It was fowl play that prompted some overdue thinking. This chicken craziness on the part of Trinidad authorities is what brought me up short. There is this scrawny sanction embedded in an embargo best summed up in a few pithy words: no more chicken. Down with Guyana chicken. Kentucky chicken, yes; BeeGee birds, no. What is going on here?
I think mischief is afoot. Because local poultry people have come out with wings flapping furiously while clucking loudly: there is no problem. Guyanese chicken is safe for consuming, according to the ads. USDA approved (well, the local equivalent); healthy to partake. Enjoy! Now if Guyana’s chicken is good enough for Guyanese to eat, then I must ask in my best neighbourly fashion: how come it is not good enough for Trinidadians to consider and include as part of their cuisine and dietary needs? To reinforce my point, I point to the prominent native born of the Land of the Humming Bird, now living in this Magnificent Province for many a year without any trace of avian anxieties, bird flu, or feathery fears. In fact, they are healthier than a horse, and more robust than most Guyanese, truth be told. I do not think that they import foodstuffs from Trinidad; especially not chicken, be they of the live or frozen (or smuggled) varieties. Hence, I am at a loss.
But wait! Not so fast. I am beginning to see the light, as I had cause to go public right here with this before. A while back, it was something along the same prohibitive lines, but in that instance, honey was the offending commodity. Now chicken is the latest bee sting. It is neither an affectionate nor brotherly peck, in the best spirit of Caricom. Not then, not now. Thus, I must ask: what is next on Trinidad’s radar that will not pass muster? Quite frankly, there is not much. And that is part of the problem in this uneven, unacceptable relationship.
It is a one-way street. But more than that: it is the one-way street of an open road with no restrictions going downhill from the Trinidad side. A freeway, to be more precise, with neither speed limit not traffic sentinels. Of course, this means that Guyanese goods traveling north (to Trinidad) have to go uphill and with all these tollgates and watchdogs along the way. It is an arresting combination. In contrast, coming and long established in these latitudes is one Trini commercial power after another. Think banking, beverages, and a barrage of builders, businesspeople, and brand names. They are welcomed. They are shopped at, partnered with, and red carpets rolled out in true regional hospitality tradition.
But the shoe is on one foot only, with one hand cheering. Foot and hand are not here. It is time for the government and people of Guyana to come to a stark realisation: bad friends, bad deals. Even discounting (somewhat) speculations of allegiances and conspiracies relative to prior political relationships (and related generosities), there is still enough remaining to conclude that the Guyanese balance sheet and outgoing cargo manifests are empty. Meaning that nothing doing on the Trinidadian side in terms of some receptivity. Not equivalent treatment, simply more of a level and fair playing field. I readily recognise the exception of many Guyanese finding a home and jobs and future in the twin island republic. But that is as far as it goes, and it is far in this one respect. Only that, lest anyone get carried away.
When I think of all the ingredients in this nation to nation trade pattern, I do not see parity, and I fail to see either regard or returns. This is like a regular rich man, poor man arrangement with all the traditional and cultivated biases and disadvantages attached. Guyana is the poor relation disadvantaged in this setup. In many ways, I now summarise this relationship between Guyana and Trinidad, as paralleling that of Mexico and the United States. Guyana is not the United States in this picture that takes firmer hold by the minute. Indeed, some mental chicks coming home to roost.
Here is a parting one: some schools of thought posit that Trinidad is unhappy that, in spite of its lengthy and proven oil history, it has been neither invited nor involved more in the local oil bonanza(s). Hence, a retaliatory shot across the bow. I suppose the chickens are the only ones rejoicing; a lease on life. I am not. Then another thought encroaches -American Airlines and unwanted competition for regionals. Pondering. Time to go.
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