Home / View Point / Letters to the Editor / Dear Editor: ‘Eric Williams was no national leader!’; why most Indians didn’t support first PM

Dear Editor: ‘Eric Williams was no national leader!’; why most Indians didn’t support first PM

“We used to call it the People’s Negro Movement and sometimes the People’s N—r Movement because we saw nothing national about it. We saw the PNM as the enemy and [Dr Eric] Williams as the chief enemy. And Williams made it quite clear he saw us Indians as the enemy too.

“When the PNM won the 1956 election and announced their expenditure policies, we were not surprised that Williams had thrown the lion’s share of expenditure at his black urban supporters (a minority group, remember) and all but ignored the Indians living mostly in the rural areas.”

The following Letter to the Editor, which was submitted to Wired868 by Ramdath Jagessar, is a rebuttal to former People’s National Movement (PNM) general secretary Ashton Ford’s blog about the racial inclusiveness of the PNM.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago’s first prime minister, Dr Eric Williams.
(Courtesy Information Division)

I suppose I will have to answer that dumbo PNM official Ashton Ford’s comments about the great national policies of his great leader Dr Eric Williams, which he claims benefitted every sector of the population and which succeeded with the help of PNM Indians who put country first.

It’s all b/s and pretty rotten b/s at that. Eric Williams was no national leader but only the leader of the black group that were always a minority group compared to the Indian majority group who mostly did not support him or the PNM. Williams’ PNM policies were never true national policies but overtly racist policies aimed to benefit mostly the black ethnic group and to exclude the large Indian community.

Every sector of the population certainly did not benefit equally in proportion to their size by the PNM policies. The Indians who supported the PNM were always a despised minority of the Indian community, never more than 15% of the Indians, which meant the remaining 85% of Indians did not support the PNM. Those PNM Indians were despised by the non-PNM Indians because they took their benefits and never said a word about the racist anti-Indian policies of the PNM over the last half century and more.

Allow me to give a personal rant from the other side about the PNM, Eric Williams, and those disgusting traitorous sell-out PNM Indians.

I spent the late fifties and the sixties as a young man in the PDP/DLP Indian stronghold of Siparia, in a tiny village on the Mora Dam Road in Penal to be exact. When Eric Williams and his PNM came about in 1956, we saw clearly that he was heading the black group in competition with the Indians for political power. His agenda was Massa Day Done, with the subtitle “Negro to take over.” They called themselves negroes in those days.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago’s first prime minister, the late Dr Eric Williams (far left, foreground) and long -standing Cabinet member, the late Kamaluddin Mohammed (far right, foreground) flank another Cabinet member, Errol Mahabir (second from right, foreground).

We used to call it the People’s Negro Movement and sometimes the People’s N—r Movement because we saw nothing national about it. We saw the PNM as the enemy and Williams as the chief enemy. And Williams made it quite clear he saw us Indians as the enemy too.

When the PNM won the 1956 election and announced their expenditure policies, we were not surprised that Williams had thrown the lion’s share of expenditure at his black urban supporters (a minority group, remember) and all but ignored the Indians living mostly in the rural areas.

It was a pattern that would continue for decades. The PNM hired mostly black people in permanent jobs in the state sector, and some areas like the police, army, telephone service, WASA, and many more were overwhelmingly black in a country where blacks were less than 40% of the population. Government built housing was over 90% allocated to blacks, telephone services, electricity, sewerage systems, community development, cultural development, sporting facilities, library services, you name it, they went mostly to blacks and black areas and avoided Indian population areas.

There was plenty mouth talk about agriculture and rural development which would have benefitted Indians, but little or nothing in reality. This was hardly a secret. It was done openly. The complaints of the Indian political party were ignored and the PNM Indians were deaf, dumb and blind to it all.

So much for Mr Ford’s national policies that benefitted all sectors of the population.

Photo: Farmer Kumar Laltoo tends to his crops.
(Courtesy News.Co.TT)

As for Eric Williams, we hated him in Penal. I hated him. My father hated him. Nobody in my little village had anything good to say about the short, deaf (sonofa)bitch. I never considered him my chief minister or my prime minister, but always saw him as the black people’s leader. I never saw the flag as my flag and never stood up for the anthem.

In all my years in Penal I never saw a picture of Eric Williams in an Indian home, which is a big comment on the man as a national leader. Nobody I knew would want to go to see Eric Williams if he was visiting the area or dream of shaking his hand. Indians would sit around in the rumshop drinking and sometimes saying they wished somebody would shoot Eric Williams.

There was the well-known joke about the Indian boy who saved Eric Williams after his official car was in a bad accident. Williams asked the boy what he wanted for saving the prime minister and the boy said he wanted a state funeral.

“Why a state funeral?”

“Because my father will kill me when he hear I save Eric Williams’ life!”

As for Eric Williams’ national policies, we saw nothing of it in my village. The roads were bad, more potholes than road, DLP roads as we called them. We had no electricity, even though Mora Dam supplied cooling water to TTEC’s electricity-generating station half a mile away. There was a water pumping station on Mora Dam Road but we had no pipe-borne water in our homes and had to go to a standpipe and bring water on pitch-oil tins on our heads or on boxcarts.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago’s first prime minister the late Dr Eric Williams (left) hosts late Beatles pop star John Lennon.
(Copyright Noel P Norton)

There was a working oil well on Mora Dam Road, with pipes taking away the oil to Shell in Penal but, except for my family, nobody saw anything of the oil royalties. My neighbours grew rice and other food crops but could not get a stall in the Penal Market to sell their food—those were reserved for vendors who were not farmers to make the profits. We had no garbage pick-up, no sports facilities, no jobs. The kids walked five miles barefoot on the hot pitch roads to school in Siparia or two miles to Penal.

There wasn’t a lot of hope in Mora Dam Road, Penal but my neighbours didn’t do a lot of complaining. What good would it do? The same kind of thing was happening to Indian villages and towns all over south and central Trinidad.

