The Union frequently comments on events or receives news of general interest and these are documented on this page.
News & Comment
Professor Ryan beating up on Fidel Castro and Raul Castro? Why has he become the mouth-piece of the minority Cuban exiles in Miami who oppose the revolution?
First of all, Professor Ryan is incorrect by asserting that both Fidel and Raul hijacked the Cuban Revolution. While both figures have become symbols of the revolution, the Cuban revolution is much bigger than Fidel and Raul. Julia Sweig, has noted that, “Despite Fidel’s overwhelming personal authority and Raul’s critical institution-building abilities, the government rests on far more than just the charisma, authority, and legend of these two figures” (Contemporary Cuban Reader First Edition, 237).
One may not agree with some of the policies that they pursued but to lump them as totalitarian dictators is another matter. To argue that the U.S. should not normalize relations with Cuba because of a perceived notion of the practice of totalitarianism is very spurious. If we go by Ryan’s totalitarian logic of Cuba, then, the U.S should not have normalized relations with China, Vietnam, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Pinochet’s Chile, Somoza’s Nicaragua and on and on. Moreover, it should stop conducting business with governments in Latin America, (Mexico, Honduras) that continue to violate the Human Rights of their citizens.
The History of all the major revolutions has shown that these revolutions were not democratic. Over time, the people have struggled for democracy against those who oppose the expansion of democratic rights and freedoms. The people in Cuba have not stopped fighting for democratic rights and freedoms just as African-Americans and other minority groups in the U.S have not either. Because we say that a country is democratic, it does not mean that democracy is extended to everyone? I ask the learned professor, is Trinidad and Tobago a democratic society? Has the Westminster model of government worked for all the citizens?
Secondly, it appears that Professor Ryan has become a lobbyist for a small right-wing minority of Cuban-Americans who continue to oppose any normalizing of U.S/Cuba relationships. I don’t know why he took that approach to critiquing the policy, but I hope he does not have a sinister agenda. While this group is still a force in Floridian politics, President Obama has recognized that their influence on the national level is dwindling because of the growing influence of a younger generation of Cuban-Americans who are much more progressive than their parents.
Last week on HardBall with Chris Matthews, Howard Fineman, journalist and editorial director of AOL Huffington Post Media Group, argued that data has shown that a large percentage of the younger Cuban/American generation supports Obama’s decision and they want the U.S. to end the embargo on Cuba. If this is the case, why did the learned professor side with the small minority of Cubans and write his tirade about Fidel and Raul? It is quite clear that Ryan is on the wrong-side of history.
The U.S has come to the realization that its Cold War policies as they relate to Cuba have not worked. President Obama even called the policy insane. I strongly urge Professor Ryan “to get with the program.” The Cold War is long over. Fidel and Raul will not live forever; the Cuban people will accept the normalizing of relations on their own terms and not on terms dictated by the U.S. or the minority Cuban right wing fringe in Miami.
I strongly urge the learned professor to use his pen and begin a discourse on this new paradigm rather than obsessing on what Fidel did or did not do. The train has already left the station. The U.S./Cuba representatives have met to iron out the policies. Like it or not Ryan, get on board and use your influence at the University of the West Indies to begin a discourse on this important historical process.
One Week before Christmas 2014, President Obama declared to the world that his administration was taking steps to normalize relationships with Cuba which had been disrupted for fifty years as a result of the Cold War.
Stating that the Cold War policies had failed, Obama proposed the following initiatives that would reestablish diplomatic relations; more effectively empower the Cuban people by adjusting regulations; facilitate an expansion of travel to Cuba; authorize expanded sales and exports of certain goods and services from U.S. to Cuba; authorize American citizens to import additional goods from Cuba; initiate new efforts to increase Cubans’ access to communications and their ability to communicate more freely (www.whitehouse.gov).
When the President announced these changes, Cubans took to the streets in Havana and other parts of Cuba. For them Christmas had come early. However, not everyone took the news kindly. One of them was Professor Selwyn Ryan.
