Saturday, February 17, 2018

Are we racist, xenophobic?

questions over T&T's response to Dominican invitation

A man attempts to salvage metal to repair his home on September 22, 2017 in Roseau, capital of the Caribbean island of Dominica, four days after the passage of Hurricane Maria. Maria previously tore through several Caribbean islands, claiming the highest toll on Dominica, which has a population of around 72,000 and has been largely cut off from the outside world. / AFP PHOTO / Lionel CHAMOISEAU

LEADER of the Movement for Social Justice David Abdulah said his party is “nauseated” by statements he called xenophobic and racist being made by those against people from another country coming to Trinidad.

He compared it to statements made by the President of the United States Donald Trump.

“We are extremely disgusted, nauseated even, by statements that are xenophobic and racist. We have to call it out. They are xenophobic and racist statements, that we don't want people from Dominica come here because we don't know who they are, they might be criminals and they might do all kind of things and so on. Those are statements that are xenophobic. They are no different from President Trump and the white supremacists in the US talking about immigrants coming from Mexico or from Latin American countries.”

He also compared such comments to Gemany's far-right party AfD which is being considered an anti-immigration party. It was last week that Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley called on citizens to open their homes to the people of Dominica who were displaced by Hurricane Maria.

Abdulah said, “We might not have the wealth that we had five years ago but that is not the point. The point is whatever we have, we have to extend a hand in friendship and solidarity to those who are being beaten up and in this case our sisters and brothers in the Caribbean have been beaten up not by bandits or thieves, like the story in the bible, but they have been beaten up and beaten down and devastated by category five hurricanes and the message is the same, we must extend our hand in friendship to them not only the easy way of emptying our closets of clothes that we no longer want ... that is the easy thing to do. The harder thing is in fact to have people come into our homes and to provide shelter to them because they have no shelter of their own in Dominica.”

He said the last country that should adopt narrow nationalism is Trinidad. “Trinidad is a country of immigrants. All of us could trace our roots back to 100, 200 years except for the indigenous first people ... Ninety-nine per cent of this country could only go back a few generations, so we should be the most generous of all people in the Caribbean and we say that whenever narrow nationalism xenophobia and racism develops in a society what you then get is bigotry and ultimately we get a type of political reaction that is allowed to go unchallenged and unchecked.” He said this can lead to politics that is reactionary and neofacist and “we have to say no to that from the very start.

Republic Day

Abdulah who read the preamble of the Constitution which he explained stated what we as a people are supposed to believe, said this is not being fulfilled. He said the Constitution and our Republic Day are being violated. “We do not have advancement on the basis of merit and integrity in this country therefore our Republic Day has been devalued because the Constitution of this country is not being upheld by those in political power, past and present, and those who control the economic system.”

Budget Day

Abdulah said he was invited by the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) to address at its post budget forum on October 3. He said he will present the MSJ' S “alternative budget, which is going to be the real opposition budget.”

He said the budget address that will be delivered by Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is “going to be merely party politicking at the level of parliament as to who could share more blows.”