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Showing posts from January, 2012

We Need a Strong Opposition

Recently I ended up at a fundraiser organized by Democrats Abroad here in the UK.  As one would expect, the event was to raise funds for the re-election of President Obama in this year’s US Presidential elections.  Those of us in favour of campaign-finance reform in Trinidad and Tobago are impressed by the relative transparency in the campaign finance process in the US and in the UK.  Foreigners are not normally allowed to donate to political parties and all contributions over a certain threshold are a matter of public record.  In fact, I was only able to attend the event as a guest of my wife, who is a US citizen and a registered Democrat.

Key note speakers at this fundraiser were a senior campaign strategist for the Labour Party here in the UK as well as the MP for a South London constituency.  The strategist reminded me of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character in George Clooney’s recent political masterpiece - The Ides of March.  This movie is required viewing for anyone who wants to…

We Cannot Ignore It

My wife Saleema was born and raised in Richmond Hill, Queens, New York City so we found ourselves talking and reflecting on two related news items this month.  Two stories broke earlier this month that have shocked some residents of this community with strong ties to Guyana and Trinidad.  Firstly there was the case of Edul (Ed) Ahmad, the extremely popular real estate magnate who has been accused of masterminding a US$50 million mortgage fraud.  He is known to have ties to powerful New York politicians and even the former President of Guyana but these connections have meant nothing in the face of the accusations and allegations that now face him. 
The second big story in Queens is that of three members of the Ramsundar family also from Richmond Hill who were sentenced to 418 years in jail for immigration and real estate fraud also in the millions of dollars.  Their ties to Trinidad meant that the story has been carried in the local press.  One thing about the United States is that it…

Trini Positivity

After being in Trinidad for 4 consecutive carnivals, work commitments mean that I will once again have to miss carnival.  Like many of us, I smiled recently as I read the much circulated December 29th 2011 article on Trinidad in the Travel section of the New York Times which accurately noted that – “Partying, after all, is a national tradition in Trinidad, home to an annual Carnival that is the region’s biggest and…Trini revelers love their V.I.P. sections — not to mention their V.V.I.P. and, yes, V.V.V.I.P. sections…”.  After that Channel 4 documentary on our State of Emergency, it is good to see the positive side of life on the island being echoed in the international media.
Thanks to Facebook however, I get to live vicariously through my friends and follow their quest for tickets to the more elusive fetes (like the Vale Breakfast Fete) and see who wins the race to upload pictures first, from any given event.  At this special time of the year, it is good to see everyone coming toge…

Addressing Tobago's Tourism Challenges

For over a decade, I have worked in the travel and tourism within the Caribbean region and here in the UK and there is one thing I have learnt.  I have learnt that it is a deceptively complex industry –which tends to be quite political.  A former Director of Tourism for a Caribbean destination once explained to me that the job is 95% political and only 5% technical.    
In the past I have written that despite the best intentions of our Tourism Ministers and many TDC Directors, destination Trinidad and Tobago has certain challenges that put it at a disadvantage to our neighbours.  Permit me to point out what I consider the 3 main ones.  Firstly, unlike many of our neighbours, T&T’s Tourism Ministry is largely impotent since it has no direct control over key tourism assets such as creative industries (look at St Lucia or the UK), airlift, beaches or state owned hotels.  Secondly, we have confusingly tried to promote 3 propositions – destination Tobago, destination Trinidad, and des…