There is no reason why the average citizen should have to sleep with a knife under their pillow in constant fear of criminals and feel totally helpless in trying to improve the situation.
On the surface, the Trinidad and Tobago Government spends millions of dollars promoting the islands as a paradise, which is true. For example, the weather is fantastic with minimal affects from hurricanes. The last hurricane that approached the islands was in the early 1960s. This is due to the fact that the islands are south of the hurricane belt. Therefore, the beaches are pristine and look as if they are literally out of a romantic movie. Also, the beaches have limited visitors and the water is crystal clear, warm and inviting.
Unlike the Bahamian Islands, the Trinidad and Tobago Islands' geography offers diversity with very steep, rugged and picturesque hills in the north and scenic flatlands in the south. The highest point in Tobago rises approximately 2,000 feet above sea level. Throughout the islands, there is lush vegetation, a numerous variety of exotic birds, and multiple ocean reefs. The marine life on the reefs varies and, depending on the reef, can offer a memorable snorkeling or scuba diving adventure.
The citizens of Trinidad and Tobago are generally very friendly, helpful, and somewhat reserved. However, the residents who work in retail are not as open. As a whole, the residents who deal directly with the tourists in either the stores, restaurants or bars seem disinterested and appear as if they are doing you a favor by serving you. However, this is not that unusual for any of the Caribbean Islands and, to a degree, is part of the islands' charm. Therefore, I always tell vacationers to not wear a watch. It will make their stay much more enjoyable.
The Trinidad and Tobago Government promotes themselves as being the "Hub of the Caribbean" for industry, trade, finance, culture and being "friendly" towards non-citizens. Unfortunately, this is a total illusion. I can say this with complete confidence because I have lived in Tobago during the winter months as a Canadian Citizen for the last 3 years. Therefore, I have experienced first-hand the phenomenal level of government corruption including under-the-table payoffs, bribes, extortion and absolute stupidity and arrogance that defies all that is decent and fair.
In fact, the Trinidad and Tobago Government makes most of the third world appear to be first world when a knowledgeable person makes a comparison. Honestly, I believe that I can say this due to the fact that I have lived in a number of countries throughout my lifetime. When I first came to live in Tobago, I did so because of, out of all of the places I have lived, Tobago drew my attention due to all of the reasons I mentioned at the beginning of this article. I believe myself to streetwise by being a "world traveler" and, therefore, I felt that I was making an educated decision as to living on this beautiful island. It was only after deciding to live there when I discovered that my paradise is a "Paradise Lost."
Initially, when I was met with any negative attitude when dealing with the various government departments and their representatives, I believed it could be racial or because I was a foreigner. For example, I am Caucasian, which is a minority on the islands. Approximately 40% of the population is black and 40% are Indian descent from India.
When I visited the Department of Industry and Trade where I sat in the lobby for over 3 hours waiting to see a Supervisor, I began to understand the workings of the system. I was told that the Supervisor was in back-to-back meetings. When I spoke with the residents who were also waiting, they stated that, in all actuality, this was a very common occurrence. When I sat in that lobby waiting, watching and listening to the average citizens who were there trying to conduct business, I realized that I was not being aboutd out for being a minority or for being a foreigner, I was being treated like crap because the government treats everyone like crap. These "Civil Servants" of the local government were neither. In an odd way, it made me feel somewhat better.
Getting Your Money Out of T&T
Fri 16 January 2015
From our friend Peter Green in the UKTue 27 January 2015
I had a similar experience attempting to return my investments from T&T. The local bank in Tobago informed me that I could only obtain for removal $25 US per day incurring the usual fees. They also wanted an instruction for each transfer accompanied by a notary and passport copy. The cost of a notary in the UK is approximately $1250TT. Combined this with mailing costs the situation was a non starter. The amounts to be returned to the UK was in excess of one million TT$ with more to follow. In desperation I contacted the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office explaining my situation and they contacted T&T. It was agreed that they would clear all funds back to the UK stating that I had miss read their statement. Typical T&T, always some one else's fault.
CCN TV6 - Port-of-Spain
Tue 25 November 2014
Guilty. On Thursday July 25, 2013 the court delivered a guilty verdict and fined the thug $300 TTD ($46.73 USD).
In the prior case, witnessed in the court by the bar owner, a 15 year-old teenager with no previous arrests, was convicted of stealing a neighbor's wallet containing approximately $100 TTD ($15.57 USD). He was fined $3000 TTD ($467.30 USD) and sentenced to six months in jail.
It helps to have friends in Trinidad and Tobago.
7 August 2013
June 2013 UpdateOn Wednesday June 5, 2013 the magistrate made it to court, but the police FAILED to show up for the scheduled hearing, so once again the case was remanded.
This is now the eighth remand.
The next court date is set for July 25, 2013. Details to follow.
6 June 2013
May 2013 UpdateThis is an update on the assault that took place in Tobago at the end of March 2012 and has been described in detail on this website (details). One man was charged with assault against the bar owner. No one was charged with threatening to kill the bar owner, the guesthouse owner, or myself (a tourist), or threatening and stalking myself after the fact. The only reason a charge was laid at all, was because of pressure from the Canadian High Commission in Trinidad.
This case has been remanded seven times so far. The first two times, because the defendant did not have a lawyer. The third time because of a national holiday for a gold medal. The fourth time because of a religious holiday. The fifth, sixth, and seventh because the magistrate did not show up.
