Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 11th 2017 Contents news A7
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Hands off Columbus statue in Moruga
Eric Lewis is a descendent of this
country's First Peoples. It is an an-
cestry that he is proud of. Lewis is
also the person who sculpted the
monument in Moruga of the man
blamed for the genocide of this
country's First Peoples, Christopher
However, Lewis said he does not
feel conflicted by this.
"I don't feel conflicted and nei-
ther does the Chief of Moruga (Paul
Navarro) and neither does the mem-
bers of our irst peoples," Lewis said.
"I have Spanish decent in me, I
have indigenous Amerindian de-
scent, I have East Indian and African.
I am one person and if it is that one
person can exist in oneself with hap-
piness, joy and peace why shouldn't
the world exist in happiness, joy and
peace among different faiths, among
different beliefs and among different
"So taking that into consideration
I myself personally have no enmity
against Columbus, the Spanish, or
against this and against that. I am a
cosmopolitan individual and I think
that is 2017, people need to under-
stand we can live and coexist harmo-
niously without the ight," he said.
On Monday, the Christopher Co-
lumbus statue in Port-of-Spain was
smeared with red paint to symbolise
the blood of the irst peoples at the
hands of the 15th-century explorer,
as the activist group, the Cross Rho-
des Freedom Project (CRFP) aims to
have the statue removed.
While this was being done in
Port-of-Spain the Columbus statue
in Moruga remained unscathed as
the First Peoples conducted a Water
Ritual nearby for their upcoming
one-off holiday on Friday.
The T&T Guardian yesterday
called Lewis, the prince of Moruga,
to get his thoughts on the situation
regarding the defacing of the Colum-
bus statue in Port-of-Spain.
Columbus statues have also been
defaced around the world in recent
"I think generally I understand
what is happening in the world
today, I understand there is a lot of
build up of resentment against the
colonial past but if we were really to
look at some of the negative things
of the colonial past then Trinidad
should not even be called Trinidad.
Port-of-Spain should not be called
Port-of-Spain at all," Lewis said.
In August 1498 Columbus claimed
this island for Spain renaming it La
Trinidad in honour of the Holy Trin-
it y.This island had previously been
called Cairi "Land of the Humming-
birds" by the Amerindians.
"I think it is just a statue made
up of concrete and stone and to me
(defacing it) is not actually doing an-
ything to Columbus, however, the
individuals (who oppose it) are get-
ting their message out," Lewis said.
If the Columbus statue is removed
from Port-of-Spain, Lewis said the
Moruga museum would be willing
to take it.
Lewis said Moruga was recently
approached by the director of the
CRFP Shabaka Kambon to have
their Columbus statue taken down
and a meeting was held with interest
groups in the area.
"The People of Moruga thought
it an insult that someone from Port-
of-Spain should come to them and
ask for the removal of their statue,"
Lewis said no matter how you feel
about Columbus there is no denying
that he is a part of this country's his-
"The statue of Columbus repre-
sents a historical fact of Columbus'
influence whether it was good, bad
or ugly the statue is there to show
the historical signi icance," he said.
"It is not that we are celebrat-
ing Columbus, we are celebrating
Moruga and Moruga's history,"
"I am not saying forget your past,
you take your past, you learn from
it and the fact that the Columbus
monument stands in Moruga is
something we can learn from, it is
history," he said.
Today at 10 am, representatives of
the CRFP accompanied by various
representatives of the Indigenous
People of Trinidad and Tobago are
scheduled to go the Port-of-Spain
Mayor's of ice to hand over a letter
to Mayor Joel Martinez calling for the
removal of the statue of Christopher
Columbus in the capital.
"The CRFP believes that it is
wrong to ask Caribbean citizens,
particularly Indigenous People, to
accept national property occupied
by reverential statues to the man
who stole and renamed their lands,
who traf icked, raped and enslaved
their ancestors, destroyed their way
of life and denied their humanity," a
release from Kambon stated yester-
Activist defends historical signi icance of monument
T&T trauma team ind deep sense of loss
Slow mental recovery for devastated Dominicans
The leader of the T&T trauma spe-
cialist team in Dominica Wendell de
Leon says his team has encountered
a deep sense of "hopelessness,"
"trauma," "despair" and "loss" in
the past two weeks interacting with
the people of Dominica devastated
by Hurricane Maria.
Speaking at a news conference
yesterday, De Leon said many peo-
ple who lost loved ones are inding
it dif icult to come to terms with the
"A lot of people lost children,
brothers, sisters loved ones but
there are 30 plus people still miss-
ing across the island," he said. A
number of children were among
those killed when Hurricane Maria
struck on September 18.
Dominicans, he said, are dealing
with a gamut of emotions from loss
of loved ones, to property loss, to
loss of heirlooms, pictures albums
and with many of them in shelters
they feel hopeless and a sense of
Some he said had chosen a cop-
ing mechanism of turning to "alco-
hol and drugs," and some are even
participating in "looting because at
night they have nothing to do."
He lamented that "relationships
have taken a hit," families are torn
apart because they are now in shel-
ters and they have no money or
And while countries including
T&T have opened their doors to
Dominicans, he said, migration has
its own problems. "When people
migrate, invariably it is the wife
who leaves with children, the hus-
band stays here, but what happens
with him? He is now experiencing
another trauma, the loss of house,
property and now family. Those are
real issues we not only need to treat
Many people, he said, had lost
homes and property which they
took years to build, they also lost
personal heirlooms, pictures and
albums "things they will never re-
cover, so it is mentally dif icult to
De Leon said he had "mentioned"
to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerritt
about the rush to return to nor-
malcy. "I know we want to go back
to a sense of normalcy and have the
schools reopened," but he said "we
must be mindful that the schools
are the shelters where people were
placed, and the minute you remove
them you need somewhere to put
them. Because if you displace them
a second time, you will affect their
mental psyche severely."
The return to normalcy, he said,
must be handled with "a sense of
delicacy and sensitivity."
He also urged Dominicans as-
sisting in the distribution of relief
supplies to "preserve the dignity of
those they are giving relief to, don't
shout "come and get your relief," he
said, urging them to "treat them as
humans and with dignity."
De Leon said even the burial
ritual has changed because of the
hurricane. Many parts of the island
remain without electricity and as a
result, he said "there is no morgue
to keep bodies to wait on a pastor
or priest because decomposition is
setting in earlier. This is traumatic
for those who lost loved ones."
De Leon made passing refer-
ence to the challenges his team
had in getting to Dominica, having
received no funding from the T&T
Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But since
their arrival on the island working
alongside Dominican trauma team
led by Dr Grif in Bejamin, consult-
ant psychiatrist on the island, he
said, they had done eighteen Crit-
ical Incidence Debrie ing (CID),
they interacted with 165 individuals
in communities, "touched over 15
families, and dealt with 11 children's
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerritt with members of the T&T trauma
specialist team at a meeting yesterday.
The vandalised Columbus statue on Independence Square, Port-of-Spain.
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