Influenced no doubt by the irresistible spirit of patriotism, The National Demo-cratic Movement in 1999 engaged the Cubans in discussion on seeking an appropriate way to honour those who perished in the Cubana air disaster in 1976 off the coast of Barbados.
The party identified the plot of land at Camp and Lamaha Streets as the ideal spot to erect a monument that would serve to not only pay homage to our lost compatriots but would act as a poignant reminder to them and future generations to ensure such barbarism never happens again.
This caused us and later the National Front Alliance to seek out and offer some comfort to the relatives in our limited way, while on a wider scale we wrote an annual tribute which the press published. Later it was to us that the Cubans turned when they wanted to contact the relatives to invite them to a ceremony at the embassy. I cannot forget the pain and resignation in the voice of the mother of one of the youths killed or the indefatigable work done by the late Faisal Feroze Alli in successful locating another relative in Sussex and Barr Streets, Albouystown.
We were quite content when others with some executive authority continued the battle for a monument to be sited at the spot we had identified.
When in 2008 the Mayor and City Council began the construction of the long overdue symbol at this favoured spot, and Minister of Works Robeson Benn halted the works, we were initially disappointed, but with 20-20 vision we admitted that his reason for doing so had some merit.
I met with him and suggested the vacant plot of land at Vlissengen and Thomas Roads would be the ideal area to erect the monument. It had access to two streets, space for parking and ceremony, and be aesthetically pleasing to the populace.
The frustration experienced in the rejection of this alternative site was not assuaged with the eventual decision to build this National Memorial on the grounds of the University of Guyana as announced by Minister Benn in Parliament on February 25, 2009.
A campus is not a thoroughfare for citizens and tourists, and as such it removes the daily visual contact which readily reinforces our national commitment to peace and tolerance. I urge to the Minister to rethink this decision.
I suggest that an open appeal or competition be opened to the public to come up with a preferred site and possibly an appropriate design.
Keith Scott MP