Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 29th 2015 Contents A22
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt November 29, 2015
On a nippy November after-
noon, I arrived in the small
town of Chester. A taxi ride of
20 minutes took me to Hawarden
in Wales. The driver stopped just
outside what looked like a small
manor house. I had arrived in
Gladstone's Library, founded by
the Victorian statesman and
politician William Ewart Glad-
stone. I had come to stay in a
place with its curved stairwell,
crimson drawing room warmed
by a fire, high ceilings and of
course, the library that felt like a
set for a grand home out of Jane
I looked out of my tiny win-
dow from my tiny, chilly room
and found it overlooked an old
church and closer to me, the
graveyard where the crosses glis-
tened white, and the willows
gushed and hissed like a mesh of
ocean and rustling trees in the
dark, and looked playful with
sunlight in the mornings.
I set up my laptop solitude of
the stunning Gladstone library,
looking out at a garden amidst
the theology section---in fact, all
the books donated by the British
Prime Minister (who not only
started the world's first presiden-
tial library, but more impressively,
despite delivering 20 budgets and
being a four-time prime minister
managed to read a book a day all
his adult life)---felt other-worldly.
Looking upward at the intri-
cately carved walls and stairs, at
the beautifully bound books, I
felt my heart expand. There were
places like these in the world,
gentle spaces where people read
and wrote in a historical home.
When I figured out the Inter-
net, world came rushed in a tor-
rent on my phone and laptop.
The news, blogs, commentary,
social media was all about the
anxiety of containing terror, anxi-
ety over the refugees, over double
standards of world media that
ostensibly didn't make a big deal
about terror in areas like Beirut.
I began my few days at the
residential library with some
trepidation. It was not just the
wheezing of the wind in the
graveyard behind me, the chill
which I initially felt keenly---I'm
not good in the countryside. I
feel like there may be an axe
murderer about. I thrive in the
buzz of a city. But now, I wanted
so much for the terror not to
interfere with the beauty of this
still untouched, still kind world.
Initially I hovered on the
fringes of the writing group that
invited me and supported me
here for over a year. I soon dis-
covered that that was the point.
We were here to write. We met
at mealtimes. We were on our
own. To walk, to write in our
bedrooms, in the library or in the
crimson drawing room.
I understood then that it was
not loneliness I feared but
absolute freedom where I wasn't
part of a group'. I finally gave
myself permission to write in
bed, under the covers, in the
library, to take a break around
the quaint village where people
were welcoming and displayed
dog food in the windows, well
because that's what you do in the
I was only there for about four
days, but everyday something
happened while I walked with
some of the writing group in the
forest, explored abandoned mills,
tripped across streams, climbed
over stiles, past flocks of sheep,
past people with large dogs coat-
ed with glossy hair that bounded
around them, almost expecting
Jane Eyre to appear in billowing
black skirts on the heath as
darkness fell in the skies and
Some of us began to talk to
one another on our walks. I
mean really talk, beyond the
small chit-chat. There is nothing
like being in the middle of
nowhere to quietly get to know
people, walk through sludge,
grass and trees, smudged with
yellow sunlight, pebbles on the
track. I realised that nobody in
life escapes sorrow, an ache, or
wound that can eviscerate you.
The memory of tears came
amidst laughter and with that,
empathy and respect. We did
have something in common. We
each carried our burdens. We
saw the humanity in one another.
We all desperately want to be
good writers. We love books. You
can feel part of any group if you
recognise that every individual is
struggling, while maintaining
your unique identity. And that is
the cornerstone of a free world.
On the way back on the train,
I heard the most extraordinary
announcement in the toilet. It
said, "please don't flush cloth,
used sweaters, or hopes and
dreams down this toilet." It was
obviously made up by a whimsi-
cal Brit for travellers when the
world felt solid. It brought home
painfully to me that humour
while travelling on trains and
planes could soon be a thing of
Back in London my flatmate
told me that after the Paris
attacks London felt deserted.
People were no longer looking
up. Our bags were searched at
the Guardian offices, a first. They
were more rigorously searched in
galleries and libraries. Policemen
loitered at traffic lights. They
weren't smiling. Sudden noises,
like a crane, or a truck screeching
to a halt made people jump.
London was on high alert. Brus-
sels had virtually shut down.
India remembered attacks. We
need to be able to be other-
worldly sometimes, to dream, to
muse, to be free. The real battle
is achieving the balance required
by humans to belong, to have
purpose in life, and to be free.
