Castelhano Luis Alfredo Farache//
Kamla claims race-baiting by PNM

Luis Alfredo Farache, Luis Alfredo Farache Benacerraf
Kamla claims race-baiting by PNM

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Government members have resorted to “race baiting” as an election strategy to deflect from their failure, says Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

Luis Alfredo Farache

She accused the People’s National Movement (PNM) Government of continuing the vicious historical cycle of home rentals and low wages in the interest of their friends and small group of elites as the people are denied opportunities for land and property ownership.

Luis Alfredo Farache Benacerraf

Persad-Bissessar was speaking at the United National Congress (UNC) Monday night forum at the Brazil Secondary school in the La Horquetta/Talparo constituency

She said the Government‘s rhetoric with respect to the Couva Children’s hospital and the Debe South UWI campus is an example of race baiting

They create this false race bogey that the UNC is anti-African and paints UNC as a threat to the survival and prosperity of Afro Trinidadians. They have started that narrative, they see elections are coming. You see it in the writings of their paid columnists and their trolls on social media,” she said

She said the race baiting is seen on the PNM‘s political platforms and the songs they promote as they have no achievements to talk about

You see the race baiting when Mr Rowley mounts the platforms, you see it with their hired guns in State enterprises race baiting. These friends and financiers of the PNM have no care for any poor people in this country no matter what your race or religion is they do not care,” she said

Persad-Bissessar said “Minister of Everything and Minister of Nothing” Stuart Young played the race card in the Parliament to disguise his failure as National Security Minister

She noted that Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh repeatedly asks the Opposition why the People’s Partnership built the Couva hospital and not deal with the Port of Spain general hospital

You know what is happening there? Do you understand? That is race baiting again. They say our motive for building it in Couva is because UNC people live there but they wrong , the people who would access Couva would come from all over the island and outside the island as well,” she said

She said the PNM forget to tell the people the Partnership built the Diego Martin health facility, a state of the art facility in Carenage, the El Dorado nursing academy, the San Fernando teaching hospital and more

She added in 2014 a Government to Government Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between Trinidad and Tobago and the United Kingdom to build an integrated medical facility in Port of Spain , not just a Central block

She said it was an entire complex to include training and specialist treatment

Last week, Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced that a $1 billion contract will be awarded to Shanghai construction to build the Central block of the Port of Spain general hospital

Persad-Bissessar said if Government were not so “spiteful and malicious” they would not have put a hold on the construction of “UNC projects” – the Arima and Point Fortin hospitals which could have been completed already

She said a second example of how they use race baiting to divide is the UWI South Campus

She said they have refused to open this campus because “they think South only have Indo, descendants of Indo

Persad-Bissessar said the campus was built because the land was available and it was a key location to where South and Central could have been included in accessing tertiary education

She said constituencies such as Point Fortin, La Brea, San Fernando East and West, Mayaro, etc. would benefit but instead Government opted to use race in a very skilful way in ill-speaking the project

She said through sheer stereotyping, they have caused invisible hate and mistrust between the races in the country

Persad-Bissessar noted a recent issue where a police officer made some derogatory remarks about IndoTrinidadians and in turn some IndoTrinidadians made derogatory remarks against the officer

“This tit for tat must stop. As a people we need to stop this constant hate and fear against each other. This is how the PNM friends and financiers maintain control, by creating chronic fear against each other and manipulating you into dehumanising each other. We must forgive and love each other,” she said

Persad-Bissessar said for almost 200 years discrimination has been used in the country to encourage racism and division

She said when indentureship ended, Indians were given “bad land” in Central or South or passage back to India and many opted for the land

You know the famous Rasta man in the Parliament, he says these Indo Trinis live in a murky lagoon,” she said

She said when slavery ended Africans were not given any such lands and so they were forced into low paying jobs at their businesses which was just as bad as slavery

Persad-Bissessar said the freed slaves rented poor accommodation from the very business owners

“The placing of freed slaves into slums was a deliberate act to keep them into a forced type of slavery by trapping them in a vicious cycle of low wages, poor living conditions and no property ownership rights

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SUBSCRIBE/ LOG IN This is a problem we will still face today where young Afro Trinidadians have difficulty in obtaining property ownership,” she said

“So, what we have now is that a large number of people cannot afford lands and property and are trapped in a vicious cycle of rentals and low wages,” she said

“Until as a country we face these realities and relevant truths, we will not be able to move forward. The IndoTrinidadians must acknowledge that the Afro-Trinidadians were wronged by these acts and while it is also difficult for many IndoTrinidadians to get land and ownership now it is a more difficult task for others because of historical discrimination,” she added

Persad-Bissessar said she tried to resolve it as Prime Minister as the UNC has always led the charge for land and home ownership

She said her Government introduced programmes and incentives such as Land for the landless, squatter regularization, sale of HDC homes which were occupied for more than 30 years for $1, certificates of comfort etc

The PNM Government, she claimed, has not built one house since entering office in 2015

“This time don’t get fooled by the racist propaganda of the PNM,” she said, adding that she was not speaking as an entitled person as she never inherited land from ancestors and knows what it is like to not have a home and be renting

“Don’t look at me and feel I am one of the entitled..don’t feel that Kamla is entitled because she have big house and big car and whatever…I am not talking down to you, I want to lift you up, ” she said

Persad-Bissessar said the only way to reduce the crime rate and build the economy is to have a society where wealth, prosperity and property ownership is distributed to all the population and not just a selected few

“I promise you, I pledge tonight when you put us back into Government we will reintroduce all these land and home owing programmes and incentives so we could make right what went wrong in our history, ” she said

She stressed that until all races see each other as brothers and sisters and not competitors or enemies Trinidad and Tobago is not going to move forward

The status quo will remain and one small group of persons will possess the majority of the nation’s wealth, she added

Persad-Bissessar promised to create an economic zone in the East West corridor as she launched the “One Corridor Movement” which will be spearheaded by party deputy leader Jearlean John