Trinidad and Tobago: Do the Dragon Dance! Do the Maduro Dragon Gas dance!

Trinidad and Tobago: Do the Dragon Dance! Do the Maduro Dragon Gas dance!

It is noteworthy to effect a comparative analysis of the press releases of the governments of Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) on the sourcing of gas from the Dragon field, Sucre State, Venezuela for use in T&T. The latest instance is the negotiations that were held in Caracas, Venezuela in June 2018 which failed to produce a done deal. PDVSA’s press release on Thursday 28 June 2018 in Spanish simply stated in a single paragraph that this was simply another meeting held between both governments towards guaranteeing a supply of gas to the domestic market of T&T and “as well as the plans for gas trading in foreign markets.” What does that mean we the people of T&T simply don’t know! Apparently the Venezuelans are differentiating between gas for domestic consumption and Venezuelan gas turned into LNG and exported to foreign markets. Does this apply to methanol, urea and other products utilising gas as feedstock and exported to international markets? No answers! The press release of Thursday 28 June 2018 in English stated: “as well as the plans for gas trading in foreign markets.” That was all PDVSA’s releases stated simply the process is ongoing with no time frame for finality in sight.

In T&T the Daily Express of 28 July 2018 reported on a press statement from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) on the meeting in Caracas, Venezuela which stated that: “There remains a number of areas where further work is required.” The Newsday 29 June 2018 reported on the post cabinet meeting where Minister Young stated: “Right now we’re just stuck on price.” What we can surmise from the public statements made by both sides is that the Venezuelans are demanding a unit price for their gas which will be used as feedstock for export commodities sold on international markets as and especially LNG that T&T is unwilling to pay. Maduro has T&T by the short and curly magnified by the geopolitical reality impacting this gas supply deal. Maduro has everything to gain especially leverage over T&T and we have everything to lose which trumps what we delusionally believe we have to gain.

Can Maduro supply the gas? In light of the condition PDVSA is in as at July 2018 NO! After his electoral victory in May Maduro suddenly became very proactive after a first term of handwringing whilst austere neoliberalism is applied with a vengeance combined with prolific printing of paper money, intense State suppression of the poor and underclass and looting the State coffers on an industrial scale. The Maduro sorcerer’s apprentice model of survival at all costs political alchemy. One such proactive action was to meet with the leaders of the workers’ movement of PDVSA in a televised meeting to hear the workers’ position on why oil production in PDVSA had now collapsed to below 1.1 million barrels per day since April 2018 from 2.5 million barrels per day in late 2016 and how to raise production levels. Oil worker Ernesto Guerra stated: “We can recuperate up to 80% of lost production within six months to a year…if we are given the tools, materials, supplies and, minimal things which we need.” Guerra has therefore indicated that the dramatic fall in production is an expression of the systematic collapse of PDVSA as a wealth generating enterprise under the leadership of Maduro. Other workers indicated that the plant and equipment of PDVSA needs to be upgraded which illustrates the failure to invest in the necessary upgrades and the bureaucratic barriers erected must be dismantled. PDVSA is then a lumbering political dinosaur effectively neutered and plundered as a feeding trough to the point where what is necessary to breathe life into it is outside of the capacity of the politicians who contributed to its demise. PDVSA today simply does not command the resources to develop the Dragon and other gas fields of offshore Sucre state and much less to erect the infrastructure to connect to the infrastructure on the T&T side of the sea boundary. To do this they need an external source of funding in order to meet the start-up of supply date being bandied about in the media. The question is if this legal and permissible under the organic hydrocarbon law of Venezuela?

The immediate strategic imperative is to raise PDVSA’s daily oil production by 1 million barrels per day as follows: 360,000 barrels per day of light crude from 13, 345 category 11 wells in Western Venezuela and 700,000 barrels per day of heavy crude from 9,500 wells from the Orinoco Belt. This strategic imperative has to be implemented on the ground where PDVSA is in the grips of a severe cash flow crisis, is owing its service providers both locally and internationally, faced with debilitating US sanctions especially those which preclude the repatriation of CITGO’s profits to Venezuela and most importantly with a crushing USD debt load in 2018 and 2019. To this must be added the collapse of the infrastructure of PDVSA and in depth politicisation of the management of PDVSA where it is now paralysed from top to bottom exemplified in the assault on corruption where a general of the Guardia Nacional is now president of PDVSA and minister of energy. On the 4 July 2018 Correo del Orinoco carried a news report which indicated that China had agreed to a specific financing credit facility of USD 5 billion to fund the project to raise the production of oil in Venezuela especially in the Orinoco oil belt. The Development Bank of China has also agreed to a specific financing credit facility to PDVSA to increase oil production of USD 250 million. Trump’s war on China leaves little free space for China to secure a supply of oil free from the machinations of the US hence the dance with a collapsed PDVSA. Two press releases of PDVSA dated the 5 and 6 July 2018 indicated that the capital injection of China into oil production will be aimed at increasing oil production in China/Venezuela joint venture companies where the CNPC of China will take on the leading role for China in this China financed venture. China has no presence in the Dragon field and has yet to exhibit concern with Venezuelan offshore gas as an investable interest and the other fields adjoining Dragon are under a joint venture with Rosneft of Russia.

