The Minister of National Security Stuart Young has strongly condemned allegations that racism towards Indo-Trinidadians was government’s rationale for denying 33 T&T nationals entry into the country after the border closure and leaving them “stranded” in Barbados. The allegation was made by the group’s spokesperson Phillip Ramdial, 74, and published in a daily newspaper.
“This government does not operate on the basis of making any decisions, and in particular decisions relating to a global crisis and a medical crisis called COVID-1 —a pandemic- on the basis of race at all,” Young stated at a Ministry of Health virtual press conference yesterday.
“This is condemned in the strongest possible language and is completely repudiated. It is unfortunate that once again certain people are seeking to promote this race card in this time. I reject it completely out of hand and I can say without any fear of contradiction that race has absolutely nothing to do with this.”
In the article published yesterday, Ramdial is quoted as saying: “I think it’s because of the ethnic divide. We have started thinking that it must be the ethnic divide. They have all the information- names, passport numbers, address, everything they need to get, but it is because of the ethnic divide. I didn’t want to think that but, sorry, I have to say that.
“These people are vindictive and wicked, very nasty, and to say they don’t know, they damn well know.”
Comparing their situation to the cruise passengers who returned with over half subsequently testing positive for COVId-19, Ramdial said they were virus-free and alleged that those passengers were given preferential treatment by the government as it was organised by PNM senator Augustus Thomas who is also the president of the Works Credit Union.
However, Young explained that the return of nationals from the cruise who were stranded in Guadeloupe was a private arrangement which the Government facilitated before the borders were closed.
Young also went on to explain that the Government was not actively preventing nationals from returning home. He cited instances occurring in Suriname where nationals wanted to return to T&T saying that he was in contact with attorneys representing them to facilitate the return.
“Once they apply for the exemptions, they would be treated in an equal manner,” Young said.