WEST PALM BEACH – Trinidadian American, Shama Harrysing can only imagine what the celebrations would be like when the twin Islands of Trinidad and Tobago celebrate their 50th year of independence.
The twin Islands of Trinidad & Tobago commemorated its forty-ninth anniversary of Independence on August 31st 2011. The national holiday was celebrated with functions and parties, a confluence of events took place on each Island and the National Flag was hoisted throughout the country.
The main events were held at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain and Skinners Park, San Fernando.
Events included speeches, national awards for outstanding achievements, processions followed by music and dancing in the evening. The events were culminated with a grand fireworks display.
Trinidad & Tobago is a diverse nation known for its colorful Carnival and is the birthplace of Steelpan, Calypso and Limbo.
Trinidad is bounded by the Caribbean Sea on the North, Columbus Channel to the South, the Pacific Ocean to the East and the Gulf of Paria on the West…It is situated on the North Eastern Coast of Venezuela.
Tobago is the smaller of the two main islands that make up the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. It is located in the Southern Caribbean Sea, northeast of the island of Trinidad and southeast of Grenada.
On August 31st, 1962, the Union Jack was lowered to declare Trinidad and Tobago an Independent Nation.. “The presence of American military bases in Chaguaramas and Cumuto in Trinidad during World War II profoundly changed the character of society. In the post-war period, the wave of decolonisation that swept the British Empire led to the formation of the West Indies Federation in 1958 as a vehicle for independence. Chaguaramas was the proposed site for the federal capital.
The Federation dissolved after the withdrawal of Jamaica and the government chose to seek independence on its own.”
In 1976, the country severed its links with the British monarchy and became a republic within the Commonwealth.
Under the 1976 republican Constitution, the British monarch was replaced as head of state by a President chosen by an electoral college composed of the members of the island.
An early general election was called on 16 April 2010, and was held on May 24  Two major entities contested the election: the incumbent PNM, and a coalition called the People’s Partnership, comprising the UNC, COP, TOP (Tobago Organisation of the People), and two labour and non-government.
Hon. PM Kamla Persad-Bissesar
The People’s Partnership led by Kamla Persad-Bissesar won the elections 29-12 replacing former Prime Minister Mr. Patrick Maning by Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissesar-the first female Prime Minister in Trinidad & Tobago.
The main income of the Islands is Petroleum, the largest producer or petroleum in the Caribbean and with the expansion of the LNG plant in the last 6 years, Trinidad & Tobago is the largest supplier of natural gas in the Western Hemisphere.
Two of the largest methanol plants in the world are in Point Lisas. Manufactured goods, foods and beverages are being focused on and are expanding rapidly. Numerous construction projects are in the process – major highways & bridges are being built. Additional Universities and hospitals are under construction.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “Trinidad and Tobago has earned a reputation as an excellent investment site for international businesses and has one of the highest growth rates and per capita incomes in Latin America.
Economic growth between 2000 and 2007 averaged slightly over 8%, significantly above the regional average of about 3.7% for that same period; however, GDP has slowed down since then and contracted about 3.5% in 2009, before rising more than 2% in 2010. Growth has been fueled by investments in liquefied natural gas (LNG), petrochemicals, and steel.
Additional petrochemical, aluminum, and plastics projects are in various stages of planning.
Trinidad and Tobago is the leading Caribbean producer of oil and gas, and its economy is heavily dependent upon these resources but it also supplies manufactured goods, notably food products and beverages, as well as cement to the Caribbean region. Oil and gas account for about 40% of GDP and 80% of exports, but only 5% of employment. The country is also a regional financial center, and tourism is a growing sector, although it is not as important domestically as it is to many other Caribbean islands. The economy benefits from a growing trade surplus.
The previous Manning administration benefited from fiscal surpluses fueled by the dynamic export sector; however, declines in oil and gas prices have reduced government revenues which will challenge the new government’s commitment to maintaining high levels of public investment.
The smaller of the two Islands which makes up Trinidad & Tobago, boosts beautiful beaches. Its main economy is tourism. Water-sports is quite popular in the Island, however, ecotourism is growing in significance and much of it is focused on the large area of protected forest in the centre and north of the main island and on Little Tobago, a small island off the north east tip of the main island.
Tourism is concentrated in the southwest of the island, around Crown Point, Store Bay, Pigeon Point and Buccoo Reef. This area has large expanses of sand and is dominated by resort type developments. Tobago has many idyllic beaches around its coastline, especially those at Castara, Bloody Bay, and Englishman’s Bay.
Tobago is linked to the world through the Crown Point International Airport and the Scarborough harbour. Domestic flights connect Tobago with Trinidad, and international flights connect with the Caribbean and Europe. There is also a daily fast ferry service between Port Of Spain and Scarborough.
Trinitobagonian Culture In The US
Trinitobagonians are fun loving people and are serious about their culture, wherever they have settled, they continue to practice and preserve their rich and diverse culture. South Florida is home to many Trinitobagonians and they have certainly made this land of opportunity their home away from home.
There are many restaurants, Temples, Churches and organizations established here they continue to practice their religion, hold on the to arts, music and dance and celebrate all national holidays.
Honorable Dr. Anil Ramnanan, Trinidad & Tobago’s Consul General in Miami hosted a function in honor of Indian Arrival Day and one on Emancipation Day, bringing nationals and non-nationals closer.
At the Emancipation celebrations, Dr. Ramnanan honored Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Caroll who is Trinidadian born and the 18th Lieutenant Governor in the State of Florida.
Trinitobagonians continue to take the spotlight, Trinidad and Tobago’s US Ambassador, His Excellency, Dr. Neil Parsan was Honored with his own day in the United States. In the presence of over 25,000 persons in Bushnell Park, Mayor Pedro Segarra of Hartford, Connecticut honored Ambassador Dr. Neil Parsan with his own day.
Overlooking the beautiful State Capital building, Mayor Segarra congratulated Ambassador Parsan on behalf of the city of Hartford and the Court of Common Council, for being selected the Grand Marshall for the 49th West Indian Independence and Emancipation parade. “I am humbled by the gesture of the Mayor and the city, I’m looking forward to further engagements with the business community and the office of the Mayor,” said the Ambassador while accepting the proclamation. The city of Hartford has over 110,000 Caribbean nationals, of which approximately 30,000 are Trinidad and Tobago nationals.
In 2002, Designer Peter Minshall won an emmy for his brilliant work in the Olympics, Nobel Prize winner, Author, Mr. V. S. Naipaull, also called
‘the master of modern English prose”, who won the Nobel prize for Literature in 2001, recording artist Billy Ocean and singer Niki Minaj just to name a few.
“With what we have accomplished in the past 49 years I envision many more accomplishments to be celebrated by Trinitobagonians when our 50th year of Independence is celebrated” says Shama.