Port-of-Spain Mayor Joel Martinez says although he has taken himself out of the decision-making process surrounding the calls to remove the controversial Christopher Columbus statue in the city, his council intends to begin a rehabilitation process of the Christopher Columbus Square.
Speaking at the Port-of-Spain City Corporation’s monthly statutory meeting, Martinez said the plan includes removing the fencing from the square, installing lights, benches and creating an ambience for the residents of East Port-of-Spain to enjoy.
Earlier this year, there was a global push to have statues and monuments glorifying colonizers such as Columbus removed from public places. T&T had its own movement, led by the Warao people and the Cross Rhodes Freeport Project.
It was not the first time the group had called for the removal of Columbus’ monument but on that occasion, an online petition in support of the removal gathered well over 10,000 signatures.
Martinez, when pressed to say whether the city would take action to remove the monument, announced at the June statutory meeting that the monument did not fall under his jurisdiction.
He said then the matter was a national one and he was withdrawing from it and awaiting a decision from the Government.
Yesterday, in an interview with Guardian Media, Martinez said the project should not cost the corporation much, as he said they have adopted a policy of doing more with less.
Martinez said while Port-of-Spain has several recreational spaces, most of those do not fall within the East Port-of-Spain district, where most of the city’s population lives.
He said the only two spaces in East Port-of-Spain are Columbus Square-where the monument to the man who started one of the world’s worst genocide still stands – and Tamarind Square.
However, Martinez said both of those squares are fenced and locked at night, preventing the city’s residents from enjoying their beauty.
“I am talking about the possible removal of the fencing around the squares and also to rehabilitate because if you look at these squares, the trees need pruning, it needs some ambience, we need to light up the squares because that part of Port-of-Spain is darker in the night and those are assets of the corporation, we are going to look at the open spaces that we have and allow it to have the best use,” he said.
He said there are plans to install bronze statues at Tamarind Square in commemoration of Carnival. “We want to be able to display our culture because this is where Carnival was born if you look through Port-of-Spain, you will see nothing that represents Carnival, we need to celebrate the greatest show on earth,” he said. (SR)