This made me think of the
young jihadis, the US, Belgians
and British youth who had blown
themselves up. They were des-
perate to belong somewhere.
France can bomb Syria to
smithereens. Russia can join in.
So can the British. But bombing
would never change the battle of
hearts and minds that the world
Jack Warner has his day in
court on Wednesday. Again.
The US wants him extradited to
face 29 money laundering, fraud,
conspiracy and other charges.
Jack won't be on any plane
come Thursday morning. At
most, the court will set the date
for a full hearing.
Extradition should be quick
and easy---the requesting country
just has to show there's a case to
answer, not prove guilt. That can
take as little as six months. But
a stubborn defendant with a
bunch of lawyers and a healthy
bank account can spin out the
process for years, with judicial
reviews and appeals to the Privy
Jack's clock has been running
six months, since May. In Sep-
tember, his attorneys asked for
time to study the documents.
They were given more than two
months. Jack turns 73 in January.
If his legal team keep things
ticking slow enough, they can
start arguing that he is too old
and doddery to face trial. It's not
just Jack. Ish and Steve's extradi-
tion request kicked around for
five years, before the 2011 ruling
that local charges should take
precedence. On two occasions,
the US had a plane in Puerto
Rico, ready and waiting.
The delays aren't just a T&T
problem. Indeed, paperwork
requirements here are a model of
streamlining compared to other
Caribbean jurisdictions. In a
good year, there may be a dozen
extraditions, almost all to the
US. The largest group are drug-
related; murder, hostage-taking
and financial offences are in
there too. A few come unstuck.
A couple of alleged offenders
were unwisely granted bail, then
jumped. But Ish and Steve are
the only two I can trace whose
extraditions were denied by T&T
Regionally, the big one was
Jamaica's Christopher "Dudus"
Coke, in 2010. Prime Minister
Bruce Golding dithered for nine
months---a delay which cost
more than 70 Jamaican lives.
The next year, aftershocks from
Dudus ended Bruce's political
career. After the battle, Dudus
was arrested on his way to sur-
render. He waived his right to
resist extradition; he was less
scared of New York justice than
sharing the fate of his father,
burnt to death in a mystery
prison cell fire in 1992.
An enquiry into the Dudus
fiasco is now in progress.
The Bahamas has sent no cus-
tomers to US courts since 2013.
That may soon change.
Ten days ago, their appeal
court approved extradition of
Melvin Maycock, his son Melvin
Junior and 12 alleged accomplices
to face drug charges. That should
end a 12-year legal battle.
But in Belize this month, there
has been a huge mess-up.
Remember Allen Stanford? The
big scamster now serving a 110-
year sentence for US$7 billion or
more in Antigua-based frauds?
David Nanes Schnitzer, former
president of Stanford Group
Mexico, was held in the aptly
named Pirate's Bar in San Pedro
on November 3, in a joint opera-
tion by US Marshals, local police
and Interpol. He is allegedly
responsible for US$42 million in
fraud. He had been in Belize for
five years. Using the name David
Banes, he fraudulently obtained a
Belizean passport, two driver's
licences, a social security card, a
boat master's licence and voter
ID. When held, he was charged
only with the false driver's
license. The extradition paper-
work from Mexico had yet to
On November 18 the cancella-
tion of his Belizean passport was
published in the official gazette.
Two days later, a judge freed
him on bail of just US$5,000.
Schnitzer was told to report to
the San Pedro police station
twice a week. He has yet to
Some high-profile suspects
have been nabbed while travel-
ling. Dino Bouterse, son of Suri-
name's president Desi Bouterse,
was held in Panama in 2013, on
terrorism and cocaine charges.
He is serving a 16-year sentence
in New York.
Two nephews-in-law of
Venezuela's president Nicolás
Maduro were held in Haiti on
November 10. They too are now
in New York, charged with con-
spiracy to smuggle 360 kilos of
In Europe, an EU arrest war-
rant allows fast cross-border
transfer of suspects. A similar
Caricom arrangement is pro-
posed---but only T&T has signed
up. In the world of Isis, it's time
for international procedures
which send suspects for trial in
weeks, not decades.
BOMBING WILL NEVER CHANGE
THE BATTLE OF HEARTS AND MINDS
EXTRADITIONS: TIME TO MOVE
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