15 July 2013

First People wants Govt to relocate Parliament.

First People wants Govt to relocate Parliament.
By COREY CONNELLY | Trinidad & Tobago's Newsday Sunday, July 14 2013

Carib Queen Jennifer Cassar, second from left, and President of the Santa Rosa First Peoples' Indigenous Community, Ricardo Bharath-Hernandez, second from right, along with other members of the First People descendants, leave the Red House in Port-of-Spain, after performing a Purablaka ceremony to 'appease' the spirits of their ancestors, yesterday.

Members of the Santa Rosa First Peoples’ Indigenous Community have asked the Government to consider relocating the seat of Parliament in Port-of-Spain as a mark of reverence to the remains of their ancestral spirits, says Carib Chief Ricardo Bharath-Hernandez.

However, he said if this is not possible, some attempt should be made during the current re- construction exercise to preserve the remains of the First People’s ancestors, at the site of the Red House, for descendants as well as members of the international community.

Bharath-Hernandez expressed hope that the Red House could further be developed as a heritage site “for the remains that are found there.

“The bones must be dealt with in a special way,” he said.

Bharath-Hernandez was among a group of First Peoples’ descendants who performed what he called a “Purablaka” spiritual ceremony at the Red House, yesterday, “in the name of the departed.”

He said the one-hour long ceremony marked the first phase of a two-part ritual, which is expected to be performed “more extensively” by a Shaman of High Priest of the community in October.

Bharath-Hernandez said the person is likely to be sourced from the mainlands of Venezuela or Suriname.

Acknowledging that the Government has been more sensitive to matters involving the indigenous peoples, the Carib Chief said, however, that the process of drawing greater national attention to their plight was “going slowly.”

“It is not going at a pace we would like and deserve some more meaningful attention,” he said.

Bharath-Hernandez said the Government has already given the First Peoples’ a 25-acre plot of land, along the Blanchisseuse Road, Arima, for the development of an indigenous Amerindian village.

Saying that the land was being surveyed, Bharath-Hernandez said issues relating to comprehensive development plan and cost of the project, still needed to be addressed.

“We do not want handouts from the Government,” he said.

“What we want is an industry so that the people can benefit from it. Not a little bit here and there.”

When completed, Bharath-Hernandez said, the village will contain a cassava and craft factories. Tours are also expected to be conducted at the site.

“All activities will be geared towards sustainable development,” he added.

Asked about the response of the community’s descendants to the First People’s, Bharath- Hernandez said: “It is not as solid as we would like it to be, but once they have something they could identify (Amerindian village) we expect that we would get returns. People feel more empowered when they can identify with something.”

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