Writing his regular column in the Sunday Express (12/28/14), Ryan penned an essay entitled “Fidel in Retrospect.” Rather than analyze the policies and examine the implications for the Caribbean region, Ryan, instead, went out his way to thrash the Castro brothers.
By so doing one would think that Ryan was a Cuban exile living in Miami. From my observation of these folks, this is how they talk. They trash everything about Cuba since the Revolution of 1959. But Ryan knows better, so we should think. But his essay exposes his ignorance. His essay makes no mention that the Cuban people staged a revolution in the 20th century that challenged U.S hegemony in the region. Moreover, he never discusses the role Cuba played in Latin America and the Caribbean despite facing a blockade that severely wrecked its economy.
Furthermore, the learned professor failed to articulate Cuba’s role in Africa, especially its role in bringing down the Apartheid regime in South Africa. Additionally, he failed to highlight the achievements the Cuban people made in medicine, education, sports, and culture.
Rather than celebrate with the Cuban people. Ryan played the “Grinch” and sought to steal their joy. In playing this role, he chose to quote Eric Williams to justify his reasons for thrashing Fidel and Raul.
However, it was the same Eric Williams in 1959 who declared, “…Castro’s revolution brings one step nearer the old dream of Caribbean Confederation and also the goal of the ownership of the West Indies by the West Indian people themselves” (Vanguard 1/3/1970).
Even though we know that Williams capitulated during the Cold War, he recognized the significance of the Cuban revolution and celebrated the Cuban people by writing From Columbus to Castro. Ryan, on the other hand, is not pleased with the good news and sides with the reactionary Cubans who fled the revolution.
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Mr. Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona SC
Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
I am writing to you as a citizen who has been involved in the Steelband art form for over fifty years. Those who have been involved in this art form for this length of time and more have struggled and made great sacrifices against great odds to bring the Steelpan to what it is today.
Today, it is the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago. I must say thanks to those who gave blood sweat and tears before my time; those who went to jail and lost their families and were considered outcasts by this very society, only for the love of the Steelpan. Today, the national instrument is still considered a noisy instrument by many in the country of its origin after all it has done to put this nation on the world stage.
This Steelpan instrument, has done more to improve the lives of more citizens and to promote the brand T&T, than anything else this country has produced and is still contributing towards holding the social fabric together. Why is this not being recognized for what it’s worth? It confirms the saying, a prophet is not without honor save in his own country.
I say all this to identify some challenges facing Steelbands in the South, especially during the Carnival season. Suddenly, some people find that the Steelbands are making too much noise in their communities, while practicing to represent the said communities at Panorama and the national festival.
So, the police is taking time off from crime fighting, to visit Pan Theaters to let the many young people gathered there practicing their culture know that they have to be EMA-compliant to continue making themselves useful. To me, this was the same thing the pioneers fought against and went to jail for. Is it that those times are coming back again? Are we to, once again, prepare ourselves for a battle with the police, in order to maintain and preserve our culture that is now sweeping the world?
One would have thought that the police would have seen the Pan Theaters as a welcome aid in its fight against crime; pan theaters where hundreds of young people, are engaged in meaningful pursuits, and not out on the streets creating problems for them.
Are we still in colonial mode? Are some of us still trying to understand what is our own, and what is imported? Please Mr. President, give us some clarity on this serious issue. Another very serious and sensitive issue that must be addressed by your good self, sir, is the carnival proclamation signed by you, giving citizens the right to play mas and parade the streets from 4:00 am on Carnival Monday to midnight on Carnival Tuesday.
This right is being infringed upon by the police, giving all sorts of frivolous reasons for their infringement. The Carnival is what it is and is adding much needed revenue to our treasure, but the police seem to feel overworked and unable to manage our national festival effectively. The solution is not in disrupting the people's celebration. The solution is added manpower. This is not rocket science. Let us call on our Caribbean neighbors for the much needed assistance. It was successfully done in recent times for something that was of less interest to the people.
