Photo : Kamal Persad

Part One Read Part 2 Here

A the conclusion of the Budget 2018 debate, when the motion was put to the members of the House of Representatives, the United National Congress (UNC) abstained. “Shame!” “Unpatriotic!” PNM House Leader Camille Robinson-Regis rose and expressed annoyance saying, “I ‘m really disturbed that those on the other side did not vote.” (Opposition abstained on Budget.” Newsday October 24, 20017).

Minister of National Security Edmund Dillon, in his contribution during the budget debate on October 10, 2017, appealled to the Opposition UNC to assist the government ”to treat with crime” including support for legislation: “If the miscreants were not the common enemy , then they were their friends (of the Opposition).” He added: “I hope they will join us and not be obstructionists to ensure that they are part and parcel of the solution and not the problem. Let them be patriots…Time and time again, they say, “We are patriots.” (Dillon: Expect Results from Crime In 2018. Express, October, 2018 p. 5).

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley went further, and accused the UNC of being traitors. In his contribution to the budget debate on 12 October, 2017 the Prime Minister said: “If someone is interested in doing something in Trinidad and Tobago, to make an investment and create jobs and they want to talk to the Government, and we talk to them nice ..not go like  the Opposition and tell them that we are the heart of ISIS, the country is an ISIS nest, and doh come here. That us treason!” he thundered to desk thumping.” (Express 13 October, 2017 p. 4).  

At the post-budget public meeting at Piggot’s Corner in Belmont, Port of Spain on Friday 6th October, 2017, Dr Rowley continued with the theme and even went further. He said that former PP government had “set out to bankrupt the country…and only cared about itself and the Treasury.” He added: “You know in medieval days there were some actions that could be called treason…anything inimical to the State. And there were times you would lose your head and they would say ‘behold a traitor!’ We have gone past that. The Opposition in Trinidad and Tobago has no interest in the well-being and welfare of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.”

The Black creole-based PNM leadership is clearly using extreme language in the attacks in the UNC, and especially on Kamla Persad-Bissessar, from being unpatriotic to traitors, enemy of the State, and even deserving, like in medieval times, of losing one’s head. This has caused Prakash Ramadhar to respond that “what I have observed with the PNM is that if they don’t agree with you, then you are not patriotic. We must get rid of this fallacy.” He was heckled by the PNM members of the Lower House (Newsday October 16, 2017 p.11).

The use of terms like “unpatriotic,” ‘traitors,’ by the leadership of the PNM and others, follows a line of thinking by blacks about Indians. The PNM is arguing that the UNC are “traitors” and that include their supporters, that they, the PNM and black creole, possess a superior “patriotism,” “nationalism” and they “care about the well-being and welfare” of the country.

This is a trend of thought which began with the arrival of Indians in Trinidad as Indian labourers. Firstly, the Black intelligentsia conjured up the image of Indians being the “Indian Spectre” who would overtake the Blacks demographically, and Trinidad would be over-run by heathens and pagans from Asia. There was a concerted campaign to stop the indenture system by Blacks in the newspapers like the San Fernando Gazette, and organizations such as the Trinidad Working Men’s Association and spokesmen such as Alfred Richards, C.P. David et al. The movement toward self-government witnessed the Black agenda clearly-it was to prevent Indians from equal participation and acquiring State power.

Photo : Eric Williams

In 1945 there was an attempt to prevent Indians from full participation as voters by the attempted imposition of the infamous “language test.” This reached its zenith in 1956 with the rise of Black creole leader, Eric Williams and the PNM. Raymond Ramcharitar, a former columnist with the Trinidad Guardian, wrote that “anti-Indian paranoia has a long history in the isles. Once independence became a possibility, the racial paranoia resumed…Post-Independence, the Creole society mythology-African, not Indian was “national solidified…” they felt they were entitled to the fat of the land.” He continued: “The problem is that Creole Nationalism (or Afrocentricism) is incomplete, and useless by itself, it needs an antagonist to project its infantile resentment and to sustain it. With the collapse of colonial society in 1970, a new antagonist was needed …The antagonism was cultivated and sustained by the PNM in various subtle state sponsored ways. Its consequences included mass migration and corruption on a staggering scale which so weakened the society, the antagonist (the Indian) was able to acquire power in 1995. But the loss of power revitalized Creole Nationalism.” (Guardian January 16, 2013. That Congo Ship).

Dr Eric Williams is Black creole nationalism personified and the PNM is the political vehicle which he used to rally his Black supporters in capturing state power in 1956. The Indian was the challenge and competitors and opponents in the smooth exercise of this power. The loss of the Federal Elections in 1958 to the coalition called the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) witnessed this paranoia expressed in  a megalomaniac Eric Williams in his 1st April, 1958 speech “The Dangers Facing the West Indian Nation” where the Indians of Trinidad were labelled as “divisive and recalcitrant minority” among other insults. This is a historic speech as it is unforgettable. Since 1845 no one has attacked or insulted Indians as Dr Eric Williams and enthusiastic black creole supporters. In 1966 Eric Williams continued his attacks on the small white community and Indians in “Massa Day Done.”

These attacks on Indians continue among black creole ideologues in the Press- the Express, radio and political platforms. Hence “unpatriotic,” “traitors,” “cut off their heads,” which could be an incitement to anti-Indian violence.

(T be continued-Part Two- TRINIDAD IS AN ISIS NEST)