Three of Tobago’s political bodies unite

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of three po­lit­i­cal par­ties in To­ba­go—Plat­form of Truth (PTP), To­ba­go For­wards (TF), and To­ba­go Or­gan­i­sa­tion of the Peo­ple (TOP)- vot­ed on Sun­day to de­ter­mine if one new po­lit­i­cal en­ti­ty should be formed un­der the theme “One Voice”.

The 24 mem­bers of the three or­gan­i­sa­tions gave their lead­ers — Christlyn Moore (TF), Ho­choy Charles (PTP) and Ash­worth Jack (TOP) — the man­date to cre­ate one po­lit­i­cal “team” at the 2nd mem­ber­ship meet­ing held at the Rovanel’s Re­sort, Store Bay Lo­cal Road.

The group’s aim is not to im­me­di­ate­ly con­test elec­tions but to unite, use the con­sti­tu­tion to gain more au­ton­o­my for To­ba­go and “fix neg­a­tive chal­lenges af­fect­ing To­ba­go,” Charles said.

He said the struc­ture means that the group will de­ter­mine the “ve­hi­cle” that should be formed to speak as one “to gain lib­er­a­tion for To­ba­go ... and a bet­ter sys­tem of gov­ern­ment of To­ba­go with­in the coun­try.”

As a team, they have no name, sym­bol, struc­ture or con­sti­tu­tion, as yet, and cur­rent­ly, re­fer to them­selves as the To­ba­go Lib­er­a­tion and Em­pow­er­ment Team.

Ray­mond ‘Finey’ Al­leyne, a mem­ber of the au­di­ence, said he was con­cerned about the ‘part­ner­ship falling apart’ giv­en the his­to­ry of the three lead­ers and mem­bers of the par­ties.

“I have be­come so dis­il­lu­sioned about pol­i­tics and politi­cians... I want an as­sur­ance that if it (team) shifts left or right it does not all fall apart,” he said to loud ap­plause from the au­di­ence.

In re­ply, Moore said the is­sue is on many peo­ples’ minds.

“We have all come from dif­fer­ent places,” she said, “but re­al­ly and tru­ly we have come from the bo­som of the same place, what you have is an or­gan­i­sa­tion go­ing back to the source.”

An­oth­er mem­ber asked if the Pro­gres­sive De­mo­c­ra­t­ic Pa­tri­ots (PDP) led by Wat­son Duke would join the group.

“He met at one meet­ing, but we are hop­ing he will re­turn to talks,” TOP’s leader said.

On the is­sue of the meet­ing’s poor at­ten­dance, Charles said the par­ties’ first meet­ing on March 17, was at­tend­ed by 70 of the 85 spe­cial­ly in­vit­ed mem­bers and they gave the lead­ers a man­date to re­turn to the mem­ber­ship on May 5.

“Had we known there was go­ing to be two har­vests (cel­e­bra­tions)—one in Belle Gar­den and the oth­er in Canaan—we would have can­celled for an­oth­er date and there would have been more peo­ple,” Charles said.

His­to­ry of To­ba­go al­liances

This is the third in­car­na­tion of a move by po­lit­i­cal par­ties in To­ba­go to form one body to take gain more au­ton­o­my for To­ba­go through the con­sti­tu­tion.

Re­cent­ly, Ho­choy Charles joined with the Peo­ple’s Na­tion­al Move­ment’s To­ba­go Coun­cil and then Chief Sec­re­tary Orville Lon­don as well as TOP’s leader Ash­worth Jack, to form the To­ba­go Fo­rum of Po­lit­i­cal Par­ties. Jack left soon af­ter join­ing the Peo­ple’s Part­ner­ship.

Pri­or to that, Arthur NR Robin­son and Win­ston Mur­ray of the De­mo­c­ra­t­ic Ac­tion Con­gress (DAC) joined as a team and made the first call in the 1970s to pro­vide for more con­trol of To­ba­go’s af­fairs in To­ba­go.

- Camille Mceachnie