Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 9th 2017 Contents S
extapes just aren’t
news. I made that
point when I re-
turned to these pages
ten months ago. I
want to try to make
As many people began their
sentences this week, I am no fan
of Shamfa Cudjoe. But, had she
actually made a sextape that went
public, I would have been rushing
to the front of the line to defend
Simply put, how politicians be-
have sexually—unless it involves
violence, harassment, or favour-
itism with State resources—ought
to have almost nothing to do with
I won’t say their sexuality is not
my business; I’m as much a maco
as the next. But it just has nothing
to do with political performance
or capability. It’s merely one of a
legion of areas of life where peo-
ple—including politicians—can ex-
ercise bad judgment.
As everyone who knows Cud-
joe’s face knew immediately, she
is not the woman actually in a
video circulated online coupled
to a still image of her. Therefore I
found her response to not being in
the tape—as well as the response
of the PNM Women’s League—to
be indefensibly harmful.
Imagine if she’d been witty,
lighthearted or smart-mouthed—
like her political leader not too
long ago, warning the media about
an image circulating of him—and
effectively dismissed the matter.
Cudjoe rejected that course of
action as obscene. Instead, she
decided to get on. She deemed
what happened wicked, vile, in-
humane and a malignant plot.
Though, strangely, she had noth-
ing to say in solidarity with the
actual woman in the video which,
it’s alleged online, was part of an
effort to blackmail a political fig-
ure. She made the woman’s video
into her own news headline.
he even asked local
police to investigate
the post as a cyber-
crime. She claimed it
was a political attack.
And a dastardly one,
said the Women’s League.
What confused and dismayed
me isn’t that she gave an evident
sham so much energy and pub-
lic attention. What she ended up
doing by wrapping her reputa-
tion around a sextape reinforces
the toxic culture and politics that
enable women to be demeaned
as jamettes, the rapeshaming of
Keith Rowley her former teacher
engaged in, the same teacher who
called her a Bethel badjohn in the
same chamber. She continued the
old hypocritical PNM morality that
makes one’s sexuality a matter of
deep political and public concern.
That good-and-nasty is incompat-
ible with leadership or woman-
hood—with one’s “good name.”
It’s not just women who are the
victims of this. I wish I’d spoken
up when we all let Hafeez Moham-
med be shamed into resigning the
PNM’s Senate bench, with the
from his fellow male colleagues.
When none of them stood up for
his right to remain in office. When
Khadijah Ameen slutshamed him
across the aisle—the same woman
whose medical files Jack Warner
purported to wave on a campaign
platform—and none of us cried
shame on her.
Morality in public office is about
accountability and economic jus-
tice, inclusion and respect for dif-
ference, resource sustainability
and truthfulness. Stealing, waste,
arrogance and racism are happy
handmaidens to performances of
When are we going to take the
sex out of politics? Shamfa Cud-
joe and the PNM Women’s League
blew a golden opportunity to
move the country to a space
where that video did not matter.
But moral panics are the age-old
circus that distract the voters
from the shortage of bread.
Monday, October 9, 2017
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Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley asked us to stop hoarding US dollars.
What is less clear is where these US dollars we are supposed to be
hoarding are coming from.
If from the official foreign currency system, via the Central Bank and
its authorised agents, it must be easy for the Government to spot where
it is being hoarded. If not, it’s likely to be unlawful and, if the Gov-
ernment is aware of activities with illegally obtained hard currency, it
should be bringing those responsible to justice.
The problem is that these calls hide the real problem we face. The
fact is, for as long as the economy remains unbalanced and confidence
remains low, there will be continued pressure on foreign currency. It
doesn’t matter if you are a big financial player or a pensioner planning
to visit a relative in Miami; when the expectation is that the economy
won’t get better soon, we cling on to what feels safer, like US dollars.
This newspaper does not envy the Government’s position. Given
the state of our economy, our dollar is overvalued in relation to major
international currencies. But letting the TT dollar float freely against
them right now would be a challenge, as we risk seeing a sharp deval-
uation - effectively the market putting ourselves in our place - with a
traumatic economic impact.
The dilemma for the Government is that, by preserving the exchange
rate, is does little to deal with the international trade imbalance, as it
remains relatively cheap to import goods and relatively expensive to
We are lucky that our currency is not on the radar of investors who
bet on devaluations. But luck is not good enough. The Budget proposed
last week fell short when it comes to dealing with the root causes of our
foreign exchange woes. Generic talk about hoarders isn’t a solution
There is no doubt that Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s ap-
proach to tackling the independence referendum last week in Catalo-
nia backfired. Even if the referendum was considered illegal by Spain’s
courts, it was wrong to use such a level of violence to try and stop it
The events over the weekend were a lot more encouraging, with pro-
unity marches in Madrid and in the Catalan capital, Barcelona, attract-
ing hundreds of thousands of people.
Europe’s history is complex, with its boundaries changing consider-
ably every century. It shouldn’t be surprising to see more changes in
Before they head their way, though, a moment of pause is important.
Pro-independence leaders tend to gloss over the challenges and the dis-
advantages of going alone. And, as like any divorce, it is easy to forget
the good things of a relationship when the focus is on the bad things.
We hope the two sides will see sense. For Spain’s future and also for
a much needed time of global stability; we can all do without a hostile
independence bid by Catalonia.
One of our pages on Sunday carried the beaming picture of Trini-
born Judaline Cassidy. A truly inspirational story: the girl from Diego
Martin has been smashing stereotypes and breaking new grounds since
she started working as a plumber in the US.
She went on to be the first black woman allowed into her Plumbers’
Union and one of the few women to reach a position of leadership in
the organisation. Not small feats and an inspirational story of someone
who refused to turn the word ‘no’ into ‘yes’ every single time.
Ram, portrayed by Kurt Thomas and Sita, portrayed by Girisha Rambarran, are taken in a chariot during a
re-enactment of Ram’s return to Ayodya and coronation, during the Baal Ramleela celebrations at the Hindu
Prachar Kendra in Enterprise, Chaguanas, on Saturday.
PICTURE EDISON BOODOOSINGH
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