“[…] Some of Guyana’s most brilliant and respected attorneys and scholars are not only highly regarded by Trinbagonians, but considered to be part of the callaloo that makes Trinidad and Tobago the most welcoming island in the Caribbean.
“[…] How can the former president of Guyana forget the role of Dr Eric Williams and other government leaders as conciliators and mediators and their support for Guyana when attempts were made by hostile neighbouring South American countries to annex massive areas of Guyanese territory by force?
“[…] We have always been there as Caribbean neighbours for them…”
The following Letter to the Editor on disparaging comments by Guyana Vice-president Bharrat Jagdeo about Trinidad and Tobago and the long-standing relationship between the two nations was submitted by PNM founding member Ferdinand ‘Ferdie’ Ferreira:
‘Wise men speak because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something.’ — Plato 300 BC
I certainly will not classify former president, now vice-president of Guyana Bharrat Jagdeo in category two; after all; he is an honourable man. Neither will I classify him as a victim of amnesia, uninformed about Caribbean history or having a convenient memory.
However, recent allegations coming out of the ‘now rich’ Republic of Guyana—aided and abetted by uninformed, unpatriotic citizens of our own Republic—that citizens of Guyanese origin are and were victims of bad treatment by Trinbagonians, and the unfortunate statement from the former president that ‘Trinidad and Tobago is falling apart’ leave me, an unrepentant Caribbean man, not only with more questions than answers, but certainly more amused than amazed.
When the Waddington Constitution was suspended by Sir Alfred Savage and the Colonial Office in 1953, I was among several hundreds of then colonial subjects in Trinidad and Tobago who not only marched in protest, but petitioned and demanded that the Colonial Office withdraw the suspension (in then British Guiana).
This was led by the late Lennox Oscar Pierre, John La Rose, John Poon, Karl Pratt (of Guyanese origin), Jim Bharath, Dudley Mahon, Ronald Holassie and several other comrades, friends and associates of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), led by Cheddi and Janet Jagan, Forbes Burnham, Kumar Lutchmansingh, Sydney King, Jai Narine Singh, Rudy Luck, and several other progressive thinkers committed to socialism, freedom and liberty.
We were all under vigilant scrutiny by the then colonial constabulary.
The first non-Caucasian speaker of our national Parliament was a distinguished Guyanese scholar, E Mortimer Duke. The lovable and affable Augustus M Querino, real estate magnate and subsequent honorary consul for Guyana, was an elected councillor to the Port-of-Spain City Council.
Distinguished Professor Compton Bourne was the principal of the St Augustine Campus of The University of the West Indies (UWI), well respected by the students and his peers.
Some of Guyana’s most brilliant and respected attorneys and scholars are not only highly regarded by Trinbagonians, but considered to be part of the callaloo that makes Trinidad and Tobago the most welcoming island in the Caribbean.
To name a few, there are Sir Shridath Ramphal, Justice Kenneth Crane, Justice Aubrey Fraser, Justice Stanley Gomes, Justice Guya Persaud, Dr Fenton Ramsahoye, EP Bruyning, Odai S Ramischand, my dearly beloved friend Ms Barbara Malins-Smith, Honorary Consul for Israel in Trinidad & Tobago CP De Souza, John Jardim, Peter July, Terry Martin, Ed Fung and Wilbert Holder.
How can the former president of Guyana forget the role of Dr Eric Williams and other government leaders as conciliators and mediators and their support for Guyana when attempts were made by hostile neighbouring South American countries to annex massive areas of Guyanese territory by force?
Trinidad and Tobago has historically always been supportive of Guyanese governments and its people in their struggle for freedom and liberty, never once deserting its South American/Caribbean neighbour and Caricom partner.
Guyana, in return, has given us some of its finest scholars and has provided us with rice and several other commodities. We have always been there as Caribbean neighbours for them.
Our Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and Caricom Affairs are completely correct in their responses to these unfounded and spurious allegations by unpatriotic and uninformed political opportunists of the local variety.
Whatever his reason(s), the former president, now Vice-president of the Republic of Guyana, and all those who support him in his ‘prediction’ that we are ‘falling apart’ must be reminded of the following: (a) Guyana did not fall apart with the suspension of the Constitution in 1953; (b) It did not fall apart during and after the racial riots in 1962/63 and /or the successive devaluations of its currency prior to the arrival of the petro-dollars.
Trinidad and Tobago did not fall apart in 1970 or 1990 with the departure of the oil barons. Our patriotic citizens will continue to ensure that the prediction of Vice-president Jagdeo and his unpatriotic supporters in Trinidad and Tobago will never become a reality.
I can only hope that the patriotic citizens of Guyana, unlike Vice-president Jagdeo, recognise their historical vulnerabilities and protect themselves, like us in Trinidad and Tobago, from the tragedies that have previously overtaken them, and remember petro-dollars are no substitute for good and responsible government and GNP (Good Neighbour policy)… Ask Venezuela!
The Government and people of T&T will continue to maintain and preserve our historical good government relations with Guyana and all our Caribbean neighbours, inclusive of Venezuela—consistent with our well-known hospitality, generosity and human kindness for fellow human beings, regardless of race, ethnicity, place of origin or otherwise.
Trinidad and Tobago will maintain this way of life… It is now part of our DNA!