Wayne achieves milestone on second hunger strike
PORT OF SPAIN – He wouldn’t give details but as he hit a milestone 21 days in his second hunger strike, activist Dr Wayne Kublalsingh hinted yesterday that another phase of the protest is coming.
Kublalsingh appeared frail and weak but was mentally sharp and reported being in better spirits than he was on Monday.
The activist could almost be described as “bubbly” when he spoke to the media yesterday, saying he now knew what has to be done.
“It will be a rough ride in this boat but I am prepared for the consequences,” Kublalsingh said.
Kublalsingh’s first hunger strike against the Debe to Mon Desir segment of the Solomon Hochoy Highway extension ended at day 21 in 2012, when Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar convened the Highway Review Committee (HRC) to produce a guideline document on the State’s mega-project in south Trinidad.
Persad-Bissessar had said at the time that Government would consider the recommendations of the HRC, which submitted a report in 2013 and in its guidelines suggested that the highway project be halted for social, environmental and economic impact review.
At that point in his first hunger strike, Kublalsingh was near death.
Kublalsingh said yesterday the creation of the HRC, which consisted of civil groups, professionals, unions and NGOs, was a “minor victory” for the Highway Re-Route Movement (HRM), the group he has led in protest against that segment of the highway.
Speaking from the makeshift camp that the HRM has erected every weekday, opposite the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair for the past three weeks, Kublalsingh said he has arrived at a mental and spiritual place where he has made peace with what might happen to his body. He later gave a stern warning to the members of the HRM present and to visitors and well-wishers that it is “burdensome” to be told over and over again about the fact that he may be endangering his life.
Fear for Kublalsingh’s well-being is peaking as he proceeds on his third week without food and water.
He would have none of it, however. “I am past that,” Kublalsingh said, adding that now is the time for the Movement to forge ahead without faltering.
“I am committed now spiritually. Whatever comes we will handle it.”
Asked to divulge some more of what he might be hinting at, Kublalsingh said: “I have no idea. I am just saying I am open to all consequences.”
Kublalsingh’s physician, Dr Asante Van West-Charles-Le Blanc, said Monday he had reached a critical stage in his abstinence from food and water, though there were “no impending signs of death”.
Van West-Charles-Le Blanc had also disclosed that she arranged a stand-by ambulance and that she was prepared to rush to Kublalsingh’s aid at a moment’s notice.
The activist had in November 2012 allowed Van-West-Charles-Le Blanc to administer medical drips eight days into his first hunger strike.
He has so far in this strike refused medical rehydration, for as long as he is lucid and conscious.
He said he is certain of victory, not for the HRM but for the people of the country and even for the Government, if the latter would come to the Movement and, at least, look over the plans being offered for an alternative route to the Debe to Mon Desir segment.
“The ground is shifting under the Government,” Kublalsingh said.
He attributed this shift to a “wide array” of supporters in civil society and among religious bodies.
Kublalsingh said the focus should be to taken off himself and placed instead on the likes of mas man Peter Minshall, Roman Catholic Archbishop Joseph Harris and Anglican Bishop, Claude Berkley, all of whom have joined in calling on Government for a resolution for the sake of Kublalsingh’s life.
“At this point, it is through the eddoes, through the corn,” Kublalsingh said, adding that the he is no longer concerned with the cushion of having an ambulance and medic on stand-by and those provisions were really for the comfort of his family.
He had earlier offered an exit to anyone attached to the cause who felt the “rough waters” ahead might too much to handle.