The Correo del Orinoco of 3 July 2018 reported that Gazprom was now working with PDVSA in Zulia State to restore a reliable supply of electricity and steam to the oilfields of Zulia necessary to increasing production via reliable secondary lift. China and Russia are then active in the effort to increase oil production in Venezuela today in the face of the collapse in oil production of PDVSA. An involvement that is a strategic imperative in response to the Trump end game that only Trump seems to know. A press release from PDVSA dated 4 July 2018 reported that 11 service agreements with nine service companies were signed for work on wells in the oilfields of Western Venezuela in Zulia and Trujillo States. The identity of the nine companies were not revealed in the press release but it is clearly apparent that the increase in oil production is the sole strategic aim of PDVSA right now and until it is accomplished.

Where does Dragon gas for T&T fit into this strategic imperative for a nation in economic meltdown and PDVSA in crisis to which Venezuela is addicted? PDVSA is now Venezuela’s pusher man in crisis as the pusher man cannot supply what the addict named Venezuela craves for hence the Maduro diet for all except the bolibourgeoisie and the Punto Fijo oligarchs.

Whilst we sing optimistic songs in public driving the Dragon dance the issue is not only if the gas materialises in spite of signing a contract but what price will we pay geopolitically to the parties on both sides of the divide? How costly will be the pounds of flesh extracted by parties on both sides of the divide? The propensity for grave damage is a likely possibility!

To hitch your wagon to this disaster waiting to happen thereby risking geopolitical blowback coupled with no gas deliveries indicates that all is not as portrayed in the reality of T&T on the ground. This is desperation in action, delusion or desperate delusion?



T&T and Guyana in Islamic State’s “Hotel California” in Syria

The Hijrah of Female Muslims to Islamic State: the case of the guest house in Syria

In May 2018 the Combatting Terrorism Centre (CTC) published an analysis of the register of an all-female guest house of the Islamic State in Syria which housed Muslims who undertook Hijrah to Islamic State. There were 1, 139 entries with some level of information in the register with 1, 138 of them stating a name or an alias. Islamic State designed the register to collect the following information from Muslims entering the facility: Name, Alias, Age, Marital Status, Number of Children, Name of Husband, Location of Husband, Date of Entry, Date of Exit. Muslims chose to supply which demand for information they complied with but the bureaucratic zeal of Islamic State to profile all those within the ambits of the state is now a treasure trove for those seeking to identify those who undertook the Hijrah.

The register indicates contrary to the attempt by western media to normalise IS and Muslims undertaking Hijrah to IS with the concept of “jihadi brides” the demographic characteristics of Muslims at the guest house were in keeping with Islamic sensibilities.

Of the 1, 132 Muslims who indicated their age on the register the mean age of this group was approx. 29 years old with five percent under seventeen years old or younger and 20 per cent for those 21 years old and younger. There was then no preponderance of young women undertaking Hijrah for the purpose of becoming jihadi brides who passed through this guest house. This reality is potently illustrated by the number of women indicating on the register that they were married. Of the 1,135 women who indicated their marital status on the register seventy-seven per cent indicated they were married. The next highest category was that of widowed or divorced Muslims with thirteen per cent which was higher than those Muslims who indicated they were single. The kaffirun writers of the article in their continual quest to normalise Muslims simply cannot admit that the motivation to undertake Hijrah to IS flowed from Islamic discourse therefore it illustrated the impact of Islamic sensibilities. The overwhelming number of Muslims entering the guest house undertook Hijrah in a family context. Seven hundred and forty-eight Muslims indicated the number of children they had, two hundred and forty-nine reported one child and two hundred and fifty reported two children. The demographic profile is then clear with married Muslims and married Muslims with children being the dominant demographic. The Hijrah was then dominated by the migration of Muslim families not jihadi brides and foreign fighters for the significant number of foreign fighters were part of a family undertaking Hijrah.

