Port of Spain is a colony of empire, a colonial enclave. We had thought that with the end of British rule, Port of Spain would have become independent. But it has become a dyed-in-the-wool servant of empire, imperialism, crown colony, colonialism. It is unfree and needs to be made free. It is anti-republican and needs to be made republican. Here are seven reasons why:
1. Anti-development. Port of Spain houses an amalgam of large corporate business interests which have little interest in genuine national development. One of the elements of this amalgam is an ingrained merchant class, whose chief interest is importation; and is antagonistic to any attempts to develop our local production base, in food, medicine, culture, housing, and planning generally. Its culture is a sign; mas has become anti-French, anti-African, anti-Minshallian: imported jingle and beads.
2. Large mainstream media corporations “push the head” of Washington politics. They tow the line, verse, chapter and gospel, of the mainstream media in the West. They hold very little opinion independent of this western ideology; one which is imperialistic and CIA-driven, demonising attempts at self-assertion and independence globally. They are antagonistic towards altered world views; their editorials fill the current void with platitudes and self-serving sermons.
3. The Parliament, the Red House at the centre, houses an antiquated form of colonial government, based on race and across-the-aisle banter, chicanery, adverserialism, and verbal violence. It takes no ethical position on global issues; unless it is approved by western media, leaders, senates and parliaments. It is its own world, detached from the local, the everyday needs of the lands, peoples and communities of the nation.
It taxes and receives astounding incomes from gas and oil produced elsewhere in the republic; but does not provide commensurate goods, services and leadership. It plotted, in 2000, a failed Natural Gas Master Plan, which would have, but for our activist communities, opened us up to a nasty species of globalisation: the trade of our vital economic, social and ecological assets for dubious financial returns.
4. The Judiciary is inflexible. It lacks reach. It is hamstrung by backlog. It has not developed a vigilant system of justice on the ground. In the absence of live, direct and reachable justice on the ground, people take the law into their own hands. It is bogged down by paper; by inefficiency; by formalities which belong to the colonial past. It has failed to reform and alter our ruinous prison system.
5. The Red House is a symbol of colonial rule. It houses a colonial Parliament. It is a symbol of State bureaucracy; with petty clerks often engaging in petty monetary exchange to perform simple tasks. A symbol of political and administrative procrastination. And a symbol of bloodshed; it is the site (Conquerabia) of a genocide of First Peoples. It was built on the blood and sacred bones of a vilified and slaughtered people.
6. Jam-packed. Port of Spain has drawn communities from far and wide to settle around it. The valleys of Diego Martin, Maraval, St Ann’s, the hills of Morvant and Laventille, the districts of San Juan and Barataria are the most disadvantaged in the republic. Extremely high population densities lead to alienation and poor living conditions. This is horrible; hustle, unemployment, violence, psychological stress takes a severe toll on children, women, the indigent and the elderly. The traffic outside its gates is insupportable.
7. The dump outside Port of Spain emits pollution 24 hours a day into homes in Sea Lots, the Laventille and Morvant hills, and the city itself. Where there should be flourishing fish, floral, biotic kingdoms there is pollution, contamination, dead dog and, therefore, corbeaux galore. This dump is an emblem of decay, rot, pollution and the larger malaise afoot. Port of Spain is a besmirched swamp; it is caught in “half-tide” between the colonial master and the masses.
A nation aspiring to republicanism cannot afford an unfree, anti-republican, colonial centre as its headquarters. Port of Spain is a symbol of colonial stoogism, colonial order, colonial centralisation, colonial bureaucracy, colonial government, colonial classism and racism. It has not ever, from 16th century to the present, not represented foreign rule, colonial authority. How can Port of Spain become free, become republican?
By decentring power. By radically diversifying our system of government. By creating strong and vigilant constituency government and leadership. By moving Parliament out of Port of Spain, to a central location. By decentralising justice. And services. And police. By taking down the carbuncle of colonial rule and bureaucracy, the Red House, and returning the land on which it is located to the First Peoples to erect a permanent quarter there; an example, symbol and reminder of pre-Colombian civilization: the path forward, with its ecologic and cosmologic visions and practices.