But, the stopping of Carnival in the City of San Fernando at 2:00 am on Monday night, and 10:00 pm on the Tuesday night could lead to serious confrontation at some point in time. We certainly don't want such a situation exacerbated. There are people who live for this art form, and they invest a lot of money to make it happen. Please Mr. President, clear the air on these matters of national importance. All we want to do is play our part in the national festival without harassment and interruption.
Thanking you in advance for an early and positive intervention.
Yours in Culture
I write this full of fear and trepidation and hope than when I am gone at the hand of some law enforcement fundamentalist, Buddhist, Baptist or Adventist, all yuh kind enough to besiege the offices of NWU's wearing "I is Comrade Samuel'' jerseys for at least half day.
Bob Dylan in his classic "Just like Thom Tom blues” has lines that go "If you're lookin' to get silly you'd better go back to from where you came/ Cause the cops don't need you and ...man…they expect the same.''
Never mind the recycled appearances on the talk shows morning and evening. Clearly they plan to show what "police can do”, social media and instant viral re-play notwithstanding. And you do not even have to 'get silly'. You just have to be within arm’s reach to be man/woman handled.
So police women of late don't seem to give a @#$%^&* (Do not get me wrong. I am speaking of when they are in uniform. I do not know what happens when they change clothes. When they are not seeking to maim the already lame by staging their own police sports/para Olympics on High Street, they are practising what prison officers call "cell extraction' on Charlotte Street.
You see, dear readers, this dangerously parked female motorist could not be allowed to continue with her life of crime in the city. Next thing you know we would see a spike in illegally parked motorists sitting in their cars, opting for a parking ticket. The police, one imagines, saw the need to raise the threat level to 'orange'.
How they must cuss out Samsung and Steve Jobs! In the old days they use to beat up the camera man and smash the camera at will
So once again having heroically extracted the store owner from her Audi hideout, following a cuss-out of course, we can all walk the streets of Port-of-Spain safe in the knowledge that illegally parked motorists won't take over our city: day light robberies, murders and home invasions – yes! Illegal parking? Never!
P.S. Please remember you have to buy, print and wear your own jerseys
On the night of January 17th 2015, police entered the Pan Palais of the Southern Marines Steel Orchestra in Marabella, South Trinidad. Southern Marines is the oldest existing steelband in the Greater San Fernando and taces its naming to 1946. This video relates the rest of the story
Please allow me space to express my disgust at the crime situation in this paradise lost. Everywhere you go today, is crime, crime evermore! People are not safe anywhere, not on the streets, not in the sanctuary of their homes. Not even lying stiff in the morgue is one safe from violation. People are not safe from criminals and bandits in this lost paradise, and they come in all forms and fashion. It's so sad.
I remember, as a young man reading and learning about life and lifestyles, I learnt where banditry was a noble profession. In days of old when men were bold and chivalry was still in fashion, men used to be commended highly by their country. Sovereign rulers used to honour them by bestowing great titles on them. I remember names like Hawkins, Raleigh and Drake were men of high status. Those James boys, Frank and Jesse, are today etched in the American halls of fame. Even Ali the Baba and Robin with his hoods were held in high esteem in their day.
The great train robber Mr. Ronnie Biggs must be turning in his grave on hearing what is passing for banditry today. It is a shame and downright disgrace to see how these impostors today have brought banditry to its knees. The god of bandits should relegate them to a fate worse than death.
Those of yesteryear took pride in their chosen field of endeavour. Some of these men stole whole countries with all their peoples.
Christopher Columbus was chief amongst the thieves. We still honour his name in so many parts of this country and across the globe.
Bandits today have no class, hence the reason why their names will be lost in the dump heap of history. What kind of pride could one profess to have in the practising of one’s craft when one can find pleasure only in robbing and killing little old ladies and grandpas for pittance and sticking up poor people in the village bar, who only trying to drown their sorrows of the day in a beer or two, and you, armed to the teeth, mongoosing their cell phones and the small change they are squeezing to play the play whe.
