Protests alone do not bring about lasting change, says Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds.
He, however, noted there has indeed been peace in the communities since the protests.
“Change comes from thinking and planning and changes in behaviours and attitudes and approaches by all stakeholders—Government, NGOs, places of worship, families, communities, individuals, etc. So protests don’t change anything, it is work and action and shifts in attitudes and cultures,” he said in an interview with the Sunday Express yesterday.
Hinds disputed community activist Kareem Marcelle’s claims that the Community Recovery Committee had not done anything tangible in eight months.
“The committee has been doing what it has been mandated to do. It has been in the communities gathering information, analysing situations, getting feedback from the community and it is about to make recommendations to the Government for the Government to consider,” he said.
Further, Hinds said Marcelle is well aware of things being done in the communities, as he is involved in some of the projects, including the Morvant swimming pool.
“Mr Marcelle is very, very involved, so he knows about that,” he said.
Additionally, Hinds said a project is ongoing where three housing blocks are being built in Beetham Gardens to accommodate victims who lost their homes in a fire last year.
Hinds said the Government continues to invest in Laventille and East Port of Spain communities even as it battles to keep the country running throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said people in these communities have benefited from millions of dollars in Covid-19 relief and support, as well as through the donation of laptops and devices for children to access online classes.
Hinds, however, noted the issues that face these communities have existed for close to 200 years and could not be fixed overnight.
“Some of the problems we encounter stem from our history. Some of the problems come from influences outside of Trinidad, influences through music, through the TV screens, through cultures from way outside of Trinidad and Tobago. Some of the issues we confront today are economic issues which all of T&T is in the throes of, in the midst of this pandemic,” Hinds said.
He acknowledged there has been some form of peace treaty in the areas, and he commended those who were willing to turn away from a criminal lifestyle.
“Just around the time of those protests, they took the decision that they would stop foolishly and blindly killing one another. So as a result we have seen a significant reduction in that level of criminal activity in our communities in East Port of Spain and Morvant and greater Laventille.
“I want to compliment them for that because that showed a certain level of consciousness because it was a stance against the self-hate and the self-mutilation that amazed us all,” he said.
The Sunday Express made efforts to contact head of the committee Dr Anthony Watkins via phone, text message and e-mail, but no response was forthcoming.
Committee member Hans Des Vignes told the Sunday Express the committee has been working, and said its work is documented on the committee’s social media pages.
The committee’s Facebook page has highlighted successful and inspirational persons from the Laventille, East Port of Spain and Morvant communities, as well as historical facts about the areas.
It also shared photos of meetings held with residents and gave updates on meetings held with organisations, including the Inter-American Development Bank, which it said were held to “discuss, agree on and plan projects to enhance and develop communities in East Port of Spain”.