On March 15, Villafana was standing outside of his home at San Juan as Manning was conducting a PNM walkabout. Manning approached the pensioner and offered his hand for a handshake. The pensioner ignored him, keeping his arms crossed. “You’re not welcome here,” he told the Prime Minister. “I want nothing to do with you.” He attempted to keep Manning out of his yard. The Prime Minister ignored Villafana and walked into the yard of the house, shaking hands with children and greeting a woman in a gallery of the house.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines a trespass as: entry to a person’s land or property without their permission. The archaic form of the noun means: “a sin; an offence”. It should be clear, that a person has a right – Constitutional or otherwise – to the enjoyment of their private property. Such a right is a right to exclusive possession of such property, to the prejudice of others who may want to enter. If someone does not shake your hand, that is no justification for a trespass.
It is in this context that we must view the statements of Minister in the Ministry of Planning and Development Tina Grunland-Nunez and PNM candidate for Fyzabad Joel Primus who this month both lamented the dire practice that is now sweeping the nation of emulating Villafana’s “X” gesture.
“The next thing we know the children will be doing this to teachers in school,” an aghast and indignant Grunland-Nunez was reported as saying in the newspapers on May 3. “Remember, whatever we do as adults and whatever we support and encourage our children are seeing it.”
This week Primus, who was once the recipient of a Ministry of Culture scholarship, added more indignation. Addressing a PNM public meeting at Fyzabad on Wednesday, Primus described the “X” sign as, “that now infamous skull and crossbones mark of death which goes contrary to the dictates of any civilised society.” Primus argued that given the challenges of juvenile delinquency which all societies face, this gesture “has set an all time low for the nation’s youths.” Asking whether young people would display this sign to their parents, teachers and other persons in authority if they cannot get their way, Primus said, “I fear a rise in indiscipline as a result of that negative gesture. I call for an end to this gesture of resistance and say let’s shake hands.”
If children decide to adopt the Percy “X” as a fad, then out of the mouths of babes and sucklings comes that which should come from adults.
The Prime Minister clearly acted in a way that arguably demonstrated contempt for the rights of others, and far worse the right of an 81-year-old man. It is this Prime Minister, who this week admitted to still making mistakes, made the “mistake” of leaving Calder Hart at the helm of Udecott seven years running since former Diego Martin West MP Dr Keith Rowley raised the prospect of bid rigging at Udecott in 2003. The members of this Cabinet, who have issued sycophant and skewed comments like those of Grunland-Nunez, whose ministry held line responsibility for Udecott, can learn a thing or two from the kids making the “X” sign today. They should have done that when wrong was happening right beneath their eyes at Udecott. An “X” then would have been the ethical, responsible and adult thing to do. That is the example that they should have set for our children.