Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 16th 2013 Contents A16
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, September 16, 2013
(Charlie King) was burnt to death,
English police officer William
Bradburn was shot and killed,
and Inspector WE Power, who
received severe blows, died of his
wounds in England shortly after-
Butler was acquitted on a charge
of sedition but jailed for two years'
hard labour on a charge of incite-
ment to riot.
He had been re-arrested under
the security laws when war broke
out and was set free on April 10,
1945, when the war was ending.
But despite the jail term Butler
was a hero. It was felt that if he
entered the elections scheduled to
take place in 1946, he was sure to
But he did not reckon with the
popularity of Albert Gomes in
Belmont, nor with the fact that
Port-of-Spain was not the oil belt,
where he was known and loved.
Fighting Gomes of the United
Front for the seat of Port-of-
Spain North, he polled 1,984 votes
to Gomes' 5,212!
His party was one he had formed
in 1936, the British Empire Work-
ers and Citizens Home Rule Party.
When the general elections of
1950 came up, the seat he fought
for was St Patrick West (with
Fyzabad, his home), and the rival
campaigner was Ralph Mentor of
the Trades Union Council. Butler
came into his own, polling 8,721
against Mentor's 3,395.
The seasoned war-horse fought
his last term in 1956, in the St Pat-
rick West constituency for the
By the end of that Legislative
Council term the old campaigner
had had enough.
He was 60, and still hale and
hearty, and the great moment of
which he had dreamed was now at
The man who lit up the road
to the independence of T&T
throughout two turbulent
decades was in fact not Trini-
dadian at all, but a Grenadian
who had come here to settle,
just after World War I.
Although he had come in peace,
there was an angry fire burning in
The opinion is that he had come
to stay by a brother in Fyzabad
to work in the oilfields and im-
prove his fortunes, and it is said
he worked as a rigman for Apex
But in fact he had come to be
near to Arthur Andrew Cipriani,
who had been his wartime leader
and counsellor on the Middle
Butler knew there was another
battle to fight and he came to join
forces with the captain.
The 1920s and 1930s could not
have been more depressed, largely
owing to World War I (1914-18).
In T&T, because of the loss in
manpower, and because of re-
strictions, shortages, and wide-
spread unemployment the econo-
my dipped lower than it had ever
Butler, who was born in 1895,
came to Trinidad in 1921. He had
naturally headed for Fyzabad, not
for trouble, but to see if by his agi-
tation he could make a difference.
He was heading for the eye of
a gathering storm. Two crucial
matters were continuing to have
their effect, and together they
carried the seeds of crisis and
One was the anger of the ex-
soldiers returned from the war,
and the other had to do with the
new oil industry.
The agitation and repercussions
in the oil belt came to a head in
1937, leading to the riots.
We all know that on June 19,
1937, police corporal Charles King
Independence would come in
1962. Federation or not, it would
come. What more did he want?
His old friend and associate,
and one-time foe, Adrian Cola
Rienzi, knew what more was
Rienzi, as early as June 16, 1939,
had told the Legislative Council:
"June 19, Sir, is a day which, in
the minds of the workers, marks
a landmark in the history of the
Capt Cipriani was stung and
told the Legislative Council, "We
are not asking for a holiday to cel-
ebrate false heroes!"
As has been shown in this se-
ries, none of the three was false.
In 1973, the Government
dropped the May Day, holiday
and decreed the date of the Butler
Riots, June 19, as Labour Day.
On T&T's first Independence
Day in 1962, amidst the fireworks
and the shouting, there was a cer-
emony in Woodford Square to pay
tribute to "two of the greatest of
the early fighters for Independ-
ence," Butler and Cipriani (who
had died in 1945).
At the national awards cer-
emony of 1976 Uriah Butler was
given the highest award of T&T,
the Trinity Cross.
The voice, heart of labour
Uriah Buzz Butler --- Was no false hero
Tubal Uriah Buzz Butler
In celebration of Independence,
we present a series written specially
for the T&T Guardian about people who
made a difference to the nation's history
and its future.
CORNERSTONES by Michael Anthony
Adrian Cola Rienzi
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