Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism, Dr. Lincoln Douglas would not have envisioned that he would have been booed while delivering his speech at Emancipation celebration Port of Spain on Thursday. However he did, at it was at the hands, “or in this case mouth” of a visually impaired man.
According to reports, the visually impaired Austin Wilson yesterday protested over government’s bye-election promise to distribute lands to ex-Caroni sugar workers.
Wilson who is a former employee of British West Indian Airlines (BWIA) said that he did not receive tangible property when BWIA was closed down, and is questioning why retrenched workers were being offered lands.
In 2003, Caroni 1975 Limited was closed down and some 9,000 workers were offered voluntary separation (V-Sep).
Former Prime Minister, Patrick Manning had announced that it must be restructured because it could not compete against other sugar producers.
Government had also received a disbursement of approximately TT$80.4m (€9.8m) in the form of grant funding through the European Development Assistance Programme.
The funding, provided through Sector Budget Support, was deposited into the Consolidated Fund under the Central Bank and is part of the Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol Countries with its use defined by the Cabinet-approved and European Union-accepted National Adaptation Strategy for the Sugar Industry.
Wilson, who spoke with members of the media while the opening ceremony was ongoing, said that the African slaves had come and cleared the land and then planted it before the indentured labourers were brought in and were paid to plant the land, when the freed slaves refused to work the lands.
He said that the descendants of the African man were just sitting and saying nothing and it was time that they opened their eyes.
While speaking with members of the media Wilson was approached by Director of Culture, Emancipation Support Committee, Eintou Pearl Springer who told him he was making a scene and embarrassing the committee’s international guests.
Wilson responded, in an even louder tone than he spoke before that it was time for the black man to open his eyes and for the outsiders to have the correct impression of the country and that things were not “hunky-dory”.
While Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Dr Lincoln Douglas was addressing the crowd Wilson loudly booed him.
Throughout Minister Douglas’ his speech Wilson booed him.
When Minister Douglas spoke with members of the media later on, he noted he was in agreement with the equal sharing of the State lands. Saying that he thinks there should be equal distribution to everyone who deserved to receive land.