OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF THE UNITED NATIONAL CONGRESS, The Official Opposition In The Republic Of Trinidad And Tobago.


Address by newly-elected Political Leader of the United National Congress (UNC), Kamla Persad-Bissessar at the inauguration of members of the new UNC National Executive at Rienzi Complex, Couva, on January 27, 2010.

“Behold they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. [Genesis 11:6]”

Today we start a new phase in our journey to return good governance to Trinidad and Tobago.

The election on Sunday was a very important part of democracy in our party.

We thank those who had the foresight to create a system that allows all our members to participate in the process of electing a leader and other members of our national executive.

And it was that democracy at work that resulted in what we have here today. The membership made a very strong statement for change and elected those of us here today to look after their affairs.

To the members of our party and those who worked in the respective campaigns, I wish to express my deepest thanks and profound gratitude.

I said during the campaign that this is your party and nobody will ever change that so long as I am your leader.

I remain committed to that pledge. The first step towards reconciliation, reunification and rebuilding of our nation has begun.

United we stand in this mission for that is the only way to go, for as the book of Genesis tells us:

“Behold they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. [Genesis 11:6]”

This is a victory of the people, whoever they happen to be, man or woman, of every creed and race and space and place.

This isn’t about me.

This is about the father who fears for the safety of his family even in his own home because of rampant crime; this is about the mother who doesn’t know where the next meal is coming from; this is about the village whose desperately pleas for water; this is about the ailing old man who can’t get proper medical attention at our nation’s health institutions.

This is about a nation regaining itself, righting itself, resuming its path of real progress, stability and peace.

This is about the future we owe our children.

What occurred on Sunday night was not just the result of a few weeks of campaigning. This has been a long, patient journey that tested me in every way. But the more challenging it became, the more determined it made me, the more it strengthened me.

And the stronger the barbs thrown my way, the greater my resolve.

But it is also important not to become insensitive to the things said. I believe it is important to feel the hurt, to remain human, to be in touch with those very feelings that others seem to have lost.

To remain grounded, not to lose yourself in the process, to constantly remind yourself why you took the decision to enter politics in the first place and to be guided by the sweet innocence of your early ideals. This has been my mantra throughout it all.

And throughout it all, I put the Lord in front and walked behind.

Now I feel reverently honoured by the will of God placed upon my shoulders through your support of my candidacy.

My message this afternoon goes beyond lines and other boundaries, real or imagined, and the message simply is that change is no longer just in the air, it has arrived at your doorstep.

On Sunday night a few thousand people ensured that politics in Trinidad and Tobago would begin to take on a whole new meaning and that what before separated us would now bring us together.

That the old way of doing things would now be replaced by the only way of doing things-with tolerance for each other, with the greater good in mind, where personal political ambitions are secondary to nobler, national pursuits in the interest of every citizen; where the sense of despair that fills our nation now is replaced with the spirit of optimism and confident resilience for which we have become so well known the world over; where insensitivity to a brother’s or sister’s plight gives way to empathy and an inspiration to help; where the government is no longer the problem but the government becomes the solution; where walls of suspicion fall away and bridges of understanding and good intentions connect us like never before; where gangsterism is rooted out and Godliness and law and order and opportunity are firmly planted in its place; where the empirical political obsessions to create architectural grandeur are replaced by the political will to getting our priorities right, like placing the right resources to effectively deal with our crime problem, providing water and better health care, controlling the high cost of living and reducing poverty, replacing the enslavement of political handouts with real employment, skills development and entrepreneurial opportunities, returning the nation to fiscal responsibility so that our largest oil windfall is not matched by huge budget deficits compliments of a government’s squandering of precious resources and unchecked corruption.

This betrayal of the people’s trust must end now. The siege must end now. It is time to move on. The political tribalism that once divided us will now give way to a nationalism and patriotism for the hunger of a child in Laventille is the same as that of one in Penal, and the fear of a father for his family’s safety in Tobago is the same as the ones in Toco and the pleas for water in Cedros is the same as those in Diego Martin, and the cries of a patient for proper medical attention in Port of Spain is the same as the ones in San Fernando.

We are bound as one by the need for a better life. Hitherto many may have felt disillusioned as they examined the political alternatives.

And some within our party understood that and led by our new chairman, Jack Warner, chose to raise their voices and traverse the country to demand accountability, change and elections.

And so we congratulate Mr Warner and the Movement for Change for challenging the status quo and helping to bring us to where we are today. Had it not been for their untiring and selfless dedication to the cause of democracy in our party, the voices of our membership may have remained silenced and our nation would have suffered the result.

Ladies and gentlemen, one issue that we raised in the campaign was our party’s inability to convince the population that it was a government-in-waiting; while it said so, the reality was that it was never able to instil confidence in our people that it could do so.

Our mission from today is to make the UNC a government-in-waiting.

I shall recommend to our executive that we should immediately establish a shadow cabinet that will have responsibility for monitoring the day-to-day activities of the Government.

