Courtesy Reuters

On May 24, election day in Trinidad and Tobago, Patrick Manning, who had ruled the republic as prime minister for 12 of the past 18 years, appeared on television. He looked stunned, and his speech was halting as he admitted that the coalition led by Kamla Persad Bissessar, a 58-year-old lawyer and career politician, had won a landslide victory, gaining 29 of the 41 seats in parliament.

The abrupt change in the country’s political power filled the streets with a sense of joyous relief. Pickup trucks loaded with tall speakers cruised through many neighborhoods, playing soca music and broadcasting slogans from Persad Bissessar’s

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