DON’T LET SPIN WIN.
In citizen struggles to hold governments accountable, their Goliath is spin. Suddenly, we find ourselves pelting stones at each other, distracted from resisting strong-arm domination.
In the long battle waged by the Highway Re-Route Movement, the government’s response has only ever been such spin.
Everywhere, government highlights the suffering of the people who desperately need a highway. This positions them as saviours, motivated only by their selfless commitment to caring, and makes anyone who questions them an unfeeling, privileged, foreigner-to-South whose only aspiration must be to unconscionably let people suffer.
Why is it spin? It absolves the government of actually addressing any of the legitimate claims that all citizens have to see the studies, such as hydrology reports and cost-benefit analyses and social impact assessments, that we are due as a nation, whether you are from South or North, particularly when 200 000 truckloads of aggregate from the Northern Range is at stake.
You might not understand the details, but these studies are the last forms of protection that citizens have against mega projects that will cost us, ecologically, financially and socially, more than they should. We should be defending the fight to have these studies properly done and in the public domain at all costs, if only for our children.
“The government cares about people’s suffering, Kublalsingh does not. Give in to state wisdom! No need for public documents or clear answers! Build the highway!”
This is the wafer-thin spin being offered like redemption at communion. The request for such studies and reports remains legitimate, especially for the people in South, but we are too busy pelting stones at each other to build our defenses and to take charge of our own power to decide for ourselves what is best for us.
Be clear, there must be highways and they must also not cut corners along the way.
The government’s next tactic has been to say that the HRM has lost in the courts and therefore its claims are illegitimate.
First, the HRM lost the injunction because the judgment took too long to come and, ironically, construction was too far gone, not because their expectation to have answers was incorrect.
Later, they lost because shifts to the path of the Debe to Mon Desir Highway over the many, many months of the court case meant that the original claimants were not the ones in immediate danger, not because their struggle is illegitimate.
Their call for the studies, and the totally neutral, civil society led Armstrong Report’s call for the necessary studies, has never been illegitimate. That was never up for consideration in the courts. It is not even up to the courts. It remains a decision for us to make regarding the extent which we are willing to be ruled by secrecy.
Government spin tells us to leave what is ours to others to decide. But losses in court do not in any way make it less legitimate to say: Show us the Studies! Show us your justifications! Show us the properly done impact assessments! Show us how the billions will be spent!
It remains our national right to know.
The third strategy has to been to call the HRM and Kublalsingh to account. Show us your foolproof alternate routes! Have they undergone rigorous hydrological assessment? Show us your medical records? Where are your documents to prove why we should believe you? You are avoiding answering for yourself! We have asked clear questions in the press and you are providing no clear answers! Charlatan! People with secret agendas seeking to distract the population from their real needs! You! You! You!
And, more stones rain down between citizens uselessly, for neither Kublalsingh, nor the HRM will be responsible for the damage to the hydrology of the Oropouche Lagoon or to the Northern Range or to long established communities or to our national deficit or even to the processes of accountability and transparency to which we are due.
Meanwhile, PM Persad-Bissessar, AG Ramlogan, Ministers Rambachan, Barath and Khan, and Carson Charles sit back to watch Goliath come out to challenge us, and we sit in our concerns, divided against each other, no better informed about or willing to represent our rights, retreating into gratefulness to our saviors regardless of the murkiness of their salvation, and questioning our power to get both the needed highway and every single page of due process which should already be in the public domain.
We fall for the idea that it is either or. Either highway or rights. Either transparency and accountability or much needed development. That’s just spin.
THEIR GOLIATH IS SPIN
This is what spin does. It sets up false options. It tells us to decide from falsely limited choices. It distracts us from seeing that, yes, we can get all we deserve, and makes us be grateful for much much less. It makes us compromise so that next time we fear the bruises that we will rain on each other and we keep quiet so that spin and shadow become all we know. It makes us pelt stones at each other and let Goliath trample on in.
And that spins out of control. We don’t ask questions about corruption by the millions anywhere anymore. We don’t ask questions about untendered contracts. When citizens take the government to court just to get the information they keep locked away, we think poor souls, fighting a lost cause, they should just give in, we have lost so many times already, what is once more.
That is what spin does. It tells you that war is peace, when you know that peace doesn’t seek to kill. It tells you I beat you because I love you baby when you know it’s control behind violence, not care. It tells you that you don’t need to see properly done hydrology reports or environmental impact assessments or explanations for why billion dollar contracts go untendered to corrupt companies because those are not also your needs when citizens are saying, yes, those are in fact our needs, and our rights, and we will not let you diminish what we know to be true.
Any government that avoids transparency is hiding something. Any government that pits citizens against each other is hiding something. Any government that pays Ernie Ross, the government’s biggest paid Ad Man, millions of our money to fool us up about the right questions and answers are when we have been asking the right questions and not getting answers to them yet, is hiding something. Any government that turns to spin is hiding from truth.
The million dollar spin is coming to distract us from the billion dollar questions, to turn us against each other and to allow the government’s Goliath to make us give in.
Stay focused on getting both solutions to transportation suffering and solutions to government secrecy. This is about our money, our communities, our environment and our future.
Join for as much as we can get and as best as we can get it.
Don’t let such spin win.
#reroutetnt #democratizedevelopment #showusthestudies #reroutegovernmentspin