Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 2nd 2014 Contents A5
Thursday, January 2, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Regarded as a trailblazer
and a pioneer in the field
of journalism, Newsday s
CEO and editor-in-chief
Therese Mills died yester-
Assistant to the editor-
in-chief at Newsday Camille
Moreno confirmed Mills s
death. She said Mills passed
away suddenly at 1 pm yes-
terday. Mills was 85 at the
time of her death and had
served for 68 years in the
field of journalism.
Tributes began pouring in
for the journalistic stalwart
almost immediately after
news of her death.
Prime Minister Kamla
Persad-Bissessar issued a
It read: "It is with deep
sadness that I learnt of the
passing of a real stalwart in
the field of journalism. She
was a woman of substance,
a woman of power, who
earned the respect of every-
one, in Trinidad and Tobago,
the Caribbean, and the
"Mrs Mills changed the
way journalists functioned,
and I am sure all those jour-
nalists who passed through
her hands over the past 68
years, can attest to this
described Mills as a "guiding
light" for young people who
wished to pursue a career in
"She demonstrated that
there was room for a third
daily newspaper in Trinidad
and Tobago, although there
were influential persons who
said otherwise. She was
responsible in the shortest
possible time in getting
Newsday to number one
position in the MFO Media
Survey," the statement said.
Among Mills s journalistic
achievements were the 1989
British West Indies Airways
(BWIA) excellence in jour-
nalism award for most out-
standing social and political
commentary, three succes-
sive excellence in journalism
awards (1985, 1986 and 1987)
and her appointment as the
first woman to head a
national newspaper when
she became editor-in-chief
of the Trinidad Guardian in
1989. Mills s career in jour-
nalism began at the Port-
of-Spain Gazette, where she
worked from 1945 to 1956.
She retired from the
Guardian in June 1993 and
was asked to become the
editor-in-chief of the News-
She was also a foundation
member of the Common-
wealth Journalists Associa-
tion in Cyprus, served as a
CJA executive representative
for the Caribbean and was
a foundation member of the
Journalists Association of
Trinidad and Tobago. She
also served as vice-chairman
of the National Commission
on the Status of Women,
appointed by the Govern-
ment of Trinidad and Toba-
go in 1975 during the UN
International Women s Year.
Mills was awarded the
Humming Bird Medal (1987)
and the Chaconia Gold
Medal last year for her serv-
ice to journalism. Last year
she was also awarded an
honorary degree of Doctors
of Letters (DLitt) by the Uni-
versity of the West Indies.
T&T loses icon
T&T Guardian editor-in-
chief Judy Raymond yester-
day described Mills as trail-
blazer for women in
She said: "She kept a low
public profile, but she was
a trailblazer for women in
journalism: she came into
the profession, and rose to
the top, in an era when there
were very few women in the
field. Today it s easy to
underestimate how much of
a pioneer she was in that
regard, but she was a jour-
nalist for over half a century
and she would have walked
a lonely road in those early
Raymond recalled that
Mills worked with her
grandfather at the Port-of-
Spain Gazette and credited
Mills with changing the print
landscape with Newsday s
"I never had the privilege
of working with her---she
worked with my grandfather
at the Port-of-Spain
Gazette---but countless jour-
nalists worked with her in
our newsroom at St Vincent
Street as well as at Newsday,
and have gained from her
strength, her vision and her
vast experience," Raymond
"In all these ways Mrs
Mills has had a huge influ-
ence, which has yet to be
properly recorded and fully
Former Trinidad Guardian
editor-in-chief Carl Jacobs,
who worked with Mills for
many years, said journalism
in T&T had lost an icon.
"She was a first-class
journalist. She had the
instinct of a journalist. She
knew a good story and get-
ting it into the paper," he
Jacobs said Mills s legacy
was the establishment and
development of the News-
day. Mills covered several top
stories while at the Guardian
for which she won several
awards. He also recalled her
front page Sunday Guardian
column Mamits, which, he
said, became one of the best
read columns at that time.
"You can safely say she
was, for most of her working
life, the leading female jour-
nalist in T&T. I think jour-
nalism lost an icon in the
passing of Mrs Mills," he
President general of the Oilfields Workers
Trade Union Ancel Roget is warning that if
La Brea residents are not treated with
respect, he will mobilise massive civil action
against state-owned Petrotrin in the coming
The warning came as Roget and his team
yesterday toured several parts of La Brea which
is stricken with oil fumes, after last month s
spill in the Gulf of Paria.
"All we ask is for residents to be treated
with respect and dignity...they did not spill
the oil, they should not suffer," Roget said to
"That is why we are here and we will pro-
vide a voice for these people who have been
suffering for so many weeks."
