Are we seriously, unabashedly and mind-numbingly this stupid?
First we are told that the “old” Piarco airport (you know, the one that was abandoned in favour of the new multi-million dollar “barn” design) would be refurbished for the sole purpose of processing the arriving dignitaries for the Fifth Summit of the Americas – a gala affair for which there was also talk of leasing 200 BMWs for use by heads of state during the 3 days of the summit. Because of course, it would be gauche to expect the upper crust to go through the same Customs and Immigration areas as the rest of us Plebeians, just as it would be unreasonable to expect them to be shuttled around in buses. I mean, where’s the wisdom in that? 200 more vehicles on the road adding to the traffic congestion makes much more sense than minibuses that can transport greater numbers of people using a smaller footprint.
They finally saw the light on that issue, but common sense, as my father used to say, is not that common. The next summit-related controversy was the erection of the Wall of Shame to block the festering sore that is Beetham Gardens. Because of course the money that is being poured into making Port of Spain “look good” for these three days of meetings wouldn’t change anything in the Beetham if it were used instead to fund community programmes and skills-building workshops. Our priorities are so skewed it’s heartbreaking.
And then there’s the icing on this rapidly falling cake. The bright idea that – wait for it – trees (yes, TREES surrounding the airport in which the summit attendees will not be arriving) pose such a security risk that they are all being sawed to the ground with great alacrity. Does anyone in this country think of long-term repercussions before they act? Or even short-term for that matter? Part of the summit’s agenda is to discuss environmental sustainability – does the ridiculous irony of this strike no-one but me? And does cost not factor into the equation either? Surely, in the face of a global economic crisis, cordoning off the relevant areas (or even stationing security personnel at the trunk of every tree) will be astronomically cheaper than hiring tree-cutters.
Oh…and one more thing. When Barack Obama takes office on January 20th, he will likely be the most targeted President in US history – and I’m willing to bet that all the trees around the White House (and, as a matter of fact, trees that may line his path on any of his travels) will remain intact.