Trinidad’s, Guyana’s and Suriname’s current relations with Venezuela

Submitted by Dr Kumar Mahabir

In March last year, Trinidad and Tobago’s (T&T’s) relation with Venezuela shot into the spotlight. It was sparked by a secretive and suspicious meeting by Venezuela’s Vice President Delcy Rodriguez with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. Another controversy was sparked by the fuel shipment from T&T’s Paria Fuel Trading Company to Aruba, which was then surprisingly sent to Venezuela.

In Guyana, Venezuela is claiming the Essequibo region and most of the country’s maritime space. This dispute was taken to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2018, with Venezuela arguing that that the ICJ does not have jurisdiction to rule on the matter.

And where does neighbouring Suriname stand in these disputes? Remember that the former Bouterse government had close ties with Venezuela. What will be the new Santokhi government’s approach in this changing geopolitical landscape?

The following are HIGHLIGHTS of a ZOOM public meeting held recently (24/01/2021) on the
topic “Trinidad’s Guyana’s and Suriname’s current relations with Venezuela.” The Pan-
Caribbean meeting was chaired by Sharlene Maharaj and moderated by Bindu Deokinath
Maharaj, both women of Trinidad.

The Speakers were SENATOR ANIL ROBERTS from Trinidad, a former Minister of Sport and
Youth affairs, now opposition senator; PROFESSOR DANIEL GIBRAN from Guyana,
Professor Emeritus of International Security Studies at Tennessee State University in the USA;
and ANGELIQUE ALI HUSSAIN DEL CASTILLO from Suriname, a former Ambassador to
Indonesia and Chair of the Democratic Alternative91 (DA’91) party.

SENATOR ROBERTS from Trinidad said:
“Trinidad and Tobago has become an ‘enabler’ to the illegitimate Venezuelan government
because of the actions of the People’s National Movement’s (PNM) government and Prime
Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s relationship and fraternization with President Nicholas Maduro.
The T&T government was caught allowing Delcy Rodriguez – the vice president of Venezuela –
to enter the country under the pandemic-lockdown. Her immigration papers were signed by the
Minister of National Security, Stuart Young.

Meanwhile, thousands of Trinidadian citizens were locked out of their homeland, suffering,
starving and sleeping in subways with no access to food, clothes and medication. They were kept
out by a regime similar to that of Maduro’s. Rowley and Young have been following Maduro’s
policies and turning T&T into an undemocratic State.”

DR GIBRAN from Guyana said:

“The current and continuing impasse between Guyana and Venezuela over ownership of a
sizeable piece of disputed real estate is traceable to two strategic blunders: one by the British
Government in 1966, and the other by Forbes Burnham also in 1966. Both blunders were
incubated within the larger geopolitical and geostrategic context of the Cold War. And both were

Today, Guyana is facing an existential territorial threat that is at the heart of its existence, a
threat that will not simply disappear into thin air by the waving of a magic wand. In short,
Guyana’s security, the security of the State in the context of its physical space, is threatened by
an unstable, belligerent neighbor that claims two-thirds of its territory. This sharp and heavy
sword of Damocles continues to hang over Guyana.

Venezuela’s claim to the Zona de Reclamation is not simply Maduro’s claim and boisterous
fulminations. It resides in the soul of every Venezuelan citizen. It is a national feeling; unlike
anything we have seen demonstrated in Guyana.

Two strategic blunders – both committed in the same year – have burdened Guyana and stymied
its path to economic development. The Ali-Jagdeo Government is well-placed to strengthen its
relationship with the United States. In doing so, it would also allow the US to unhook itself from
a Venezuela that it once strongly supported, especially during the Cold War.

Today, Washington DC is eager, ready and willing to support and defend Guyana. And the
current governments on both sides of the Atlantic are ready to do business.”

ALI HUSSAIN-DEL CASTILLO from Suriname said:
“In October 2020 when there was an almost universal call for free and fair elections, the
Santokhi coalition party, in its political campaign, had promised that its position towards
Venezuela would be drastically changed.

DA’91 – the political party that I chair – has over the years made many calls to the government
and parliament of Suriname, as well as to the representatives of Venezuela in Suriname, to
condemn and leave the path of destruction and the violation of human rights.

It fell on deaf ears. In recent developments regarding the border issue between Venezuela and
Guyana, Suriname supported Guyana. However, the questions are: Does Suriname support
Guyana’s claim on its land or does Suriname support Guyana’s position that the International
Court of Justice (ICJ) has jurisdiction on the issue?

This is especially important since Suriname still has an important border issue to settle with
Guyana. The expectation of President Santokhi that standing with Guyana will not have any
consequences on its relationship with Venezuela, remains to be seen.”

Process and Priorities for the PM’s COVID-19 ‘Road To Recovery’ Committee

Posted to Afra Raymond’s website


Afra Raymond

Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley, appointed a 22-member COVID-19 ‘Road to Recovery’ committee on 16 April 2020 to handle and advise on the path of the post-pandemic economic and social recovery. Afra Raymond discusses what he believes should be the priorities of this committee.

