Monday, October 13, 2014

Impacting the suicide pact

‘Govt, activist in suicide pact’

See Link: Sinday Guardian News:

..Dr Rampersad calls on PM, Pres in her mission to protect T&T’s national heritage
Sunday, October 12, 2014
Dr Kris Rampersad
An online petition has been started by heritage educator, author and researcher Dr Kris Rampersad as well as open letters to President Anthony Carmona and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar calling for the safeguarding of T&T’s natural heritage, the “other Magnificent Seven of the South.”
“It is something of a suicide pact if a state opens the doorway for destruction of its natural heritage without proper safeguarding as it is for an activist to embark on a fast to the death,” said the outspoken Rampersad, who refused at this time to specifically name the other Magnificent Seven given the sensitive and exclusive nature of her research.
Evidence of what may be clues to the ‘missing links’ in the story of human history and evolution may lie in south Trinidad are in danger of disappearing by negative development actions, she said. Rampersad has been piecing together the comparative pre-and post-colonial heritage of T&T in the context of the Caribbean, South America and its global connections. 
She is also the T&T representative on the Unesco Executive Board in Paris and chair of the National Commission for Unesco. An independent multimedia journalist, Rampersad is also a Unesco/Commonwealth/Caribbean trained heritage educator, and member of the scientific committee of the International Culture University and the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism. 
Rampersad has written an impassioned letter in her blog Demokrissy ( to Carmona and Persad-Bissessar to safeguard these valuable heritage elements in their home districts of south Trinidad, which she calls “The Other Magnificent Seven”—of south Trinidad/South America/GlobalSouth and the globe. 
She said these efforts must be part of and contribute to a holistic approach to reviewing and revising misrepresentations of the islands in national symbols as the Coat of Arms and the National Anthem. The open letter calls on the President and Prime Minister ‘to lead’ in safeguarding the endangered and neglected heritage including these valuable assets which she claims have outstanding universal value. 
The blog which is receiving the thumbs up across her extensive social media network, has inspired a petition to Carmona and Persad-Bissessar ( calling on them to act now, before all is lost. 
Banwari site and other Magnificent Seven of the South
Rampersad, who is the author of the first book on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Through the Political Glass Ceiling, that maps the PM’s journey from rural Trinidad to Prime Ministership from speeches, said the letter was inspired by her own impulse to act because it was the responsibility of citizens to motivate and encourage public officials to act in the best interests of the country.
She said, “While a responsible citizenry has a duty to hold officials to account, we also must take responsibility for our actions that impact how authorities may react or act. 
“There has been an increasingly hyped national environment that makes it almost impossible to recognise what is empty noise and what may be constructive criticism. “It is on us to find the tone to make the authorities listen. I hope my blog achieved that.” 
Speaking to the Sunday Guardian on her way to the biannual Unesco Board meeting in Paris, Rampersad said unplanned and unchecked development actions can cost us valuable evidence contained not just around the Banwari site—the 7,000-year-old humanoid skeleton discovered in 1968—but of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ elements that span across the entire peninsula for southeast to southwest Trinidad. 
Much focus on PoS and city heritage
She said there had been much focus on Port-of-Spain and the city heritage that included the seven European-styled buildings in disrepair, but the fundamental and valuable heritage of global scale importance have been overlooked as part of general neglect in development planning for the South. 
“Maybe that has been a good thing and it has allowed these assets to remain undisturbed, but development focus in this district now means we have awakened a sleeping giant, and we must pause, take actions to secure and safeguard, document and explore what really we are sitting on before we allow what may be another course of development.” 
She said focus on heritage had contributed to enhancing national revenue, employment and substantially diversifying economies of many countries which is why so many hanker after being admitted to the Unesco World Heritage lists or any of the recognition Unesco offers on the global value of tangible and intangible heritage. 
“But there are steps to be taken which we have not been entertaining,” she said, claiming her research included interviews and examination of oral and literary culture, maps, comparative charts and other evidence from across more than 50 countries. Rampersad said, “The traditional confrontational stance between development and conservation has resulted in a kind of public fear and deafness. 
“One such I have encountered, apart from a general apathy and indifference to act, is the erroneous belief that the operations of the oil sector or Lake Asphalt may be negatively affected. “This is very far from the truth as the model I am developing has a central place for the oil sector and other industrial heritage.”
Win-win model
She said that there was an absolute win-win model that had been workshopped at various regional Unesco and other forums and to senior officials of the World Heritage Centre, all of whom had urged and were eager to see us step forward. Rampersad said that will be quite a breakthrough for many other societies also trying to strike the balance between meeting the needs of growing populations while conserving for the future. 
“I have many examples of our working successfully with governments, industry and communities to find the perfect fit between what has traditionally been seen as competing actions. “As a small island, T&T with its wealth of human, natural and industrial financial, intellectual and other resources is ideally positioned to impact on and make a difference on the world’s drive for sustainable development.” 
Rampersad said that she feared that “the trigger effect of one kind of development to others can now destroy valuable evidence that has not been thoroughly investigated and so unless we move to safeguard them and establish parameters where this can co-exist with development, we stand to lose a legacy that is of value to not just us in the islands, in the region, but also in defining and establishing our pre-and post-colonial connections to the world. 
“We have the resources, financial and human and intellectual to position T&T as a model small island nation that effectively strikes the balance between development and conservation—that was the goal of the recently held United Nations Summit which Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar attended. “So I am asking the President and the Prime Minister to lead us and take the necessary steps to do this.”—reporting by Charles Kong-Soo
• Rampersad’s blog can be accessed at;and the Petition on at Media, Cultural and Literary Consultant, Educator, Producer, Author LiTTscapes