Anybody who got the chance to leave Mora Dam Road and Trinidad altogether was glad to take it and leave Eric Williams and his PNM nation behind. Four of the eight children from my house have migrated to North America, and at least one from every other home there as far as I know. We have voted with our feet on Eric Williams and his PNM and his PNM Indians who have made my old homeland a dump without a future for Indians.

So how many Indians have departed the Trinidad PNM paradise of Eric Williams? I believe it’s at least 250,000 Trini Indians and their descendants who have voted with their feet on the PNM great national policies and now live mostly in Canada and the United States, with 500,000 remaining in Trinidad. That’s one third gone and two thirds of the Indos stay.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago citizens march for racial unity on 12 March, 1970.
(Courtesy Embau Moheni/NJAC)

Why have so many left the richest island in the southern Caribbean with the highest GDP? Great national policies must be the answer. I hear quite a few black people have also left Trinidad, as many as 150,000 in the black Trini diaspora, maybe also because of great PNM policies for all sectors.

Which brings me back to Eric Williams and his undeserved reputation as a great national leader. I say he was no national leader at all.

A national leader is the leader of the nation, the whole nation, whose job is to bring the national together to work for the national good in harmony. That was not Eric Williams, that was never Eric Williams. Ask why my circle quietly rejoiced when Eric Williams died and you have the answer.

He tried to govern for his black people and some window-dressing (like the PNM Indians) and some like Ford believe he succeeded in uplifting much of his base. But he did so at the expense of the rest of the nation and in particular the Indian part of the nation that didn’t support him politically. He divided the country instead of uniting it, and that is why to this day Trinidad has no national unity on any important area.

Let’s face it, you can’t bring a nation to unity and hard work and sacrifice for the national good when half the nation is standing around steupsing and looking only for their own interest.

Now for the role of the PNM Indians in Trinidad over the last half century or so. What can I say but that we hated and despised them as conscience-less stooges as much as we hated and despised Eric Williams and his black supporters. Those PNM Indians joined the PNM for what they could get for themselves as long as they kept quiet about what was being done to the Indians as a group.

Photo: The late Kamaluddin Mohammed, who was a former PNM Cabinet member, 

Kamal Mohammed and Errol Mahabir and the Muslim and Presbyterian gang saw how Eric Williams introduced crooked voting machines and gerrymandered the boundaries to cheat (and) win the 1961 elections and said nothing.

They saw how Williams opened the doors and flooded the country with tens of thousands of illegal small islanders and gave them voting cards to cheat (and) win the election and said nothing. They saw how Williams was destroying agriculture, the lifeblood of the Indians, and they said nothing. They saw Williams erecting thousands of NHA houses and giving nearly all to the blacks and said nothing. When Williams died and the President made an openly racist choice of George Chambers as prime minister over Kamal and Errol, neither of those stooges said a word.

The crimes of the PNM Indians go on and on to absurdity. Try this one on for size: Once, I went to see Sham Mohammed with some friends interested in setting up an Indian radio station, which the PNM had denied repeatedly. Sham, who was then the minister in charge of telecommunications (the body to authorize new radio stations), said to us, “As long as my government is in power, we will never get an Indian radio station!”

You see, Sham, himself a Cabinet-minister-cum-PNM-Indian, had been trying to set up an Indian radio station and couldn’t get it! Go ahead and laugh. That is a PNM Indian for you. Deaf, dumb and blind to the horrible nation-destroying policies of his party!

I don’t know what country Mr Ashton Ford thinks they were putting first but it was certainly not the nation of Trinidad.

Photo: PNM supporters celebrate the September 7 election results at Balisier House.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

I must confess a great weariness when I think of that man Eric Williams, his PNM now back in power with Williams’ stupid policies intact, the PNM Indians still loyal to the balisier. I am glad to leave that all behind in the dustbin of my memories and even more glad that they are not my only countrymen and women anymore.

I have a new country now and a new Canadian passport, and my family is safe and far away from Mr Ashton Ford, the PNM blacks, the PNM Indians and the legacy of that nasty, nasty man, Eric Williams.

I feel great pity and sadness for the non-PNM Indians who remain in Trinidad, but I can’t do anything for them.

Eric Williams and his demented gang have fixed the wagon of those Indians and done a good demolition job on the wagon of his faithful PNM cohorts too, as some of them are finding out when they look at the position of Trinidad after so many decades of PNM rule.

Editor’s Note: Click HERE to read former PNM general secretary Ashton Ford’s blog about the racial inclusiveness of the PNM.

About Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor
Want to share your thoughts with Wired868? Email us at editor@wired868.com. Please keep your letter between 300 to 600 words and be sure to read it over first for typos and punctuation. We don't publish anonymously unless there is a good reason, such as an obvious threat of harassment or job loss.

Check Also

Dear Editor: Anil Roberts’ behaviour was appalling; what manner of man is this?

“[…] Mr Anil Roberts, from his demeanour in the video, seemed to have taken a particular …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Unfortunately, I could not continue to read this article to completion. A more vile, disgusting display of racism would be difficult to find outside of Alabama or Kentucky in the USA.
    The obvious and apparrent abhorrance of the “THEY called themselves negroes in those days…” comea across quite clearly. The power struggle , and the need to defend the African decended peoples from this form of outright racism is clear. To state the ridiculous “fact” that the main base of the PNM , as indicated above was in the “minority” is, again, abhorrent.
    The freedom to express oneself is a very precious and vital thing if a democracy is to survive. It is a good thing, therefore, that we can see in plain black and white just how some in the country are so lost in the mental illness that is racism, that they cannot, or will not, see the clearly obvious value the policies of the PNM brought to the country.
    It is , therefore, little wonder that, while we continue to perform well above our national weight on the world stage, we cannot achieve the true heights of our potential.
    A sad, damaged person. Desperately in need of mental health assistance. Not umderatanding that ALL suffered greatly under the Colonial master. Who, specifically designed it so that the tension would reside in perpetuity, if we did not wake up and shake off the mental restraints put into our brains.
    The sad thing is that one of the policies implemented by the PNM, FREE primary and secondary schooling for ALL, seems to have been wasted on too many that continue to perpetuate the nonsense indicated in the article , rather that seeking ways to continue and refine the legacy of Doctor Williams.