  • Programme Length: 00:10:15
  • Programme Date: 18 April 2020

Treating COVID 19 Pandemic in Multi-ethnic Trinidad and Tobago

The Editor,


Submitted by Dr Kumar Mahabir

The stay-at-home-order in the ancient Hindu epic

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago delivered his address today (April 6) to update the nation on Government’s plans to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is not the first time that he has made repeated references to the Bible only, and not to the Quran or Ramayana.

Understandably, he is a Christian, but his national address must include references to the major religious groups in the multi-ethnic society. As former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday had said, a Prime Minister must represent all of the people

Prophet Muhammad commanded his followers with the order: “If you hear that there is a plague in a land, do not enter it; and if it (plague) visits a land while you are therein, do not go out of it.”

In his next address, Dr Rowley could also make a reference to the Ramayana, the largest ancient epic-poem in world literature, written about 700 BCE.

The allegory of the stay-at-home-order to avoid COVID-19 is represented by the sacred circle that was drawn around Sita’s hut to protect her from monsters in the forest.

Her brother-in-law, Lakshman, had drawn a circle in the sand with the tip of his bow while chanting a mantra (Lakshman Rekha). He said: “No demon can cross this line. Sita, you stay in the house; not for any reason at all will you cross this line. Don’t come out of the house. As long as you are in the house, you will be safe …”

In anxiety, Sita broke the directive and was kidnapped by the demon Ravan and taken in a flying chariot.

When that tragedy occurred, “the leaves did not flutter. The trees of Dandaka did not move. No breath of wind dared stir about the woods. The fast-streaming Godavari river slackened her speed from fright. The glorious Sun, who every day looks down upon our world, this time dimmed his light from the sadness of what he saw” (translated from Sanskrit by William Buck, 1976: 139).


Dr Kumar Mahabir

‘Contagion’ Effect – 43 Murders in TnT

Amit befitting the name of his website has expanded monitoring of key events  to neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago. This is important surveillance for Barbados given Trinidad’s nexus to Barbados.

David, blogmaster

There have been at least 43 murders in Trinidad for the month of January. The data presented below was collected and compiled from the online editions of the following news sites: The Guardian, LoopTT, Express and Newsday. During the month of January, these websites were checked periodically and reports of murders were recorded.

Trinidad Murders January 2020
Heat Map of Murders in Trinidad – January 2020


Read full details

UTT Staff Retrenched

Related Links:


Afra Raymond Analyzes Sandals MOU

Disclaimer, do not read this blog if you are a navel gazer. Congratulations to Afra and his team for forcing this matter – David, blogmaster

29th November 2018 was the first hearing of my Judicial Review of the refusal of the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) to provide a copy of the Tobago Sandals Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which I had requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) since 27th February 2018. At that hearing, the OPM agreed to provide the MoU and pay my costs, so my lawsuit was withdrawn.

This Tobago Sandals MoU was signed on 10th October 2017 and should have been disclosed long ago, without any necessity for legal action on my part. The PM and Minister Stuart Young repeatedly told the public that these details could not be published as that would undermine these important negotiations and so on and so forth.

Nine months of delays and obfuscation verging on an abuse of process, but that is just my opinion, as the OPM was advised by eminent Senior Counsel, Deborah Peake.

When the MoU was released at a press conference the evening before, Minister Stuart Young was emphatic that the decision to publish had nothing to do with me or my litigation. One has to wonder at the quality of advice being taken by the Cabinet.

We had to endure expensive time-wasting and elaborate waffle, dripping with disdain, about ‘sophisticated investors‘ and ‘how government business really runs‘. Well this is a good time to examine the actual Tobago Sandals MoU and see how sophisticated investors really work and learn how government business really runs. This is a serious teaching moment.

There were many positive features in the MoU (embedded below) in favour of Sandals. In fact, the MoU is so protective of Sandals’ interests that one can scarcely imagine how on earth we the public will ever profit from this immense investment. This article details my concerns on the decisive provisions of the MoU.

Read Afra’s full analysis

Media Sell out? – Is the Express an Objective Newspaper?


Submitted by Dr Kumar Mahabir

Open letter to Express editor

Dear Editor-in-Chief Ms. Omatie Lutchman Lyder,


As a newspaper which claims to be “national,” the Express should be truthful and objective in its coverage of national events in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T).

Readers have been observing that you have practically never published any news on the University of Trinidad and Tobago’s (UTT) restructuring exercise (downsizing) and its treatment (retrenchment) of employees (lecturers).

The Express chose not report on the recent news that a UTT Professor was prevented from entering the graduation ceremony on Thursday. See

The newspaper also refused to carry the news that UTT confessed that it did not complete a restructuring report before it retrenched 59 lecturers on May 11, 2018. See

FOIA investigations by social activist Devant Maharaj, through attorney Chelsea Stewart, revealed that the Express has been receiving the most advertising revenue from UTT over and above that of the two other dailies, the Guardian and the Newsday.