Is there pride in robbing the Snack Shacks along the street, that selling some digestives and chubby to the children then boasting to your friends how much wuk you put down? Shame, shame, shame! Practitioners of professions, always try to emulate the best in their field. What joy could you find in distressing the very community that give you life? Bandits of yesteryear, used to protect and defend their communities.
That fellow, who robbed the Bank of Monte Carlo, must have cried long tears down in bandit hell, when the news reached him that one was coming in from Trinbago, who was shot dead by security, for robbing a Roti Shop. Shame on him! If he was so hungry and starved for food, he should have begged for something to eat. Someone would have bought him a roti.
Valmond Fat Man Jones in Smartman Heaven must be blue vex to be a Trini. After all, he became a media celebrity after he pulled off the Sam Cooke scam, gained the admiration of a nation and get immortalise in kaiso.
All you mocking pretenders have really dragged banditry through the mud and left it with no honour. But, the truth be told, you all are just petty thieves: the vagrants of banditry; common criminals without class. You don't have the knowledge and education to participate in white collar crimes and don't have the class of the likes of Morgan the Pirate.
If you distressers take a little time out and do some research, you would see that real bandits, those worth their weight in gold, used their exploits to help build better communities. Hence the reason their names live on. It is not too late to emulate those guys, and have your names etched in the annals of history.
Robbing and raping grannies in the communities is the wrong road towards success. Because of your action, the children are afraid to go outside and play freely. Innocent lives are always in danger, whenever you get the urge to go out and kill one another. Change that style! Try to get on top of your game. Emulate the best in your field! Maybe then, you may command some respect and etch your names in the annals of bandit history. In the meantime, Stop the senseless killing!
I know my ‘olde school’ upbringing in the calypso medium colours my views and actions so I tried to suck up the aberrations that confronted me before taking my seat at south NAPA, in San Fernando, to be part of a cultural experience.
I put aside the run around just to get tickets before the show having tried WACK, Seon Bar and, finally, Atherly’s Bar. I simply grumbled to myself when patrons were only allowed to enter the theatre eight minutes before the advertised show time which obviously guaranteed a late start.
So let me put the experience in perspective. On a scale from one to ten I put Kaiso House opening night on Sunday 11th January at six with a good bit of points going to MC Tommy Joseph; the chorus group – Kaiso Jewels and the eleven member band – Cummings and the Wailers. The 24 singers presented seemed like castaways. In days of old most of them would have been heckled off the stage. Here is how it went.
The Guru – My name is Calypso; Doodnath Ramkissoon – Journey of Life; Brother Musa – Wake up and smell the coffee; Lady Aeisha – Plus size lovers; Bunny B – Multi crisis; Sharlan Bailey – Land of Demons; Marvellous Marva – Safe Hands; Snakey – Ah cyar rhyme; Allan Welch – Confused global warming; Brother Mudada – Nobody eh see; Black Sage – Banditism; Brown Boy – Captain Rowley; College Boy Jessie – The untouchables; Duane O’Connor – Stand Strong; Karene Asche – Every knee shall bow; Brother Valentino – Queen of the Carnival; Doppy – The road march dying; Poser – Bertie’s Dream; Spicey – The advice; Mista Shak – Pow Tow Pow; Dee Diamond – Big Yard music; A female singer/pannist – Chords; Lani K – Engine Room and a Rasta bringing the 3 ½ hour programme to a close with his selection – Show me your motion
Advertised singers such as Singing Sandra, Explainer, Chucky, Twiggy, Brother Resistance, Rootsman, Soft Touch, Cassman, Sister Ava, Calypso Kerr and Lasana were no shows so it seemed they pick up a side of first-timers, unprepared and mediocre artistes to make up a cast. Imagine some sixteen of these singers received encores with a few getting double and triple invitations to return.Truth be told, the standouts were Karene Asche, Black Sage, Bunny B and the young pannist. I was disappointed with Mista Shak who delivered part two of his last year selection – Bois; Duane O’Connor is yet to prove he is a front-liner because he stayed in the same style as before, but so too were Poser, Brown Boy and a few others.
