Spencer backs Kamla
Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer has come out in defence of his Trinidad and Tobago counterpart, Kamla Persad Bissessar, who has been facing severe criticism over remarks suggesting that Port of Spain must benefit from any humanitarian efforts to Caribbean islands devastated by Hurricane Tomas.
The comments, which Persad Bissessar said had been taken out of context, have generated heated discussion on the Internet, including several Internet campaigns calling for the boycott of goods from Trinidad and Tobago.
But Prime Minister Spencer said that the reported statements by Persad Bissessar is subject to interpretation and he is also certain that the matter is being blown out of proportion. “I think some persons have interpreted the statement by the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago in a particular way.
“I have read in the newspapers what was attributed to her and the comments following. I suppose individuals are entitled to their own opinion in terms of how they interpret the statement. It clearly is a concern but I don’t think it is insurmountable,” said Prime Minister Spencer.
The Antigua and Barbuda leader said that he is confident that Trinidad and Tobago will continue to work with its regional counterparts as has been done in the past.
“ It is clearly not a situation where support will not be given by Trinidad and Tobago to these countries that were affected by hurricane Tomas and are in distress at the moment. I would want to believe that it is a given that whether her statement could have been interpreted in different ways – that’s a normal thing. “For me, we need to just get on with what we have to do. Trinidad and Tobago I am sure will show solidarity with the countries that are affected and will continue to play a critical role in the regional integration process,” he added.
On Monday, Trinidad and Tobago Trade Minister Stephen Cadiz blamed “persons with other agendas” in Jamaica for leading the effort to boycott products from Trinidad and Tobago following Persad Bissessar’s comments.
Speaking on a radio programme here, Cadiz said that the call for the boycott originated in Jamaica possibly by persons with other agendas.
“Now Jamaica was not even affected by the storm which will tell me that’s a situation that is ongoing, this is not only about that statement (by the Prime Minister), it is not only about the issue of aid and storm and what have you, the statements coming out of Jamaica…these are issues that have been there for some time and I think certain persons for whatever reasons would have taken advantage of the statements that were made by our Prime Minister and to use it for their own benefit.
“So to say that they are going to boycott Trinidad goods, I really think that is a wrong reaction to the statement that was made. I don’t support it ofcourse,” he added.
In her statement, the Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister said “we will have to look at ways in which we would be able to assist.
“But you would recall my comments earlier this year, when I said there must be some way in which Trinidad and Tobago would also benefit. So if we are giving assistance with housing, for example, and that is one of the areas that we (the Prime Minister of St Vincent and myself) spoke about, then we may be able to use Trinidad and Tobago builders and companies, so that whatever money is given, rebounds back in some measure to the people of Trinidad and Tobago.” (CMC)