 Between September 2017 and August 2018, the Express cashed TT$1,253,763 in advertising revenue from UTT.  The Guardian received $701,283 and Newsday got $846,601.

The Express cashed the most money (45%) from UTT compared to the Newsday (30%) and the Guardian (25%). The Express collected almost half of UTT’s budget spent on the three daily newspapers.

Last Sunday (November 18, 2018), the Express was rewarded with a whopping EIGHT (8) pages of advertisements highlighting UTT’s graduation – eight full pages in full colour!!! The total advertising revenue for one day for one edition only was about $72,000. This excessive abuse of taxpayers’ money is being spent by UTT’s President Sarim Al Zubaidy mainly to promote himself in many of the photos!! The Guardian and Newsday received not a single page of advertisement from UTT last Sunday.

Based on the foregoing data, the Express is clearly favourable to one of its big corporate clients by not reporting the turbulence that is taking place within the walls of the only national university in T&T.

The Newsday and Guardian should be highly commended and patronised for reporting news on UTT from May 11, 2018 when 59 lecturers were retrenched. See, for example

A series of placard protests followed in front of UTT’s O’Meara and Valsayn campuses, the Ministry of Education, the Office of the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister’s Residence & Diplomatic Centre – none of which was covered by the Express.

Florens Focke, Alexandra Niessen-Ruenzi and Stefan Ruenzi of the University of Mannheim in Germany published a relevant research paper in 2015 entitled “A Friendly Turn: Advertising Bias in the News Media.”

They wrote: “Independence of the news press is one of the pillars of a functioning democracy. Ideally, newspapers and other media outlets should report truthfully and objectively about news items of interest to their readers, thus allowing them to make rational and unbiased decisions based on the information reported.”

The Express editor seems to be clearly sacrificing important news items of interest in order to please a big corporate client. Readers must now ask, “For whom else is the Express sacrificing objectivity for a million dollars?”


Dr Kumar Mahabir, Retrenched Assistant Professor

University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT)

The National Budget Presentation on UTT


Submitted by Dr Kumar Mahabir

There are only three (3) sentences on the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) in the T&T’s Government’s 2018/2019 national budget. These three sentences constitute one paragraph in a
a Budget Statement that is 48 pages long.

The brevity of the budget statement on UTT is suspect. It is a whisper from the standard roar that UTT is the first and only national university, although its President, Sarim N. Al-Zubaidy, is from Iraq. After his retrenchment of lecturers on May 11, 2018, he spent a tremendous amount of money doing damage control through promotional advertising with the pathetic tagline: “UTT IS HERE TO STAY”.

In his public oral statements on UTT, the Acting Chairman of the Board of Governors, Clement Imbert, is also short on details. Imbert and his nephew, Minister of Finance Colm Imbert, feel safe in being short (no pun intended) on UTT. To say more would reveal the devil in the details as is also the case in the current crisis in another State entity, Petrotrin.

Research and dissemination of knowledge

In one of his three sentences on UTT, the Minister of Finance gloated that the university “has been discharging its role as a catalyst for economic transformation through the advancement and application of research and dissemination of knowledge to produce work-ready graduates and critical thinkers for the country.”

This boast is a paradox and irony. I was one of 59 lecturers who were retrenched by UTT without due process on May 11 for being a “surplus” academic as part of the university’s “restructuring exercise.”

As an Assistant Professor, I was discharging my role as “a catalyst for economic transformation through the advancement and application of research and dissemination of knowledge …”. I have published scores of research-based articles in newspapers, magazines, journals and chapters in books. I also have eleven (11) books to my name. I have also presented research papers at local, regional and international seminars, conventions and conferences.

The person who replaced me at UTT has not published and, therefore, was not advancing and applying research, and disseminating knowledge for the country. A search in the databases ResearchGate, Google Scholar, ProQuest, EBSCO and revealed that she has not published a single research paper, even in a newsletter. I have post-graduate degrees in two disciplines; my M.Phil degree is in the Humanities (Literatures in English) and my Ph.D. is in the Social Sciences (Anthropology). Yet I was selected for retrenchment.

In his budget presentation, Colm Imbert also gloated that UTT “has been discharging its role as a catalyst … to produce work-ready graduates and critical thinkers for the country.” As an Assistant Professor, I taught several courses during my 10 continuous years of service to the university with an average of 30 students in each class. I taught courses in both the Primary and Secondary School specialisations.

Each semester (Terms 1 and 2), I taught an average of five (5) or more classes. I was selected for retrenchment by administrator Dr Judy Rocke while teaching the course CIED 4001: Contemporary Issues in Education. She dismissed me as a “surplus” lecturer when most of my colleagues were on vacation.