    • Earl Best

      Darren, Hard to disagree with much of what you say here. But can responsible commentators really afford not to read to the end?
      Shouldn’t we al be guided by the “Read before you reject” maxim I heard scores of times when I was growing up?

  2. From the first word the invective is palpable . This is not a good article , just the venting of a hate filled man . There must be some reason that people can be that marinated in hate , but any discussions on this such topic while it must be candid it must be meticulously pronounced in veracity , this article was not . Which child was ever forced out of a classroom because they were indian? How can so many east indians own so much land to the point you have Motoo lands , Battoo lands , Goupaul lands etc ? Every thing put in place were exploited to the point that doctors and lawyers and schol winners are mostly of east indians . That Eric Williams joke show that hate was probably more in the ilk of the writer .
    Ramesh Maharaj , Basdeo Panday , Capildeos , and all notable leaders of east indian can testify to the fact that they were all once supporters of the PNM some like Sagan Maraj supported Williams subtlely , or probably overtly , according to how you look at it . There are lots more that can be said on both sides I mean even Sat Maharaj supported PNM openly once . Rudranath Capildeo was more in England university teaching than attending parliament . The pain the Indian population felt would be in no small measure their exclusion of political power until Robinson helped the UNC to power in 1995 , but in no small measure their political leaders bare the brunt of that .
    Indesh was not imagined and application for refugee status in the 80s causing a visa requirement to Canada is nothing imagined .
    Im satisfied that there was discrimination as there was in every era of governance , talk of a Hindutva agenda grew loudly during PP rule , no hindu holy book , no hindus in cabinet etc these things can be vented , but it must be ordered by reasoned minds , not the rantings of a hate toting anachronism !!!

  3. What I took from the article is that injustice perceived or real hurts people’s psyche. I will try not to do anything to inflict pain and try not to support others who do.

  4. The late Kamaluddin Mohammed narrated to me many years ago about the visit of former cricketer and cabinet minister Learie Constantine to Penal in the 60s….of course Penal was the East Indian heartland ..
    The residents of Penal openly welcomed Learie..

    I have had several closed discussions with Kamaluddin Mohammed on race and politics in Trinidad..
    Listening to his views and sharing them on this forum, would either add fuel to the fire or water to the fire, depending on which side of the political fence one stands…

    Jagessar has penned his opinion of the PNM…and he has expressed it…

    Race and politics in Trinidad have been part of the national landscape for decades..with the advent of social media, the conversations to many have become more vitriolic and deep-seated…

    Our leaders, for the sake of our children, must manage this rising conflict with extreme care and caution…

    United we stand, Divided we fall…

    • Earl Best

      Reza, We are willing to find out how the pendulum will swing if you are willing to take the chance. I am a careful man and I say nonetheless that I am CERTAIN that there are many people out there who are interested in Kamal’s views, especially those shared in the privacy of the family.

      You have my email address, shoot me an email. Better, you have my number; give me a call and let’s talk.

  5. You definitely would NEVER write an article in Canada using that kind of language and propagating hate and get away with it. You’re seemed proud to be the holder of Cdn passport, please please make us proud by remembering what Cda stands for as a nation. If you some how miss this in your preparation for Canadian citizenship THAT CANADA IS A PEACE KEEPING NATION please try and exemplify that the next time you decide to write any such article.

  6. Prior to independence there were two main parties , That is how democracy works, Its almost 56 years of Independence and people make choices. People vote along race, ethnic lines and follow parents traditions. How much citizens pay attention to real issues and vote on it, Also some politicians and racist people who have their own agenda attempt to divide the .But “nah fool we” We ‘douglas’, mixed and ‘others’ don’t have time for that crap. Trinidad is ours and we love our country Try allyuh best” Stop the blame game and look to unite for our children and generations to come. Blessings. I love my country

  7. Our politics have always been us vs them, that is why the country is in its current state. Indian vs Negro, rich vs poor, east west corridor vs the west, the have and the have nots, light skin vs dark skin, etc, etc, etc!!!!!

    Ah tired!

    I speeched off an Immigration Officer in Sangre Grande a couple years ago. I told her that as a citizen of this Republic, (blue birth certificate raised as proof), I AM ENTITLED TO RECEIVE MY JUST DUE (my passport).

    This is a basic place to start… do you have a T&T birth certificate? Yes? OK…

    I’m 43, I cannot vouch for Williams’ intentions, or Rienzi, or Cipriani, or Kamaludin’s for that matter. My knowledge of events begins with the death of Williams and PM Chambers onwards. The Williams Memorial Library is a great resource but still clearly full of debate.

    For me, Williams aside, it was Sir Ellis Clarke’s contribution to our nation building that has really stood out and I would have to agree with Max Richards that our Constitution needs to be in our school curriculum.

    I can say that with Manning, UTT and UWI were all inclusive. Trinidad & Tobago Institute of Technology (TTIT) during Panday’s administration was not and UWI, St. Augustine may as well have been in Florida! (n***er doh take book they say).

    All the commess they made about Manning’s Palace, he returned to his townhouse after defeat. Very few PP ministers can say the same.

    It is simple…

    If you want unity in this country, practice it! The sins of our forefathers need not transcend generation after generation. Make a conscientious effort to move our politics, people and country forward.

