Supporters at the Congress of the People rally at Trincity
Event Date: March 18, 2007
The Congress of the People (COP) held its Trincity rally at Trincity Mall car park on March 18, 2007. Although the gathering trickled in around the midday hour, the car park was soon filled with many hundreds not too long after.
The day was a very hot one and vendors surrounded the venue to fulfill the needs of all present. These vendors came from all over Trinidad and prepared meals ranging from corn soup to polouri and many soft drinks to quench the appetites of the crowd. Many wore white jerseys, which was appropriate for the heat, with the COP logos over their left breasts and others accessorized with COP and Trinidad and Tobago flags or other banners.
Before the feature speakers addressed the gathering, they were first entertained by Calypsonians 'Red Star', Clyde Pierre with "Wake Up, Shake Up", Shadrach and Meshach with their anti-smelter song and Phillip 'Black Sage' Murray.
After the entertainment, the formal segment of the programme began with members of the religious fraternity - Pundit Maharaj, Clifford Rawlings, Imtiaz Ali and Sister Grace - offering prayers and best wishes to the Congress of the People political party and its supporters.
This day, the female membership of the COP party was emphasized with them being introduced, saying a few words about themselves and the party and then sitting onstage with their other female counterparts which was transformed into the Congress of the People Ladies Platform.
The first speaker to address the crowd was Ms. Valini Pundit, the youngest person on the platform, who spoke about the views of some young people and the difficulties that they face. She said that the PNM had shamed and failed the youths and the COP will give them hope for change.
Sharon Gopaul-McNicolls, who spoke sometime after, said that she believed Trinidad and Tobago was witnessing the creation of a new social order and new socio-political ideology and that this would bring about psychological independence. She said that she had no regrets about her stay in the PNM and uses it as an opportunity to have inside knowledge of the workings of the institution. By 2004, she said, she witnessed dangerous developments and inconsistencies in the PNM between what was written in the Vision 20/20 plan and what the party said it stood for.
Gopaul-McNicolls described the PNM as having an unhealthy and weak structure and that the COP had offered a new, workable structure. In her address, she also spoke about the current controversy facing Chief Justice Sharma and the involvement of the PM and AG in the scenario and other recent and not so recent scandals in the political landscape, including the 1990 coup.
Congress of the People Secretary, Communications, Ms. Paula Morgan, in her address expressed that she was new to the political experience but was stung into politics. She, just as the speaker before her, Mrs. Karen Cuffie-Dowlat, intimated that there is need for a change in government. Ms. Morgan also stated that women and children are some of the most vulnerable in the struggle and criticized the PNM for lack of support systems for them as well as other concerns.
The two most fiery speakers for the evening were Ms. Hulsie Bhaggan and MP for Pointe-a-Pierre, the Honorable Gillian Lucky. Bhaggan talked about many issues including her experiences in the UNC, one of which ended up in her arrest. Both she and Lucky criticized the UNC and the PNM saying that they had their chance but they blew them. The remedy, they suggested, was change in government and the chance for the COP to do right for the country.
Other speakers, some who made only brief appearances, were: Wendy Lee-Young; Mr. Roy Augustus; MP for St. Joseph, Mr. Gerald Yetming, MP for Chaguanas, Mr. Manohar Ramsaran; MP for Caroni East, Mr. Ganga Singh; Mrs. Karen Bart-Alexander; Mrs. Nicole Dyer-Griffith; Ms. Gabriela Reyes; Ms. Paula Morgan; Mr. Roy Augustus; Mr. Michael Samuels; Mr. Selby Wilson and others.
The main feature of the evening, Political Leader of the Congress of the People, Mr. Winston Dookeran entered the platform around minutes to five to a revved crowd. Mr. Dookeran began by talking about his invitation to have unity talks with the UNC. He stated that the only unity that he can move to is a unity that moves the people into action. The fact that the gathering came out in their thousands, he said, is testimony that they were moved to action inspired by the new energy witnessed on the platform and the new vision of the COP. With regards to the PNM, he declared that there is no alternative but to fire Prime Minister Patrick Manning if the rule of law is to be restored and society returned to a state of democracy.
Mr. Dookeran also said that the first requirement to solve the problem of crime in Trinidad and Tobago is to ensure that, "...crime and politics do not go to bed together."
He promised that if he were to gain political power, he would not spend money wildly but would instead build sporting complexes instead of spending on billion dollar stadiums; would ensure that our markets have good sanitation and good lighting; and would erect other necessary facilities in the country.
By the time Mr. Dookeran had completed his speech, most of the crowd had already departed. It would be left to be seen whether the COP's rally calls would sway the public on election day to give them majority votes.
Congress Of the People's Rally in pictures:
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