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Raffique Shah


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It's a topsy-turvy world

By Raffique Shah
December 6, 2020

The ethnic mix of the Venezuelan population—51 percent are categorised as Mestizo (blend of White/indigenous/Afro), 41 percent European/Middle East /Whites)—ensures that those who are flocking Trinidad more than Tobago are almost exclusively from the first mix. They are the equivalents of the "Reds" in our population, hence they are widely acceptable, and accepted, to Trinis on both sides of our ethnic divide, as well as the "Douglars" in-between.

As such, they are beneficiaries of our very complex complexion-sensitivity scale that recognises and categorizes scores of shades of black-into-brown (high brown, light brown, and so on) as well as variations of white that even Whites did not know existed ("bacra"). I submit that if these people were black Afros, if they had what are described as "negroid" features like, say, most Haitians, they would have never made it past immigration, far less to the sanctuaries of rented homes in suburban-to-rural districts. They would have likelier ended up in prison, awaiting deportation to their seemingly-cussed country, with the local population wondering aloud why they must be fed and housed on taxpayers' money.

Indeed, even as I write here, in Guyana there's a group of 26 Haitians, men, women and children, who arrived there claiming to be asylum-seekers. They were allowed into Guyana because Haiti is a member of CARICOM, and its citizens are supposed to enjoy free movement among its member-States, even the freedom to work. But the poor buggers will be kicked out of the region's newest oil-haven, where there is understandable apprehension among that population that others, such as Trinis, who, up to recently, took a perverse delight in locking up then deporting illegal Guyanese, today covet their wealth.

The Haitians, I was saying, will be denied the few rights that CARICOM membership bestows on them even though they may be educated and well-qualified for certain jobs here. In contrast, the bulk of "Red" Venezuelans who are flooding T&T, are mainly menial workers, labourers who, admittedly, work harder than lazy locals, which is good for sectors of the economy such as construction and agriculture. The Venezuelans are also in high demand in the sex trade, which makes them prized possessions of heartless human-traffickers, destined to be enslaved in the netherworld that is the dark side of this refugee crisis.

As I wrote the word "crisis" here, I think it is necessary to determine whether there is in fact a refugee crisis that has emerged from the collapse of Venezuela's oil industry. I have never doubted that things started pointing south since Hugo Chavez was around and very much in charge of the Bolivarian revolution. I know that the fist of God...'er, I mean America, is always present and making mischief anywhere in the Americas that socialist dreamers enjoy popularity and appear to be gaining traction. But Hugo and his comrades must have made some fundamental mistakes that steered Venezuela's economy down a slippery slope.

That said, the untimely death of Chavez in 2013, and the emergence of Nickolas Maduro as his successor, which coincided with a global economic earthquake and the collapse of oil prices, must have made Venezuela a too-tempting low-hanging geo-political fruit for Washington, for Donald Trump, and for Venezuela's envious and covetous neighbours. In this unstable environment, the intelligence agencies of the USA saw Maduro as an easy target for regime-change, which they had perfected in Libya. That they selected a nincompoop to replace him, and having failed to properly assess the strength of the Chavez brand, they threw all of Trump's yes-men and all their sanctions against him, and he survived. Hell, he seems set to outlast Trump.

Then there is this: with a little help from China and Russia, two world powers that can take on America head-to-head, and some oil-muscle from Iran, these three unafraid to defy Washington's sanctions, Maduro seems set to survive. In fact today (December 6) he has scheduled elections to the National Assembly, which has been the last refuge of pretender Juan Guaido, who, like his sponsor Trump, is is boycotting the polls, saying it will be "rigged". Sounds familiar, eh?

Bottom line is Maduro will win, Guaido is not even in the race, and the 25 million or so Venezuelans who have stayed put in the country through bad and worse times, will elect a new Assembly that incoming US President Joe Biden will find difficult to delegitimize on the basis of fraudulent elections, a charge that Crazy Trump has made against him.

With Covid-19 decimating America's population at an alarming rate, and the rest of the world fixated on how soon a vaccine will be ready to deliver us from the deadly Devil-virus, Maduro fights to live another day (yes, you read that right!), and the T&T Government may yet emerge from the immigrant crisis smelling roses.

It's a topsy-turvy world, I tell you.

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