UTT short on transparency and credibility

On Monday, Minister Colm Imbert began his budget presentation by saying that when his party assumed power in September 2015, “we promised the citizens of T&T a transparent, honest and accountable Government. This was necessary for establishing credibility and trust in the new Government …”.

After the wrongful dismissal of 59 lecturers on May 11, 2018, UTT under Clement Imbert fell flat on the measure of transparency, honesty, accountability, credibility and trust. Some of us are seeking justice in the High Court and the Equal Opportunity Commission & Tribunal. We are asking UTT to reveal what criteria were used to dismiss us, if any at all, and whether these criteria were fair, objective, equitable and transparent?

Some of us have been working at the university on a 3-year contractual basis – some, like me, for ten (10) continuous years – when we were summarily dismissed by our supervisor, Dr Rocke, in the presence of an HR official. UTT lost all transparency, honesty, accountability, credibility and trust when due process was not followed in retrenching us.

UTT failed to consult with the affected lecturers, failed to give prior notice of dismissal, failed to provide the restructing plan of the university, failed to present evidence that each lecturer was “surplus” and/or “redundant”, failed to give an opportunity to the affected lecturer to respond, and failed to provide an opportunity for the lecturer to be represented by an attorney.

Minister Imbert should be ashamed to conclude his budget presentation by grinning and gloating, “We did it our way.”

Dr. Mahabir taught several courses at UTT including Research Methods.

The Plight of Petrotrin and UTT Retrenched Workers


Submitted by Dr Kumar Mahabir

As the spokesperson for the retrenched lecturers of UTT, I stand in solidarity with the displaced workers of Petrotrin.

On May 11, 2018, about 60 lecturers were wrongfully dismissed by the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT). On October 1, about 2,600 permanent workers would be innocently sent home by the oil company.

Both the UTT and Petrotrin are national entities. The UTT is a Government-funded, non-profit educational institution and Petrotrin is a commercial State oil company.

The workers in both enterprises are casualties of a “restructuring exercise” designed to cut financial losses by retrenching workers. Our UTT dismissal letters stated that we were “surplus” lecturers who became “redundant” in the university’s “restructuring exercise.”

Victims of mismanagement and malfeasance

The workers in the UTT and Petrotrin are victims of mismanagement by successive PNM and PP-appointed Boards of Governors. The Petrotrin worker’s union, OWTU, had always expressed its concern about mismanagement, malfeasance and graft. The trade union had also warned about cost overruns on megaprojects like the now infamous WGTL, USLD and GOP. No Petrotrin worker can be blamed for misappropriating TT$3 billion on the failed GTL plant.

Is the UTT managing taxpayers’ money wisely? Why does it continue to pay its Iraq-born president, Sarim Al-Zubaidy, a reported $240,000 a month? And now Al-Zubaidy’s long-time research partner, Wasi Z. Khan, another foreigner, is reportedly also being paid in foreign currency.

Speaking at a press conference on May 18, 2018 at NAPA, Vice Chairman of the Board Clement Imbert said, “UTT’s new structure will see a reduction in top management from seven Vice Presidents to three, 56 managers to about 33-36.” To date, there has been no announcement that this reduction has been done.

Does the UTT have money to continue to pay the 287 non-teaching workers who have to be retrenched, as Imbert and Education Minister, Anthony Garcia, told the media eight months ago?

Or is Imbert really afraid to fire these workers because of the inevitable backlash of protests from the militant OWTU which also represents the 287 workers?

Why does the UTT continue to pay for expensive full-page, full-colour advertisements in the print media with the pathetic tagline: “UTT IS HERE TO STAY”? Why did the UTT transfer approximately $323 million from its operating funds to continue the construction of its signature campus complex in the jungle in Tamana?

No consultation with UTT lecturers before dismissal

Unlike Petrotrin workers, we were never shown (the need for) a restructuring plan for the university or a statement of accounts indicating a financial loss. What was worse, the Board of the UTT never held any meeting or discussion with us. Had consultations been offered to us, we would have suggested ways in which jobs could have been saved without the university collapsing.

One of the due process steps followed in industrial relations – before formal notice of dismissal is given to affected employees – is consultation. The UTT failed to consult with us before the premature termination of our 3-year contracts.

The Retrenchment and Severance Benefits Act No. 32 of 1985 of T&T stipulates that “prior to the giving of formal notice in writing of retrenchment,” [the employer] is expected “to enter into consultation” with the affected employees or their representative union “with a view to exploring the possibility of averting, reducing or mitigating the effects of the proposed retrenchment.”

Lies told to UTT and Petrotrin employees

On January 15, 2018, Energy Minister Franklin Khan categorically dismissed a social media report which alleged that 2,000 workers would be retrenched from Petrotrin. He said, “It is mischief to say the least.” As the line Minister, either Khan did not know at the time or was telling a lie.

Speaking on Radio I95.5 on August 27, OWTU’s education and research officer, Ozzi Warwick, accused the government of perpetrating lies and withholding certain facts about Petrotrin. He said: “The country deserves to hear the whole Petrotrin story …. The lies must stop.” Warwick reiterated calls for a public inquiry.