In effect we will become the national watchdogs on your behalf. And we will not allow the Manning regime to get away with anything.

We want to work with all of you – our members and non-members alike-to hear your concerns and develop responses to deal with them and to help fix what is wrong.

We know that many people who wanted to be a part of our party were denied that right.

Today I want to invite all of you to come home and bring the rest of the family.

There is room in the house of the Rising Sun for everyone.

And my arms are open wide to embrace each one of you as we begin this revolution of change that will sweep the Manning administration out of office.

But nation-building cannot be about one person and about the ideas of one small group of people who refuse to consult the national community.

I pledge to you that we will make sure that as we develop policy we consult you and listen carefully to what is important to you.

We will deal with those issues in the weeks and months ahead as we ask you to help us to help you take charge and let you be the ones who are truly in control of the destiny of this nation.

In closing, I wish to express my deepest gratitude to all the people in the media who have contributed to keeping the issues alive during the campaign for the internal election and for keeping on the national agenda daily, the issues that affect our people.

You are the guardians of democracy and you have never abdicated your responsibility to the people and the country.

You have my word that I will at all times defend your right to freedom because without a free media our democracy will be deformed.

Free speech allows for a marketplace of ideas in which our citizens would be able to judge for themselves-as they did in our just concluded election-what is right and what isn’t.

We must never allow organisational pressures to get in the way of that freedom. You carry a great burden of responsibility to this nation to report without fear or favour to ensure that today’s minorities are not prevented from becoming tomorrow’s majority.

I would also like to thank all those who supported our campaign in one way or the other.

For each word of encouragement, for every hug of reassurance, for each smile of inspiration, for every prayer of hope, for each hour spent by so many in countless ways, for those within and without our party who embraced this victory and wished our campaign well, I can only offer in return my heartfelt gratitude and pledge that your victory has only just started as I begin the task of reuniting our party and country towards the salvation of Trinidad and Tobago.

I am humbled by your faith in our mission, motivated by the goal ahead and reverently honoured by the will of God in the responsibility placed upon me through your support.

Indeed, I thank you all from the depths of my heart. Once you have faith in God as surely as the day follows the night, the sun will rise again.

Thank You.

Mr. Basdeo Panday speech at the first anniversary of CLUB 88 and the unveiling of the symbol and the UNC Party at the Declaration of Aranguez on October 16, 1988.

Today we celebrate two major events. The first anniversary of CLUB 88 and the unveiling of the symbol of the Party of citizens at the Declaration of Aranguez on October 16, 1988. It is said that Almighty God moves in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. It is also said that those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad. No one dreamed that when Robinson made that, devastating move on February 8, 1988 to break up the NAR and abandoned the quest for national unity that the population would hold fast to its dream and pursue with unrelenting zeal the goal of unity.

For many decades we have had a dream, a dream of establishing a society that is found on love, not hate, and suspicion and antagonism; a society in which we end that debilitating yoke of alienation that like an albatross around our multiracial necks has prevented us from, creat­ing a truly happy and prosperous nation, a society in which there is equity and equality for all.

On the 15 December, 1986 many of us thought that we had reached the top of the mountain and were about to look down on the green pastures of truth, honesty, fairness and equality.

But behold, the dream turned into a nightmare when the shepherd which we appointed to lead us to the promised land turned upon the flock and ravaged the lambs. But the Lord was at hand. He was putting to the crucial test those who so gladly spoke of an equitable society and those who had a hidden agenda of lust for office and power. He was separating the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goats, the men from the boys, the pa­triots from the traitors.

Seventeen months ago when’ Robinson revealed his hidden agenda and began his plan of creating a political base for himself by dividing the nation on racial lines, I made a speech at a function of the SILWC and said:

“This country will divide, but not along the lines that Robinson wants it to divide. It will divide when those who are for change will be on one side and those against change will be on the other side. That change has come as predicted”.

When CLUB 88 was formed a year ago its purpose and function was to try to pull the NAR back on the rails. No one intended that it would emerge into a new party. Almighty God moves in mysterious ways. All we did was do our duty as we saw it from day to day. We did it without hate, without malice, but with, a resolute determination not to be seduced by trappings of office in the pursuit of our duties.

In 1986 we thought we had seen a ray of hope. It turned out to be a ray of despair, a robbing son, an Arthur who thought he was a King. A ray that turned out to be a mound.

Today we display our symbol and name UNC. United – to keep forever in our mind our long sought dream. National – to indicate that unity is in the interest of the nation – all its peoples.

Congress – to reaffirm and reassess our commitment to consultation and’ participation by all our peoples in the decision – making processes that affect our lives, and in a share of the national patrimony.

Today the new dawn is about to break. On April 30, 1989 the sun shall rise above the Trinity Hills, and we shall complete the final phase of our journey which our ancestors began more than a century ago. As the sun rises so does a song rise in our hearts. A song of love and hope. A song of fire and courage. A song of indivisible will and determination. It is a song of joy. . A song of victory.

Fait justita dum cadeo cedit. Long live my country. May God bless them both.

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