See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Stories from and

Predictions for an Opposition Party Win in Trinidad & Tobago's General Elections

By midnight Trinidad and Tobago time, the country should know which political party will form its next government. As predicted, it has been a tight race — out of just over a million eligible voters, the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) has thus far tallied over 400,000 votes. Many seats have already been declared, but two critical marginal seats, St. Joseph and La Horquetta/Talparo, both in the east Trinidad, are still up for grabs.

As expected, the two Tobago constituencies have gone entirely to the opposition People's National Movement (PNM).

Should the PNM win the two marginal seats — and by all appearances, they are poised to claim victory for at least one of them, St. Joseph — they will have beat the incumbent by 23 seats to 18 — a slim majority, but a win nonetheless. Some media houses and pollsters have been taking the liberty of calling the election in favour of the PNM, even though final numbers have not yet come in:

The still-sitting prime minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, retained her seat by a definitive margin:

As things stand now, it looks as though her victory may remain limited to her personal triumph in the constituency of Siparia and the ‘safe seats’ that her party enjoys in east and central Trinidad.

“Where de Lizard?” Why the Caribbean is Fascinated with Them

These little creatures have different meanings in other cultures. Ancient Romans believed that the lizard symbolized death and resurrection, because it sleeps during winter and reawakens in Spring.

For the Greeks and Egyptians, the lizard represented divine wisdom and good fortune.

In the Caribbean, lizards have special significance as well. Jamaican blogger Nadine Tomlinson examines the many ways in which lizards feature prominently in local folklore and old wives’ tales:

In Jamaica, old-time people say, ‘If a lizard jump on a woman, it mean she pregnant, or soon pregnant. […]

Old-time people say, ‘If you dream ’bout lizard, it mean you have an enemy.’

She likens the fascination with lizards to the region's African heritage, noting that “throughout the entire continent of Africa, the lizard recurs again and again as a motif in popular culture.” She cites the carving of the lizard icon on doors in West Africa, saying that in some tribes, it represents household tranquility; in Cameroon, it represents fertility.

Interestingly, one of Trinidad and Tobago's most beloved calypsonians, The Mighty Sparrow, sang a popular song called “The Lizard”, which humourously deals with aspects of sexuality:

Playing in class with a lizard in a glass
The lizard get away from Ruth and run by the teacher foot!
Oh Lord, the children frightened hmmm…wonder what gon’ happen,
But the teacher laughing out ‘kee kee kee’, only watching everybody.

The lizard run up she foot and it disappear…
Everybody still searching everywhere.
Where mih lizard, teacher Mildred?
Under she dress, taking a rest.
The way she jolly and happy, I swear the lizard must be tickling she!

While Tomlinson, like most Caribbean dwellers, take the presence of lizards as a given and feels a certain affinity to them, for her, there are a couple of exceptions to the rule: the Jamaican croaking lizard and ground lizard, both of which “creep [her] out”:

Normally, the former tends to be pale, although I’ve seen some in darker hues, and one with spots a couple of times. Yes, they croak, yes, they’ve kept me up at night, and yes, they can be brazen. […] Once, one fell off the ceiling, and almost dropped on my head. Never mind that it didn’t. Just the thought of it stuck in my hair, and the sound of its sticky plop! on the floor was enough for me to start hollering.

As for the latter, as its name suggests, you would be hard-pressed to find it in a tree. This kind is large and long, with an even longer tail, and slithers. They’re fast, too. One chased me when I was a little girl, so I’m convinced they bite. […]

I wonder what old-time people have to say about those two.

A Trinidadian Falls in Love with Jamaica

Trindadian diaspora fashion blogger, Afrobella, grew up “steeped in reggae music and [with] a love for Jamaican culture” – so why did it take her so long to actually visit the island? She's not sure she can answer that question, considering that her first impression was that “Jamaica is an intoxicatingly beautiful place with unique culture and cuisine”:

Jamaican culture is appreciated around the world, but it’s a whole ‘nother thing to go there, be there, and experience the lifestyle.

That said, she has posted her Top 5 reasons to visit Jamaica. Of course her list includes things like the warm weather and ambiance of the popular vacation spot, Montego Bay – but it also waxes poetic about the country's reggae music, food and drink and – no surprise for a fashion blogger – the shopping.

Ireland's Cricket World Cup Win Against West Indies No Laughing Matter

Irish satirical website Waterford Whispers News certainly enjoyed the Ireland cricket teams’ victory over the West Indies on 16 February in Nelson, New Zealand:

THERE were concerns this morning among the Irish Cricket Union after the success of the Ireland team at the World Cup caused massive strain on the Irish Cricket bandwagon, leading to fears that the axles may not be fit to cope with the strain.

Axles On Irish Cricket Bandwagon Beginning To Show Signs Of Strain

But for Irish fans this is no laughing matter.

