Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is demanding that the Opposition United National Congress (UNC) remove an advertisement which, he said, likened black people to monkeys.
The Prime Minister was referring to a “Trinity’s Triangle” ad, in which an Afro-Trinidadian woman begs for food.
She approaches a man called “Chris”, who upbraids her before another man called “Kamal” gives her a bunch of bananas.
The Prime Minister said: “(To) Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her UNC friends, I know what the yellow bananas mean. Is monkey they does feed banana. All over the world, footballers walk off the field when they start to make monkey chants. But in the UNC advertisement, black people hungry in Trinidad and Tobago and yuh feed the ‘monkeys’ banana.
“You (Persad-Bissessar) could go to hell with that. We are better than that in Trinidad and Tobago.”
The PM also demanded the Opposition Leader apologise for “humiliating” black people, portraying them in a negative light in the UNC’s ads.
Speaking at a virtual meeting in Sangre Grande on Thursday evening, the Prime Minister said: “Have you all seen those ads from the UNC, using black people in the most disgusting and disgraceful way? She intended all along to use race, dog whistle and racial epithets as part of her political armoury.
“So today, she reach now to humiliating black people in this country by picking up destitute-looking black people and portraying them in the worst possible way in a political advertisement. Tonight, I want to tell Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the UNC, I am a proud black man and you have offended me.”
“And you have insulted all black people in this country by that caricature in your advertisements. If you want to lead this country, you must apologise for that caricature you put there in your advertisements,” he added.
That is how they see
Rowley continued: “It is not only black people in this country that can produce a hungry little child. It is not only black people in this country that are at the mercy of others,” he said, referring to another ad feature an unkempt Afro-Trinidadian child looking longingly at people in a UNC rally.
“If the PNM (People’s National Movement) has one legacy that we are going to defend to the death is that we have encouraged interracial solidarity in this country and we will not allow Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her minions to threaten it because we are better together and stronger in diversity. I demand that those ads be removed.”
The Prime Minister said people should not be surprised.
He said when the country had a crime problem and people were killed in Arima, the Persad-Bissessar-led administration called a State of Emergency and picked up black people and jailed them without evidence “because (to them) crime and criminality was black people behaviour”.
“That is how they see us, that is how they think about us and we reject it,” Rowley said.
He said when Avinash Singh was named as the PNM candidate in the Chaguanas West by-election in 2013, Persad-Bissessar remarked “the PNM had taken one of our own”.
He also recalled her repeated references to the “one per cent” and her labelling him an “Oreo”.