Our story – the 1970 army revolt in T&T
Today, April 21, 2020, marks a half century since one of the most momentous series of events in the history of the modern Caribbean took place in Trinidad and Tobago.
Then Prime Minister of the twin-island republic, Dr Eric Williams, reacting to a massive wave of social and economic demands by his people, advanced via the burgeoning Black Power Movement and mortally afraid of the move to unite the oppressed African and Indian people, declared a State of Emergency on April 21, 1970, ordering the arrest and incarceration of the leaders of the mass movement.
Unfortunately for him, young officers of the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment (the Army) having their own grouses, were not prepared to be used to suppress the wave of protest. They reacted by staging a mutiny, attempting to take over the army, release the detainees and give support to the demands of the mass movement.
The courageous action of the young officers did not succeed and they were later arrested, jailed and put on trial.
However the officers led by Lieutenants Raffique Shah and Rex Lasalle, later were freed on appeal. Between their actions and those of the leaders of the mass movement, a number of sweeping changes in the economic, social and political order in T&T were brought about, opening opportunities previously denied to most Trinbagonians.
Read the weekend edition of SEARCHLIGHT for a feature on “50 years of Black Power in the Caribbean”.