  8. The writer’s view is brutally honest from the point of view of persons who saw themselves as oppressed and coming forward all the way to 1995 when many indians felt truly proud to sing our anthem after the GE that year such feelings run deep and may well have been passed from generation to generation. Its my belief to heal our Nation we need x Truth and Reconciliation Type Commission for ALL our Peoples to vent From The First Peoples and may be only then Trinbago will emerge……or we will continue to live the ” How we Vote Is not how we Party” Lie……

  9. So many comments about pnm inclusion of indo trinidadian.where is the inclusion of indo trinidadian on state boards etc. On national awards etc.let us not try to hide our true feelings on these political matters .get it out and let us build a society where all of us will feel like we belong.a society where every one will find an equal place.we must work together.

  10. I don’t agree with this article but I won’t get into this because it’s based on one’s perspective and will do us no good to explore this.

  11. Racism in this country dated back since colonial days long before pnm. Dr Williams was not having no nationalist groups disturb what he was trying to build that is why said this is no mother india or africa. He was not having Bhadase Sagan Maraj the founder of the maha saba and he band stokley carmicheal from coming trinidad .So this talk he was a racist was just nonesense he had a vision for trinidad and thats it

  12. Like you all now wake up.Do not worry about what happening in America when the same thing is happening in T& T do not pretend people it is alive here.

    • 55 year old small island developing state 1.5 million people where most started out by catching their royal ass.Now we comparing ourselves with First World that still building after 200 years Real Trinidad &Tobago continue with your hard work.

  13. I have commented on wired’s sports articles and in that space everyone would have a perspective so there is no unbiased positions and I accepted that and that was fine.
    I fail to see the benefit of these articles beyond a potential to destroy attempts at building a society. I don’t even want to deconstruct the perspectives of the writer since mischievously he sprinkles his article with bad data. He wallows in the position that ‘some’ will stick and for him it is an effective article. I blame the host also as this is no sport card or game. This is life and the prospects of life we want for our children. Because of articles like this it is better some of us leave the earth faster since we even fail to recognize the temporariness of life and the value we need to ensure in living. Of what benefit is this vitriol? I could give a social perspective that removes race: societies and social systems are economic based…a free market cannot function with sellers without buyers. If the Indians are businessmen etc they rely on Africans as consumers. The issue of race then pales as well UNC and Indian parties only get power when their African brothers and sisters vote via coalition since their base is inadequate to capture the seats to win government. Racism is a social construct and the writer is trying to make a case for ethnic homogeneity rather than cultural syncretism and tolerance for differences yet wonders why we never built a nation. You hate your home and rather work in countries that has more violations and human rights abuses…and you bright?Well go but don’t crowd my space with your petty agendas …stop it…

    • Well written Ronald Marcano.Lasana Liburd doesn’t realize how SERIOUS the Racial divide between Africans and Indians is in Trinbago.I have read a lot of Indians post on FB…….always hate toward Africans in Trinbago.

    • Michael Alfonso New Media has become the new weapon of hate??? You see we get things and abuse it in the name of freedom and then it is removed to protect others freedom…you are right the hate and disrespect is astounding…

    • It is probably true that sentiments like this are all over the internet and I’m just not exposed to them. For me, it was startling.
      The author is a very bitter man. Of course I wondered whether he had a genuine point and how much of what he was said was based on fact.
      Even if none is, I wonder what the cost would be to our society if there were dozens or hundreds or even more people than that who shared his view.
      We can look to the Jamaat or Beetham Gardens for examples of what happens when people feel marginalised, whether real or imagined.
      So the idea is not to contaminate but to be aware and hopefully to discuss in a mature way.
      Jagessar doesn’t live here anymore. But I suspect that there are people here who share that view. Like it or not, they are part of this society too.
      So what is the best way to deal with that? To ignore it?
      My fear is that when sores are ignored, they fester. If you could show why Jagessar should not have that view and do it in a way that doesn’t return fire with fire, maybe we can bring people around.
      But I don’t want to sound like there is a right and a wrong side either. There have been wrongs committed by all races and all political parties here.
      Sooner or later, we will have to start addressing them. If not now, then when?

    • Some of the people in foreign are not happy. They do not even get to know the society in which they live.They live in the year or when ever they left their homeland and continue talking the tripe for who would listen.. His conversation and admiration/hate stays in those years he left. Let him die with his fear Does he really know T&T..hail up Dr Eric for making sure PrincesTown and Siparia Senior Comprehensive schools were built in the shortest possible time. Structural Engineers the likes of Robert Bob Yorke. Engineers Lauriston Lewis and Francis E Paul. You did it for all.

  14. i dont know why ppl does blame pnm or unc for racism when clearly the racism is much deeper seated than the politics

  15. God, if only this generation and the next could vote the PNM and UNC into the abyss. Toxic scourge of this country.

  16. And my reply is Eric Williams is dead and has been dead for 37 years and will remain dead. So what on Earth is the point of this in the year 2018?

  17. the only national leader they will accept is one who looks like them one who has the same hair texture like them and one who comes from the same continent like them…other than that they will always have a problem…they have a problem with african race, they have a problem with syrians, they have a problem with douglas and mixed cause they dont like interacial mixing…so there u have your answer

  18. This letter requires some deeper and well thought through discussions. As I’ve said before “TT would do a lot better with a group of objective citizens as opposed to individuals who just take a side, whether it be race or politics”. I personally don’t like the way this letter was written but that’s my preference. However, when I read and remove the emotion which his race invectives stimulate, I see a lot here for discussion. The conversation about race and politics is one we MUST have! But we must have it in a spirit of civility and respect. Mr Jagessar’s letter does not inspire that, but does have some important threads. My only hope is that we will optimize these platforms to have the discussion we’ve been waiting 60 years to have. We are a 55 yr old democracy. The USA has been an independent nation since 1776, and still struggle with the conversation so who are we? But, we must talk with each other and not ‘to’ each other. The days of tolerance are gone, onward to DISCIPLINE, PRODUCTION & ENGAGEMENT. I think there’s a lot of food for thought here.

  19. Were it not for Eric Williams ppl in rural areas of all ethnicities would still be going to school barefoot or in slippers, if they were able to attend school at all. Put a value on that

  20. What this has to do with countrywell being?

    • I have no idea if the letter writer’s view is held by him alone or by dozens or hundreds of people. When people feel ignored, it often leads to some sort of eruption though.
      So at the least, it is good to be aware of the feelings of all of our people. We can think about what should be done after.