But they were allowable when compared to the closing act telling a full house of patrons to show me your motion. I tell you if it was in Skinner Park with people standing for hours and dew forming during a five hour spiel, our motion would make front page news. Maybe I am too hard in my assessment because the vast majority of the modern set can be categorized as one dimensional.
So here is my conclusion, the calypso arena, at least what was served by Kaiso House, is reflecting the society’s downward spiral of mediocrity, banal creativity and little imagination. I shall stand by my assessment and that is at $150 a ticket my shallow pocket was picked and my sensibilities crushed. Would I return? Not even with a complimentary ticket will I think of wasting time. Amen to the culture!
Eugene Reynald wrote the letter published below to Mr. Hayden Romano, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the
Environmental Management Authority (EMA).
Mr. Reynald is associated with the Guave Road farmers who have been resisting the plans of the Chaguaramas Development Authority to turn the North West Peninsula into a pale imitation of a Florida theme park which would result, inter alia, in the destruction of the Cuesa River Wetlands.
Mr. Romano, before taking up his appointment as CEO of the EMA was the General Manager Quarry Operations of the ANSA McAL Group.
Dear Mr. Romano,
Re: CEC No. 4087/2014, Guave Road, Chaguaramas.
Further to our meeting of the 3rd December 2014 on the subject matter I submit the following as promised. The items in bold were our demands for holding our hand on taking legal action against the EMA (Environmental Management Authority) and persons employed therein.
a. The CEC (Certificate of Environmental Clearance) be immediately modified to allow work to proceed on the road only with all other works being suspended pending the outcome of current and planned court matters between the farmers and the CDA (Chaguaramas Development Authority) to resolve issues pertaining the lands at Guave road.
If any of these works are to be at all considered an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) and a full scope of works should be prepared and submitted for consultation with the farmers and other stakeholders. the reason for this is that all works - other than those to the road will result in i) considerable damage and losses to the farmers, ii) encroachment on areas that are recognised as wetlands by the EMA, iii) breaches of the CEC – as flawed as that may be, iv) conflict with decisions handed down by the court and therefore the probability of the EMA becoming liable for claims – if rulings are made against the CDA.
The reasons for this are obvious. The EMA should modify the CEC because the CEC as applied for and issued by the EMA is defective in several respects. Among these is that it is allowing for the extensive destruction of crops and farmland that lie outside the area covered by the lands on which the road works approved by the EMA is to be carried out.
It would be impossible to do the other construction works without effecting such destruction and the fact that no EIA was requested which would have given specific information from which this could have been deduced – even though it is very obvious, is the reason for this.
The “baseline study” of sorts, which in itself is alarmingly deficient, and other documents given to the EMA by the Engineers and the Environmental Consultants, did not indicate this nor did it indicate the extent of farming being done nor that there were parties/communities impacted by the proposed works - as has now become evident. The photographs/videos, writings and more than twelve Court Matters filed to date - with more to come, support all of the aforementioned.
The EMA should not be making decisions that can be construed as permitting the destruction shown in our photographs and videos nor which will result in action and activities that the Courts may find illegal. Any decision handed down by the Courts in favour of the farmers will have dire consequence for the EMA if at this stage the EMA cannot find a way to correct its deficiencies.
The onus is on the senior persons at the EMA, the Ministry Finance and the MPSD (Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development) to whose attention these matters are being brought to act or there will be legal and financial consequences to such persons who refuse to act - knowing the facts and their consequences in terms of financial losses to the exchequer. There will of course also be significant losses to the EMA and by extension the State if the Courts finds in our favour.
b. The farmers be allowed unfettered access to the lands they are farming all of which lie outside the reserve allowed for the roadway as approved by the EMA.
This problem has arisen precisely because the construction site has not been defined and this in turn results from the lack of an EIA and public consultation. The Guave Wetlands which is the area where the farming is going on has been defined in a booklet prepared and published by the EMA itself.
