A battle not yet won
The anti-smelter movement in Trinidad and Tobago has had a significant victory. On Christmas Eve in an address to the nation, Prime Minister Patrick Manning announced that plans for a smelter in Chatham/Cap de Ville would be scrapped. While Manning still dismissed health and environmental concerns and announced that Alcoa's project would be moved to Otaheite, it is clear to the nation that the people of Chatham in keeping up the pressure caused the Prime Minister a moment of doubt.
The implications of this are far reaching for all involved in activist work in Trinidad and Tobago. There have been too few people driven successes against the might of the state corporation and the success of this lobby is a victory for all citizens.
The war against aluminium smelting and other visionless policies regarding industrialisation and monetisation of our natural resources is far from won. Let the Christmas Eve victory for the people of Chatham be a warning shot to the government and those in opposition that never again will we sit around and allow others to determine our destiny. Let this too be a time for the NGO movement to reach across the race, class, ideological divisions and begin to truly address the problems plaguing Trinidad, of which the smelter is merely a symptom.
The Rights Action Group looks forward to the New Year, to redoubling national efforts to have our voices heard. In the media, in the university, in parliament, in the streets.
We call on the people of Otaheite to gather strength from the unrelenting efforts of the people of Chatham/ Cap de Ville and for all those who have been standing on the sidelines observing to get informed and get involved. We commit ourselves to continuing the battle to save Trinidad and Tobago and thank you for your support thus far.
Yours in struggle,