  21. Have you ever heard of PNM’s Mongoose gang ?
    I knew three members.

  22. Thank you for giving this person a space on wired.

  23. You better watch out: you might turn into a recalcitrant minority yourself with this post :-p

  24. Like you was bored dis evening or what, Lasana Liburd lol

  25. Speaking for myself, I don’t need a “comfortable space… safe from alternative ideas.” I am a little disappointed to have to read such a vile, openly racist, ad hominem (self-confessed) “rant” however. I really don’t see the benefit to providing a platform for this individual.

  26. One thing I appreciate is most in the group understand that Wired868 isn’t supposed to be comfortable space where we are safe from alternative ideas.
    That doesn’t mean there are “alternative truths”. Just that we shouldn’t be afraid of having our own views confronted from time to time.
    I promise it isn’t to annoy or get anyone hot and bothered! Lol.

  27. Whoever runs wired 868 is a terribly irresponsible journalist

    • I’m the managing director. Wired868 covers sport. We also do a satirical column and publish opinion pieces from columnists and some letter writers.
      In everything, we hope to provoke thought and challenge each other to consider who we are as a people, what is working and what doesn’t work.
      I see no benefit to creating a comfortable space where we never hear or consider alternative views. You will see some columns that you agree with and some that make you cringe. The challenge that we hope our readers take on, is to consider–dispassionately–why they object to one view or why they agree to another.
      That way we learn about each other individually and collectively.
      It isn’t for everyone. And sometimes we might be clumsy in the way we put it across. But that is our aim.

    • We can also disagree without being disrespectful.

    • Exactly Averil. We won’t always make the right call but the general idea is we can get better as a nation if we understand each other better. And that includes our deep seated fears and resentments.
      If we get people to share them, maybe they can then move past them.

  28. Wow! After all these years the bitterness still flowing. I wasn’t around buw wow

  29. Lasana the fact that the letter writer had to stoop to name calling shows that Ashton Ford hit a nerve . If only he used actual facts instead anecdotal history .

    • Lisa, I have to rely on others to set the record straight here as I don’t know enough of that era myself.

    • Justin Phelps, you have some historical data to share on this period? Or A Corey Gilkes?

      • Lassana, watch Dr Jerome Teelucksingh’s if you want to find about this period. On a reels, the offensive, angry rhetoric helps no one. Fiji, Guyana and Suriname stand as a warning example to us

    • And the writer was a bitter, angry soul that used that letter to race-bait. A lot of emotions, but where were his proofs as well? He’s just part of the propagandists who seem to “thrive” by that. This is where Ferdie comes in. That’s a dangerous article that is spewing a lot of anti-PNM hatred. And you can tell how much they hate the “PNM Indians” as well. To people like him, they’re not the “real Indians”. He reminds me of Panday when he cussed them for “selling out birthright for jacket and tie, a wig and a mess of pottage”. He always referred to them as “Neemakarams”. So there’s a history of race-baiting and it goes way back, since the days of people like F.E.M Hosien and H.P Singh. Check their history.

  30. Lasana, if the PNM excluded people in South Trinidad, who built the Solomon Hochoy highway from Chaguanas to San Fernando and then to Golconda?
    Who put the energy driver of the economy in Couva – establishing a cluster for the development of vibrant support services?
    Dennis mentioned the Caroni DEWD …which still paying today!! Ask anybody who got retrenched from the port is they still have RIGHTS to land after?

    Think a bit and don’t buy into the race based, guilt demanding dependency syndrome like that espoused by this unrepentant fool

    • Nah. I’m not buying into anything. If anyone can rebut what was written then I’m happy with that.
      Although I have to add that even imagined slights need to be dealt with, particularly if it is coming from a significant group.
      We should have learned that after the Jamaat, etc.

    • The victimhood trope can only be thrown over by the person pandering to it. The truth has always been there but they choose to ignore it…

  31. The language is harsh but if you get past that this was a good piece. I know many will disagree but I certainly cannot because:

    1) I wasn’t around at that time
    2) I did not grow up in Penal or anything close to that.
    3) it is a fact that 90% of the East Indians vote other than PNM and that did not transpire after 1981

  32. The author would do well to look at the actual voting stats from 1956 on ward. His view represents the extreme minority but that does not invalidate it. He is just well the minoritie’s minority….

  33. Remember the so called “recalcitrant minority”

    • What about the ”so called recalcitrant minority”??

    • Which referenced political opponents to independence
      …this included the “old whites”, the Catholics, and DLP politicians.

      Read the speech. It did not refer to Indian population in tota. That claim is racial segregation fare of Sat aMaharaj … and is a lie

    • « The Culture Of WilliamsEric Williams Remembered: The Man, The Myth »
      “A hostile and recalcitrant minority”
      Published on September 29, 2011 in General T&T, India, Media, PNM, Politics, Race and Identity, Racism Watch and UNC. 36 Comments
      Tags: dr eric williams, dr. winston mahabir, politics, t&t govt, unc.
      Eric Williamsrecalcitrant

      1. resisting authority or control; not obedient or compliant; refractory.

      2. hard to deal with, manage, or operate.


      Did Dr. Eric Williams brand all Indians “a hostile and recalcitrant minority”? And, why did he make such a statement?


      Excerpt from Dr. Winston Mahabir

      “When the PNM lost the Federal Election in 1958, Eric Williams looked no futher than the Indians for a scapegoat. In a most unfortunate speech he branded them as ‘a hostile and recalcitrant minority.’

      “My wife and I arrived late at Woodford Square on the evening of that speech, while he was in the middle of his diatribe. I got an unusually subdued round of applause as I reached the platform to hear Eric Williams reveal something to the effect that he was not speaking about Indians like myself.

