Monday, January 3, 2011


The story of the British couple who were viciously attacked in Tobago several months ago is a tragedy for all parties in this terrible drama. It is an obvious tragedy for the Greens. Here was an elderly couple, not wealthy, who invested their retirement monies (or a substantial portion of it) in what they thought was an island paradise only to be viciously attacked and almost killed by a young Tobagonian who clearly couldn't care less as to how badly he hurt them or as to whether they lived or died. It is a tragedy for the attacker who has been caught and is now languishing in jail. A wasted life! It is a tragedy for Tobago and all those who depend on the tourist dollar for a living ... the taxi drivers, the hotel workers (from the desk clerks to the maids) and those who own hotels and restaurants. And one of the biggest tragedies is the T&T society, the majority of whom simply don't get it.

I have seen comments in the press and on the internet from Trinis who can't understand why this country should have to compensate a white English couple (with all the obvious racial overtones in that attitude) who apparently have more money than most Trinis. These mis-guided souls simply don't get it. And so, I will try and explain what has happened and why we should compensate the Greens.

If you are one of those who are of the opinion that we do not need tourism at all, then don't bother reading any more. The arguments in this post are valid only if you think that we do need tourism in Tobago.

To answer those who say that the Greens are not deserving of any compensation I would like to point out the following:
(1) There is on the Statute books of Trinidad & Tobago a Criminal Victims
Compensation Act ... and it has been ther for a long time. But, (and it is
a big "but") no Government has yet appointed a Board to administer
the compensation. So no monies can be paid out that is properly due
to victims of violent crime under the duly enacted laws of Trinidad &
(2) In the United Kingdom (where the Greens come from) there is a law
which is enforced where victims of violent crime are compensated by
the State. (This is addressed to those who say that a Trini would not
receive compensation from the British Government).
(3) Even if there was no such law on our Statute books, the Tobago
House of Assembly made a promise at the time to do so. It sits ill in
the mouth of the THA leader, Orville London, to try and deny this

In other words, on the one hand there is the law to justify such a payment. On the other hand, there is the question of a (broken) promise ... or at the very least, the perception of a (broken) promise. Under our laws, if a Government makes a promise to pay for something (whether the Government was laible or not) then the person at the receiving end of the promise to pay gets a legally enforceable right known as "legitimate expectation". And tell me, don't you think that it would have been better to have dealt with the Greens in such a way that they did not complain to the Daily Mail rather than have to pay for damage control?

But the issue of compensation to the Greens, in my opinion is almost a red herring. Far more serious are the allegations of racism and the Tobago Minister's reaction to these allegations. Stop a moment and look at the facts: Two white English people talking to a very widely read English newspaper have made some terrible allegations of racism and bad treatment received by them while in hospital. Now, tell me: What do you think that the average white English reader will believe? That the allegations are true or false? No prizes for the correct answer! And in those circumstances, what do you think that the average English reader will believe when the Tobago Tourism Minister who has announced that an investigation into these allegations reveals (and I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that this will be her report) that she has found no evidence to substantiate these allegations?!

And, do you think that this report will calm the fears of those who are thinking about taking a vacation in some sunny spot in the world and encourage them to come to Tobago? Do you understand the old adage about perception being reality?

I'm sorry. My own view is that this tragedy has been terribly mis-handled from start to finish. Further, tourism in Tobago has effectively been killed for at least ten years ... if not longer. The tragedy of the Greens is symptomatic of a much deeper seated problem. The average Tobagonian does not understand the difference between "service" and "servitude" and does not want tourists in his island. (Indeed, there are too many Trinis who don't understand that difference either.) No! Tourism in Tobago is dead. The Tobagonians and the authorities have made it crystal clear by their deeds as well as their words that they really do not want a Tourist industry. If and when they do, you will see a sea change in attitude. Until then, we should stop wasting money in pretending that we want such an industry. We clearly don't!

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