22 April, 2009

Shooting practice, Summit update

Photo: HO/AFP/Getty Images

While thousands were caught up in The Summit swirl, my family went to the nearby hills and had fun target shooting. Drawing and firing while walking and running was also practiced, and caused me to break a sweat. The Goddess surprised me by asking to shoot the rifle. Needless to say, I was elated. We foraged for herbs while there and enjoyed the sunset and light breezes.

Whatever positives comes out of this Summit, it must also be balanced with the disruption to the lives of ordinary people. Snarling traffic jams, no-go areas, closed businesses, closed hospital accident & emergency departments, police officers dressed in new, intimidating riot ‘costumes’ surrounding a few peaceful protestors in downtown Port of Spain and of course unfulfilled promises by the authorities (“… little or no disruption to everyday life…”). Military helicopters flying overhead has become the norm for these three days of disruption.

Asking for permission to protest seems so ridiculous. That permission can easily be denied on spurious grounds. Riot police arrived at a drum protest that was miles away from The Summit and cut the line to the sound system, and ordered everyone present to disperse. This was an open air event at the St James Amphitheatre. An independent senator who was in attendance, remarked that she was amazed that the police would use such a tactic, and could not understand the need for it.

Errol Fabien of Gayelle TV, who carried the Drummit 2 Summit live, advised that the police was not the enemy and were “under instructions”. He implored that even though emotions were running high, that people should remember that the police were their friends and brothers and to avoid heckling them. After those present stood their ground and refused to disperse, a senior police officer ordered the police back to base, which was just next door, at the St James Police Station.

Presidents Barack Obama and Hugo Chavez shook hands after Chavez gave a book to Obama. Commentators read too much into that little gesture: “…a new chapter in US-Venezuela relations”. From a handshake? What if the two had embraced?

Bolivian President Evo Morales ended his five-day hunger strike and attended The Summit. He said he hoped this was the last Summit that Cuba would not be present. He also threatened to not sign the Declaration.

Note: This post is late because my ISP cut me off for five days.

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