THE EDITOR: It seems incomprehensible that all of the New World of the Americas and the Caribbean was absent from human memory a mere 620 years ago.
Although there were human beings living in both the Old and the New Worlds, they were completely unaware of each other’s existence, until the voyages of Columbus led to the discovery of the New World.
Many would agree that Columbus exercised courage and determination in challenging the prevailing views and pursuing his own beliefs that there was another way to India, and that one can go east by sailing west.
Removing statues of Columbus would not negate the aforementioned facts. I agree that Columbus paved the way for exploitation and enslavement of the native people, and I believe that domination, enslavement and oppression are wrong.
We must note, however, that slavery continues to exist today. The Washington Post (Oct 17, 2013) estimates that there are now 30 million slaves worldwide, of which 1.1 per cent live in India, 1.2 per cent live in Pakistan, .02 per cent in the US, four per cent in Mauritania, among other countries. Indeed, there are reports of slavery in almost all countries of the world.
I believe that more effort should be placed in emancipating enslaved people everywhere (even in TT) that in pulling down statues of Columbus.
Furthermore, if we would like to remove all edifices connected with slavery in TT, we may have to consider the Catholic Church, which under the pretence of civilizing and saving the natives from hell, established communes based on slave labour in the New World.
According to Isaac Dookhan, “The church was an essential arm of government. By its teachings it sought to make the native people accept Spanish domination.” (p. 15, A Pre-Emancipation History of the West Indies). But even today, there are churches which propagate fear and superstition in order to achieve domination over the human will.
If we wish to remove edifices that celebrate slave traders, we should either rename or remove UWI’s Daaga Hall which is named after the leader of a slave rebellion in St Joseph, but whom, we are told, was a chieftain slave trader in Guinea, who was captured as he went aboard a Portuguese slave ship. (See Gertrude Carmichael’s History of the West Indian Islands of Trinidad and Tobago)
It is my belief that the most enslaved in TT are those who are blind supporters of political ideologies, and religious doctrines, who deny evidence, and place their trust in scheming leaders. I advise the Columbus haters to devote some energy toward emancipation of these people.
DAVID SUBRAN via email