Roget claimed that contrary to Petrotrin s
assurance, no medical personnel were sent
to help the people of Coffee Beach and Station
Beach, where thick crude had covered the
shoreline. He also said toxins were being used
to retrieve sunken oil from the ocean floor
and this too was affecting the residents.
"These residents have to go through the
peril of inhaling toxic fumes," Roget said.
"To get the oil out of the seabed you have
to inject toxins to get the oil to float. This is
what the children have been breathing. Med-
ical personnel is at zero."
He also denied that 100 meals were being
served per day after residents have been
banned from cooking.
"The OWTU is monitoring this spill and
we exposed a report which says there has
been a number of leaks from lease operator
Trinity Oil and Gas. We believe that Trinity
is being shielded," Roget said.
Trinity has already distanced itself from
the leaks, but has noted it will await the results
of Petrotrin s probe before making further
comment. Asked whether the OWTU will be
providing legal representation for affected
residents, Roget said no. He said, however,
that the OWTU will continue to make calls
on the Government and Petrotrin to treat
residents with respect. If that fails, he said
there will be mass mobilisation.
Meanwhile, several residents said they were
frustrated as oil continues to flow onto the
beaches. Onika Branka Towers said Coffee
Beach was not 90 per cent clean.
"People don t know the dangers we are
facing now...Our children are suffering from
respiratory problems," Towers said.
Damien Lewis said Petrotrin must deal
with residents on a fair and reasonable basis.
Another resident Carlton Plenty said school
reopens on Monday and parents were worried
about preparations because of the oil fumes.
Petrotrin, in a statement yesterday, said
mop-up operations were continuing daily.
The company is yet to quantify its losses.
There was still evidence of oil on the beaches
up to yesterday and Roget also showed rem-
nants of crude on the mangroves.
The Gulf of Paria will become a toxic dead
zone if thick crude is not vacuumed from the
ocean floor before Petrotrin begins its under-
water seismic surveys, president of Fishermen
and Friends of the Sea Gary Aboud warned
Aboud made the claim as he accused Petrotrin
of trying to cover up the magnitude of the massive
oil spill which has wreaked havoc on plant, human
and marine life along the south-western peninsula
since December 21.
The 11 oil spills, some of which Petrotrin officials
suspect are acts of sabotage, have started spreading
to the Oropouche mangroves, Aboud said yesterday.
He explained that fishermen as far as Cocorite have
recently been picking up oil on their fishing spools.
Saying the oil slick was now moving northwards,
Aboud called on Petrotrin to immediately stop all
seismic surveys in the Gulf until all the oil is cleaned
from the ocean floor. Explaining the movement of
the tidal currents, Aboud said the water flows in a
circular clockwise and anti-clockwise manner.
"This is called a gyre. It appears now that oil is
coming into Otaheite and also into the Oropouche
mangroves," he said.
A gyre in oceanography is any large system of
rotating ocean currents, particularly those involved
with large wind movements.
Aboud explained that on Old Year s Night, seven
fishermen from Cocorite reported that oil and tar
caught on their spools while they were banking.
"We knew this was going to happen," he said.
"We are not trying to cause a panic, but when
you are trawling, you have a net dragging at the
bottom of the ocean. Trawling is also used when
there is a line in water floating at a specific distance.
Sometimes a fisherman will use a metal spool with
a hook. This is called towing and many people who
are towing say there is thick oil on the seabed."
He said the chemicals used by Petrotrin in the
clean-up operations had caused the oil to sink.
"We have asked Petrotrin what kind of dispersant
they are using and we are yet to get an answer. With
the battering of the waves, the oil will coagulate and
sink," Aboud said.
"It is will stifle marine life. The gulf could become
a dead zone if they don t clear the oil that has sunk."
He claimed that Petrotrin was starved of crude
for its refinery and this was why the company was
insisting that it wanted to begin its Ocean Bottom
Cable (OBC) seismic survey.
He also said his team was keeping a close eye on
the seismic ship to ensure that surveys are not exe-
"If they attempt to do any seismic testing we will
have to take whatever action is necessary to protect
plant and marine life. Fishing is our livelihood,"
Meanwhile, Petrotrin, in a statement, said there
is no conclusive scientific evidence that the survey
will have a negative impact on fisheries.
Petrotrin said the survey, which will be conducted
in Petrotrin s Trinmar and North Marine Areas in
the Gulf of Paria, once started will continue for five
months, with operations taking place continuously
24 hours per day.
The oil company assured that the technology will
utilise the discharge of compressed air to generate
pulses for recording and no explosives will be used.
Media fraternity thrown into mourning... Treat residents
Roget warns Petrotrin after La Brea tour:
Oil spill spreading
north, says Aboud
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