      “It emerged that there were good Indians like myself and bad Indians like those who voted against the PNM. The speech and the experience were traumatic events in my life. I made my reactions abundantly clear to him that very evening. From that night onwards I never realy felt comfortable with Eric Williams. I felt USED, COMPROMISED, DECIEVED.” (Winston Mahabir, speech at University of California October 16, 1965).



      Eric Williams and the Challenge of Caribbean Leadership

      25th Annual Eric Williams Memorial Lecture, marking the centenary of Dr. Williams’s birth, delivered at the Central Bank Auditorium, Port of Spain, Trinidad, on 11 June 2011. Dr. Colin A Palmer is Director of the Scholars in Residence Programme at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.


      Williams’s founding of The People’s National Movement in January 1956 gave institutional expression to his vision of a nonracial nationalism for his country. The party’s charter promoted the principle of interracial solidarity and cultural diversity. He explained that the PNM’s animating ideology stressed “political liberty, social equality, racial fraternity.”

      These were important and commendable principles but the road to their achievement was sometimes quite rocky. Angered by the opposition of some Indians to the formation of the West Indies Federation and their support for the opposition party in the federal election of 1958, Williams denounced these dissenters as “a hostile and recalcitrant minority.” This intemperate outburst was only directed at the chief minister’s opponents but in its telling and retelling it came to mean for many people, a signifier of his racial ideology, and practice. It was a rhetorical misstep but given Williams’s record, any racially abusive comment would have meant a repudiation of all that he had stood for throughout his life. His words represented a harsh indictment of those with whom he disagreed, not an indictment of an entire ethnic group. After all, many Indians supported the federal idea and the designated leader of the opposition in the Federal Parliament was Ashford Sinanan, a prominent and distinguished Trinidadian of Indian descent.

  34. It seems we are not paying attention to what racial divide is doing to America.

    • I think what happened in America is partly due to the powers that be ignoring the hurts–real and perceived–of the people. That is the biggest danger in my opinion.

    • Can’t see the comparison. We don’t have a clue what prejudice is really like. There’s a minority out there who plays on the ignorance of others to create friction. I’m surrounded by people of all race and we all live in harmony. We can’t allow a minority to fester hatred and discord amongst the citizens.

    • I’d say that independent thinkers are the minority. Not the other way around. And by wishing that there wasn’t this animosity and divisiveness won’t make it disappear. Nor would ignoring it.
      So I’d prefer to at least know where that deep seated rage comes from. Maybe some of it is justified. Maybe some of it can be addressed.
      Once some people feel marginalised, you ignore that to your own peril. If one small community like Beetham can bring the country to a standstill at times, then what could such a large segment of the population do?

    • You so have a point. We need to address the issues affecting us as citizens and find solutions or I fear things will only get worst.

    • For me, the best case scenario is we find a way to make the Jagessars in T&T feel like they are a part of what “we”–I use “we” very loosely! lol–are trying to do. And I’m not talking about mamaguy. If we get everyone pulling in the same direction, then we have a chance.
      And this has nothing to do with party. We should have a gov’t. Not a PNM govt or a UNC govt. Just a govt. Once your party wins, they have a bigger responsibility.

    • Profoundly true. Leaders should be for country not supporters but the reality isn’t always the same. Yet I know that there still exist a large group of individuals who are nutural and sensible. You know I lived close to some Jagessars who are what some might call affluent but incidentally most of the brothers and sisters married persons of African descent.

    • The saddest thing is when sensible people put their own understanding aside for a quick dollar. That’s a waste of an education.

    • It is. Yet we have to remain focused on unity and not divisiveness. Remembering always to put country first.

  35. Well Kwesi and Dennis, let’s just assume that the author’s anguish is real. Then can you share with us proof that shows his recollection is wrong or that resources were not carved up based on race?
    I know as the letter writer, the onus is on him to support his claim. But it could still be helpful if you rebutted him a bit more clinically.

    • well, for instance: Housing….1/2
      Maloney and La Horquetta. Notorious 80s era “housing plans”, or so the story goes, eh?
      Supposedly the John John fire that wiped out something like 75 homes and these families were supposedly relocated to these two domicile communities in the east. The story is that they were orchestrated to create PNM strongholds in the east.
      Answer this then….whas dem wooden bungalows in John John? whos dem people?
      This fabrication that Maloney and La Horquetta were Lavantee exports is mainly BS.
      My godmother got a house in La Horquetta. She lived in Success Village…the whole wrong part of Lavantee eh? She and her two daughters and son moved up to La Horquetta.
      My sis…mommy’s eldest daughter, she was working in the bank in those days. her address was either San Juan (where she lived) or Barataria (where my grandmother lived and where we all used as a mailing address) at the time. She was allocated a house there as well.
      My eldest brother’s wife…her family got two apartments in Maloney.
      NONE of these people were PNMites.
      None of them were party supporters.

    • Dennis what about the claim that Indo Trinis were left out? This appears to be as much a debate about race as it is party. And whether or not your relatives were PNM supporters, that area is a PNM stronghold.

    • 2/2: Agriculture
      everybody knew about the DEWD and the various iterations of public works projects. Working a “10 days” for “County” was a means to an end for many families.
      But what about Caroni Limited? Everybody knows that was a loss-making enterprise for decades!
      We saw countless attempts at divestment away from sugarcane mono-cropping. Non stuck.
      But what about Aranguez? All those small farmers who got land at somewhere like ten cents a square foot? leashold for 99 years, some bought.
      Not there alone.
      There were cheap lands alll up and down the east…Arouca, Lopiniot, Caura…people ignore that! There were state lands in Los Eros that lay idle for decades.
      I can go on and on…
      Was the policy flawed? OH HELLLLS YEAH!
      ADB was a maze for even the most educated farmers to decipher! Most did not. But there were a few—and that was nothing to do with party affiliation.
      Min of Agri/Land/Fisheries was just a mess.
      But was it racist? How can that be proven???
      Name the Ministers of Agriculture under those PNM days!!!

