EYEWITNESS: Controlling…



The Trinis are all outraged by the remark – on international TV – of Mario Sabgda-Aboud that his “ethnic group”, the “Lebanese-Syrians”, actually are “the most powerful group in Trinidad”. The fella has now apologised!! Now your Eyewitness wants to know why he should apologise when he’s speaking the truth!!?? He’s actually the owner of the Rituals Coffee Chain which is all across the Caribbean – including Guyana.

But he’s related to the Abouds – of TT “Textile King” fame and, more pertinently, the Sabgas – who own ANSA McAL. As the latter’s website boasts, their asset base is at least US$2 billion and the activities of their 58 companies span automotive, beverage, distribution, financial services, manufacturing, media, retail, services. If WE’RE used to be called “Bookers Guiana”, then with more than double the number of companies, TT should be called “Ansa TT”!! Most recently they were in the news here for the $605 million pharma contract that is being investigated by the Procurement Commission and the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee. And of course, adding to their portfolio by buying out Berger Paints.

With the community of “Syrians” – as they’re called in TT – numbering only 5000, there’s no question they box way above their weight category – when it comes to calling the shots in that island. While it would’ve been expected by some they’d be closer to the Indian Trinis, who share their commercial aspirations – the reality is exactly the opposite. The Indians are seen as their competitors and in the political rivalries playing out over in carnival land – the Syrians back the PNM – the party of the African Trinis.

And that’s why so many of the latter are outraged by Sabga-Aboud’s boast!! For the assertion of being “most powerful” to be made by the Rituals boss, he just couldn’t be referring to their wealth. That implies “influence” but not “power”. Like how in Guyana, folks like the Beharrys or Yesu Persaud may have influence – but absolutely no power. To have power one has to command the political directorate. And this is what the Syrians do in TT.

All the politicians of the PNM are in their pockets since they were the ones with political power for most of TT’s independence in 1962. With the short-lived Indian TT-UNC sneaking in twice, the group might’ve hedged their bets – but momentum, if not demographics and cultural affinities keep them behind the PNM.

The Syrian community have been laughing their tail off at the hostility between the African and Indian communities.

Laughing all the way to the bank. Ansa Merchant Bank – which they own!!

…Berbice rice farmers?

Moses Nagamootoo, PM of Guyana, says he never told rice farmers they’d be getting $9000 per bag of paddy. Fair enough – even though scads of persons have come forward to attest that he did in fact make that promise. But what he can’t possibly deny is that soon after he was elevated to High Office in 2015 – with the requisite Main Street address newly air-conditioned, SUV suitably bullet-proofed and outriders on the ready etc – he did promise he had secured a lucrative rice market in Mexico. Which would take care of rice farmers’ woes.

But here we are, two years down the road and no conclusion on this Mexican Market. Is it a Mexican standoff? After all, Guyana was made to jump through any number of hoops – phytosanitary and others – but no response? In the meantime, the rice farmers are up to their necks in water – once again.

And with them having to spend mega bucks to drain their fields – it might just COST them $9000 per bag of paddy!


OK. Your Eyewitness understands heavy rainfall – which raised conservancy levels beyond its safety mark – is the work of the big fella up there. Not the Government!

But couldn’t the latter at least INFORM farmers before releasing water? Contempt!




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