Katrina Bared Bush's 'bamsee' - the word is Trini-lingo for 'bottom'
Raffique Shah
The Trinidad Express

THE contrasts could not be starker, the contradictions more revealing, than
when Hurricane Katrina struck a mighty blow at the crucial southern states
of Louisiana, Mississippi and Georgia in the USA. It was as if the blitzes
on Baghdad and Kabul had returned with intense fury to lash back at
hapless, innocent Americans; much the way millions equally-innocent Iraqis
and Afghans suffered at the unseen hands of American pilots who unleashed
death from way up in the clouds. The irony of it is that Katrina, mimicking
the acclaimed "bunker busters", also came from "on high", wreaking death and
destruction on millions of people... only this time the victims were
Americans, not "ragheads" or"chinks".

And where was their leader? George W was not only on vacation, but he had
sold his own people so short, treated them so callously that in any other
country in the world he would have been strung up from the lowest lamp-post.
After speaking to them via television, (the preferred medium of
tele-assassins like Pat Robertson), he did what some other misleaders we
know here would
have done. (reference to the Prime Minister of Trinidad/Tobago). He
retreated to his bed to take in the"Show" via CNN, and then hugged
what's-her-name, more than likely whispering to her: Wake me up when it's
over, babe! Look at America today in all its nakedness! Besides the
nature-induced Karma... er, sorry, destruction... what do we see?
Incompetent or uncaring Government Agencies that were slow to respond to the
dire needs of refugees from Katrina's wrath. Oh yes, America now has its own
Refugees. We saw thousands of people, (I am straining at the bit to say
"Black people", but I won't), packed like sardines in an Astrodome that proved to be less
formidable than its builders expected it to be. Bodies lying wrapped in
sheets, people defecating everywhere, potable water a
luxury, and a good shower something they probably dreamed of.

Look at them, people! This is the so-called superpower that insists on
imposing its will, its values, on others in the world, but whose own values
are questionable. The looting was worse than anything we saw in downtown
Port of Spain following the attempted Coup of 1990. In the U.S., widespread
rapes were reported, as were incidents of frustrated people firing guns at
helicopters! As George W basks in luxury, millions struggle for survival -
in misery. He eventually called out the National Guard with the order: shoot
to kill!

This is America, facing a hurricane, a virtual one-and-done lash, unlike the
many months its troops rained death and destruction on the innocents in
Vietnam. This is American leadership, luxuriating even as so many die of
hunger, for want of medication, or just decide to "give up the ghost" to
escape what they once thought was heaven-on-earth. And you know what? One
reason for the slow response of the National Guardis that 40 per cent of
their manpower in Mississippi and 35 per cent in Louisiana are-guess
where?-in Iraq! So are their amphibious vehicles, their Humvees, their
jeeps. Need I say more?

Now contrast that with Cuba, which is hit almost every year, at times twice,
thrice, by equally devastating hurricanes. A few months ago, a hurricane hit
the island from south-east to north-west. This is a deprived country with
ramshackle buildings. But what did their leader do? Fidel Castro was on the
ground, with all his ministers and militia, preparing his people for the
onslaught. He leads from the front...always did. His people were secured in
shelters (no Astrodome!) and remained battened down until Ivan's fury moved
elsewhere. Did we hear of massive deaths? Did we see looters taking over
whatever there was to steal? Did we hear people crying out for food, babies
dying of hunger in the wake of devastation?

No. It's at defining moments like these that True Leaders come to the fore.
They do not hide in their bunkers or chalets. They are among the masses,
lending physical assistance (which Fidel did until very recently), ensuring
their people's welfare, or overseeing the rebuilding of their country.
It's why some UN agency recently reported that Cuba has the best disaster
planning measures of any country in the world.

I look back at when Ivan struck Grenada, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.
With immediate and generous assistance from their neighbours, these
"poor-rass" countries rose to the challenge, with every-man-jack pulling
his/her weight.

From ordinary T&TEC employees to our soldiers and even CEPEP gangs, we were
there alongside the Grenadians, helping them to rebuild and recover. Jamaica
and the Cayman Islands were models of recovery. The leaders, all of them,
were on the ground, with their people. And I don't remember any serious
looting. Even the prisoners who escaped jail in Grenada soon returned (or
were returned) to prison.

Tell me, pray, who are the savages, and who are the civilised? So much for
the hot air emanating from the White House.