We Like It So

Well the 5th Summit of the Americas is over and we are all relieved that the 34 Heads of Nations came and left without incident.

As they left, I wondered what value the Summit provided to Trinidad and Tobago? I heard that question put to PM Manning and his response was interesting. As a participant in the Summit both as a Party Group member and an accredited delegate, I witness unrestrained waste.

It is a Summit that cost Trinidad and Tobago a lot of it’s resources both in terms of financial and human resource capital. But according to our illustrious PM Manning, “man cannot live on bread alone” and he sees the possibility that Trinidad and Tobago has been instrumental in forging a new era of cooperation in the Americas.

PM Manning cited a as good “example” to rationalize the value of the Summit to Trinidad and Tobago was that one Head of State brought with him 15 high level businessmen from his country all interested in initiating business relationships with their counterparts in Trinidad. Now that makes sense if I did not know what I knew. Here is what I know.

No expenses were spared. Our government contracted with two of the largest cruise liners which it saw as “a necessary” expense because that type of accommodations is not available here. The rationale being that all the conference spaces in Trinidad will be booked and to ensure a zoned security of the delegates to these fora it was a necessary expense. The cost of getting two luxury cruise ships to dock for 10 days next to the Hyatt must have been astronomical. On one of the ships, the Victory, carried a compliment of over 1100 international crew members from places as far as Indonesia, Ukraine, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Special invitations were provided to PNM party group members for the opening ceremony of the summit. The invitation was just for the opening day on the Victory cruise ship. PM Manning and Minister Amery Brown open the ceremony with short speeches, then it was off to cocktails and refreshment. Drinks flowed and all the Ministers, PNM party members and the invited press had a great time patting each other’s backs. The real Civil Society forums would begin on the following day and most of the party members were not expected or even wanted to attend. Rum and roti done, now is back to work or whatever party group members do when they not partying.

Oh and before I close, I hope you were able to experience the greatest show on earth where 750 dancers and choreographers adorned in various costumes paraded on the Hyatt stage for 45 minutes at a cost that was rumored to be over twenty million dollars. The rest of the world might be suffering but in Trinidad and Tobago like the Doc said “Money is no problem”.

Fact is, the Summit of the Americas was just a meeting of the Heads of Nations and did not have to be so extravagant. The same results could have been achieved with a lot less cost. What do you think?

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