The CTC analysis places great emphasis on their origin as reported by the Muslims who stayed at the guest house. The fact that the language of the register was Russian indicated that IS placed an administrator with Russian language capability at the guest house for a reason as the language of the bureaucracy of IS was Arabic. Possibly the IS earmarked this facility for use by Muslims who came from the former Soviet Union. In the article the Muslims reported their origin from sixty-six different locations around the globe with those in the former Soviet Union being dominant. The top twenty locations of origin (table 1) were as follows: 1. Dagestan, 2. Turkey, 3. Xinjiang, 4. Tajikistan, 5. Azerbaijan, 6. Russia, 7. Indonesia, 8. Kyrgyzstan, 9. Chechnya, 10. Uzbekistan, 11. Morocco, 12. Kazakhstan, 13. Egypt, 14, France, 15. Tunisia, 16. Germany, 17. Syria, 18. Iran, 19. Sweden and 20. Kabardino-Balkaria. The composition of the top twenty source locations (table 1) is revealing. The top 20 locations of origin per capita (table 2) were as follows: 1. Dagestan, 2. Chechnya, 3. Ingushetia, 4. Kabardino-Balkaria, 5. Kyrgyzstan, 6. Tajikistan, 7. Karacayevo-Cherkessia, 8. Azerbaijan, 9. Abkhazia, 10. Xinjiang, 11. Maldives, 12. Kosovo, 13. Trinidad and Tobago, 14. Tunisia, 15. Kazakhstan, 16. Tartarstan, 16. Turkey, 18. Macedonia, 19. Uzbekistan, 20. Georgia, 21. Guyana.

The top twenty locations of origin by number of Muslims contain three western European nations France, Germany and Sweden with the overwhelming number of locations of origin being in a band from Xinjiang in China through Central Asia, the Caucasus, Russia, the Balkans and Turkey. The specific history of Islam in especially the belt through Central Asia to the Caucasus and the Balkans has contributed to the potency of the call of IS for Hijrah in this area. This belt is then the prime operational area for IS in the post Caliphate incarnation hence its aggressive operational activity in Afghanistan. The presence of Turkey in both tables sends a message that begs understanding and preparation in the west. Given the failure of IS to motivate Muslims of the west to undertake Hijrah in effective numbers the question arises of the specific realities of Muslim existence in the social orders of France, Germany and Sweden that motivated them to Hijrah unlike the rest of the west especially the UK and the USA. The reality on the ground was then effectively usurped by political discourses of the west which were utilising a discursive engagement with the discourse of Islamic State to justify and mask their political agendas. Both agents of the engagement peddling their specific discourse of truth/lies of power. The top twenty locations of origin per capita presents a changed yet similar picture with specific lessons on offer. The three west European countries are absent which illustrates the chronic failure of the State security apparatuses to deal with the threat posed by a small minority of the population. This failure continues from the colossal failure of the apparatus to disrupt attacks of September 11, 2001 and thereafter. The problem lies in the continued racist attempt to normalise Islam and Muslims refusing to view Islam and Muslims in terms of their specific realities rather than through western worldviews and sensibilities. The belt from Xinjiang, China to the Caucasus, through Russia to the Balkans and Turkey continues to be dominant in the per capita top 20 ranking but specific spaces in this belt dominate which are noteworthy. Turkey and Tunisia are in both tables and noteworthy entrants are: The Maldives and Trinidad and Tobago. In table 1 there is no location in the western hemisphere and in table 2 Trinidad and Tobago is the only country from the western hemisphere which flows with the position of Trinidad and Tobago as the top location per capita for IS western hemisphere foreign fighters. Both flows from Trinidad and Tobago were then part of a movement of families to IS. Guyana is the 21st location on table 2 which is noteworthy as to-date there has been no public issue in Guyana of Muslims undertaking Hijrah to IS. This is then a revelation that points to the possibility of Guyana being a source location for Hijrah to IS in the western hemisphere.

The case of Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago raises the question if in the absence of Islamic State propaganda on foreign fighters of T&T origin in the IS if this reality would have ever made it into the public domain and north Atlantic geopolitics? In the absence of IS propaganda on those who undertook Hijrah from Guyana to Islamic State is the silence on this reality expressive of the failure of north Atlantic intelligence on the operational activities of Islamic State in the southern Caribbean or is Guyana given a Bligh given the nature of its present engagement with Maduro and the identity of the player in the offshore oil fields? The data on T&T and Guyana from the study of the register of an Islamic State guest house i.e. just one guest house is as follows: T&T: 3 Muslims, per capita: 2.21; Guyana: 1 Muslim, per capita: 1.30.