The booklet speaks of the Cuesa River wetlands which would include other water courses - some of which flow through and across the wetlands into the Cuesa River. For obvious reasons the Wetlands do not and cannot consist of the Cuesa River alone - as seems to be the perspective of the EMA, it has to include the extensive wetlands serviced by the Cuesa River and other water courses which flow across these wetlands towards the river.
The wetlands of the river are known to all persons familiar with the area especially the farmers who at one time planted and harvested rice in these wetlands. To describe the Cuesa River as the “Wetlands” – as was done at the meeting, is therefore an uninformed statement.
If Dr. George Sammy and the EMA were intellectually honest and/or competent in doing their work they would have realised that the Cuesa River is fed by significant flows of water from the valley and hills lying to the east of Guave Road.
They would also have realised that these flows are the life blood of the wetlands and that the intention by these environmental experts to construct large reinforced concrete box drains to change and direct these flows would bring about the death of the wetlands, the degradation of its fertile soils and the end of life for the fauna existing therein.
The fact that the Engineer’s designs include such very large culverts and box drains should have told persons at the EMA and Sammy this. The CDA - staffed as it is by political appointees intent on pursuing their own personal and political agendas would not be aware of or concerned about such facts but one would have expected that Sammy and one or two technical experts at the EMA would have observed such obvious facts or would have consulted with persons who have been on these lands for more than 40 years - and others, to learn of this reality.
There are surveys called Tiles available from the Surveys Division that show some of these water courses and even the drawings of the Engineers show the location of large culverts under the road to facilitate the run of these water courses. It is absurd that all of these pointers were missed or even worse, ignored by Sammy and supposed experts at the EMA – and the fact that either may have been the case raises several questions.
Many of the Wetlands in the list of some 66 given in the Booklet published by the EMA are identified by the River or the coastal areas which give wetlands their character, characteristics and name. As such because the wetlands are described as “Cuesa River” in the Booklet doesn’t mean that the wetlands are the river – as was intimated at our meeting.
c. Signboards be established at both entrances to the site that give full information on all consultants, contractors and sub contractors working on the site.
There is a denial by the EMA that they are responsible for ensuring the posting of signboards but without such to identify the persons and personnel involved in the project one would have no idea that there is a project going or who is involved in it. Even if the EMA is not responsible for ensuring that proper signage is in place, it should include in its CEC - as a condition to the start up of work, that the Owner and his Contractor seek out and obtain the required approvals and conform to the required legislation on this and other matters.
d. All heavy equipment and trucks should carry the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the owners.
There are basic requirements for managing the activities of and movement of heavy equipment – which are stipulated in most CECs, regarding the carrying out of construction activities. What purpose does this serve if there is no way of knowing the owners of such heavy equipment?
An actual example of this is that the Contractor doing the project at Guave Road and destroying the crops and the farmland has consistently denied it is involved in the project. We have even been told that there are two Contractors with similar names in the country and it is the “other one” actually doing the damage to the Wetlands and our crops. Surely there is a responsibility here that begins with the EMA.
e. A HS&E (Health Safety and the Environment) officer should be placed on site and an HS&E manual prepared and submitted to the EMA for its approval.
There is again a denial by the EMA that is not responsible for HS&E as this relates to the site. The E in HS&E means Environment and this relates to the environment in and around the site and the special or general impact the construction activities have on the environment – on site and further afield.
For instance if the movement of trucks and equipment is creating i) dust and mud that affects roads and citizens off site, ii) off site traffic problems iii) danger to pedestrians iv) inconvenience to residents, etc, surely these are impacts that should be of concern to an environmental management authority? And surely such an authority should at least insist on these problems being mitigated and use their resources to police, caution on and enforce these and indeed all other environmental impacts.