    • Lasana Liburd Success Laventille in the 70s and 80s was as apathetic a voter as you see now.
      The vociferous few made more noise than sense, but these areas suffered under the PNM—still do
      Baratarria and Malick where my grandmother’s house was was mainly Indo-trini. I grow up with Hindu and Muslim playmates from 7th Ave.
      was my life sooooo different to everybody? nah man.
      I calling BS on that ENTIRE letter

    • I certainly didn’t say that those areas aren’t suffering. Nobody would say that. But it a PNM stronghold regardless.
      Thanks for laying out some points though. I’m happy for people with more knowledge than me of that era to help me explain if Jagessar is making sense or not.
      Even if he is totally incorrect though, once there are hundreds or thousands of people who feel that way then it is the duty of the State to win them over and make them feel included. Or we all suffer.

    • some people want to reinvent this island yes.
      and this idea that Trinidad was “majority indian”…where he get that from??? HAHAHAHAH
      listen eh…
      i worked on TWO national census.
      You would go to people house and ask them “race” and you SEEEING is what we would call “dougla” but they will say “indian”—so you have to put Indian!
      And you will see ah “daddahead” man…whole family dark-skinned and curly hair…but they go say “mixed”.
      Studies have proven (doh ask me to quote 1990 Sociology eh breds! But they there for who want to find it) that people with even slight Indo-Trini roots were quicker to claim those Indian roots than people with Afro-Trinis would claim their African roots!
      I saw this for MYSELF. and this hasn’t changed!
      A “dougla” not saying mixed! thye saying they Indian!

    • Lasana Liburd Look at how Malone and La Horquetta are trending now.
      Look at the boundaries in San Juan, Curepe, St Augustine, Tunapuna…
      can you tell me that the Indo-Trini politics haven’t engineered these communities that way?
      Look at El Socorro…now that the agri-business is trending towards warehousing, what would that impact be on the racial demographics in that San Juan constituency? This Indians [and douglas] moving out eh…and they ain coming back! What’s happening in Chaguanas? Couva [ey!!! ah ain talk bout that Couva housing scheme yet eh! but same scene as La Horquetta et al]

  36. This letter is nothing but an infantile attempt to reinvent history.
    This is a little child’s crying out for attention and has no basis in measurable fact.
    This idea that housing was distributed to “negroes” and “Indian” agriculture was marginalised ignores too much of the documented reality to be anything less than a hit job—calculated to defame Dr Williams’ legacy.
    Did the PNM of the day do wrong? OF COURSE!
    Many errors were made along the way.
    But were those errors guided by a policy of racial segregation and discrimination? No. And I challenge anyone to prove that.

  37. The author is at least living in a fog of racist hate. His assertions are Factually incorrect. And seeks to repurpose and reframe history hoping all are ignorant.

  38. The author of the letter is nothing if not passionate.

    • Well that’s a polite way of looking at it.

    • eric williams is the cause of racialism between afro trinidadians and indo trinidadians take with salt or pepper for digestion!! the truth is d truth!

    • EW is the cause of many many things and ills of Trinidad society. Our loss of our comparative advantage in agriculture is one such

    • Let’s conveniently forget the physical land mass and demand for housing in the post colonial era. People had been living in barracks and other substandard conditions at the time of Independence. Eric should have left you there? Let’s forget the lack of universal education for all citizens unless you had means to pay the private institutions that existed or were able to pass exhibition and earn a scholarship. All now we still only want our children to attend these bastions of elitism and class segregation. Let’s forget the demise of the sugar industry world wide as cheaper beet sugar and cheaper labour became available and the refusal by Caroni workers for mechanization. Let’s forget the debt we incurred as we buoyed sugar for too long. And we are still paying off loans for Caroni 1975 Ltd. today. Let’s forget colonial monoculture that destroyed our soil fertility. Let’s forget the debt we incurred as we became Independent from Britain and that debt servicing takes priority. Let’s ignore the fact that many of us turned away from agriculture. Crops don’t grow themselves. Let’s forget in 1925 the East Indians approached the Crown to annex a portion of the island and give them dominion over that annex. They’re still trying to execute that dream too. Let’s forget the well documented policy and practice of divide and rule by the British. They actively promoted division in order to maintain control. Remember Captain Baker and the Canboulay Riots? How the British recruited Indians to attack Africans and they were routed. ’tis the season! Forget how under developed this place was during the colonial era and how much infrastructural work was required and done to improve our standard of living. Lock joint wasn’t a colonial era development! So yes. Dr. Williams was the worst thing ever to have emerged from our soil and he was evil for attempting to envision a Republic beyond our ken.

      I can’t with y’all inno.

    • There are people out here that legit wished we had never gained Independence. If we could go back to the Crown they’d be happy.

    • Ok. Well I don’t know that Jagessar does. But he is obviously very bitter about the early PNM. So I’m just curious to know how many of the grievances he raised are true and how many aren’t.
      Also I’d like to know whether his view is held by a wide enough group of people to make it necessary to reach out and get them onside. You’re talking about someone who says he would not stand for the national anthem.

    • Good luck with that hope. Folks been burning that anti PNM/Williams lamp for decades….

    • blaming EW is very racist esp since without him many non christians would not have been able to go to school without converting

    • Kyon are we saying that if the PNM did not win that first election, we would not have had schools?

    • the same catholic board marched against allowing the govt to place students in their schools or u forget

    • its because of the same racist EW that St georges san fernando couva tunapuna govt were built

    • but what ppl must realise there are always ingrates

    • So the other party had a policy of “no schools for children?”

    • they actually opposed integrating children along non denom lines

    • But schooling was largely based on denominational lines and aways has been. Most govt schools were built in the last few decades I think.

    • its simple geography that its more costly to develop rural areas…thats why humans have been building cities for thousands of years

    • Anyway, this issue about schooling isn’t really central to the matter at hand.

