No game of chess

Sometimes, I wonder how come mankind became the dominant species when we are often so very un-clever. What impulses cause us to abandon or lose our power of reason or to use just plain, old common sense?

Apart from the great folly of current events in Venezuela I am thinking of the totally uninspired decision to put an in-transit visitor to this country into high security prison for one week for having a key chain with an inert bullet shell on it? Apparently, and I am sure all TT travellers and citizens do not know, it is a grave offence to have any sort of innocuous or fashioned war-like materials about one’s person as one goes about one’s daily life in this country. I am only aware of camouflage print fabric being forbidden because an acquaintance mentioned to me, in general conversation, that despite its international vogue she had once got rid of her favourite army-type jacket before returning because it was illegal in TT. It reminds me of the bad days in South America when liberals and conservatives took turns to rule their countries and an unfortunate person accidentally wearing the wrong colour scarf or necktie attracted violence for his/her unwitting show of partisan support.

The Canadian traveller’s ordeal, widely publicised in social and digital media, does more to harm us than protect us. Our lamentable tourism industry could have benefited from some discretion instead of such a heavy exercise of power. Even if it is the law of the land, security personnel could have seized the offending items, which were incapable of being fired from a firearm, and warned the in-transit traveller, who clearly was uninformed rather than a real danger to anyone with his offending trinkets. Instead, he was charged with carrying ammunition without a licence, even though he has one in Canada, and also with the indictable offence of attempting to board an aircraft with ammunition, and then denied bail. Something similar could have happened to any one of us unintentionally carrying an offending piece of personal baggage anywhere in the world with its myriad laws.

The other absurdity was the International Cricket Council banning the West Indies captain Jason Holder for a month and fining him 40 per cent of his match fee for the slow over-rate in the second test match against England in the current series being played in the Caribbean. The nonsense of it is that the match did not even go for three days so it really did not matter one jot about the rate of the overs. Cricket enthusiast or not, we should consider the good sense in this decision when a match can take up to five days but was completed within three during which the West Indies rose like a phoenix from the ashes to beat their opponents in two consecutive tests with stunning bowling and batting. It is the revival of West Indies cricket that international cricket needs yet the ICC relegated the captain who delivered that gift to us all, denying the WI team of his leadership in the final test. Even the English players have complained about the “ridiculous” nature of the decision.

It would seem that in neither of these two incidents did anyone exercise good judgement. They would say they followed the law, which we all know is an ass. If I were given to conspiracy theory I would say both decisions intended to get us snookered, but since I believe them to be just silliness I would like to propose that chess is made compulsory in all schools in order to teach us whilst still young that every move has a counter move and we should focus on what that means for the end game.

This brings me to Venezuela and the cul-de-sac that President Maduro is boxing himself into. He is up against formidable enemies internally and externally and his position is increasingly compromised. How does he think he can manoeuvre his presidency back into complete control of the country when he is losing so much support, and the economy and society continue to disintegrate? His survival is uncertain unless he makes a deal, but he is just buttoning down the hatches with little hope of escape. As might be expected, he rejected calls for new presidential elections, offering instead legislative elections, which shows he understands his situation but not the end game. Whatever happens in Venezuela will be with the active involvement of the military upon whom he depends, but my hope is that it will be the last intervention of the generals and that they will choose to strengthen democratic institutions before returning to their barracks and staying there, never returning the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to its terrible 19th and 20th century history of military juntas.


"No game of chess"

More in this section