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PM’s response to Trinidadian Prime Minister’s apology

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Regional media announced last week that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar of Trinidad and Tobago had apologized for her November 1 controversial statement about provision of aid to Caribbean neighbours devastated by Hurricane Tomas, but Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves is of the view that she may not have apologized.{{more}}

On Monday, November 15, during a radio programme in Jamaica, Persad-Bissessar said her remarks, although “most unfortunate”, had also been taken out of context.

“I do apologise for the statements that have been taken in this regard. I remain committed to regional integration and to our CARICOM brothers and sisters,” she said.

“The way I envisioned it is that, I can only give from my home. I think St. Lucia Prime Minister Stephenson King put it in these words and I appreciate, when he said what Kamla is saying…that we don’t expect her to go out and shop for us and so she would give us goods and supplies out of Trinidad and Tobago, that is what I meant really. It is most unfortunate the way my comments have been received and I do apologise for that,” said Persad-Bissessar.

Prime Minister Dr.Ralph Gonsalves, at a press conference on Friday, November 19, when asked for a reaction to Persad-Bissessar’s apology, responded that he had not commented when she made the statement and he will not comment on the apology.

However, he disclosed that she had received a letter from him on the issue; Gonsalves, however, did not disclose the contents of the letter.

“I had seen the newspaper say that she has apologised. I don’t believe that the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago would be pleased with that characterisation, because it would be to say something which she may not have said. She said she didn’t say what she said in the first place, wrong context, and so on. I’m not commenting on that,” said Gonsalves.

Gonsalves added: “She said that she is sorry for how people had received her statement. So that, there, is an apology about our lack of understanding about her statement. It is not an apology about her statement.”

“I’m not commenting on the apology or not the apology. I’m just saying what I read. I think she’d be very upset if people go about saying that she apologises for it, because I don’t think that she would consider that to be the case. But she might leave it like that and I go leave it like that too,” said Gonsalves.

In a statement following the passage of Hurricane Tomas, the Trinidad and Tobago prime minister said “We will have to look at ways in which we would be able to assist.

“But you would recall my comments earlier this year, when I said there must be some way in which Trinidad and Tobago would also benefit. So, if we are giving assistance with housing, for example, and that is one of the areas that we (the prime minister of St. Vincent and myself) spoke about, then we may be able to use Trinidad and Tobago builders and companies, so that whatever money is given redounds back in some measure to the people of Trinidad and Tobago.”

That statement resulted in widespread regional criticism of Persad-Bissessar, who has made a number of gaffes since becoming prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago.

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