Years of accusations against former FIFA Vice-President turned Trinidad and Tobago's Minister of National Security, Jack Warner, came to a head yesterday as the country's Prime Minister accepted his resignation from Cabinet.
The resignation came on the heels of pressure surrounding the release of this report by the CONCACAF Integrity Committee. (Warner had been president of CONCACAF for about two decades.) The report was written by former Chief Justice and Attorney General of Barbados, David Simmons: in it, Warner was accused of various acts of graft and the misappropriation of funds. A few hours after tendering the resignation from his ministerial portfolio, Warner also resigned from his post as chairman of the United National Congress, the largest political party of the ruling coalition People's Partnership government.
Writing on Friday, two days before the resignation, Trini World Views chided the government for initially closing ranks around Warner instead of acting quickly:
The latest in this string of consistent ‘spit in the eye’ politics is the CONCACAF reports on Jack Warner, who is the Minister of National Security and at this point seen as the untouchable Minister of Everything. What is more troubling however is the response from the Government, which is no different than before except perhaps with an extra inflating of their PR work with the Cabinet encircling to defend the wrong.
Interestingly, the blogger also felt that dismissing Warner would not, at this juncture, make a difference to the fortunes of the government:
At this point just as at any, he should be fired as Minister of National Security, there is no doubt about that. What however will that accomplish overall? With his influence and the Government's way of running Ministries for their own gain, who is to say that they won't just put someone there to further his agenda as well. Also where does this leave the others who should in the same manner have been rooted out long ago?
The post continued:
The more we cry out, the quicker we are brushed off. At this point it is too late just to fire a rouge [sic] Minister. The rot that the Government has inflicted upon the state is too severe for a turn around short of a total cleansing of corruption to the extent of [half] of the Ministers ending up in jail, and the other half ending up on the breadline, with not even the PM being left standing when the ethical dust settles. For the Government, opportunities to do the right thing pass daily, and and chance of redemption has passed.
At Wired868, Lasana Liburd noted that the seeds of Warner's destruction were planted long ago:
Three years ago, then Integrity Commission chairman Eric St Cyr recommended that Warner chose between his government portfolio and FIFA position. Had he left football, the Chaguanas West MP might have avoided the fall-out with Blazer and FIFA president Sepp Blatter and lasted the term as a Cabinet member.
If Warner gave up his government post, he might have continued to benefit from the lax scrutiny afforded to most sporting administrators.
But, like Icarus, Warner was intoxicated with his own power and it was a matter of time before he would fly too close to the sun.
Liburd pondered what the Warner controversy revealed about the Trinbagonian psyche:
Trinidad and Tobago, despite over 50 years as an independent nation, still appears too politically immature as a people to see the link between corruption and hardship; unable to grasp that millions pocketed and wasted by politicians and their cohorts might have a direct relation to ill-equipped hospitals, unsafe roads, the loss of our gas subsidy, inadequate basic services like water and, of course, the booming crime scourge.
Warner knew a population inclined more to self-preservation than communal love would turn a blind eye to its neighbour’s suffering once someone felt there was a dollar in it for him. And he preyed on Trinidad and Tobago’s selfish streak for decades.
Philip Edward Alexander noted that many of the public figures now condemning Warner have been accused of improprieties before:
Perhaps it is time to scrutinize every member of Parliament, align earnings with possessions and [apply] the strictest standards of the Integrity in Public Life Act to all across the board.
Meanwhile, Dervedia Thomas compiled a Storify post about reaction to Warner's resignation on Twitter.
The Global Voices Caribbean team will continue to monitor reactions to and further developments of the story.