Jordan, Torture Allegations and the Carnival 2018 threat, T&T

The Roopchand family, Jordan and Trinidad and Tobago

The Trinidad Guardian of 14 June 2018 in the story “Jordanians tortured me” reported on Keegan Roopchand who was detained in Jordan on January 23, 2018 along with his wife and children as follows: “Roopchand issued a detailed statement yesterday.” But where is this detailed statement in the public domain? The article in the Trinidad Guardian gave no information on where to access this so-called detailed statement. And to-date it has never been published in the hard copy version of the Trinidad Guardian nor has it appeared in the other hard copy daily press. If Keegan Roopchand made a detailed statement on his family’s experience in Jordan and all we have of it in the public domain is a reporter’s version of the alleged statement, then he has purchased for himself some plausible denial. The Newsday of 21 July 2018 in an article “AG: We can’t do anything” reported that as at the 21 July 2018 not a single adult of the Keegan Roopchand family has submitted a written statement of their experience in Jordan supposedly at the hands of the Jordanian state to the AG of T&T. Mum is the word to officialdom! This failure to-date is contrary to every action undertaken by Muslims who have been renditioned and tortured at offshore torture sites by or with the complicity of north Atlantic intelligence agencies then released without charges laid since the events of September 2001.

I can only analyse the reality presented in the news report and construct an operational reality from this but there are power relations that emerge that must be stated. An analysis of the news report in the Trinidad Guardian reveals a description of an operation in keeping with standard operating counter terrorist interrogation procedure adopted since September 2001. An intelligence agency of a north Atlantic state fingered the Roopchand family as a specific terrorist threat that demanded seizure and the application of interrogation and incarceration methodology reserved for terrorist suspects. The alarm bells were triggered by this family not for their presence in Jordan but with reference to supposed/possible activities in their country of origin. Now Keegan Roopchand can only relate his experience under detention and interrogation not that of his wife and her experience under detention and interrogation is much more vital to the reconstruction of the reality than his. From his discourse the initial Jordanian interrogation was after their links to Islamic State and the purpose behind their Hijrah to IS. The Jordanians were in pursuit of evidence of Hijrah for the purpose of training then returning to the West in the pursuit of the condition of the Shahid as at Bataclan and Brussels. In the supposed statement Keegan Roopchand made to the Trinidad Guardian the course of events changed when the wife of Roopchand under interrogation supposedly related the existence of an operation in flow to carry out an attack on T&T. From the supposed Keegan Roopchand statement his wife became the main focus of the interrogation and subsequently her personality became deconstructed.

The focus of the interrogation strategy was never on Keegan Roopchand as the wife was the supplier of what was sought. He was then as a result placed in a netherworld of multiple roles and functions where pressure is applied to erode resistance and then rebuild in your image and likeness. Roopchand supposedly said that the US FBI interrogated him after the Jordanians were done with him but the what he says the Jordanians did to him is in the realm of counter terrorist interrogations psychological pressure not physical torture. Why then was, according to the news report, Keegan Roopchand a recipient only of psychological pressure tactics? Especially in light of what his wife under interrogation supposedly said. Why groom Keegan Roopchand to say after me repeatedly when all you needed to do was to intensify the psychological pressure via physical torture which he said was not used on him. Pulling him by the beard is not physical torture in these offshore sites I can assure you nor is stripping you naked and having your solitary confinement cell permanently illuminated. From the press report of his supposed detailed statement Keegan Roopchand was on a holiday in this offshore interrogation site. Why especially in light of what his wife supposedly stated after being fingered by an intelligence agency of a north Atlantic state? Because the FBI supposedly interviewed Keegan Roopchand does not mean it was a US intelligence agency who fingered the family. Such is the game. With the supposed revelations of his wife the pressure was then on the interrogators to ensure that the Roopchands reveal the identities of those who operationalised the attack on T&T. That means the full court press should have been applied to Keegan Roopchand to confirm and embellish what his wife supposedly revealed. And if in the course of the full tilt boogie you realise that you have a problem with the credibility of the intelligence then you move on from there! Keegan Roopchand according to the news story must now consider himself very lucky as other Muslims of the West who were renditioned to offshore torture sites are today bearing the physical and psychological scars for life from this event in their lives. And the technicians of the offshore site of Jordan are noted for their efficiency and ruthlessness making it a go to site in this game ask Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi.

Click Jordan below for the articles listed in this blog.


The Politics of Ganja/Hashish in Belize and Antigua & Barbuda

Suddenly ganja is now a frontline political issue in English speaking states of the Caribbean. In St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis and St Vincent and the Grenadines the issue is in the news headlines on a regular basis but not in T&T. In 2017 Belize decriminalised possession of ten grams of ganja for personal use and Antigua & Barbuda followed in 2018 with the decriminalisation of fifteen grams of ganja for personal use. But there is no commonality in the legislation of Belize and Antigua & Barbuda to decriminalisation and the expansion of decriminalisation into legalisation and a ganja industry.