Trinidad & Tobago: Am Gay; Will Travel

What is it like to be gay in the Caribbean? The Travelling Trini occasionally gets emails from young gay Trinidadians who “have the burning desire to go abroad, travel, and see the world”. She deduces that this wanderlust stems from the fact that “the Caribbean is a incredibly homophobic place with a raging macho-man culture, and coming out is an incredibly difficult, and often dangerous, thing to do.”

The post goes on to list several songs that promoted homophobia and gay violence back in the nineties: Buju Banton's Boom Bye Bye was unsurprisingly at the top of the heap, but the blogger describes them all as “dark, violent and downright disgusting.” She asks:

Why is it not considered hate speech? Why are radio stations allowed to play it? […] The question is, why is it okay to still be so violently anti-gay in 2015?

She connects this constricted reality with the desire many gay Caribbean people have to migrate and testifies that the Far East, where she currently resides, “is a very gay friendly place, indeed”:

There are thriving gay scenes in every country, from the liberal far east to the conservative Middle East and everywhere in between.

The whole world is not straight. It never has been, and it never will be. […]

Unfortunately these liberal lifestyles are not tolerated in the Caribbean, and are in fact still criminalised under law. There is no legal protection for LGBT citizens […] just as people fought for equal rights based on race, and equal rights based on gender, the next step in our human evolution is equal rights for all people regardless of their sexual orientation.

Will Death of Cartoonist Prompt Introduction of Better Traffic Laws in Bermuda?

A beloved Bermudian political cartoonist dies after being struck by a motorist's car while on his way to deliver his latest drawing to the newspaper where he worked. The Beach Lime blog notes that “the Corporation of Hamilton speedily acted to move the pedestrian crossing away from the roundabout, in the efforts of pedestrian safety.” Still, the blogger feels that more can be done, including the installation of proper signage and lighting, and even constructing an elevated crosswalk.

In a follow-up post, he recounts his own traffic experience and predicts that if the right measures are not taken quickly, the next road fatality will be just a matter of time:

Light turns green, car in front gets ready to go, then zoom, grey hatchback runs through [the] red light.

People here just don't care, because they know there's little risk of them getting into trouble. Other motorists and pedestrians have to take evasive action. Might is right. There may be cameras at the junction (who knows?) but there's no policy or presence for these scenarios.

Still No Arrests in Case of Murdered Trinidad Attorney

After one national newspaper published the contents of murdered Trinidadian attorney Dana Seetahal‘s will, public relations expert and blogger Denise Demming is more concerned that five months later, no-one has been arrested:

As the days pass and the likelihood of laying charges against the perpetrators of this crime recedes, I wonder how our first female Prime Minister feels. Is the Prime Minister now numb to the callous murders which occur daily or does she see them as just hard luck. […] Dana must not simply be another statistic. The popular view is that this was a planned hit, designed to snuff out a voice of reason.

Demming suggests that the crime was more than a murder; it was an assault on the country's democracy. She stated emphatically:

When our mistrust of the state and the institutions designed to protect us is eroded, we are near to anarchy.

Against Her Will – Trinidad Newspaper Publishes Details of Slain Attorney's Estate

Today's lead story in one of Trinidad and Tobago's most popular newspapers was the contents of slain Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal's will. Seetahal was gunned down five months ago in Port of Spain; no one has yet been arrested for her murder.

The blog Wired 868 could not understand the rationale behind printing such personal information. In a post titled “Will and No Grace”, Mr. Live Wire thought that the daily “pushed the boundaries of good taste”:

At a time when the Budget, a brazen attack on the Besson Street police station, gay rights, Trinidad and Tobago’s stance on ISIS, a missing police file on Junior Sammy’s son, Sean, and the accidental shooting death of 17-year-old Ricardo Mohammed by a lawman all cried out for further probes and analysis; the Express opted to rummage through Seetahal’s gifts to her family, friends and staff members instead.

He continued:

Did Seetahal leave all her earthly possessions left to former insurrectionist Yasin Abu Bakr? Was there an autographed picture with former Iraq President Saddam Hussein? Or maybe a book on conflict of interest bequeathed to Attorney General Anand Ramlogan?

Then how could Express justify this invasion of Seetahal’s private space?

Will Trinidad & Tobago's Government “Listen, Learn & Lead”?

Blogger and public relations professional Dennise Demming is disillusioned with Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who claims to “listen, learn and lead”, but then takes action to the contrary. Demming first cited the example of the country's recent Constitutional Amendment Bill, with which, “despite popular objection, the Government manoeuvred their way and got the Independent bench to support this unpopular change to the constitution.”

