Israel Khan, SC

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A committee should be set up to discuss the removal of monuments which honour contentious historical figures in our country.

This was the call of Senior Counsel Israel Khan, as he confirmed that Port-of-Spain Mayor Joel Martinez was right in stating that the decision to move the Columbus statue at Columbus Square in Port-of-Spain, would have to come from the government.

“It has to be the Cabinet. The Central Government has to take a decision because the constitution says that there shall be a Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago who will be in charge of the affairs of Trinidad And Tobago,” said the attorney in a phone interview yesterday.

“The statue is not like a street where the corporation is in charge of naming streets and renaming streets. It is more a national issue now. You will find no precedent, it’s just you know the government is in charge.”

Khan said, however, a committee should be set up to discuss the removal of monuments dedicated to contentious historical figures.

He said there are other historical figures who also have dubious deeds attributed to them like Mahatma Gandhi’s racist stance in South Africa and Winston Churchill’s racist views.

He said, “Not everything people did wrong they should change everything carte blanche. So they should set up a committee of very competent people and then after they should bring it to the government and then the government, what the government should have a referendum. The people of Trinidad and Tobago should change it.”

However, the senior counsel, who believes the statue should be removed, believes the country’s name should also be changed to Iere given the name Trinidad’s connection to Columbus.

Yesterday, the Cross Rhodes Freedom Project and the Queen of the Warao Nation Donna Bermudez Bovell confirmed they had re-sent the petition, which they had previously delivered to the mayor.

In a release, they said, “In our desire to bring a quick resolution to this issue the CRFP has already written to the Honourable Prime

Minister Dr Keith Rowley and dispatched a petition to both the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament, signed by a cross-section of prominent local individuals including a descendant of Hypolite Borde the man who erected the statue in 1881 at his own expense.”

They also explained that Borde’s descendant, Liz Noguera, also agrees with the removal as “it [the statue] represented the injustice of the Old World and its removal would be symbolic of a commitment to a New World where we could all live as one.”

They also said they are happy that Mayor Martinez has finally acknowledged, “the emerging view that the statue should be taken down and moved to a museum.”

They added, “The Mayor’s confirmation squares with the growing regional and international consensus and is in keeping with the expressed views of the Caribbean’s leading luminaries and eminent historians past and present.”