Minister of National Diversity Rodger Samuel has “emphatically condemned” the racist placards, saying that he was totally against the expression of any “semblance of intolerance” in this “melting pot” called Trinidad and Tobago.
His colleague, Labour Minister Errol McLeod however said the placards represented the “lunatic fringe” and they (the placards) should not occupy too much national attention.
Speaking at yesterday’s post-Cabinet news conference at the Office of the Prime Minister, Samuel said: “We must now send a clear message that we would not tolerate as a nation any ethnic bias or any kind of intolerance in Trinidad and Tobago. So wherever it (the placards) came from those persons must take ownership of it and renounce it, regardless of where they are, the People’s National Movement, whoever was on the march”.
He said race relations were “tremendously wonderful” and very few persons would disagree with the position that “we really don’t have a race problem”.
“As a matter of fact, I remember one preacher saying there are two races on the face of the earth, there is the race towards heaven and the race towards hell,” he said.
Samuel said the language of the racist placards did not reflect what the people of this country believed. He said the population lived by the words of the National Anthem—that every creed and race find a equal place. “We rub shoulders” with each other- in the schools, the workplaces, the university...so the placards go against all that we are,” he said.
McLeod said to spend a lot time talking about the placards would be to respond to the “lunatic fringe”.
Told that the placards appeared to be orchestrated by someone who wanted to scuttle the Joint Trade Union/PNM march and that fingers were pointing in the direction of the Government, McLeod said, “I don’t know who it might be.
“Neither am I suggesting that it is only the vagrant (who claimed that he was paid $50 to hold one of the placards) who belongs to the lunatic fringe. Whoever paid the money (to the vagrant) is in that category”.