La Brea residents and environmentalists have described Prime Minister Patrick Manning’s statement that the community would become the home to the nation’s first aluminium smelter facility as “disrespectful” and bordering on contempt.
Addressing a large crowd of jubilant supporters at Frisco Junction, Point Fortin on Monday night, Manning maintained a smelter would be built and said members of the anti-smelter wanted to derail the country’s industrialisation drive. However, La Brea resident, Anselm Carter, along with others who gathered at a camp site outside the Union Industrial Estate on Monday night in the hope of speaking to the Prime Minister on his way to the Point Fortin meeting, said the Government has not brought any scientific evidence to prove the proposed facility was safe for residents and the environment. “He (Manning) is just talking. He refuses to meet with the residents to say why a smelter plant and not some other facility is needed for the La Brea area,” Carter said. Carter also condemned the large police presence at the camp site on Monday night saying the activists were peaceful. Residents and activists at the site viewed the socially-conscious music videos of late pop icon Michael Jackson’s “Earth song” and “Man in the mirror”. Activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh reiterated the anti-smelter protestors were not opposed to industrialisation but against an industry which would not produce any sustainable benefits to the nation. Meanwhile, a small group of former oil workers staged a placard and candlelight vigil during the PNM meeting to highlight the non-payment of cost of living allowances by State-owned oil company, Petrotrin since 2003. Bearing placards reading, “Manning pensioner hungry” and “Mr Manning, please help the retirees”, spokesperson Jonathan Maguire said the groups’ intention was not to disrupt the meeting but rather to highlight their plight to the Prime Minister.