Thursday, February 2, 2006 at 10:56 AM
But with its congress being described as more a den of thieves than the (self-professed) bastion of democratic virtues and its president being accused of abusing his executive power (e.g. by invading Iraq and spying on Americans), one can appreciate our cynical glee over America’s woes.
Nonetheless, I’m always loathe to criticize others for things I’m doing myself. And in this case, I cannot revel too much in America’s shame because similar scandals abound in the Caribbean. And, nothing demonstrates this more than the cancer of corruption that has metastasized throughout the Caribbean’s reputed bastion of honest, fiscally sound and politically competent governance – the government of Trinidad & Tobago.
He is charged, ironically enough, with diverting his ill-gotten gains to secret bank accounts in London – much as American embezzlers and fraudsters are often charged with secreting (and laundering) their dirty money in our Caribbean banks. His co-defendants constitute a rouge’s gallery of former and two current cabinet ministers – reflecting the systemic and bipartisan abuse of executive power that facilitated this alleged looting of the national treasury.
But as we are also inclined to wax indignant about the time it takes to bring alleged crooks (like former Republican majority leader Tom DeLay or Ken Lay of Enron) to justice in America, we cannot take much pride in the fact that – at the current rate – it might take a decade before a jury is even empaneled in Panday’s case (and the outlook is hardly more promising for the others). After all, Panday was charged in September 2002. Yet since then, his lawyers have made such a circus of the legal process that Carnival clowns would feel right at home in their courtroom. Indeed, just last week, they proved that they have no interest in trying the merits of this case when they showed up in court merely to file more dilatory motions.
The next performance in this lead case is a hearing – on a purely procedural matter – before the Privy Council (Trinidad’s highest court) scheduled for February 16th.Stay tuned… Trinidad & Tobago, Basdeo Panday, political corruption