The Carib leader, who is also deputy mayor of the PNM controlled Arima Borough Corporation, said he felt it was “inappropriate” for him to attend the COP function held last week Wednesday.
“I would have gone in the interest of indigenous people but I felt it was inappropriate to attend that particular function in this, an election year. I did not want anyone to be unsure about where my allegiance is,” he said. Bharath-Hernandez added he was all for the development and upliftment of the indigenous people, but being a member of the PNM, felt attending would have been a conflict of interest. He said he had written the COP declining the invitation.
COP leader Winston Dookeran in his address to members of the indigenous community who were present, said not enough was being done to support the Carib community in a country that possessed so much wealth. He added it was high time the country learnt to respect the memory and contribution of those who came before.
Meanwhile, a Cabinet-appointed committee to look into issues affecting indigenous people, submitted its first draft report to the Minister of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affair Joan Yuille-Williams for Cabinet’s consideration. The Committee, which is being chaired by Museum Curator Val Lewis is also looking into the issues of a public holiday for the Carib community next year and the issuance of a parcel of land.
Lewis told Newsday: “We have made a number of recommendations that would improve the Carib communities generally throughout the country. Some of these include documenting the story of the Amerindians, immediate steps to protect archaeological sites and protection of medicinal herbs.”
Lewis said talks have already been held with the Central Statistical Office (CSO) to identify the Caribs by name in the next census and that concerns were raised about the use of the Carib name as a product brand.
He said three members of the Carib Community were on this committee and some major developments may be coming for the group. The Cabinet-appointed committee will meet again this Friday.