The legislation of Belize illustrates the political imperative driving decriminalisation for personal use of small amounts of ganja which hits the steel wall that is erected to allay any fears of the slippery slope to legalisation made flesh via the tiny leak in the dyke that is decriminalisation of tiny amounts for personal use. The politicians of the ruling party of Belize must then assure internal and external political forces that can impact negatively their obsession/fixation with re-election by any means necessary. Act No. 47 of 2017 amends the Misuse of Drugs Act Chapter 103 of Belize. This act redefines cannabis as any part of the plant of the genus cannabis sativa including its resin or hashish. Industrial hemp is now no longer classified as cannabis and permitted medicinal preparations from cannabis sativa are not classified as cannabis. Section 7 of the original act is amended to make lawful possession of ten grams or less of ganja. Persons found in possession of ten grams or less of ganja on the premises of an educational institution will be liable to a ticket of B$ 100 or whatever fine established. A person under the age of eighteen years old found in possession of ten grams or less of ganja will be required to attend a drug treatment programme. The amendment act of 2017 does not amend Section 8 of the original act which means that persons are not allowed to cultivate a specified number of ganja trees from which to reap their ten grams. As the cultivation of ganja remains illegal. They are then forced to deal in the illicit supply side of the market to acquire their legal ten grams of ganja because all ganja production remains illegal. The amendment act then has to amend Section 10 of the original act in order to create a space where persons can acquire their legal ten grams legally for Section 10 criminalises ganja blocks. The amendment act therefore legalises the sale, preparation and use of ganja/hashish in a space as long as the quantity is ten grams or less. Which necessitated amending Section 11 of the original act by now making it legal for ganja/hashish users to frequent a space without it being illegal. This entire approach could have been evaded by allowing registered persons eighteen years and over to plant and reap the product of a specified number of ganja plants strictly for personal use. But to legalise production for personal use is viewed as grave political risk as it is the foundation of the slippery slope to legalisation. For with legal supply feeding into legal use of a small amount of ganja/hashish the basis of a licit production and consumption unit is laid which can be readily expanded to facilitate legalisation. The political imperative behind the Belizean amendment has then proven to be a valuable gift to organised crime in Belize. The amended act adds to Section 28 of the original act the new sections of 28 A and 28 B. Section 28 B makes the provision that a person convicted under Section 7 of the act fined for possession of ganja/hashish in a sum not exceeding B$ 1,000 or an amount defined by the Minister before or after the proclamation of this new section can apply for the criminal record to be expunged.

The 2017 amendment act has impacted the Belizean ganja market fundamentally. The act revealed for the first time the market dynamics of the ganja market in Belize where demand outstrips supply with the level of demand for the first time being displayed in public with the decriminalisation of possession of 10 grams or less.  This revealed demand reality is driving an escalating ganja war in Belize that has now expanded outwards from the urban areas.

The act has ensured that demand expresses itself publicly and aggressively since November 2017 at ten grams or less per person at any given time which can be multiple times in a single time span. The continued aggressive stance towards home grown ganja plantations seen in their eradication which involve international actors has resulted in a tsunami of imports from Guatemala, Mexico, Colombia etc. as imported supply floods the market. The salient grave mistake of the amendment act is the creation of a phenomenon on the supply side of the ganja block that now straddles illicit production and illicit supply (illicit drug trafficking) and licit supply of ganja/hashish in quantities of ten grams or less. This Frankenstein monster created by the act is the product of the political fear in Belize of the political price to be exacted for allowing persons to grow their own ganja for personal use. These ganja/hashish blocks will be dominated by transnational organised crime where the stash will never be housed on the block, every sales person on the block will be an adult eighteen years and over and in possession of ten grammes or less of ganja for personal use. And clients will make multiple purchases/visits to the block always in possession of ten grams or less of ganja. As these blocks rake in the money the ganja wars will escalate into wars of extermination and seizure of turf. The rate at which the administrative regulations are formulated and ratified as molasses flowing up a hill will also deeply frustrate those intent on utilising the provisions of the amended act. This will in no way frustrate the drive to buy and use ganja but it will increase the tension within the ganja structure which will impact the social order. The grave lesson from Belize is don’t play with ganja possession in conjunction with decriminalisation and hope to mute the momentum that arises towards legalisation. As the political games played with small amount decriminalisation and the blowback that ensues illustrate the need for legalisation to ensure the protection of the integrity of the social order. Legalise it!

The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act 2018 came into force in March 2018 in Antigua & Barbuda. This amendment act takes and entirely different approach to the decriminalisation of a small amount of ganja/resin/hashish from that adopted by Belize. In this case the small amount of ganja is 15 grams and the adult in control of a space is allowed to plant and reap the product of four ganja trees for personal use. Licit production of supply is then linked to licit consumption for personal use thereby creating a multiplicity of small production units supplying consumption. A platform for eventual legalisation of ganja was laid in Antigua & Barbuda by this 2018 act.  Because of the provision of licit production, the act unlike Belize was not forced to create the Frankenstein ganja block model of Belize. The Antigua & Barbuda act replicates provisions as in the Belize act as the expunging of criminal record of persons convicted for possession of ganja/hashish in a quantity of 15 grams or less. In the Antigua & Barbuda act persons who smoke ganja in a public space are liable to fines but not a criminal conviction.

