East Port of Spain residents have joined the debate over whether the statue of Christopher Columbus should be removed from downtown Port of Spain, as some residents want it replaced with a statue of TT’s first prime minister, the late Dr Eric Williams.
Newsday visited the Independence Square apartment building, just across the street from the statue on Thursday, and spoke with resident Dennis Mendoza who said he was tired of having to look at the statue everyday and wanted it replaced with a local hero.
“This thing (statue) was here since before I born, and every day I have to wake up and look at it.
“It’s long overdue for us to get rid of it. It’s not benefiting us and I am fed up of talking to the councillors and the aldermen about it whenever I see them. It’s time we start honouring the people that actually did something for our country – someone like Dr Eric Williams, he would be a better person to honour with a statue.”
Another woman, who asked not to be named, said she too would prefer to see a statue of Williams instead.
“He (Williams) was the one who helped the people of Laventille and east Port of Spain the most, not Columbus. I’m just happy the trees have grown high enough in the square so that I don’t have to look at it.”
Williams himself was on record saying he did not want any statues or monuments in his honour.
Newsday also spoke with businessman and Laventille resident, Stanley Thomas, who also called for the statue’s removal, but wanted it replaced with one of east Port of Spain’s heroes.
“I have no problems replacing him (Columbus) with Dr Williams, but I think it would be better to have a son or daughter of east Port of Spain instead.
“Someone like Ella Andall or Winston “Spree” Simon should be up there. We have a lot of artistic and athletic heroes come through downtown Port of Spain and nobody knows about them, so the mayor’s office should do their research and find an appropriate person.”
For his part, 80-year-old resident Keith Pierre said while he was staunchly opposed to having the statue kept in downtown, he wanted the authorities to take better care of the square itself.
“We shouldn’t keep honouring these colonial people from our past and that goes for people like Lord Harris, Queen Victoria and all of them.
“More than that, I want to see the city corporation do more work with respect to this square… look at all the leaves and the garbage around here. They should have the gates open to allow a pan side to come and play on Friday afternoons.”
One Duncan Street resident, 39-year-old Shevon John, said he was not interested in the statue and was more concerned about the apparent lack of care for the homeless in downtown.
“That statue was here long before I was born, it doesn’t really concern me to be honest. I understand the arguments put forward by the advocacy groups, but I think the attention would be better placed elsewhere.
“There are a lot of homeless people in downtown. In fact, some of them even used to sleep in the same Columbus Square before they locked the gates. So I think they should look at that instead.”
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