Over 500 years ago a Dominican friar uttered the first words against racism. Back then it wasn’t even a word. The word wasn’t even placed in the Oxford Dictionary until the 1900’s.
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Shut your mouth
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday reacted angrily to the negative criticism which his suggestion T&T should open its doors to Dominicans ravaged by Hurricane Maria has brought on social media.
Rowley had last week suggested that citizens who could accommodate Dominican family or friends left homeless after Maria, should open their doors to their Caribbean brethren for a six-month period.
However, the proposal caused an fire storm on social media, with many making xenophobic and racially tainted comments.
Some of the conversation included that Dominicans would commit crime while here and milk the state dry of limited resources while T&T citizens were suffering and needed similar state help.
But this sentiment was countered by a vast majority who said T&T should see no problem with helping its Caricom neighbour.
Several Government ministers also defended the plan, noting that Dominica was in dire need of humanitarian aid due to the devastation caused by Maria.
As he attended a sod turning ceremony for the Churchill Roosevelt Highway Extension to Manzanilla (CRHEM) in Cumuto yesterday, Rowley addressed the issue publicly for the first time.
Recalling that similar anti-Caricom sentiment had caused a fallout between the T&T and Jamaica business sector last year, resulting in him having to travel to Kingston for talks to prevent a possible Jamaica boycott of T&T goods, Rowley said: “Those now who have a lot to say about what I said about Dominica had misconducted themselves and so annoyed our Caricom purchasers of our goods that we were in danger of losing our Caricom market and all I will say to them is just shut your mouth and let Trinidad and Tobago strive.”
He said he was very clear during his statement that only citizens who were willing to accommodate Dominicans should do so, adding he was happy to see that there were many Trinidadians who understood the severity of Dominica’s plight and were willing to lend a hand.
“It is just the nastiness that you know, that exudes from some people that caused what I said to become this embarrassing conversation to our country,” Rowley added.
Meanwhile, Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan said he plans to donate his September salary to the people of Dominica.
He also called on all employees from his ministry to donate a small contribution of $10 to assist the relief cause.
Sinanan also announced yesterday that Cabinet had agreed to increase the speed limit from the existing 80 kilometres per hour to 100 kilometres per hour on the nation’s highways.
However, he said the matter will now be taken to Parliament for debate and approval.
Sinanan said he believes the increase could come into effect in the next two weeks once everything goes according to plan.
But he said the new limit will come alongside other traffic laws, including a point system which will ban delinquent motorists after a certain number of traffic violations and the use of cameras on traffic lights to record red light infractions.