The amended act of March 2018 has now afforded glimpses of the demand side of the ganja market in Antigua & Barbuda as one can possess 15 grams and less without criminal liability thereby facilitating licit usage within the boundaries set by the law. Ganja trafficking into Antigua has markedly increased with product being imported from as far as Canada and the US. The creation of household licit production units means that cannabis drug blocks are still prohibited under the law but the fifteen grams threshold now affords these blocks operational space where the stash is never on the block and those on the block are in possession of 15 grams or less of ganja reputedly for personal use. The police will now have to up their game but it is now apparent as in Belize that the emphasis is now on traffickers.

What is apparent in both Belize and Antigua & Barbuda is that transnational organised crime responds to decriminalisation of small amounts of ganja/hashish by investing increased resources in the ganja trade if they were previously active or become active if they were not. The intent is to exploit the new nature of demand created by decriminalisation of small amounts and to expand the ganja product range, both in product types, quality and potency, available on the market. There is then a push in all ganja markets of the Caribbean to expand the demand for resin/hashish and especially so in the decriminalised markets. The Belize model will in fact aid the drive of transnational crime to dominate the Belizean ganja market whilst the Antigua & Barbuda model will form an adequate platform towards legalisation but will create a mixed supply side of the market model. The Belizean model is expected to generate violence and instability much more than that of Antigua & Barbuda but the only way to mitigate the violence is to legalise it. Decriminalisation must then be one stop on the way to legalisation as decriminalisation of small amounts does not contain/restrict the factors that drive the violence. Decriminalisation is a gift to transnational organised crime whilst the ban on ganja is their gangsta paradise. As the Belize model illustrates a poorly constructed decriminalisation regime is gangsta paradise on steroids. Legalise it!


Haiti, Venezuela: Commonality of Revolution and Response

On January 1, 1804 the state of Haiti was proclaimed as free, liberated space from north Atlantic racist, colonial domination. From January 1, 1804 to the present the masses of Haiti have paid a steep price for their liberation by their own hands. From 1804 to the present Haiti has suffered at the hands of a series of comprador house slaves intent on erasing the alternate discourse and its attendant worldview that has guided the actions of the masses from the revolutionary war for liberation to the present. This is a discourse rooted in memories of West Africa wrapped in a syncretic amalgam that defines the world and action in the world of the Haitian masses. This is a discourse of survival as successive regimes have oppressed the masses, plundered the treasury and facilitated the growth of a non-African oligarchy and transnational corporations that strangle the alternate economy of the masses. This is a country where so called aid rice ends up being sold on the streets at prices that destroy indigenous Haitian rice growers escalating the massive migration from the rural to the primary urban centre Port au Prince. And the inability of Haiti to feed itself despite having the farmers willing to do so. The fear of the alternate discourse grinds down the base of the alternate discourse: the land and its tillers.

Daniel Gerard Rouzier a Haitian businessman resident in Haiti on May 16, 2018 addressed the American Chamber of Commerce of Haiti. In his address Rouzier gave a description of what is daily reality in Haiti in 2018. Rouzier stated that the issue with the cover of polystyrene waste that covers Haiti especially in the rainy season is not the waste that covers the land but who imports it, how is it distributed and disposed of and therefore the identity of those who are benefitting from the trade. The Haitian State has stated publicly that it loses some USD 400 million annually in evaded duties and taxes at the ports and land borders of Haiti. Who are these smugglers of goods and fuel, what is the nature of this organised crime and who benefits from it? Yet the state fails to take action against the smugglers. There is an outcry against land grabbers who steal land from their owners especially the poor. But who are the judges, the police and the clerks that enable the reality of land insecurity? What are the prospects for change in Haiti when some 83% of Haitians with tertiary education have migrated from Haiti? Rouzier stated that the answers are in the questions and the solutions are in the nature of the reality. Rouzier presented the statistics of the reality which point to the solutions.

Haitian agriculture accounts for 25% of GNP and employs 66% of the national population but is only allocated 5% of the national budget. But since 1950 Haiti has a food deficit where it has to import increasing amounts of the food it consumes.

4 million tons of trees are cut each year but only 500,000 tons are replanted which results in de-forestation where Haiti only has left 1.5% of forest cover.

13 households out of 14 have no pipe borne water yet annual rainfall provides 560 times the total water needs of the population.

Haiti produces the least waste per capita in the western hemisphere but it only collects 11% of its total garbage.