Now, she wonders why the government has not listened, learned and led when it comes to the Highway Re-Route Movement. Environmentalist Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh has undertaken a second hunger strike in protest over a portion of proposed highway that will displace a community and could also have a negative environmental impact. Amidst ongoing construction work on the highway, the Prime Minister has, thus far, refused to meet with Kublalsingh to discuss alternative routes. Demming says:

Re-routing the highway is a reasonable request by a credible group of activists which has come together under the leadership of the PM’s one time friend Dr. Wayne Khublalsingh. I salute this man who is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice in defence of the environment. No matter how this hunger strike ends, his blood is staining the hands of each member of the PP [People's Partnership] Government.

Art & Education in Suriname

Referring to English art critic Sir Herbert Read‘s book Education Through Art, Carmen Dragman, via Srananart's Blog, looks at the value of art in education, suggesting that the current Caribbean model is shortchanging students by not recognising the power of art as a creative outlet and learning tool:

Teachers and policy makers often actually know that art education is important for each individual, but don’t actually realize as yet how important the subject is. These lessons are mostly seen as ‘means of relaxation’ but not as means of support. Surely not before tests and examinations…

Dragman believes in learning through doing – movement, games, modeling, play – and gives several examples from her own teaching experience that are testaments to the success of this approach. She explains:

If expressive education is given correctly, the cognitive, socio-emotional, sensitive, motoric, affective and creative development of the child will be stimulated. It is therefore very important that this subject be not only presented as an isolated subject, but be also integrated in the other school subjects.

Do You Know These 10 Afro-Puerto Ricans?

The reclaiming of history as an ally of marginalized groups is key to their very survival. This is especially true in a colonial context such as Puerto Rico, where history has been and continues to be used as a means to justify inequalities and deny visibility.

In the spirit of doing justice to the men and women who have contributed greatly to Puerto Rico, and yet have been sidelined by years of official history, the digital magazine La Respuesta, which focuses primarily on the Puerto Rican diaspora in the United States, recently published a short post titled 10 Afro-Puerto Ricans Everyone Should Know, which briefly highlights the legacy of people such as pro-independence leader Pedro Albizu Campos, literary critic and lawyer Nilita Vientós Gastón, and intellectual leader Arturo Schomburg.

FIFA Elections Are in Progress

Despite the recent arrests of FIFA officials due to indictments laid by the US Department of Justice, the world football governing body has said that its elections, which it calls the 65th FIFA Congress, will continue as scheduled today. Current FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who headed the organisation while the two-decade siege of corruption, bribery and money laundering was allegedly taking place, is seeking a fifth term at today's congress. Blatter has refused to resign amidst the scandal, despite several calls for him to step down.

You can watch the live feed of the FIFA elections here.

Bermuda's 99%

The economic gap appears to be widening in Bermuda and one blogger has been paying attention. A week ago, after the Bermuda Telephone Company announced that it was considering introducing new – and more expensive – residential high speed broadband internet products and a high-end restaurant launched a $1000 per plate “private dining experience”, BeachLime.com noted that “the disconnect between big-ups and the common man remains steadily high.”

In a follow-up post at the beginning of this week, the blogger suggested that “once again, the less well off have to make up the slack.” He was referring to the government's decision to increase bus and ferry fares in an effort to take a bite out of the national debt, saying that it has “the undesired effect of targeting the people least able to handle further dents to their savings or earnings”:

Yes, on the surface it's probably not a substantial cut; a 5 dollar increase in a book of 15 tickets isn't a killer move, but when it comes to who gets to pay more, think about it. Who catches buses on a regular basis in Bermuda?

According to the blogger, the rate hike will have the greatest impact upon students, the elderly, the disabled and low income earners:

The people who are more likely to be able to afford a small dent in their earnings are the ones less likely to use that service!

Sad situation all around. Meanwhile the politicians continue to find ways to inconvenience Bermudians just a little bit more, every time.

Misbehaviour Trumps Murder in Trinidad & Tobago Headlines

While Trinidad and Tobago is in the midst of political woes and police try to determine the identity of the country's latest murder victim, at least one blogger thinks that mainstream media is doing its level best to ignore these pressing issues and capitalise on the pre-Carnival frenzy. (Trinidad and Tobago Carnival takes place on February 16 and 17).

aka_lol accused the leading national daily of “us[ing] its precious mind-swaying front-page to highlight a suspected personality flaw in the country’s top, home-grown, international Soca superstar, Machel Montano”:

Maybe it was because his alleged bad attitude took place at a town school fete is the reason it was given grossly exaggerated importance or some other ulterior or political motive – I don’t know. I doubt the newspaper is being paid off by some Big Men with shares and money to distract the public from the real issues that are, have always been plaguing the nation for some time […]

That Mr. Montano might be throwing temper tantrums all over the place for some very good reasons and a couple bad ones is not new, news or close to headline news. However, the discovery of a decomposing body which might be that of the missing Caribbean Airlines director is depressing and frightful thus should be fitting as a the main headline and a lifesaver given the need to alert unsuspecting visitors merrily flocking our shores for Carnival.