Even as bringing in citizens is a humanitarian effort, it is also a key political issue which is why we have to understand the government’s extreme caution in doing so. Bringing people from abroad poses a huge risk to the otherwise good Covid numbers and it can’t afford to have these spoilt.
Commentators on the elections like Winford James et al have almost unanimously touted that the perceived good management of Covid is a major reason for calling the elections and it would be a serious misjudgement to do anything to negatively impact its lifeline.
For what of any real long-term substance does the PNM have in its favour other than the good management of Covid to recommend itself to the voting public?
Even though the tribal base is there and the usual electioneering involving capital projects will have some impact one cannot, in recent times, miss the discontent of these voters as indicated in the recent riots against the police whom they see as an agent of the government, to include other reasons for discontent such as crime lack of jobs, housing and the like.
Which is why working out a plan and bringing in the suffering citizens from abroad is a must for even as keeping them out will preserve the numbers and so the perception of good management, it can also be the Government’s Achilles heel for politics is perception.
And even though the truth is that the Government’s extreme caution has us relatively Covid free at the community level—as compared to places like the US and Brazil—for which it should be applauded, if a disenchanted few across communities see their own as being victimised by this necessary caution, who is to say what their reaction would be and what possible chain reaction can arise against their own PNM who for them is culpable.
Aggravating this is also the issue of disenfranchisement of citizens abroad who cannot come home which, when taken with all the other current irritants, can seriously undermine the traditional hold that the PNM has on its tribal supporters.
So one can applaud the Government for its stance on repatriation but so, too, one should not miss the political implications, and it is in the PNM’s interest to handle it just right.