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Dookeran pays tribute to Caribs

Saturday, June 9 2007

Congress of the People (COP) political leader Winston Dookeran has paid tribute to the indigenous people of Trinidad and Tobago, mainly the Caribs, and urged the country not to forget the contribution they made to its development.

Dookeran made the call on Wednesday night during his address at the seminar — A Rich Heritage a Common Future in celebration of our First People — at Legacy Hall, Sanchez Street, Arima.

He said the COP is committed to the construction of a “national character” and in so doing cannot forget the sacrifice of the country’s indigenous foreparents.

Dookeran said he is aware of the many challenges faced by the descendants of indigenous people and expressed the firm conviction that the fragile community is already threatened by the trends of Western society and must be preserved.

He said most people will agree that not enough had been done to support the Carib community of Arima in a country that possesses so much wealth.

“It is high time that we learn to respect the memory and contribution of those who came before us,” said Dookeran.

“It is important that we pay debt of gratitude to the Santa Rosa festival and tribute to the descendants in spite of the hurdles they had to overcome.”

He said a page must be taken from the symbiotic relations Caribs have with their environment and use it as a lesson in conservation.

He said there is hope for the people of TT to have a new opportunity for unity and spoke of the creation of a common destiny, referring to a vision of the country’s first prime minister and PNM founder Dr Eric Williams.

“The late Dr Eric Williams also saw the importance for national character, but if one recognises the political system, politicians are no longer seeking the interest of the people but are instead entrepreneurs,” he said.

“For the last 40 years attempts have been made to break the traditional politics so as to ensure that politics does not divide but unite. This never happened and instead of promoting national character they are sweeping it under the carpet.”

Making an election campaign pitch, Dookeran said the COP was the vehicle to fashion unity and national character.

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