten calendar hold? In the next few weeks, wage negotiations are certain to grab the spotlight once more with Government facing demands for increases from all quarters. The PSA is unsatisfied with the salary increase on offer and given a deadline of 2 pm last Thursday, the union asked for three months in which to have spot meetings with its members. It is likely however, that Government will send this matter to the Industrial Court to avert further embarrassing protest action following last week’s “spot meeting” at the upscale Hyatt Regency hotel which 100 PSA members invaded.
National security however is where the industrial action may have its hardest impact. Municipal police officers last week engaged in sick-out action, walking off the job three days. Disgruntled over not being paid the special allowance salary of $1,000 given to regular police last year, they are suffering regular bouts of the “black and blue flu”.
Meanwhile, the national police “blue flu” which made February tumultuous did not affect the Carnival shows or parades. The Police turnout was 100 percent and the men and women of the security services deserve congratulations for their devotion to duty. The Carnival crime plan which included the use of CCTV cameras, helicopters and car patrols of empty residential areas and parking lots seemed to work well. There were sporadic incidents of violence particularly during J’ouvert celebrations, but on the whole, Carnival 2011 was relatively safe for all. We thank the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) and trust it will resolve any further disagreements with the Government without resorting to sickouts, particularly as crime is certain to return this week to the front burner. Carnival over, TT will be expecting an arrest in the murder of eight-year-old Daniel Guerra.
Lent has the potential to be politically interesting. The PNM will seek to give new life to the party when it holds its annual convention at the Chaguaramas Convention Centre on March 20. However it appears to be experiencing difficulty attracting fresh blood even though all positions except political leader are up for grabs. Indications are many posts may end up in the grasp of former members of the Patrick Manning cabinet. Already ex ministers Neil Parsanlal and Mariano Browne have been elected unopposed to the new executive and former Minister of Works Franklin Khan is vying for a spot too. Continuing Congress of the People constituency polls will add flavour to the political pot.
The PNM may spend Lent in considerable introspection — it will also have to consider any possible fallout from its rejection of the Constitution (Amendment) (Capital Offences) Bill 2011, which sought to facilitate the resumption of hangings. Several informal polls have demonstrated the population supported the legislation and the Opposition will need to drum up backing for last month?s negative vote. The PP is probably still smarting from the defeat of the “Hanging Bill” as it has been dubbed, and we look forward to their next legislative and/or political step with regard to the death penalty and national security.
The season of reflection and sacrifice has begun and with it TT reluctantly returns to reality. Let us make this Lent a time to build, to gather stones, to mend, to love and above all, a time for peace.