By Ralph Banwarie and Rhondor Dowlat
February 26, 2010 – newsday.co.tt
TWO WELL-KNOWN Arimians — parang icon Holly Betaudier, 85, and retired teacher and nutritionist Louis Horne — have taken Local Government Minister Hazel Manning to task for describing the borough as being “just bush” 56 years ago.
“It is a pity that the person (Mrs Manning) had to say something like that. If Arima was only bush, 56 years ago, I would never have gone to Edinburgh University in London. Arima was not bush then. Arima made me who I am today. That person really does not know what she is talking about,” Horne stated.
During a meeting with residents, at Arima Town Hall on Wednesday evening, Mrs Manning — wife of Prime Minister Patrick Manning — described Arima as being “just bush” 56 years ago, as she sought to impress on the residents all of the development done over the years plus the latest plans for the borough.
Her “just bush”statement soon prompted a walkout by the residents whose initial anger was over the fact that the package of plans for the area did not include emphasis on construction of an area hospital.
When no one at the head table which included Mrs Manning, Arima Mayor Adrian Cabralis and economist Dr Ralph Henry could not answer why nothing was being said about construction of an area hospital, the residents got angry.
Mrs Manning said it was the first time Local Government was putting a regional plan in place. “It was never done before. Arima was just bush 56 years ago. This is a big improvement,” Mrs Manning said.
Clearly unimpressed, most of the residents which included Horne got up and walked out of the Town Hall. A resident who remained behind, said that over the past 56 years, Governments have had no plan for Arima.
Speaking from her Lopez Street, Arima home yesterday, Horne said there is a petition with the names of over 3,000 Arimians seeking to have government construct the area hospital. She said that 56 years ago, Arima was a thriving, bustling town which was the centre of commercial and cultural activity in East Trinidad.
Another Arimian, Holly Betaudier said Mrs Manning was clearly uninformed. “Fifty-six years ago, Arima was far more civilised than the entire country today,” Betaudier said.
“There were no religious barriers, no class barriers. Everyone was concerned about everyone. Fifty-six years ago, the hospital in Arima was the most efficient hospital in the country. Just bush? Please!” Betaudier said. Following the walkout, it was decided that the meeting would resume at a later date.