Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 23rd 2014 Contents Miss Miles was set in
the heady days of a
shiny new independ-
ence, people buying shiny
American cars, and needing gas.
Dr Williams and his coterie of
ministers captured the imagina-
tion of the people. Sparrow was
big on the scene. Oil money
was pouring in. New buildings
were replacing the old. The
ideals were noble: of each child
carrying a schoolbag, of trans-
parency, of zero tolerance to
corruption, of self-governance,
of every creed and race finding
an equal place.
It was only after I saw the
play Miss Miles, written and
produced by luminary Tony
Hall, and executed solely over
two spellbinding hours by actor
Cecilia Salazar---both gargantu-
an figures in local theatre---that
I looked her up.
Gene Miles looked just like
Cecilia Salazar in a black wig in
a yellowed clipping from the
Monday, July 25, 1966, Evening
News archive. It was headlined:
"I ll expose the big plot," and in
a smaller font: "And Gene calls
for more gas data" with a large
accompanying photograph of
Miles, then aged 36.
With the composure of a
great actress, she looked up
with big kohl-rimmed eyes just
in time for the click. She had
the look of a resolute innocent
child, with no idea that she
was about to engage with a
pack of money- and power-
hungry wolves and eventually
be ripped apart by them.
As Cecilia said to me, she
was supposed to stay that way.
Decorative. She didn t know the
So this sexy woman, never
mind that her family was
friends with Dr Williams, never
mind that she herself was
involved with a cabinet minis-
ter, she, Gene, along with her
oversized chic handbag also
clutched at several files in her
hands. Files that would sell out
the big boys. She was on her
way to testify against them.
Playwright Tony Hall, who
was a child at the time, says he
remembers Gene, remembers
how she rocked the nation.
Miss Miles was born in pre-
Independence Trinidad to a
middle-class Catholic family of
Portuguese descent; with a
scrupulously honest civil-ser-
vant accountant father, Ranny
Miles (an accountant at the
Ministry of Works who quietly
but firmly uncovered the lid on
the Caura Dam racket). Her
father s whistle-blowing led to
depression and death.
But Gene learned the right or
the wrong lesson, depending on
how you look at it.
Gene s whistle-blowing led to
the first major commission of
inquiry against major allega-
tions of corruption under the
PNM, dubbed the Gas Station
Racket Enquiry, in 1965.
In that news report of 66
this bombshell said some things
you wouldn t expect out of a
pretty little thing like her. She
produced evidence from the
Ministry of Petroleum, Mines,
Industry and Commerce. She
named names. Big names.
Who knows what made her
do it. It could have been a
combination of her Catholic
upbringing, a kind of courage
that comes only from inno-
cence, or the example of her
scrupulous father, or that the
minister, cabinet member and
Dr Williams friend "Honey O"
summarily dropped her after
having his way with her.
She was a bundle of contra-
dictions: civil servant, host of
the first Oprah Winfrey-type
talk show on TV, a bright,
convent girl who worshipped
her Mother Superior yet played
mas, a model, a motivational
speaker, a singer in tents, a
woman whose family counted
Dr Williams among their
friends, "a woman of the
world," as she called herself
(ironically, naively, she was in
fact the opposite) who reputed-
ly frolicked with the powerful
men of Williams cabinet.
Yet she identified strongly
with ordinary people, sang
calypso, modelled, could drink
hard and I m guessing, could
talk up or down-and-dirty
whatever the occasion required.
She fascinates me for so
many reasons. I think of the
"white" women of this country.
I wonder if they are hiding
from public life. I wonder what
history has done to them. I
think of women in general and
wonder if we ve come a long
way, or any way, from there. I
wonder if women pay a price
The powerful men banded
together, tore Miss Miles apart,
sidelined her, froze her pay,
froze her pension, moved her to
another ministry, and froze her
out of public life. She began to
associate with the struggle of
those to whom great injustice is
Some say she was raped in
"the madhouse;" others say she
was raped on the streets. She
was called a mad old white
whore. Madonna, whore, exhi-
bitionist, scholar, fighter, vic-
tim. Who is she? She died at
42 of a heart attack. No won-
der. This country broke her
She needs to speak to us
now, more than ever, from
beyond the grave to tell us why
the bright promise with which
this nation gave birth has not
realised, to tell us about our
own brutality, to implore us to
Next week: The perspective
of the artists, Cecilia Salazar and
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt March 23, 2014
Adidja "Vybz Kartel"
Palmer, "World Boss" of
Jamaican music, was
found guilty of murder ten days
ago. Arrested in 2011 for two
separate murders, he was found
not guilty of the first in July last
year; two prosecution witnesses
failed to show in court.