On May 28, Minister Garcia told the media that UTT lecturers had to be “trimmed so that an equal distribution of the cumulative workload could be attained and maintained.” That is a lie propagated by Garcia. No such audit was done, at least in the Education Programme where I taught. To prove that he is not lying, I hereby publicly challenge Garcia to make public his lecturer-student ratio audit for the dismissed lecturers.

At our dismissal meeting, the Head of the Education Programme at UTT, Dr Judy Rocke, gave the reason for her termination of our contracts. She told the assembled lecturers that all Secondary School Specialisation courses were being phased out, resulting in us being “redundant” in the university’s “restructuring exercise.”

Now we know that she was lying. These courses are timetabled and are still being taught to new students during the new semester which began on September 3, 2018.

Dr. Mahabir taught several courses at UTT including Research Methods.

That Offensive Omega Curry Advertisement


Submitted by Dr Kumar Mahabir

The Omega 3-6-9 Complex advertisement on the nation’s highways – and now on TV – is an out-of-place, outright attack on all curry consumers. Indeed, it is an ethnic form of aggression on a group of people in multi-culinary Trinidad and Tobago.

This billboard advertisement suddenly appeared at various points on the highways with the tagline: “I like my Curry, but I love my heart.” The product being advertised is the Jamieson’s brand of Omega 3-6-9 Complex. The caption is followed by additional texts claiming that the tablets have been “Clinically proven to REDUCE Cholesterol.”

The caption is accompanied by an Indian woman with two tresses of long, flowing, black hair. She is serving a plate of paratha “buss-up-shut” roti with pumpkin, curried channa and aloo, curried chataigne [breadnut] and curried mango.

The public should be warned that the claim about the unhealthy effects of curry in this advertisement is false, unscientific and misleading. The advertisement should be immediately removed with an apology made to all curry consumers and educated people.

Curry powder is made from a blend of natural spices such as coriander, turmeric (“saffron”), ginger, cumin, fenugreek, nutmeg, fennel, cloves, tamarind, cinnamon, cardamom, chili peppers and curry leaves. On the other hand, Omega 3-6-9 is made from chemicals manufactured from fatty acids and fish oil and coated with gelatin sourced from beef and sometimes pork.

Gelatin is generally a faintly yellow, nearly transparent, glutinous substance obtained by boiling the skin, bones and ligaments of animals to form a glue. Vegetarians, Hindus and Muslims, therefore, should not be consuming Omega 3-6-9.


“The Omega 3-6-9 Complex advertisement on the nation’s highways…”

The clinically-proven medicinal benefits of curry

Contrary to the claims of the Omega advertisement, consuming curried foods have been clinically proven to lower the levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL), thereby reducing the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and strokes.

A review of the potential medicinal benefits of murraya koenigii (curry leaves) in dyslipidemia was done by Mamta Parnami and Dr Kanika Varma of the University of Rajasthan in India. Their review was published in the International Journal of Advanced Scientific Research and Management (2018).

Dyslipidemia is defined as an elevation of the total cholesterol, the “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and the triglyceride concentrations, and a decrease in the “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol concentration in the blood. Dyslipidemia is an important risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke.

The researchers from the University of Rajasthan reviewed studies on the medicinal benefits of curry leaves on human experimental models. In one study, 38 persons were given a preparation of fine ground curry leaves twice daily, at a dose of 3 grams per meal for a period of 5 weeks. The study revealed a significant decline in total cholesterol (P=0.03).

Parnami and Varma also reviewed another study in which 40 post-menopausal women 45-65 years of age, with hyperlipidemia, were given with dried curry leaf powder (5gms) added to their main side dish during lunch for 45 consecutive days. At the end of the experimental period, there was a decrease of about 31.4 mg/dl TC, 15.9mg/dl TG, 23.8 mg/dl of the “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. It was also observed that there was an increase of 6.5 mg/dl in the “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol concentration in the blood.

The clinical claims of Omega 3-6-9 are misleading

The advertisement promotes the idea that Omega 3-6-9 is “Clinically proven to REDUCE Cholesterol.” Omega 3 is composed of polyunsaturated fatty acids found mainly in fish, fish oils, flax seed oil, green leafy vegetables, some nuts and vegetable oils.

Clinical research does not support the claim that omega−3 fatty acid supplementation prevents cardiovascular disease (including myocardial infarction and sudden cardiac death) and strokes.

These discoveries were published in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) (2012), Archives of Internal Medicine (2012), Pharmacology & Therapeutics (2013), and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2018).

Omega-6 fatty acids are a family of polyunsaturated fatty acids found in foods such as poultry, eggs, nuts, whole-grain breads and most vegetable oils

A meta-analysis of 10 trials was done on 77,917 patients and published in JAMA Cardiology (2017). The study found no clinical support for the claim that the daily intake of one gram of omega-3 fatty acid in individuals with a history of coronary heart disease prevents fatal coronary heart disease, nonfatal myocardial infarction or any other vascular disorder.