8 million Haitians sleep without electricity every night.

5 million Haitians cannot read or write.

8 out of 10 Haitians live on less than USD 2 per day with 9 out of 10 in the rural areas.

2 in 10 Haitians control 70% of the wealth of the country. If all wealth generated by Haiti was evenly divided Haiti will still be classified as a least developed country.

More than 4 children out of 10 are deprived of basic health services and live in dwellings without toilets.

About 30% of Haitian children have never been vaccinated against an illness.

At the end of his presentation of the realities Rouzier resorts to well-worn platitudes as proffered solutions to this morass. His presentations depict stark reality but the power relations that drive the reality presented are absent from the presentation which is the reason for his platitudes proffered as solutions.

What is obvious is that in Haiti domination and exploitation are formulated and expressed via power relations as grave punishment that on a daily basis amounts to the quest for genocide. The Haitian oligarchy of minority non-African races and the transnational corporations served by the comprador political elite and the state public servants are actively applying a form of punishment as domination and exploitation designed to destroy the African masses the overwhelming majority. Haiti’s power relations are then driven by political issues defined by the discourse of fear of a black planet not the drive for sustainable wealth production and accumulation. Haiti’s social order in 2018 is an evolved plantation where massa’s primary concern is the immanent and grave threat posed by the African masses to the non-African minority oligarchy that owns and controls the plantation. The politicians and the public servants are then charged with utilising the repressive arms of the state to keep the masses in line, subservient and docile. Democracy is then a grave threat to massa which must be managed. Haiti is then saddled with a lumpen oligarchy which amounts to very little on the world stage of neoliberal capitalism and it has done all in its power to ensure that Haiti amounts to only misery for the majority of its citizens.

How then do you generate wealth under racist plantation punishment capitalism where you have progressively pauperised your market by infecting the masses and the state with arrested development? What is this wealth accumulation built on that drives such public, ostentatious and garish displays of wealth in the midst of mind numbing poverty and deprivation? How can this mind numbing poverty be the basis for such obscene, public displays of wealth and privilege? What business are you all really in? Questions that are never posed thus there is no need to answer. But some answers to this reality was forthcoming with the case of Clifford Brandt scion of one of the families of the oligarchy. Click the link and enjoy.

The most potent and largest wealth generation enterprise in Haiti is the illicit drug trade and its ancillary illicit trades. Under the hegemony of the MTTOs this illicit trade has presented the gravest threat to the agenda of the oligarchs and their comprador house slaves. This is the premier wealth generation business that does not exclude entry by the African masses as local and transnational Haitian gangs are now affiliates of the MTTOs. Those Haitian affiliates of the MTTOs are now traffickers in their own right and are now living symbols of the new, alternate order challenging the hegemony of the order of punishment capitalism. Hence the need for international intervention to protect the plantation order of massa. Plantation, punishment capitalism in Haiti which borders with the Dominican Republic and is located in a geographical space in proximity to Puerto Rico, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Jamaica and The Bahamas is the greatest gift to the MTTOs in the entire Caribbean. And they have embraced the gift with glee. Transnational organised crime now controls vast swaths of the economy of survival of the poor of Haiti. Charcoal is produced in the protected forests and parks of the DR and shipped to Haiti as the majority simply cannot afford LPG. Pregnant Haitian women pay organised crime to transport them to specific maternity clinics in the DR to give birth as they cannot afford this service in Haiti if it is available. Organised crime controls the border crossing at Dajabon with the DR and the movement of goods via a two-way pipeline. Whatever the Haitian government prohibits, expects to collect taxes and duties on are all unenforceable. Garlic is imported into Haiti by the multi tonnes, all duties and taxes are evaded, exported to the DR evading duty and taxation and sold on the DR market with the cash proceeds returned to Haiti. Now that is organised crime and there is no state in Haiti for the state only exists to be plundered and to suppress and oppress the African masses. This then the Haitian model which must be understood for it is now being applied to Venezuela.

Venezuela and Venezuelans have paid and are paying a grave price for the Chavez experiment/the Bolivarian Revolution. The mistakes made by Chavez have not been allowed to be resolved via the power relations of Venezuela as the agenda of mounting intervention by international agents of neoliberal north Atlantic capitalism overdetermined these mistakes by putting them on steroids. The power of the resistance of the old blanco oligarchy of Venezuela has also been enhanced by the strategic interventions of international neoliberal capitalism granting them impact which is NO reflection of the political support they command on the ground. But the gravest mistake made by Chavez that has worked in the interest of the agenda to pauperise Venezuelans with the intent of precipitating a military golpe is the selection of Maduro as the replacement for Chavez.