The EMA is the first authority consulted in applications for the physical development of lands over one hectare or involving roads exceeding 1 km. There are other cases in which they are required to be consulted or, can be consulted on the direction/request of the T&CPD (Town and Country Planning Division). In granting a CEC the EMA is supposed to make clear that the CEC is not permission to commence the work on site and offer guidance/instruction on what other approvals should be sought as a condition to the commencement of such work – and to police for compliance regarding its CEC.
f. A representative of the EMA pay fortnightly visits to the site or be on call to pay visits if and when written complaints are received from members of the community or stakeholders.
Work on the site commenced before the month of November as can be seen from the dates on photographs on our Facebook page at “Guave road farmers Chaguaramas”. The EMA was clearly unaware of this on the date of our meeting which was the 3rd December 2014. From what was said the EMA only knew that work commenced when we wrote to them complaining of the destruction of lands at Guave Road.
Up to the time of our meeting which we requested - and since then, we have not seen a representative of the EMA nor have we heard from or been visited by anyone from the EMA. Surely negligence of some kind is suggested in all of this
g. No heavy equipment should be allowed onto lands outside the reserve allowed for the roadway as approved by the EMA.
If one were to be guided by the work defined in the CEC, the CDA should not have been about the extensive destruction of crops and land as we have shown on our videos and photographs. There is a clear breach of the CEC and work has to be stopped and the CDA penalised for the destruction it has carried out.
h. The scope of works permitted under the CEC for the roadway has been changed in certain respects by the CDA without the permission of the EMA. The requirement is that such changes to the CEC are to be approved by the EMA - and if such is not the case, the EMA has to take action. We would like i) the work to be stopped until all is regularised in accordance with the requirements of the CEC and ii) to be consulted before changes to the CEC are approved by the EMA.
The changes to the work include a revised roadway design and a proposed multi storey car park for some 500 cars. The latter is to be located in the wetlands. There are also plans it seems to do extensive reinforced concrete drainage works in the area designated as Wetlands by the EMA. The consequences of the latter have been outlined elsewhere in this submission.
i. The farmers and indeed the wider community should be consulted before any further CEC’S are granted by the EMA.
The negligence of the EMA in issuing CECs for areas in Chaguaramas without the need for an EIA and Public Consultation and not policing these projects for ensuring basic protocols as indicated herein are adhered to or itself not being present at Consultations is absurd, negligent and makes nonsense of the process of environmental management. To also deny - as was done at our meeting, that traffic and transportation issues are not part of the process of environmental management is also nonsense and personnel at the EMA has to be disabused of their clearly flawed perspectives.
The impact of what is taking place in Chaguaramas affects all communities along the Western Main Road – and indeed throughout the country. In this regard I am sure that the negligence of Sammy extends to not preparing or recommending the preparation of a comprehensive study to determine the impact of the CDA developments on the Chaguaramas Aquifer (which services thousands of homes in the north western peninsular) and on traffic along the Western Main Road. I shall be making a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) enquiry with regard to both these matters.
I look forward to your response at the earliest so we can instruct our Attorneys on a course of action in this matter.
According to the Minister keeping his promises meant that he procured 95,000 laptops for students since 2010 and 5,000 for teachers. His Ministry had trained a number of teachers in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and a number of schools had been outfitted with computer laboratories.
The Minister further stated that his Ministry had built 83 schools with 90 more new schools projected and completed some 4,500 infrastructural repairs.
He boldly stated that literacy had improved tremendously, citing the results in CSEC and CAPE to support his point. To this I immediately respond with a big LOL!
I would be charitable and even give the Minister credit in advance for the introduction of the homework centres and the substitute teachers programme which are in their nascent stages yet to be fully implemented.
However, while we, the people, are happy for these strides "achieved", we are left to wonder if these are really the yardsticks by which educational success for the period 2010-2015 ought to be measured? Are computer and ICT, all there is to educational success?
Let us examine these unresolved issues, namely:
1. The Continuous Assessment Component (CAC) of the Secondary Entrance Examination (SEA), which needs a long overdue review as cited on page 18 of the Newsday dated 4th January, 2015.
