First published in The Guardian
By Michelle Loubon
01 May 2011
|Senator Pennelope Beckles|
presented the eulogy at the
late Santa Rosa Carib queen
Valentina Medina’s funeral.
President of the Carib Community Ricardo Bharath regrets that the late Carib queen Valentina Medina was not in a position to attend the handing-over ceremony of the land promised to the Carib community at Blanchisseuse Old Road, Arima. He also lamented that the community has not made more strides in the country because of a community leadership crisis since they were viewed as a minority group. Medina served the Santa Rosa Carib community in her capacity as queen for 11 years until her death from cancer recently. Bharath made the comment during a celebration of thanksgiving for her life at Santa Rosa RC Church, Arima, on Friday last. Among those in attendance at the church service were acting Prime Minister Winston Dookeran, Arima MP Rodger Samuel, Arima Mayor Ghassan Youseph and Senator Pennelope Beckles who offered the eulogy. Msgr Christian Pereira was chief celebrant.
Bharath said: “There is some disappointment she was never able to see the actual handover of the land. We are not asking for a gift.” Interviewed on Wednesday, Bharath said: “If only she could have seen the model village, that would have contributed to the sustenance of the community. “I am saddened by her passing and disappointed she never had that opportunity.” Bharath indicated the site would offer craft, a museum with indigenous forms of agriculture and offer information on cassava (manioc) processing. “It would be a living village. Many students would be able to get a hands-on experience,” he said. Bharath added: “I feel the government needs to step up but somehow things are moving too slow. Something should be done for the last remnant of the first peoples.” Quizzed on the elevation of a new queen, Bharath said: “After the burial (last Friday) a meeting would be called and her successor named.”
Bharath said before the community came under the jurisdiction of the Catholic Church, they were represented by a chief. “But being placed in a Catholic Mission, they came under the control of the priest.” He lamented culture and traditions have begun to die. Meanwhile, women are emerging with leadership qualities. “Santa Rosa Festival was named for the first Carib queen.” Medina was the fifth Carib queen, from 1785, in what was known as the Santa Rosa Mission. Making reference to the community being viewed as a minority, Bharath added: “We are seen as incapable of making decisions. The change is gradual.” He called for mutual respect so they could move forward.