Omega-9 fatty acids are a family of unsaturated fatty acids found in animal fat, vegetable oils and natural foods such as nuts, seeds and avocados.

Clinical evidence suggests that increasing omega-6 fats have little or no difference to triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL, the “good” cholesterol) or low-density lipoprotein (LDL, the “bad” cholesterol) (Cochrane 2018).

Research also conducted by L. Al-Khudairy et al. (2015) from Warwick Medical School concludes with this statement: “Our analyses found no statistically significant effects of either increased or decreased omega 6 intake on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors.”

Dr. Mahabir obtained his Ph.D. in Medical Anthropology from the University of Florida.

Sandals MoU? Part III

Citizen Advocate Afra Raymond continues his piercing examination of the Sandals transaction – David, blogmaster

The previous article delved into the published information on the three existing State-owned hotels and juxtaposed that with the proposals for a Tobago Sandals. Apart from the unsatisfactory position with the State’s existing hotel investments and the reluctance to give details, I also updated readers on the missing MoU for the Tobago Sandals project.

My dismal readings were based on the very limited publicly-available information, nothing else. I did not refer to any rumours or ‘inside information‘, my work is all based on the published record. The PM and his colleagues surely have ready access to a better quality and quantity of information than the public. That being the case, it begs the question as to what is really happening here.

If indeed, the Sandals project has significant upsides and benefits, those ought to have been estimated and shared by now. If the existing State-owned hotels are doing well, why aren’t the management agreements or accounts published? If those hotels are doing poorly, why are we persisting with that same model?

We need a proper examination of those existing hotels so that the Sandals negotiations can take place on the basis of sound information. That is all I am saying.

“In fact, she told a gathering of industry stakeholders…that what it had essentially done was to create three classes of hoteliers in the country.

“Those like Sandals that get everything without consultation, . . . those who have to come to the Ministry of Tourism…which is nonsense, and then those who don’t even get anywhere near the Ministry of Tourism…and as a result therefore they are precluded from being a beneficiary of any of those concessions,”…

Read full article – HERE

The Hindu Ban on Muslim Hijab

Submitted by Fatimah Mohammed

There is an ongoing controversy on the ban of the OJT Muslim trainee-teacher for wearing a hijab headdress at a Maha Sabha Hindu school.

Nafiesa Nakhid was told to remove her hijab in accordance with the school rules of the Lakshmi Girls’ Hindu College in St Augustine on Monday.

As a Muslim woman with a Hindu husband and two multi-religious children, I am the best authority to adjudicate on this matter.

In its Facebook page, the Centre for Indic Studies led by NCIC’s Dr. Arvind Singh and Aneela Bhagwat, has condemned Sat Maharaj and the Maha Sabha for their action. Singh and Bhagwat have described the Maha Sabha’s ban as “disappointing and indeed shameful.”

Why were Singh and Bhagwat silent when mainly Hindu and Indian lecturers were fired from the Afro-Christian dominated UTT on May 11, 2018?

These paper-based organizations rise from the dead only to attack Sat and the Maha Sabha.

Mr Haripersad Maharaj of the IRO, Dr??? Mahant Deochand Dass of the Kabir Panth, and

Pandit Mukram Sirju of the Academy of Hinduism all came out of their coma to attack Sat when he said that Patrick Manning was a racial prime minister.

Obscure organizations like these do not utter a word when Hindu students are sent home from Muslim schools for wearing rakhi on their wrists and traces of abeer on their skins after Phagwa.

What do Arvind Singh and Aneela Bhagwat have to say about a brand-name Muslim jewellery store in a mall that refuses to sell or repair Hindu and Christian pendants?

What do these meek organizations have to say about a Muslim-operated stationery shop in Aranguez refusing to photocopy anything with images and/or text of Hinduism or Christianity?

Few Indians Joined Black Power in 1970

Submitted by Dr Kumar Mahabir

Saturday April 21st marks the 48th anniversary of the declaration of the State of Emergency to quell the Black Power Revolution in Trinidad in 1970. The uprising was led by Makandal Daaga and his chey-la [disciple], Kafra Kambon, of the National Joint Action Committee (NJAC).

This year also marks the 18th anniversary since Kambon and his gang of followers rowdily stormed out of a conference on the rebellion during my presentation at University of the West Indies (UWI).

On that Holy Thursday, I was simply trying to expose the popular, (politically correct) propagated myth that many Indians actively participated in the Black Power Revolution.

Seven years after Kambon and his gang noisily interrupted my presentation, Professor Bridget Brereton of the Department of History at UWI came out to support my position.

In an article entitled “Contesting the past: Narratives of Trinidad & Tobago,” Brereton wrote: “Most Indo-Trinidadians opposed the movement and rejected the label ‘black,’ which, most felt, subsumed their ethnic identity under a blanket term always primarily associated with people of African descent” (page 19).

