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Columbus like Hitler, remove his statue

Published: 
Thursday, October 12, 2017
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Director of the Cross Rhodes Freedom Project (CRFP), Shabaka Kambon, left, delivers a letter to Deputy Mayor of Port-of-Spain Hillan Morean outside City Hall yesterday. At centre is Roger Belix President of Partners for First Peoples Development . Photo by:Kerwin Pierre

A "murderer, monster, barbarian, genocide sailor" is being glorified on a pedestal in the heart of Port-of-Spain, Shabaka Kambon, chairman of the Cross Rhodes Freedom Project said yesterday as he took the group's campaign for the removal of a Christopher Columbus statue to the Office of the Port-of-Spain Mayor.

Kambon, accompanied by a contingent of First Indigenous People, delivered a letter to the Port-of-Spain City Corporation asking for the statue, which they described as a "monument of oppression and genocide", to be taken down. He also called for a complete review of how history about Columbus is taught in local schools.

"We want to see a complete overthrow of the false narrative, the imperialist narrative, that is being taught to our kids today," he said.

"My son, your child, your daughter, will go to school today and learn the Arawaks were peaceful and the Caribs were eating their way up the Caribbean."

He said it was not strange in any way for changes to be made in every city.

Kambon saluted the City Corporation for renaming Queen Street to Queen Janelle Commissiong Street. He said street in the city had been arbitrarily named by the British.

He said: "This is not a Trinidadian thing, it is a global thing and statues are being removed in Venezuela. All other states in America and the northern hemisphere have awoken to the genocidal sailor and we have to revisit the hero myth that allows a monster like Christopher Columbus to stand on a pedestal in the heart of Port-of-Spain."

A spokesman for the group, Felipe Noguera, compared the Columbus statue to celebrating Hitler, the disgraced German leader.

"Monday was Columbus Day in America. It is if we had a Hitler Day, who was responsible for the deaths of the Jews. It is like a Jew supporting Hitler," he said.

President of Partners for First Peoples' Development, Roger Belix, said he will be celebrating the First Peoples holiday on Saturday rather than Friday because it was on October 14 Hyarima was first recognised and became a hero in St Joseph in 1636.

Deputy Mayor of Port-of-Spain Hillan Morean, who was on hand to receive the letter from the group, advised Kambon to present good proposals on the matter.

Morean said he hoped the group was not responsible for the recent defacement with red paint of the Columbus statue and wished the First People all the best on their holiday.

"Let that day define what it means to you all," he said.