PORT-OF-SPAIN: The wife of environmentalist Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh says she does not support hunger strikes and is urging Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to meet with the Highway Re-Route Movement (HRM) over the construction of a multi-billion dollar highway in south Trinidad.
In a letter to the Trinidad Express newspaper published earlier this week, Dr. Sylvia Moodie-Kublalsingh said her husband, who is on an indefinite hunger strike, became involved in the highway controversy “because he recognised that it was a just one”.
Dr. Kublalsingh began his strike three weeks ago and doctors have warned that his health has deteriorated significantly.
Dr. Van West-Charles-Le Blanc said frequent check-ups have been made since the ninth day of Kublalsingh’s hunger strike and tests have showed some kidney problems.
She warned that Kublalsingh’s body no longer has the reserves to compensate for the deprivation of food and water and circulation has declined in his fingertips and other extremities.
In 2012, Kublalsingh embarked on a 21-day hunger strike over the same issue – the construction of the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the Point Fortin Highway.
Persad-Bissessar has already said her administration would not be blackmailed by the actions of Kublalsingh and has rejected calls to meet with the environmentalist, saying that the matter is now before the courts.
In her letter, Dr. Moodie-Kublalsingh, a retired senior lecturer in Spanish and former director of the Centre for Language Learning at the St. Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies, stated her husband “realized that communities of the wider Debe area were going to be adversely affected by the construction of the Debe to Mon Desir section of the proposed highway.
“In fact, the natural habitat of the land and sea creatures in this nation and this planet Earth would be adversely affected. Therefore, he supported the re-routing of that portion of the highway,” she wrote.
She said that “after a plethora of meetings and interventions of all kinds” which were in vain, Kublalsingh embarked on his first hunger strike in November 2012.
Moodie-Kublalsingh said the end of her husband’s hunger strike was marked by the report into the issue by former independent legislator, Dr. James Armstrong.
“The Government paid for the Armstrong report but ignored its content and even tried to give the impression that the report spoke in the Government’s favour.
“The HRM’s efforts at having your Government respect the recommendations of the Armstrong Report were all frustrated to the point of despair. My husband resorted to a second Hunger Strike.
“Let me hasten to add, Madam Prime Minister, that I do not support and I am not in favour of hunger strikes. Be that as it may, my husband is now on a second hunger strike,” she said.
Moodie-Kublalsingh said the HRH has now developed new proposals for consideration by the government.
“They have a proposal which you, Madam Prime Minister, should welcome. Theirs is a reasonable proposal, which you ought to consider seriously.
“It is a proposal that any reasonable leader would study carefully. Many reasonable civil society groups and individuals have seen the proposal and have supported it,” she wrote.
The Trinidad & Tobago Transparency Institute, several non-government organizations and trade unions have all urged a compromise on the matter.