At the Black Power conference in UWI in 2010, I began my presentation by saying: “I speak with the knowledge that there is an attempt by NJAC, and a few Indian militants, to sanitize what, according to historian Kelvin Singh was really ‘a bid by Afro-Trinidadians to dominate the multi-ethnic society in a totalitarian way’” (page 5).

In his book East Indians and Black Power in the Caribbean (1986), Professor Mahin Gosine stated that the participation level of Indians was very low. He wrote that Black Power meant a call to African people to return to their cultural roots, to reject White domination, and to seize political power through revolutionary struggle. The ideology, at its core, preached a return to the traditional African past.

Many Indians did not actively participate in the Black Power Movement because of the violence that was involved. Violence exploded on a large scale on the night of March 5, 1970. Each night, the number of targets hit by Molotov cocktails increased.

Indians feared that the violence would be turned against them, their families, their homes and their small business establishments. An Indian-owned factory was burnt in San Juan and four children died in the fire.

Although NJAC led a procession of 20,000 demonstrators to San Juan, and later to Caroni as an apology, and to signal Afro-Indian unity, the damage was already done to the psyche of Indians.

In his journal article entitled “East Indians and Black Power in Trinidad,” foreign-based researcher, David Nicholls (1971), agreed that the “majority of Indians looked with a certain degree of detachment and with some suspicion upon what was going on. They saw it as a confrontation between black demonstrators, black policemen, and a black Government” (page 443).

At the forefront of the movement were a few Indians. These were men like Winston Leonard who could not have claimed for himself to be either a spokesman or a leader of the Indian community. There was also Chan Maraj of the unknown Arouca-based National Freedom Association, whose fame to claim was that he was related to veteran politician Stephen Maharaj.

These men were aliens to the Indian community. Indeed the Indian community saw them as confused men without a cultural identity. They were token Indian symbols used by advocates of the Black Power Movement for strategic, symbolic and political purposes.

Like Raja Ramlogan, these Indian men did not talk about India, Indian history and Indian heritage with the same passion as their African counterparts talked about their ancestral past.

Indeed, while the Black Power leader, Daaga, and his chey-la, Kambon, were sporting dashiki with pride, Ramlogan was sporting dashiki too, instead of the culturally-acceptable Indian kurta shirt.

A few Indian university students were involved. They went beforehand along the Caroni route explaining the purpose of the proposed march. But they were not taken seriously by villagers since they were considered young university students who just had “more book sense that common sense.”

On March 12, 1970, Indian children came out on the streets out of curiosity to see the dramatic procession, complete with colour, props, chants and speeches.

Indian adults on the Caroni route came out not so much in support of the Movement, but more out of the characteristic Indian hospitality to give food and water to any passing stranger in need.

There was also the strong feeling of fear: Give these rebels what they want and let them go quickly.” If Indians did give a hand of support to the protesters, it was really in support against Prime Minister Dr Eric Williams and his ruling PNM (People’s National Movement) who were considered to be the enemies of Indians.

THE WRITER is an anthropologist who has published 11 books.


Correspondence – Dr. Kumar Mahabir, 10 Swami Avenue, Don Miguel Road, San Juan, Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies. Mobile: (868) 756-4961 E-mail:

Sandals and Secret Deals with Caribbean Governments Continue …

Father and son Butch and Adam Stewart

The same concerns many Barbadians have voiced at the lack of transparency by government with the Sandals Butch Stewart deal is also playing out in Trinidad & Tobago. Unlike Barbados, Freedom of Information legislation is on the statute books of Trinidad and therefore affords citizens like Afra Raymond the avenue to request information deem to be in the public interest.

It is no secret Sandals Butch Stewart deals have been ‘questioned’ across the Caribbean  and of recent Prime Minister Gaston Browne has expressed public outrage at the dictatorial attitude being expressed by Sandals Stewart in Antigua towards his government. We are not in a position to establish if Sandals and Butch Stewart have been involved in nefarious behaviour when dealing with governments across the Caribbean. What we know is that citizens have a right to demand transparency in government especially as it relates to how said decisions effect the public purse.

We recommend the reading below which details the journey by citizen advocate Afra Raymond in T&T as it relates to exposing the MOU with Sandals.

-David,  BU blogmaster


The Tobago Sandals mega-project has returned to the headlines with recent interviews of Sandals Resorts’ CEO, Adam Stewart, in Barbados and Stuart Young, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister.

Stewart’s statements were widely reported in the local press (see Addendum 1 below) with an emphasis on the lack of secrecy in the entire arrangement and the fact that discussions were still at a preliminary stage. Minister Young’s CNC3 interview on Wednesday 28 February 2018 (below) was also notable for his insistence that there was no secrecy or any reluctance to engage with the public on this mega-project.

