Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 2nd 2014 Contents B3
Thursday, October 2, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Like many, over the last few years, I have
read about the women of the Highway Re-
route movement, been appalled by Roodal
Moonilal s dismissal of them as "bags of aloo,"
and thought Persad-Bissessar should explain
to the population why she first marched with
these women when out of power, then ignored
them once in.
I saw press photos of their sit-ins outside
the PM s office, their camp being illegally
demolished by Jack Warner and their brave
blocking of tractors. Knowing that, amidst look-
ing after sick family, managing traffic stress
and earning a living, no citizen anywhere peti-
tions and protests time after time without valid
reason, I wanted to learn more about why this
movement had not given up.
By the time of Wayne Kublalsingh s first
hunger strike, I came to understand that there
were billion dollar non-tendered contracts at
stake, unnecessary destruction of parts of the
Oropouche Lagoon, massive, avoidable quarrying
of the Northern Range, and demolition of long-
established religious and familial communities.
In the two years since that strike and now, I vis-
ited affected homes and saw for myself the number
of times the women in this movement continued
to peacefully petition and protest, just asking for
the reports that were never done and the alter-
natives that were never considered. Or, maybe they
were, we don t know because the government has
never publicly detailed how.
Fifteen days into this second hunger strike, I m
left feeling overwhelmed at how much it takes for
citizens to be heard. Does it really take this much
time and sacrifice to successfully secure accountable
People are critical of Kublalsingh s choice of
strategy, but the alternative is lifelong commitment
to disallowing corruption or lack of transparency
in whatever form. None of us may choose to die,
but how many of us
make this other choice
It s the same chal-
lenges, coming again
already in Tacarigua and
ahead in Invader s Bay.
At some point we have
to say we won t give up
in exchange for a
smelter, port, rapid rail,
stadium or highway.
We want develop-
ment, but development
that is more than con-
a right to information,
truth and the best plan
possible for future gen-
erations, not just the
partial truths and
wasteful plans that gov-
ernments choose. After
all, who bears the costs?
The women of the
Movement have called
on other women to
gather in a show of sup-
port for them, today at
12.15pm, outside of the PM s office. I ll be there
because there is a truth to their petitions and
protests that echo all over the country, regardless
of the ruling party, almost regardless of which
megaproject is some politicians dream.
Transparency, accountability and truth are prin-
ciples that, above all, need our clear-eyed people
power. Every state masterplan should show us nec-
essary studies and justify skipped tendering
processes so that we cannot be repetitively fooled
Citizens may debate strategy, may not even like
each other, and may disagree, but we are our only
source of solidarity. Politicians will say yes to our
face and then lock us out on the street.
They will not account for billions spent unless
we insist that is it ours, not their money. They
will hire PR guys to convince us we are each other s
enemy. But, plain talk, no communities spent eight
years of their lives petitioning and protesting unless
truth about injustice is at the heart of their cause.
Join the HRM women today at 12.15. I ll bring
Zi. These are the lessons about government, devel-
opment and citizenship she is going to have to
learn from early.
The women who haven't given up
may not even like
each other, and
may disagree, but
we are our only
source of solidarity.
Politicians will say
yes to our face and
then lock us out on
the street. They
will not account for
unless we insist
that is it ours, not
their money. They
will hire PR guys to
convince us we are
each other's enemy.
But, plain talk, no
eight years of their
unless truth about
injustice is at the
heart of their
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