Let's hear what TTUTA's President Davanand Sinanan said about CAC: "In the meanwhile, the distress, trauma and complaints from both teachers and parents continue to mount."
2. Sinanan also reminded the Minister that still outstanding on his 10%-to-complete-list is the long overdue up-grade of UTT graduates who, having completed their programmes since 2010, continue to languish in the financial doldrums, some in abject poverty!!! Let's hear Sinanan's words again on this issue:
“This has been a slow and painful exercise and has pushed the patience and understanding of teachers beyond the limits."
3. Another item on the Minister's 10%-yet-to-do-promise list, according to Sinanan, is the regularization of the bargaining status for school supervisors, curriculum officers and guidance officers at COSTAATT.
4. Sinanan also appealed to the Minister to regularize the status of ALL Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE) teachers who now work under nebulous contracts so that they would be accorded permanent status under the purview of the Teaching Service Commission (TSC).
5. Yet another outstanding issue, not addressed by this 10%-to-complete-Minister is the long-overdue Performance Management and Appraisal Process, familiarly termed, PMAP.
6. The President also reminded the Minister of yet another 10% task to be completed, that is, the Negotiations with the Chief Personnel Officer for the period October 2014 to September, 2017.
Now teachers, YOU DECIDE, whether or not the Ministry of Education has really fulfilled 90% of its election promises towards teachers and students of Trinidad and Tobago!! Is this Minister really serious when he states that he just has a mere 10% of his mandate to complete? What say YOU?
predicted a bright future.
Tevin was nineteen years old and had represented the Trinidad and Tobago Under 19 Team in Barbados and played with Powergen Cricket Club and Moosai Cricket Club and at the time of his death he was training with the Trinidad and Tobago Senior Cricket Team.
In tribute to her son, Carlanne St. John has established the Tevin Robertson Cricket Foundation. which is dedicated to the memory of Tevin and hopes to ensure that his name, and the names of so many of our young people whose lives were lost way too soon, lives on.
Carla said that Tevin was an aspiring cricketer with big dreams, and while, as nineteen year olds will, he made mistakes and had occasional slip ups, for the most part he was a model young man who had the ability to touch the hearts of those he came in contact with.
“Tevin”, she said “was an inspiration to many, a humble, respectful young man, with a passion for life and cricket. We have lost many young people in our society… so many are lost to drugs, alcohol and criminal activity, we remember Tevin as one of those intent on making a positive difference. In his nineteen years he made more of a difference and touched more lives than many people do in a lifetime.”
cricketers with big dreams, mainly from the southern, sometimes remote parts of our country. The foundation is in the process of registering through the Ministry of Legal Affairs as a non-profit organization, following which, registration will occur simultaneously with the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs and the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago.
An interim committee is in place until a Board of Directors can be finalized and installed. Although the foundation is certain of the support of the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board, in order to achieve its mission of “empowering young sportspeople to their fullest potential both on and off the cricket field”, it will require further assistance from non-government organizations and individuals who believe its cause to be just.
Some of their plans include:
The sponsorship of two under fourteen cricketers for a minimum period of five years, inclusive of equipment, academic lessons, cricket coaching, stipends, etc.
The conducting of a Professional Development Seminar prior at the start of the 2015 cricket season, looking at the holistic development of young people - emotional, mental, spiritual and physical
The organizing of training sessions for senior players, especially those who may fall into ‘at risks’ groups, who are involved in the foundation to ‘give back’ by coaching younger players.
Partnering with the Ministry of Sports and the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board to identify young, aspiring cricketers
Spokespersons for the Foundation claim: “Although our aspirations are high, we are by no stretch of the imagination, professionals who possess all the pre-requisite knowledge about the way forward, but in order to keep your dreams alive, and to achieve anything it requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication.”
Those with the know-how, experience, expertise, resources, and most importantly, the willingness to assist may contact either Ms. Rhea St.John, at 308 0938 or Mr. Amin Forgenie at 352 0781