The Jefferson Cumberbatch Column – A Caribbean Tragedy

Jeff Cumberbatch – Chairman of the FTC and Deputy Dean, Law Faculty, UWI, Cave Hill

In 1960s Barbados, many looked forward on Friday afternoon to a publication called the “Calypso”. My late mother and I were among them. It was a newspaper that, according to my best recollection, consisted of stories of entertainment and the lighter stuff much like the traditional Friday afternoon newspapers in some regional jurisdictions such as Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago.

As the Hurricanes Irma and Maria ravaged some of the regional islands a week or two ago, my mind reverted to a character in the Calypso newspaper that had his own eponymous cartoon, the impressively witty, fashionably dressed (stingy brim, continental pants and all) and unapologetically chauvinist, gap-toothed “Kalypso Kat” and one panel in particular that we read with perhaps more enjoyment than we should have.

“Why,” queries one lady of Kalypso Kat, do they name hurricanes after women only? “Simple”, responds Kat, “that’s because dey dangerous like wunna”

Of course we have progressed to a more equitable distribution of the names of hurricanes since those days and nowadays for every Anna there is a Bernard and, for every Jacques, a Jillian. However, Kat’s mansplaining in that strip of long ago would have seemingly been borne out by the havoc wrought in some of our neighbouring islands by Irma and Maria while Jose eventually dissipated and harmed no one.

I have chosen to title this piece “A Caribbean tragedy” for obvious reasons. After all, the lives lost and the severe and probably irreparable dislocation caused to some in Anguilla, Barbuda, Tortola, Dominica and, for geographical comity, Puerto Rico, by these hurricanes are, indeed a tragedy of significant proportion.

But two other events are also tragic in nature even though neither might have displaced a single roof or directly caused a loss of life or livelihood. These are first, the niggardly and negative response of some individuals in Trinidad & Tobago to the selfless appeal by Dr Keith Rowley, the Prime Minister, for some Dominicans to be accommodated in that country where it was practicable to do so.This negativity was a clear display of selfishness by those responders, but it may go even deeper than it appears at first sight.

Since most of the Dominicans would be presumed to be mainly of one ethnicity and given the similar ethnic identity of the administration extending to them a helping hand in their hour of need, it might have possibly been perceived that some electoral advantage would most likely inure to the Rowley administration if those relocated individuals were ever granted the franchise in Trinidad & Tobago.

This might appear a fantastic deduction to my readers, but one of the cases that we treat in the law of defamation is that of a successful defence of qualified privilege on the basis of self defense of reputation on the part of a Trinidadian Senator who, stung by an imputation of dishonesty applied to members of his own party by a talkshow host, sought to respond in kind and suggested that the publisher of that accusation was himself part of an electoral strategy by Dr Eric Williams to permit the entry of Grenadians such as the publisher himself into Trinidad so that they would vote for Dr Williams party and thus perpetuate his hold on power. The defence of qualified privilege succeeded in the subsequent action for defamation by the talk show host against the Senator. The ratio was that the defendant was entitled to defend himself by a response of similar kind against defamatory imputations made about him. The significance of ethnicity in the Trinidad & Tobago partisan political environment is not to be taken lightly.

The second incident relates also to political partisanship and demonstrates the extent to which this phenomenon dominates the regional discourse in that it might assume eminence in a conversation as to relief for victims of this catastrophic act of nature.I refer to the accusation leveled a couple of days ago against the Prime Minister of Dominica by opposition political forces that the distribution of received aid was being effected along partisan lines.

Perhaps someday one of our political scientists with time on his or her hands will seek to explore the nature if the connection between the gain of political capital and material assistance to victims in times of natural disaster.

Indeed, it seemed for a brief while last week that the identical discussion might even enter our neck of the woods with the accusation that there had been a less than commendable national attempt only to offer relief to those in the ravaged islands, an imputation that would now have been displaced by the sterling work of the nation’s security forces and the use of Barbadian craft to transport both supplies to the islands and some individuals to safety.

The connection is indeed intriguing; an administration that is adjudged to be delinquent in its efforts at rescue and assistance is unlikely to gain favor with an electorate sympathetic to the victims, while one that is liberal with its assistance is more likely to find electoral advantage.One apt title for such a study would be “The Politics of Natural Disasters,” but then, what do I know?

Indeed, to conclude, there are more than a few commentators who credit anecdotally the 1986 entry of former Prime Minister, Owen Arthur, into the Lower House as the representative for St Peter to the flood relief accorded to the constituency by the then governing administration during that period.

One issue that concerns me in all this is the seeming helplessness of the region in the face of these hurricanes. I am not aware of any research studies that are being conducted regionally to avert the destruction wrought by them and even the suggestions as to how best to avoid losing the roof of one’s dwelling to the winds of the hurricane, while laudable and important, are still accepting of the theory that the hurricanes will and must come. We speak glibly in the region of the need for research…to isolate the effects of decriminalizing marijuana…to discover the most effective means of gaining reparation for slavery. Doubtless impotent issues. Is there none interested in avoiding or mitigating the incidence of hurricanes and their consequent destruction?