    • Lasana Liburd seems u very uninformed of history i posted the history of schools in TT ….from the 19th century

    • also the facts were the british never really developed the country so what was EW was suppose to do in the first 30 years? pave streets of gold? even the urban areas complained

    • Kyon, did anyone ask to have golden streets? I think it is best to just speak about the author did complain about.
      As for my knowledge of the history of schools in T&T, it is very weak. Certainly doesn’t compare to know knowledge of football from the 1950s come forward. But then I never claimed to be an expert either.

    • When you over-love a clap back————>>>

    • Alana Morton I’m one of those who believe we need to still be a colony.
      Given what passes for governance in this town, the evidence is clear, we should all still be singing God save the queen.

    • ?
      Show me where colonial governance was better please.

    • newsflash UK didnt want colonies again because even their neglected rule was too expensive

    • “Divide and Rule” wasn’t the nature of Eric Williams. But the propagandists out there have always targeted him and blaming him for the racial mess that has engulfed this country over the yrs, and which seems to worsen since September 7th, 2015.
      We saw where Rafique Shah had to call Sat a “liar” in one of his columns recently, after he claimed that Patrick Manning was a “racist” for closing down Caroni, when the workers welcomed it and looked forward to whatever benefits were awaiting them.
      Many of them used that closure to further divide the people along racial and political lines.
      It was the same Sat Maharaj who again made the claim that Williams DELIBERATELY placed Indian children at schools in the East/West Corridor to “douglarize” the nation. This piece of wicked propaganda was also echoed by (deceased) Rajnie Ramlakhan, who was a rep’ of the Maha Sabha and columnist in the Express yrs ago.
      So Eric was always a target, especially when he’s no longer around to defend himself.
      We continue to get divisive languages from the mouths of the Opposition members, be they in government of outside. They’re very much known for spreading propaganda in their quest to divide and rule this country.
      Unfortunately the ingrates will never be honest to tell the truth.

  39. At a workshop now, but I’ll read as soon as I can. Sounds intriguing.

  40. soooo….dah go make him wah?
    The outside babydaddy of the nation?
    The step-faddah ah de nation?
    The man who does pass tru and take ah tush on mammy of the nation?

  41. We accept there may be wildly differing views on this Letter to the Editor. We also believe that slights and hurts, real or imagined, cannot be addressed if they stay hidden.
    So, for contributors, we urge you to consider finding solutions rather than attacking each other. Thanks.

    • Why u all trying to put people against each other do u think article will do any good. U all just inciting race shame on u wired.shame on u

    • Terry, there is no good to be had from blocking our eyes and ears and pretending that we are all getting along wonderfully.
      Let us be real, listen to each other and see whether we can address each other’s issues and emerge stronger for it.
      Ironically, the people who believe they are closer to power will always be more likely to say “things are fine… don’t stir the pot.”
      But these cracks in society affects us all really.
      I know some people prefer not to have the uncomfortable conversations. I also know that these conversations can easily get out of hand. We hope we can handle that.
      We might not agree on this but that is my position.

    • I like what u stated, but too many people during these debates fall into the Value Judgement trap calling people all kinda names. U know how many times I have told myself not me again to comment on any thing Wired868 put up. But the content is so nice, I keep coming back. I even like your logo. I will try a little commenting on this article a little later. Sweet too bad!

    • We really don’t want people to be abusive and please tag me or Wired868 if and when that happens. I know these are emotional topics but it we can have awkward conversations with each other, I think we will be better off.

    • I leave him with his angry thoughts and hope he does not share this bile with his offspring.Maybe some real history lessons would help. Before Independence.

    • Lasana I think you perceive your role as going where no men go before and promoting discussion. But shouldn’t that discussion be informed by something? Especially these potentially divisive and outright inflammatory ones? One does not have to “pretend” things are alright to expect factual and informed analysis. There should be some standard apart from readability and good grammar.

    • Keston I didn’t really have more palatable pieces to choose from to encapsulate this anger/hurt. I’m sure there are people who can better articulate this position without the vitriol. If I had that, I would have used it.
      But then I really don’t know if it is better to cherrypick or if sometimes it is good for us to get a clear view of the depth of bitterness out there.
      I don’t know. Maybe another day our choice would have been different. But we do hope that even a negative occurrence can spark a positive conversation.

  42. With a couple of deep breaths, we might get through this without tearing each other apart… Read the letter to the editor, which is pretty furious, and then consider: Was Dr Eric Williams’ PNM as fair as it needed to be in the distribution of State resources?
    Is there anything we can learn from our history that would make us more united going forward?

    • I cannot say that it was racially motivated, but there is no denying that rural areas were neglected, even up to this day. The only attempt to address that was by the PP.

    • And the distribution of Caroni lands? Every few years? I think this current distribution might be the fourth or fifth since my living in Trinidad?

      That fair distribution of resources?

      The billions of wealth transfer under the unc pp in five years?
      Would love to know how that five years equated to all the other fifty one years, or so…

    • I didn’t really want to get into the PNM vs UNC thing but more look at the PNM under Dr Eric Williams. We know about the UNC misappropriation of funds already.
      But we could do with a better understanding of our history.

    • Nerisha Mohammed this statement is very true.
      I can use just ONE example: that Gran Couva drive…that was bush. pure bush! now it’s opened up that whole side of the island. that is major

    • The PP were only the latest. Development unfortunately gets the Priority where the populations are denser. This is so in most if not all places. We also shoot ourselves in the foot with a proliferation of unplanned development in areas that are not provided with roads and utilities then we protest and demand same.

    • however, the PNM has been eager to develop the North East quadrant of Trinidad for ages! Now…we also know that PNM supporters and financiers bought up a LOT of this land and are waiting for this phase of development to take place eh…
      AND the incursions into the Aripo Savannah natural reserve is a HUGE mistake…
      But…we have some tough choices to make in T&T: do we stick to the urban-centric development and accept the L we know? or do we take an L on the environment and hope for a W longterm?