The State of Emergency didn't deliver so, in another act of desperation, the Prime Minister has surrendered her senses and brought out her biggest gun: Jack Warner. Plan and programme, be damned. It's time to bring in The Man Who Needs No Plan.
More than anybody else, she would know the power of Jack Warner, practitioner extraordinaire in the art of the possible. By any means necessary he had blazed the UNC's trail back to office, playing the devil to a sleeping Panday, Maharaj and Dookeran, until finally, he found a Queen to lead the pack. Now we go see!
When the end comes, expect it to be short, nasty and brutish. Sputtering up to a week ago, the PM's decision has thrown the People's Partnership into fast forward, moving at the speed of desperation to an already-ordained outcome.
Knowing what's best, she did the deed and left the scene.
So for now, Warner is the one with a finger on the trigger and the power to call the shots.
On the 178th day of the year, as the murder toll hit the 200-mark, the Minister of National Security made his move in Debe signalling that, for him, the priority was law and order above safety.
Never one to underestimate the power of the media, he stepped out of the shadows into the glare of 300 journalists in town for the World Congress of the International Press Institute. To ensure all bases were covered, the breaking news came as CNN International's news anchor, Jim Clancy, was on set being interviewed on state-owned CTV.
Global rebranding takes top talent, time and plenty of cash. But for Jack Warner, all it took was timing to let the world know that Jack was back.
From that moment, he has sucked up every breath of oxygen in the media universe, crowding out the entire cabinet, except for Collin the Cub who has gone giddy with sunstroke from flashing cameras.
The PM couldn't have chosen a more enthusiastic candidate for the job.
Mr Warner is a man with something to prove and in serious need of success. The unravelling of his FIFA world, the collapse of T&T football, the disappointments of the People's Partnership in office, the unexpected insecurity of his own place in the power scheme of political things. Even the highway that he couldn't get going in Works despite numerous declarations of delivery. No wonder he was happy to do for Emmanuel what Sandy might not have done for him.
In common with his PM, Warner's power credentials are in serious need of burnishing.
Cheered into office in 2010, this is not where either of them would've expected to be in 2012.
And so, having thrown down the gauntlet on us, Trinidad and Tobago now has no choice but to go for broke.
If there is a silver lining in this passing cloud it is that each of us now has no choice but to declare where we stand in relation to this place.
Maximum leaders know they can count on two key things: Vested interest whose only interest since Columbus has been to keep its hand on the levers of power, and its support system, the compliant masses, who also since Columbus, have understood that survival is better guaranteed by lining up on the side of power. Authoritarian culture in the service of authoritarian power.
How truly wonderful, then, that on our 50th anniversary of Independence we should be presented with this epic opportunity of, finally, coming out of the closet of the past! Far, far better than all the fireworks in the world.
We need not be afraid.
Amid the stench of the dying old order rise the perfumed green shoots of the new. They can be spotted everywhere, especially among the youth but not only among the youth—for whom there is none other but Mother Trinidad and Tobago.
But we must be careful: the old order is always at its most desperate and dangerous in the throes of death.
As we stand up to be counted— and to confront — we should look beyond the beast of brazen power to catch the fear behind the eyes that tells us that the real enemy is the system that makes enemies of us.
Always, our greatest threat lies in our history of impotence and nonparticipation in our own affairs. In 2012, this instinct fits snugly with our news cycle of nine-day wonders. Now, we can almost believe the illusion of active involvement while exaggerated confrontation transforms reality into drama. Spectator sport served up as political participation. How cute! But how dangerous.
With all our might, we must resist this old impulse to turn our lives into theatre.
True, the old scene is already set with Mr Warner and Dr Kublalsingh as well-rehearsed lead actors playing to the worn script of David and Goliath while the cheering and jeering crowds gather on either side of the stage, happy to egg them on at no cost to themselves. Carried away by the illusion, we might be shocked to discover, when the scene is done, that the bruised and shackled bodies on stage are real, and that random members of the audience have been caught in the crossfire.
We can flip this script and change tack on our history. Whether we choose to act as private citizens or as agents of public institutions or private organisations, what each of us chooses to do at this moment will make the difference. Nothing fuels the power-seeking missile like a vacuum.
The one thing we should agree on about the Debe debacle is that the solution is not to be found at the barrel of a gun or under a bulldozer. Civil disobedience has already served its purpose in pushing the residents' cause to the top of the public agenda. To continue with confrontation beyond this is to risk the lives of people and exacerbate the social tensions that let loose the monsters that keep driving us back into the embrace of our gnarled past.
This, then, is the perfect moment for civic capacity to step forward and create a new way out of this morass of old habits.
As in so much else, it is clear that those leading the way are lost and that the compass to the future lies elsewhere. You may have it. Step forward if you think you do.
• Sunity Maharaj is the editor of the T&T Review and director
of the Lloyd Best Institute
of the West Indies