The political leader of the Progressive Democratic Patriots(PDP) used history to make a point that likened Tobago to Cinderella.
Watson Duke was the last of three speakers to climb the platform at the second PDP virtual campaign meeting last night. He was introduced by deputy political leader, Farley Augustine as the master mechanic and told listeners, “When we say we want to fix Tobago, some people may say that’s crazy, that’s impossible, people in Tobago cannot do better. But we are eternal optimists. We believe we can fix it and we are getting on our knees, we are getting on the ground. We are going to do every single thing over the next two to three months to present a plan to Tobago in the form of a mandate of how we will go about fixing Tobago.”
Duke in his chronicle of Tobago painted a picture of the rise and fall of the island. He spoke of the days when incessant wars were fought over the country by the European powers and proposed that it was because of the country’s allure. He also highlighted that it was once fashionable for the very wealthy to use the term, “As rich as a Tobago sugar planter,” to refer to a wealthy person in England and more specifically London. However, Duke also noted that with the fall of Sugar Cane cultivation Tobago was on the road to becoming a failed state and hence it became a ward of Trinidad in the year 1889.
The Tobago Island Administration and Tobago Self Government bills are two bills that seek to change the status of Tobago and ensure that both islands have equal stature. In the legal context, a “ward” signifies that Tobago is under the protection of Trinidad and must be taken care of. This according to Duke was even though in the 1930s, “Tobago was exporting hundreds upon thousands of produce to Trinidad.” He said that was when Tobago used to feed Trinidad but lamented that had changed when hurricane Flora devastated the island in 1963.
Duke ended the meeting by telling Tobagonians that the island is like Cinderella. “You know the story of Cinderella. And Cinderella was treated as if she was a ward. Until someone told her, you are not a ward, you are the princess.”