Maduro and the clique have done everything in their power to put the strategy of neoliberal capitalism on steroids. The application of harsh neoliberal austerity/the Maduro diet without calling it so, the criminal negligence to allow the currency to be ripped apart by runaway inflation and in the face of the mounting poverty and deprivation to continue to suppress and assault the movement to establish counter strategies as the communal movement, the people’s production units and workers control. The collapse of PDVSA, the militarisation of civil power and the continued control of foreign exchange by the Bolivarian bourgeoisie are all indicators of a political agenda to hold on to political power at all costs to the detriment of the welfare of the masses and the Revolution. Venezuela under Maduro is now in the grips of plantation, punishment state capitalism. These instances of the level of punishment are all indictments of Maduro. According to Cendas the price of the family food basket of Venezuela rose by 310% in the period January to April 2018 from Bs 24, 402, 767 to Bs 100, 174, 980. To purchase this food basket in April required 100 minimum wages or 64 food vouchers. A single food basket required 100 minimum wages which meant that you if you are working for minimum wage you simply cannot afford to eat every day and what about those dependent of the worker: the children, the aged and the infirm. Punishment state capitalism. What of those who can’t or don’t work? The world of indigence, homelessness and vagrancy beckons but there is an alternative crime and migration both under the control of organised crime. Of the 60 items that make up the food basket some 20 items or 33.3% of them are in short supply namely: milk powder, chicken, beef, beef liver, canned tuna, margarine, oats, sugar, corn oil, peas, lentils, rice wheat flour, pasta, tomato sauce, corn flour, coffee, mayonnaise, bread and yellow cheese. The basis of the diet of the working people, the poor and marginalised are in short supply. Products excluded from the family food basket also in short supply are: personal hygiene products, medicines, anti allergic drugs, contraceptive pills and syringes. The grim reality of daily life under the Maduro diet is the cost of cassava and plantains in Caracas. In May a kilo of cassava cost Bs 125,000 compared to Bs 28,000 in January an increase of 346%. In May a kilo of plantains cost Bs 335,000 whilst in April they cost Bs 230,000. The lunacy has now evolved to schizophrenia. A shopping exercise in the market for vegetables and staples will at minimum cost Bs 5.5 million or six minimum wages or four food vouchers. The other strategy is to join the long lines for a CLAP food parcel where you suffer the indignation of having to suck up and solicit favours from the military establishment that owns the process as it is a law unto themselves. Or one can enter the shadow world of the illicit structures and organised crime.

The most potent indicator of the strategy of Maduro and his clique is the overcrowded prisons, the clogged judicial system and the brutality unleashed on the poor and marginalised. The brutality already exceeds that unleashed by the compradors of international neoliberal capitalism, the spawn of Punto Fijo. This is brutality state capitalism style not of a Bolivarian Revolution. In a socialism of the 21st century revolution it is unacceptable for your labour to be worthless and you are brutalised by the state security apparatus. This is neoliberal state punishment capitalism Maduro styling.

Those who are striving for a military golpe to erase the Bolivarian Revolution primarily because the opposition is frighteningly incompetent, imprisoned in a racist time warp and cannot garner the trust of the masses. Please understand that the day you get your golpe the Mexican model will be replicated in Venezuela with a particularly violent methodology surpassing that of Mexico today with the capacity to destabilise Colombia, Brazil, Guyana, Suriname, French Guyana and the Caribbean island chain. Be careful what you wish for!




T&T learn from Suriname

Suriname is presently in very harsh budgetary difficulties simply indicated  by the reality that police officers carry out their duties in basketball shoes they supply as the state cannot supply their full uniform kit. But on 11 April 2018 the police of Suriname indicated that police in gym boots can get the job done as they presented 8 heavy criminal files in the hearing of the two Dutch citizens and residents of Suriname charged with being recruiters for Islamic State, facilitating the recruitment and funding of Islamic State recruits to travel from Suriname to Islamic State and most important for planning an Islamic State attack in Suriname. In T&T every year we spend TTD Billions on national insecurity, we have sent more persons to Islamic State than any other country in the western hemisphere and the highest in the world per capita. Yet not a single case has been brought before the courts much less involving 8 thick, heavy bust yuh godi files of evidence. T&T experienced the expectation of an attack on carnival 2018 now those arrested  are suing the state for some taxpayers money. We had a whole grap of persons arrested for supposedly plotting to kill the then PM now the bills to the taxpayers ringing up chi ching! It’s a disease that crosses the political divide and it’s only the  racist hegemonist believe that their party is decent, respectable, morally superior and competent. Whilst those elected and non-elected politicians play games with public safety the entire structure that recruited, financed and moved all those persons to Islamic State is intact and operational in T&T. Maybe is time we put all politicians, the police and the SSA and those that exist in the shadows in gym boots some Bata gym boots? Cause we desperate and some worn out uniforms with hole in order too.