Let me start off by being completely honest with you – I’m fascinated by the weirdest things and as much as this is a political newspaper, I have to admit that while MP Indarsingh’s intimate knowledge of Caroni (1975) — our former national sugar company — is more than impressive, I was intrigued to find out what would cause a young man to join a political party at the tender age of 14 and stay faithfully and passionately committed for the next 39 years.
Many of us who are new to the political gayelle have seen Victor Roberts carrying his coffin around as he protests against our dying democracy, but few of us know that it was Rudranath Indarsingh who first used the coffin to get his point across.
In 2002, when Ralph Marah, Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj and Trevor Sudama – Team Unity – held a meeting in Balmain Couva to speak against Basdeo Panday, it was MP Indarsingh who dragged a coffin into their meeting and declared that this attempt at a new political party was dead. After all, how could you claim to be representing the interest of workers but hold a meeting that didn’t include the All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers’ Trade Union, of which MP Indarsingh was the President?
Yes people, the attempt by others to use the vulnerable sugar workers for political gain is also not a new trick in the playbook of the disgruntled and rejected.
In 2002 National Team Unity did exactly what others are trying to do in 2022. Of course, this team will meet the same fate – utter failure. To pretend that you genuinely care for ex-Caroni workers is actually quite shameful and distasteful to be honest.
Facts about Caroni Workers and Land Distribution
Before I tell you what has caused MP Indarsingh to stay UNC and Proud for 39 years, let’s spend a quick minute checking the facts of Caroni (1975)…
- It was a PNM Government in 2003 that shut down Caroni (1975) and at the time had not even considered proper compensation for the workers.
- After much pressure by the union, in 2003, then Minister of Agriculture, John Rahael promised land, but by 2008 as with everything else the Promise Never Materialised.
- The union, led by Indarsingh took the Government to court and Justice Deyalsingh ruled in favor of the workers, demanding the Government prepare the land for distribution.
- The PNM, who never intended to give the land to workers, appealed the ruling, taking it all the way to the Privy Council, leaving the workers landless.
As at May 2010, not a single piece of Caroni Land was distributed. With the PNM, Promises Never Materialise.
When Kamla Persad-Bissessar became Prime Minister, she immediately instructed then Attorney General, Anand Ramlogan to drop the Privy Council Appeal, thereby making way for Caroni workers to finally get the lands promised to them.
In only one term Kamla Persad-Bissessar was able to distribute a total of 8,000 lots.
8 years PNM sat on their promise and within 5 years the UNC was able to deliver. Given these facts, it would be reasonable to assume that every single ex-Caroni worker would have received their land settlement had Kamla Persad-Bissessar been voted back into office.
Since Keith Rowley has come to office, all distribution of Caroni lands to the former workers have ceased.
Another point that I must raise is the fact that not only did PNM make a promise and broke it, they charged Caroni workers ….. to prepare the lands.
I personally think this felt like a scam. Imagine someone charging you to develop lands that they promised you and then they didn’t even give you the lands but kept the money they charged you to develop it.
If con artist had a face???
Thank God for Kamla Persad-Bissessar, she not only removed that draconian charge but refunded those who paid it in the first place.
After reading these facts I’m sure it’s becoming clearer and clearer why MP Indarsingh has chosen to stick with the UNC when many others have chosen to break away, all having failed by the way.
According to MP Indarsingh, the UNC was a natural choice for him at age 14 and it’s the natural choice for him now.
Our philosophy has always been people-focused and the actions of our leaders have always been with a direct aim to improve the quality of life for all citizens. The PNM has shown itself over the years to be anti-worker, anti-union and anti-empowerment.
And this folks is why we join with MP Indarsingh in being UNC AND PROUD!!!
– Marsha Walker