“[…] In our desire to bring a quick resolution to this issue, the CRFP has already written to the Honourable Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and dispatched a petition to both the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament, signed by a cross section of prominent local individuals including a descendant of Hypolite Borde the man who erected the statue in 1881 at his own expense.
“[…] We will await word from the central government confident that our prime minister will not use his authority to try to normalise the acceptance of such crimes in this country, among the descendants of the victims at the very scene of the atrocities…”
In the following release, the Cross Rhodes Freedom Project indicate the next step in their push to have the Christopher Columbus statute removed from its current site in Port of Spain and placed in a museum:
The Cross Rhodes Freedom Project and the Queen of the Warao Nation, Donna Bermudez Bovell, are happy that Port of Spain Mayor Joel Martinez has finally acknowledged, ‘the emerging view that the statue should be taken down and moved to a museum’.
The mayor’s confirmation squares with the growing regional and international consensus and is in keeping with the expressed views of the Caribbean’s leading luminaries and eminent historians past and present.
Martinican scholar Frantz Fanon said: “Imperialism leaves behind germs of rot which we must clinically detect and remove not just from our lands but our minds as well.”
Guyanese scholar Jan Carew warned us specifically about Columbus that: “False heroes burden not just our history but our character as well.” It was a sentiment echoed by Peter Tosh in the 1977 hit: ‘You can’t blame the youth’.
The current vice chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, has described heroic statuary to the likes of Christopher Columbus as, ‘a persistent violent imposition upon the mind of every right-thinking democratic citizen’.
He pointed out that nations such as ours with ‘ideological roots in the democratic struggles of the working class’ would instinctively oppose, ‘publicly revering persons known to have committed crimes against humanity’.
Beckles sees the persistence of these monuments as testimony to the actions of successive governments to frustrate the will of the people and has likened the removal of them to the ‘righting of an immoral wrong’.
In our desire to bring a quick resolution to this issue, the CRFP has already written to the Honourable Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and dispatched a petition to both the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament, signed by a cross section of prominent local individuals—including a descendant of Hypolite Borde the man who erected the statue in 1881 at his own expense.
Borde’s descendant, Liz Noguera, who joined to the call for removal since 2017 has stated: ‘it [the statue] represented the injustice of the Old World and its removal would be symbolic of a commitment to a New World where we could all live as one’.
During the colonial period enslavers trampled on our decency and intelligence and used their hegemonic power to erect monuments to genocide, slavery and white supremacy without having to consider the perspectives of the majority of the people. The CRFP and the Warao Nation categorically reject the morality of any law that purports to ascribe some legal status to such monuments.
Nevertheless, we will await word from the central government confident that our prime minister will not use his authority to try to normalise the acceptance of such crimes in this country, among the descendants of the victims at the very scene of the atrocities.
This effort to remove the statue has been in train since 1970 and is reflected in the work of local artistes such as Stalin, Mighty Shadow, Brother Resistance and Ataklan. It is an idea whose time has arrived.
In Africa, Asia, Europe and here in the Americas, a whole new generation has awoken to the contradiction between their aspirations for a better world and the open glorification of the main protagonists of the most wicked epochs of the past and they are acting with their eyes firmly fixed on the future.