Sun | Sep 27, 2020

Mark Wignall | Cliff Hughes, one; Donald Tapia, zero

Published:Sunday | February 23, 2020 | 12:00 AM

Almost from the start of the Republic, the basic core guiding American social and political belief is that the nation is exceptional, and because of that, it has earned itself the right to dictate to other countries. Or at the least, point to the mote in the eyes of a country like Jamaica while there are huge logs floating in America’s eyes.

Way back in the 1970s and 1980s, grant funding and soft-loan projects launched in Jamaica with American funding would, many times, specify the use of key American personnel in the project, and worse, saddle us with some of the overstock, including that which had not met its own health standards, for example, asbestos pipes.

Stuck in America’s craw long before Barak Obama came here to issue his friendly warning about the Chinese is the view of China on a trajectory to controlling global finance and trade. Add to that China’s expected role as the centre of international influence by 2040.

America’s biggest headache, right now, is obviously China, and President Trump is in the middle of a trade war with that country. Or wherever Trump moves it next week, as per his many mental eruptions.

Last Tuesday, Nationwide’s Emmy Award-Winning journalist Cliff Hughes engaged in an interview with American ambassador Donald Tapia. One could easily deduce that the Ambassador was hoping for a more pleasant outcome.

After Mr Tapia had given one story about a private conversation he had had with Professor Trevor Munroe and, Munroe said differently. America, through USAID, had been funding Munroe’s National Integrity Action, and just recently, Tapia had made the decision to cease grant funding.

With Tapia lecturing us about our cradle-to-the-grave fascination with corruption and pointing out after Hughes asked that one of the main points of focus in his mission in Jamaica is helping the country in its fight against corruption, Hughes asked him a question for which he was not prepared.

Against the background of Trump’s White House being a hotbed of corruption and with Trump not too concerned about concealing his flagrant breaches of his oaths to uphold the Constitution, Cliff Hughes asked Ambassador Tapia what sound moral ground he had to criticise Jamaica on corruption while representing Trump and with him being a corrupt president.

The ambassador’s thought processes had to have been jerked into a place he never planned to go. So he resorted to what sounded like a threat as he said that Hughes was going down a “slippery slope”.

It was obvious that he was mentally beaten up by the social, economic, and political arguments used by Hughes to explain China and Jamaica’s partnership in big infrastructural works that could transform the economy over the medium to long term.

Thus, in trying to push back against what he never saw coming, Tapia declared that Trump was not corrupt, and that the global community sees it differently. The global community also gained a template in how journalists can push back against the American diplomatic community in their countries, especially as domestic and international indecency holds pride of place in the White House.

Giving away her favours

Yet again, toxic masculinity reared its ugly head, and one policeman shot a man who he found enjoying his wife’s sexual favour. Late last week.

It happened to Smitty way back in the 1970s. Smitty was 38 and he could neither read nor write. That didn’t matter too much to him because he made good money working on the Kingston waterfront.

He lived with his girlfriend of the last six years in a little board house in a community close to Newport West. One Saturday, he reached home, half drunk as usual, and as he told me: “Mi push di door and flick on di switch. Is a man mi si pon top a mi woman.”

As he told it: “Di man jump up and bus through di window as it mash up. Den di woman race out a di place.”

“What did you do after that?” I asked.

“Mi have di bed to miself so me just lie down and sleep.” There were about six of us as he told the story.

“All you do is sleep? Yu nuh run after them?” one asked.

Illiterate Smitty reasoned it this way. “An if me run after him and chap him up is prison me gwine go and nuff more man gwine have my girl.”

Smitty said, “She come back early di next morning and a sweep up yard. Is nuff years now dat happen. Mi an she still together and she nuh gi mi nuh trouble and me nah drink so much.”

Surviving poor, old and blind

Last Monday, 76-year-old Tony sat at the back section of a bar and he said, “Mi have a money and a want to buy yu a beer.” I declined, but he insisted and added: “Is my money. I can spen it how I feel.”

He explained how his glaucoma arrived on him. “Mi eye just start run a lot of water constantly, constantly. In nuh tim,e mi blind in the two eye.”

I watched him as he counted his cash. “How do you know the difference between the bills?” I asked.

“Mi smell dem. The hundred have a smell. It smell different dan di five hundred or thousand.”

“How do you get here and how do you get home. What yu do for food?”

“Mi have a daughter abroad. Is taxi mi used to drive, but dat dead now. I have mi stick, and a don’t have to walk on the main road. Mi live in a room in a family house, and as mi get di likkle ting mi daughter send mi, mi buy mi supplies and a half cue a rum. A man run a cord fi mi and me get light and water sometimes in the pipe.”

Tony feels around on the table and retrieves his cap. He puts it on, and as he gets up, he reaches for a little package of foodstuff – vegetables, powdered milk, tinned fish, flour.

“Safe travel on the gravel,” he says as he leaves.