On the second charge, he was
less lucky. After a trial running
from November last year, the jury
found that he and three others
had butchered Clive "Lizard"
Williams for failing to return two
borrowed guns. The prosecution
case rested on text messages and
electronic evidence, which the
defence say is unreliable; and a
key witness who they say lied
under police pressure. State pros-
ecutors, witnesses and the vic-
tim s family now have full police
Vybz has never been Auntie s
favourite. Teen fans called him
"Teacha," but with his bleached
skin, and tattooed face and neck,
he breached school dress code---
and at 38---when he s probably
older than the dean of discipline.
Some of his lyrics glorified gun
crime, and Jamaica s notorious
lottery scam: "Dem call it scam,
me call it a reparation...Now I m
buying a gun." Others were
raunchy sex talk. Sponsors like
LIME, the Jamaican affiliate of
TSTT s minority shareholder
Cable and Wireless ran for cover
when Vybz was arrested.
Is Vybz guilty? A jury of his
peers says yes, beyond reasonable
doubt. So---yes. A jury of tat-
tooed 38-year-olds and Portmore
schoolkids might say different.
So he s going to hang, then?
Jamaica has not hanged since
1988. And not just because of the
Privy Council. There s no auto-
matic death penalty for murder.
With more than a thousand
killings each year, fewer than ten
Jamaicans are on death row. Sen-
tencing is on Thursday.
But if he did hang? Riots in
Portmore. Downtown Kingston
burns. A Hollywood blockbuster:
Ghetto Martyr. And a place on
the school history syllabus for the
next few centuries.
What comes next? His back-
list will get radio airtime. A cou-
ple of bestselling instant books
should be in pre-press. If not, it s
time for Jamaican journalists to
bang out a contract.
No, in the real world. What
about the appeal? Vybz has a
good chance---either in Jamaica s
appeal court or in the Privy
Council. His lawyers will argue
that the conviction is "unsafe."
They will say the evidence had
holes, and possibly that the judge
acted incorrectly on points of
detail. Meanwhile, Vybz has been
in prison since 2011. Post-con-
viction, he has presumably lost
the DVD player and iPod he was
allowed while on remand. And he
can no longer wear his own
What about Lizard s body?
Not found. The prosecution pro-
duced text messages saying it
was chopped up "fine fine...As
long as u live dem can never find
him." Kartel says Lizard may
indeed still be alive.
And yes, you can get a murder
conviction with no body. That
used to be a no-no, after a case
in the 1660s where three were
hanged for killing a man who
then re-appeared, live and well.
Not now. In 2001, for example, a
British man was found guilty of
killing his young niece; there was
no body; evidence rested partly
on text messages.
What is the problem with
the electronic evidence? The
defence raised serious points. A
BlackBerry said to be Kartel s was
switched on and used when sup-
posedly in a secure exhibit locker.
A back-up CD kept to verify data
seems to have disappeared.
And the witness? The
defence say the key witness
wrote to the public defender,
saying police had pressured him.
The witness says he did not
write the letter.
Vybz is a good boy? His
mother says so. His sister, a
high-school vice principal, says
they were strictly brought up.
Some disagree. An Observer
reader commented, Jamaican-
style: "Your son his a murder...
He s guilty has charged."
He s smart? "One of the
brightest I ve interviewed," says a
Kingston journalist. His co-
authored book, Voice of the
Jamaican Ghetto, was released in
2012, featuring a Malcolm X
lookalike cover photo. Carolyn
Cooper of UWI s Mona campus
reportedly wants it made required
reading for CXC students.
What about the jury? A jury
member has been arrested and
charged for allegedly trying to
bribe the foreman for an not-
guilty verdict; the offer, oddly,
was less than TT$30,000. It is
not clear whether he is the pur-
ported juror who went uninvited
(and unreceived) to a defence
attorney s office during the
What next for Jamaican
music? Desmond "Ninjaman"
Ballentine, charged with murder
in 2009, goes to court on April 7.
Mark "Buju Banton" Myrie is in
Florida, serving a ten-year
cocaine sentence; his appeal is
before the courts. A string of
others have been charged with,
and in some case convicted of,
rape, drug, domestic violence,
firearms or lottery scam offences.
On March 7, Parliament passed
legislation prohibiting "audio,
visual or audiovisual communica-
tion" that promotes killing or
violence. "They ll have to keep
on locking them up," says one
It s a long time since 1978,
when Bob Marley sang "One
Love" and linked the unwilling
hands of bitter political rivals,
Edward Seaga and Michael Man-
PONDERING VYBZ KARTEL'S FATE
HAVE WOMEN COME A LONG WAY IN T&T?
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