I am told the next court date is June 5, 2013.
The police told me I should appear at court to testify, even though I had given them a sworn statement. Can you imagine what that would cost in time and money?
We look forward to seeing what Justice is in Trinidad and Tobago, or will Chicken Little announce "The sky is falling" and that will be the excuse for another remand?
23 May 2013
April 2013 UpdateOn Tuesday April 23, 2013 the magistrate did NOT show up for the scheduled hearing.
This is the third missed court date.
The next court date is set for June 5, 2013. Details to follow.
23 April 2013
Minstry of Justice UpdateBUCCOO, TOBAGO — I am pleased to report the owner of the guesthouse called me today. He said he got a call from the head of the Ministry of Tourism and they are asking the Ministry of Justice for the maximum sentence. Audios good, but talk is cheap. We will see.
18 April 2013
TNT Warning in the News
The Trinidad Guardian NewspaperDiplomatology: We're not ready - 8 May 2013
PORT-OF-SPAIN, TRINIDAD — Canadian Phil Noonan devoted an entire Web site to his year of experiences in this country. Mr Noonan eventually left after running afoul of a violent incident in Tobago, but much of his Web site is devoted to complaining about the state of the public service bureaucracy and its lethargy in dealing with visitors, even those willing to relocate and spend their money here... (more)
The Trinidad Guardian NewspaperCanadian traveller warns: Stay away from Tobago - 15 March 2013
PORT-OF-SPAIN, TRINIDAD — A Canadian businessman and traveller who fled Tobago last year has created a Web site warning foreigners to stay away from the island. In an article in the Canadian daily newspaper, Metro, 61-year-old Phil Noonan claimed in March 2012 he was attacked by two Tobagonians while staying at a guest house in Buccoo, Tobago... (more)
Phil's Response to the Guardian Article: - 16 March 2013
ONTARIO, CANADA — With regard to the article in the T&T Guardian - March 15th, 2013 Canadian traveler warns - Stay away from Tobago. In the article it was stated, "Yesterday the T&T Guardian spoke to an official from the Division of Tourism and Transportation of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), who said the division had never received a report on the alleged incident."
This is not true!
The incident happened on Friday, March 30th 2012. On Monday, April 2nd, I contacted the High Commission of Canada in Port Of Spain Trinidad at 868-622-6232. The High Commission of Canada Representative commented she was frustrated by the entire process and lack of cooperation with local authorities.
There has been lots of talk, but no action to charge these two thugs, because their parents were employed by the Carnbee Police Department. One of the alleged was eventually charged with assault on the bar owner in Buccoo. As of today there have been no charges laid in the death threats against either myself, the bar owner or the guesthouse owner. This court case has been remanded 6 times (for various reasons).
The next court date is set for April 23, 2013.
The Waterloo Region RecordOne man's trouble in paradise - 10 March 2013
WATERLOO, ONTARIO, CANADA — Phil Noonan had been spending up to six months of the year in Tobago. He recently tried to help a friend being assaulted and the fallout of that act has left him feeling like it was unsafe to return to the island he wanted to spend during his retirement... (more)
Episode #1: Immigration
In most countries in the Caribbean, if you are a non-resident, and do not carry a work permit, you are allowed to stay for a maximum of 6 months. Once you have stayed for a maximum of 6 months, you are required to leave. When you arrive in a Caribbean Country, you are required to speak to an Immigration Officer where you will explain your story, get your Passport stamped, and write on the passport the date of your arrival and the departure date 3 months later. Prior to the 3 month initial (cont.)more
Episode #2: The Assault
The village of Buccoo, Tobago is a sleepy, picturesque, little paradise. The average resident there is just trying to pay their bills and get by. There are no mansions, no condominiums lining the bay, and no Hiltons or Marriott Hotels. On a busy day, you may only see a total of 30 people taking advantage of their beautiful and pristine 1 mile beach. Anchored in the bay are between 20 to 25 pastel colored fishing boats bobbing in the light breeze. The fishermen there work very hard and it is a (cont.)more
Episode #3: Extortion Condoned
The storage container that I purchased in the United States and paid to have shipped to Tobago is filled with all kinds of creature comforts, which I also paid to have shipped to Tobago. The storage container included two boats, a motorcycle, spare parts, numerous tools, TV's scuba gear, etc. I had it shipped from Fort Lauderdale to the Port of Spain in December 2010. Normally, when you ship goods into a country, the shipment is unloaded and put into a bonded warehouse where your inventory is (cont.)more
Episode #4: More Extortion Condoned
One week later, I arrive at the Customs Office at 9:00 a.m. Much to my surprise, the Customs Broker is already there. We had to wait until the Supervisor showed up at 9:45 a.m. and wait again until 10:30 a.m. when the Supervisor decided that it was time to start. Fortunately, by 11:30 a.m., we had an agreement. The agreement was that the Customs Office will do the inspection for my container at the dock and will release it on the stipulation that we meet with the Head of the Port Authority and (cont.)more
Episode #5: Government Red Tape
The following is a factual account and is presented as a series of short stories relating to my dealings with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago involving various departments including Customs, Immigration, National Security, the Department of Industry and Trade, Motor Licensing, Maritime, Land and Survey, Port Authority, Ferry Service, Custom Brokers, the Police Department and the Office of the Prime Minister. Most Caribbean Islands rely heavily on tourists by offering an abundance of sun (cont.)more