Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 10th 2013 Contents Rodriguez told the media then
that he was the contractor for
the project. He met and greeted
Moonilal, then the acting prime
minister, John and her entourage
and escorted them to the first
and second floors of the build-
ings. Media personnel pho-
tographed and videographed the
events of the tour.
There was no other represen-
tative of any contracting firm
present during the tour.
Days later, Williams told the
media the police had information
that Rodriguez was involved in
gang activity and had passed on
this information to the Govern-
Griffith, meanwhile, vowed
that he would weed out all crim-
inal elements from state projects,
maintaining they would use the
money earned from these con-
tracts to strengthen their criminal
gangs. He reiterated this again
Both the PNM and the Inde-
pendent Liberal Party, on the
local government elections cam-
paign trail, have since criticised
the award of a state contract to
a suspected gang leader.
Yesterday, however, John
attributed Rodriguez presence
at the tour to his being "over
She said, "He s there every day.
If you go there now you will see
"The Spanish guy is very
enthusiastic. People like a little
swagger. Sometimes people just
want a chance."
John made the disclosures at
a media conference yesterday at
the HDC offices on South Quay,
Port-of-Spain, which she said
she called to clear the air on the
HDC s hiring practices and its
relations with gang leaders.
Criticising media reports that
Rodriguez was the contractor,
she said, "Last Friday when we
toured the Duncan Street facility,
I was asked whether a gang leader
got the contract. I said no and
then I gave the name of the con-
She said this information was
written in a Guardian report by
Richard Lord after the Duncan
In fact, Lord s article did not
contain the information as
claimed by John. Neither did a
Newsday report on the same tour.
Both newspapers, however, did
carry an interview with
Rodriguez, in which he was
reported as saying he saw articles
about gang members getting
contracts for the police post, but
said no one, including the police,
had any proof against him.
"I am a registered contractor
and I work for what I want," he
Rodriguez also said he was
involved in an HDC construction
project at Beetham Gardens and
even worked for the East Port-
of-Spain Development Company,
another state entity.
John said yesterday that
reporting Rodriguez had been
given a million-dollar contract
could be putting his life in dan-
"The man s life is probably
now at risk. People may think
he has come into very good for-
"Further, he has not been
charged with any offence and if
he is not incarcerated, he can be
seen anywhere," she said.
"Spanish wasn t hiding Fri-
The claim that a gang leader
had been given the Duncan Street
contract was made by Opposition
senator Pennelope Beckles, while
speaking during the budget
debate. She did not name the
The HDC and Duncan Street
The police post project came
about after a spate of killings in
the Duncan Street area in August
and is based on recommenda-
tions from the Ryan Crime
Report, John said.
"Government adopted the rec-
ommendations and has mandat-
ed that we have to generate pro-
She said people in the Dun-
can Street area have been com-
plaining about a lack of employ-
ment and are, in fact, very proud
of the work being done on the
"Is it because the project is on
Duncan Street that gang mem-
bership is being ascribed to it?"
She said there has been no
negative incident, violent or oth-
erwise, on the project.
"People running their mouth.
They know where Duncan Street
Asked if the aim of project was
also to create peace in the area,
she replied, "I don t know about
peace. I am not in the peace busi-
ness. I m about work. We can t
pick and choose where we want
John also criticised CoP
Williams remark that the police
know the gang leaders but do
not have the evidence to pros-
She said, "I find that an oxy-
moron. Do you have the facts or
do you have the evidence? If you
have the evidence, lock the folks
up. There s the anti-gang law."
Asked how she felt about
awarding state contracts to gang
leaders, John said, "That is a mat-
ter for the police."
John then called on Williams
to pass on the list of gang leaders
he said he had to her.
"Put their names in the papers
She said she and other gov-
ernment officials held a meeting
with two Special Branch officers
last week Wednesday on the
same matter and the names of
gang leaders were never disclosed
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Drama unfolded yesterday as five Highway
Re-route Movement activists were arrested for
blocking heavy-duty machinery along the Debe
to Mon Desir leg of the San Fernando to Point
Tears flowed as three women and two men,
including HRM leader Dr Wayne Kublalsingh,
were carted away by heavily-armed South West-
ern Division Task Force officers to an awaiting
24-seater green band maxi-taxi at the OAS Con-
strutora worksite, located several hundred metres
into a forested area off Mon Desir.
Kublalsingh, Shastri Chaitoo, Roshmi Mahabir,
Leela Boodhai and Gita Boodhai are expected to
appear before a Siparia magistrate today to answer
charges of obstructing police officers in the exe-
cution of their duty and possibly resisting arrest.
Yesterday, as officers held Kublalsingh, who
was filming the arrests of his fellow activists at
the time, a teary-eyed Leela grabbed his hands
and tried to pull him away from the officers.
After that failed, the screaming activist lay on
the ground and officers had to bodily remove
"Shame! Shame on this government," Leela
Boodhai shouted, claiming that brute force was
being used against people who were standing up
for their rights.
She called on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-
Bissessar to listen to the residents cries, as they
only wanted to live freely in their community.
Gita was arrested while pleading with the offi-
cers. She said Persad-Bissessar had betrayed the
people, since in 2010 she promised that no high-
way would have been built in their community.
Mahabir was held as she tried to retrieve a
camera which fell from one of the activists, while
Chaitoo was arrested last after he refused to leave
the site when ordered by police.
For Kublalsingh, today will be the fourth time
in two weeks he is scheduled to appear in court.
He is already facing five charges arising from
From as early at 10 am yesterday, 16 members
of the movement journeyed several hundred
metres into a forested area until they came upon
the OAS Construtora site near the under-con-
struction Mon Desir Interchange. They had a
short conversation with the operator of a heavy-
duty roller, who told them he was only doing his
job.The activists then formed a human chain
around the machinery and after waiting for close
to 20 minutes, the driver eventually switched off
the engine and left. The HRM members remained
in the scorching sun for more than four hours,
with other members bringing water to them on
At around 2 pm, a party of officers led by Sgt
Jones arrived and warned the activists that they
had five minute to leave the site. Several members
retreated, leaving a few behind. The officers later
arrested those who remained.
among 5 arrested
in new protest
John: Spanish just around
Continued from Page A1
Christine "Twiggy" Levia, a Congress of the People candidate in the
forthcoming local government elections, speaks to Kenneth "Spanish"
Rodriguez, right, as Housing Development Corporation managing director
Jearlean John, left, then acting prime minister, Roodal Moonilal, 2nd left,
National Security Minister Gary Griffith look on during a tour of the
planned Duncan Street police post last Friday. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
The new police post on
Duncan Street has a 360-
degree vantage point,
monitoring devices, and
bullet-proof glass panels.
John said it is probably the
first solar-powered building in
the country. She said 12
families were relocated from
Building 64 so that it could
be converted into a police
"The ground floor contains
a mediation room, homework
centre and, of course, a little
charge room. It has a nice
little waiting area and a
"The first floor has
surveillance space, offices,
bunks and three dormitories.
There is a temporary little
lock-up facility here too.
"The second floor has
administration offices, a
monitoring room and an
HI-TECH POLICE POST
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