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Government indifference to youth development

Published: 
Friday, December 8, 2017

I have been following Mr Nikoli Edwards as he outlined his frustrated efforts to speak with Dr Keith Rowley since he was invited to submit his proposals on youth development just after one of the Conversations with the Prime Minister.

I empathise with Mr Edwards because the Trinidad and Tobago Committee on Reparations (TTNCR) has been going through the same problems.

My concern is that youth have been rebelling in Trinidad and Tobago and the assumption is that all of them are criminals by deliberate choice. Furthermore, seeing what took place recently on the Beetham Estate, some people are saying, “Is them Africans from Laventille again.”

The TTNCR case parallels Mr Edward’s because since September 8, 2015, following the change in the Government, we wrote to the-then Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign and Caricom Affairs regarding the status of the TTNCR.

One year later, Monday September 12, 2016, the Minister of Foreign and Caricom Affairs, Senator Dennis Moses met with members of the TTNCR. We have not heard from him since.

On March 21, 2017 the acting Permanent Secretary wrote to the TTNCR that she had noted the submission of previous letters and stated inter alia “Your expression of interest in contributing in the area of reparations is noted and appreciated. As the need arises, it is hoped that your support can be counted upon in the area of reparations.”

We have heard nothing since from that office.

Reparations were included in the communique released at the conclusion of the 38th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Caricom Heads of Government Conference on July 6.

Letters were sent to the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago who referred us to the Honourable Fitzgerald Hinds. After our meeting with Minister Hinds on September 12 nothing has happened.

Interestingly, according to the draft estimates of expenditure 2017, $500,000 was voted for the TTNCR which means that we exist.

But the allocation was never brought to the attention of the committee. In the estimates of fiscal 2017-2018, the committee’s name is mentioned but no allocation has been made.

By October 10 the Centre for Reparation Research was launched at UWI Mona. Reparation Studies have now been included in the CAPE Caribbean History Syllabus as well as in a new History of Trinidad and Tobago.

The TTNCR has noted that one of the themes of the UN International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024) is Justice wherein Reparations for African enslavement have been included.

Again the Government of Trinidad and Tobago has studiously avoided any recognition of the decade.

The TTNCR continues to meet and, like Mr Edwards, we shall continue to advocate our case for reparations and the decade

Aiyegoro Ome

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