The Political Calypso: True Opposition in Trinidad and Tobago, 1962-1987

By Louis Regis | Go to book overview

4
The Roaring Seventies 1971-1975

THE BACKGROUND

Conspicuously absent from the 1966 calypsoes are any references to the 1965 happenings in the industrial south where Williams had checkmated the formation of a super union. Sugar workers, chafing under the individualistic rule of Bhadase Sagan Maraj, had invited George Weekes, president general of the powerful Oilfields Workers' Trade Union (OWTU), to represent them in industrial matters. Williams, long suspicious of Weekes' growing influence, moved to counter the merger of oil and sugar workers which he saw as a political union of Africans and Indians in opposition to him. Continuing unrest in the labour troubled sugar industry and the timely invocation of the spectre of communism gave Williams the opportunity to declare a state of emergency under cover of which he rushed through parliament the Industrial Stabilisation Act (ISA), a law which among other things outlawed strikes and set conditions for certification of worker representation.1

These happenings in the distant south were unremarked in the Calypso, perhaps because of the ideological indoctrination of the society as a whole. The calypsonian may have thought -- like others -- that Weekes' attempt to politicise labour, taken together with the return of C.L.R. James and the subsequent formation of the WFP with James and Weekes as principals, provided evidence of the communist blueprint, something the free world had been warned against since the early days of the Cold War. The vilification of James and his association with persons named in the long delayed but now conveniently released Report of the Commission of Inquiry into subversive activity in the country, may have persuaded the calypsonian that the nation's only salvation and the only hope for the continuance of the Trinidadian laissez-faire lay in Williams' liberal authoritarianism.

A battle of attrition had long developed in labour. Williams needed a docile labour force for the modified Lewis strategy for economic development that he had adopted since the late 1950s but some unions opposed the procapital stance which represented

-69-

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The Political Calypso: True Opposition in Trinidad and Tobago, 1962-1987
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Illustrations viii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgements xiv
  • List of Abbreviations xv
  • 1 - The Calypso and Politics 1956-1962 1
  • 2 - The Model Nation 1963-1965 20
  • 3 - God Bless Our Nation 1966-1970 37
  • 4 - The Roaring Seventies 1971-1975 69
  • 5 - "I, Eric Eustace Williams" 1976-1981 121
  • 6 - "The Sinking Ship" 1982-1986 163
  • 7 - Happy Anniversary: the 25th Anniversary of Independence Calypso Monarch Competition 195
  • 8 - Ars Poetica 208
  • Conclusion 236
  • Afterword 238
  • Notes 240
  • Appendixes 257
  • Bibliography 269
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