Fas­ci­nat­ing Ba­nanas

Mus­ings are thoughts, the thought­ful kind. For the pur­pose of th­ese ar­ti­cles, a-mus­ings are thoughts that might amuse, en­ter­tain and even en­lighten.

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Michael Walker

Names stick, even if coun­tries spend decades try­ing to change their im­age. ‘Ba­nana Re­publics’ was once a pe­jo­ra­tive term for po­lit­i­cally un­sta­ble coun­tries with lim­ited re­sources; even to­day, the ve­neer of re­spectabil­ity is so thin that the slight­est abuse shat­ters the im­age, and we’re back to square one!

But I di­gress; first of all, let me ad­mit right off the bat that I am fas­ci­nated by the thought that any­one could be so gen­er­ous, for want of a bet­ter word, that he, or she, would pay a for­mer spouse 100,000 Dol­lars, Pounds or Euros a month, in ad­di­tion to all the mi­nor bits of prop­erty worth mil­lions etc. thrown in as part of the set­tle­ment, to en­able him or her to con­tinue the life he or she was liv­ing be­fore the di­vorce. The maths is sim­ple; that’s at least 1.2 mil­lion a year plus ben­e­fits; not even the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the ‘O-E-what’s it called’ is paid quite that much, much less the prime min­is­ter of any im­pov­er­ished small is­land de­vel­op­ing state.

So I would throw my sup­port be­hind any strug­gling bil­lion­aire, or ‘bil­lion­airess’, who wanted to find a way to avoid be­ing dragged into court and hav­ing to pay out even more to the for­mer love of his or her life. It’s a pity, but the per­ma­nence of mar­riage is such a fleet­ing thing th­ese days; that’s just how it is. And I would prob­a­bly ap­plaud any bil­lion­aire, or ‘bil­lion­airess’, who was able to scratch around to find a de­tri­tal na­tion will­ing to sell am­bas­sado­rial im­mu­nity for the right price. Such re­source­ful­ness would be even more pre­scient if am­bas­sado­rial im­mu­nity had been of­fered for sale even be­fore eco­nomic cit­i­zen­ship was in place. Come to think of it, maybe that’s where the idea came from?

But then again, it is quite pos­si­ble that any bil­lion­aire, or ‘bil­lion­airess’, who might or might not have been on the look­out for a hur­ri­cane hole in a stormy sea of le­gal nas­ti­ness, was un­ex­pect­edly ap­proached by some ‘im­mu­nity tout’ or ‘cit­i­zen­ship caterer’ ea­ger to make a quick buck or two. I mean, let’s look at the process of pick­ing am­bas­sadors, shall we? Am­bas­sadors are of­ten picked for political rea­sons; their nom­i­na­tions are re­ally ‘thank-yous’ for ser­vices ren­dered, per­sonal or oth­er­wise, to a political party or leader. Am­bas­sador­ships may even be be­stowed as pay­backs for sig­nif­i­cant mon­e­tary con­tri­bu­tions. Of course, it is not at all cer­tain that any bil­lion­aire, or ‘bil­lion­airess’, in a tight spot would be will­ing to con­trib­ute fi­nan­cially to any political party or politi­cian in re­turn for im­mu­nity, but the thought is there, and I am sure that there might be plenty of politi­cians will­ing to of­fer im­mu­nity for the right price at the right time in the right place. Of course, am­bas­sadors are not al­ways ap­pointed as re­wards, some might even have spe­cial skills or knowl­edge that make them suit­able to per­form a spe­cific mis­sion. Take ICAO, for ex­am­ple, the Global Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity; any­one ap­pointed as am­bas­sador to such an au­thor­ity might well pos­sess spe­cial knowl­edge of avi­a­tion law, pro­ce­dures and poli­cies. You wouldn’t re­ally want some­one who’d spent his or her whole life in a ca­noe or sit­ting on the back of a camel in the job, would you now?

But talk­ing about fish­ing, you might not want some­one who grew up sur­rounded by sand dunes far from the near­est ocean to rep­re­sent you in all things mar­itime, un­less of course he or she had made a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to your party or to you per­son­ally. But then again, the ap­point­ment might not be about money, grat­i­tude, pol­i­tics or favours; the ap­pointee might be a per­son of im­mense en­ergy, the sort of per­son who would at­tend ev­ery meet­ing, lobby ev­ery of­fi­cial and in­sti­tu­tion, and even sit out­side of­fice doors for days wait­ing for a chance to plead your cause. Per­haps the ap­pointee’s sheer en­ergy, de­ter­mi­na­tion and ded­i­ca­tion might be enough to jus­tify his or her ap­point­ment. The ques­tion is would a bil­lion­aire, or ‘bil­lion­airess’, with yachts to sail and cock­tails to drink have time for such ded­i­ca­tion to such a hum­drum job? You’d have to choose care­fully, wouldn’t you?

And what abut the ap­point­ment process? Shouldn’t it be con­ducted in a trans­par­ent man­ner by invit­ing ap­pli­cants, or choos­ing can­di­dates in open com­pe­ti­tion so that the best qual­i­fied or most suit­able man or woman might win? And should such im­por­tant ap­point­ments re­ally be made in se­cret? How many covert, diplo­mat­i­cally-im­mune am­bas­sadors are out there in the wide world os­ten­si­bly rep­re­sent­ing the in­ter­ests of coun­tries to which they do not be­long and which they have rarely, if ever, vis­ited? I would not blame any bil­lion­aire, or ‘bil­lion­airess’, in a tight spot for seek­ing ev­ery way out of a le­gal dilemma; some­times you gotta do what you gotta do. But for any­one to hold his or her coun­try up to the scru­tiny and ridicule of the world by do­nat­ing diplo­matic im­mu­nity to per­sons un­qual­i­fied for a spe­cific task, un­will­ing to per­form the role given them, at a legally sen­si­tive time, with­out any just cause is to abuse the rules and con­ven­tions of global diplo­macy in such a way as to in­vite shame and cas­ti­ga­tion. As they say: Once a ba­nana re­pub­lic, al­ways a ba­nana re­pub­lic. Just cain’t get rid o’ those damned ba­nanas!

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