By: Peter Green
The Chinese invasion in the city began first in Charlotte Street when Mayor Joel Martinez gave that part of the city to the Chinese and named it Chinatown. The Chinese invasion is now set to take over the entire block of the city from Frederick Street, including that part of Queen Street, Chacon Street and encompassing Independence Square.
They are paying hefty prices for the businesses on that block from as high as one hundred and sixty million for a mall to as low as twenty million for a bookstore. For the Chinese whose offices are located in the TATIL building, “money is no problem” and Port of Spain is for sale.
It is difficult to understand why as Trinbagonians, it is so easy for us to surrender our identity and ignore our past and virtually wipe away our history, ignoring the impact that such actions could have on future generations.
It is really heart-rending to think how easy it is to destroy the things that form part of our legacy and give it up on the false premise that such actions will result in the accruing of wealth to our nation.
Strong nations are built on a connection to their past and the many people who have visited Europe understand this as they walk across the many metropoles and see valorised in statues the many men who contributed to national development, sculptures of scenes of battle they wish that their posterity would never forget and large museums in which the now and future generations could recapture their glorious past. But not so in Trinidad and Tobago. And in a few months time-poor Cipriani, whose statue stands majestically at the bottom of Frederick Street, may find himself being replaced by a Chinese statue, figurine or sculpture.
Our past captures who we are and provides us with the type of courage forged from the actions of our forefathers.
It gives us reason to hope. It is because of our past that we believe that the West Indies will once again be world-beaters in the game of cricket.
It is because of our past that we believe that one day again the national men’s senior football team will grace the fields at another FIFA Men’s World Cup, playing the beautiful game because we have done it before and there is that belief that we can do it
Our reasons to hope are dying fast!
But our reasons to hope are dying fast! They are being destroyed and this nation, once the pride of the English speaking Caribbean, is being brought to its knees because our leaders lack the creativity to generate revenue streams. So like the proverbial cocaine piper, our leaders and businesses are selling away what is really and truly dear to us.
Gone are days when we thought of ourselves as being an independent nation. The days when Tobago used to be the food basket for our nation. The days when oil formed the bedrock of our economy.
The days when sugar was produced right here in Trinidad and Tobago. The days when we could have boasted that we had BWIA, the safest airline in the world. The days when a good pelau, crab and dumpling or dahl and rice were the national dishes. Today between Port of Spain and Sangre Grande there two hundred and two Chinese restaurants – all in a desperate bid to change local appetite.
Gone are the planes that reminded us of the achievements of Janelle “Penny” Commissiong who stunned the world with her beauty and wooed them with her brains; and the plane named after 1976’s fastest human on earth, Hasely Crawford, and still to date our only gold medallist in an Olympic 100m race.
Gone are the lawn tennis courts named after Eddie Taylor, one of the greatest mayors of Port of Spain.
These courts were uprooted from their original location near to what used to be a museum which citizens used to visit, and relocated further west without even a name to identify what they are today.
We are destroying our past in a way which has demonstrated a tame surrender of our identity and we are wondering why we cannot recapture the good old days when our country was known as a peace-loving country. And the answer is because the memory of that era is being wiped away by our politicians and by our businessmen and women.
The furore over the renaming of Charlotte Street to Chinatown is yet another example of shattering our identity to pamper to a minority Chinese population that currently lives in our country. And the same can be said of the selling of our Queen Street block to the Chinese for them to open casinos, other gambling houses and restaurants.
Over the past decade or so, historians have watched a consistent pattern of Chinese migration across the world in what seems to be the drive to colonize the western world through an economic model that is fast making it the only real superpower in the global village.
The great Chinese invasion
In almost every major city there is a Chinatown. The Chinese have appropriated unto themselves the kind of space that leaves nationals green with envy and angry over what could have been ours being given away to them. But this is all part of the greater Chinese national agenda.
The Americans warned us about this great Chinese invasion that is taking place and advised us about the way they are doing business in other countries. But our leaders and our businesses feel that they possess the intelligence to negotiate differently and rather than err on the side of caution they have opened up our economy in such a way that Trinidad and Tobago will very soon be another billboard for China.
We have to take cognizance of their presence in other countries and the influence they possess in redirecting economies in a way that subjugates the autochthonous peoples on the islands or continents.
We have never even considered their culture, their way of life but we fit the profile for Chinese occupation and control because we have resources that our leaders do not know how to turn into profit. And we lack money because corrupt administrations raped our treasury and now we have become victims to a people known for human rights abuse.
Narratives about their occupancy in Africa are not pleasant to read.
Stories about the threat they pose to democracies, their lack of respect for human rights and the rule of law are allegedly challenged by their presence on the African continent.
Their alliance with oppressive regimes, the provision of military and financial assistance are creating dislocations of populations and human rights abuses. And sad tales emanating from places like Sudan and Zimbabwe should have informed us before we hand over a major part of our City to the Chinese. We must study the possible impact this will have on our posterity and the nation our forefathers built.
A bad dream
Since the turn of this century, China has been searching for economies with stable overseas sources of hydrocarbon fuels to meet its local energy demand. And since it could not capture the Middle East market whose commitments are to Europe and the USA it sought Africa at a price the citizens find out that they are not prepared to pay.
And so, the Chinese overt policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of a country has influenced dictators to become more dictatorial and more oppressive to their people.
Watch how our landscape in our country has changed with the coming of the Chinese! The same PNM Government that wanted to shut d casinos has now become the Government under which almost every Chinese shop has some form of gambling.
Watch how this is rattling our family structures and fuelling crime!
When in Chaguanas West (my former constituency) it is easier to get Chinese food than a roti something has to be wrong. And when doubles can be purchased with meat in the channa then you know how sadly our culture is
Giving Charlotte Street to the Chinese changes the landscape for the poor who could have been assured that the food our vendors sold were not plastic. Does buying food in Chinatown gives us the same assurance? And the Queen Street block will be no different.
Too many considerations ought to have been made before the Mayor decided to wrest Charlotte Street from the hands of the natives and give it to a people whose culture and way of life are so different from ours that it can virtually alter our social landscape. And trust me, my friends, when the Queen Street block is fully purchased by the Chinese the Port of Spain that you and I know will never be the same!
The strategy of the Queen Street block of businesses is the same as the PNM under whose governance what can be sold must be sold in order to keep its leadership affluent and happy.
Chinatown most certainly is not a good idea and one can only hope that should the PNM lose the next election that the incoming administration will possess the strength to return Charlotte Street back to the people of Trinidad and Tobago. Of the impending Chinese purchase of the Queen Street block all we can do now is to pray; to pray that what is happening is a bad dream from which we shall wake up soon and find that Port of Spain, our capital city, is not for sale.