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NO SURRENDER!

Published:Friday | December 12, 2014 | 12:00 AM
MUNROE
Dr Trevor Munroe and his party at solidarity rally in June 1985. Gleaner file photos
Dr Trevor Munroe (right), president of the University and Allied Workers' Union (UAWU), celebrating on November 2, 1988, with a bottle of wine at the Ministry of Labour, North Street, Kingston, his union's historic victory in the representational rights poll at Hampden Sugar Estate in Trelawny. Also pictured is Lambert Brown (left), UAWU first vice-president, and the Ministry of Labour's Herman Baker.
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TREVOR Munroe vows to keep fighting for better Jamaica

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

I will not surrender to detractors. That's the sentiment of Professor Trevor Munroe, the once avowed communist now spearheading the high-profile corruption-fighting machinery in Jamaica.

Munroe stressed yesterday that the Workers Party of Jamaica (WPJ), the communist organisation he led in the 1970s and early '80s, had no lot or part in the bloody 1983 coup in Grenada.

He asserted that although he has turned his back on the political ideology that captivated him through the Cuban Revolution during the politically divided period in Jamaica, his commitment to Jamaica's development remained unwavering.

Munroe said his commitment from the time he left St George's College to the present has been to the upliftment of the Jamaican people in the fight against inequality and poverty, and to the development of the country.

He asserted that it has manifested itself in different ways at different times. In the 1960s, he said, he was captivated by the Black Power Movement led by Walter Rodney and others. In the 1970s, Munroe said, he became fascinated by the principles of communism.

"I was deeply influenced by the success of the Cuban Revolution (1953-1959) in standing up to oppression and [was] impressed by its contribution to the struggle against apartheid in South Africa," he said.

Munroe told The Gleaner he became a communist because he saw it as a way to fight for people's rights and to understand the nature of the resistance.

TURNING HIS BACK

That ideology, he suggested, proved to be correct in anticipating inequalities that characterised not just Jamaica but the United States and other sections of the world.

However, Munroe said he realised that the communist ideology was incorrect, as it failed to facilitate or recognise freedom of expression.

Munroe said it was for this reason he abandoned communism.

"I did not continue. I abandoned the ideology while recognising the negative effects of unbridled capitalism."

He declared that he has, over the past four decades, remained committed to the cause of Jamaicans from all walks of life, through all phases of his life.

"I absolutely will not be deterred by comments which distract from the welfare of the Jamaican people at the present time."

He said that his energy was focused on the fall of corruption, the need for more voices to get involved to build integrity in the country, and the need for the authorities to be more responsive.

Munroe told The Gleaner that his dedication to the cause of uplifting Jamaicans remains as potent as when he embraced communism.

"I have never rescinded from that principle," asserted Munroe.

"In regards to Grenada, I had absolutely nothing to do with the coup," Munroe declared, in relation to the 1983 invasion, in which then Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, who led the New Jewel Move-ment, was among several government members killed.

Munroe told The Gleaner that after the coup, he spoke with lawyers and other persons involved in the trial, including the late Richard Hart and noted attorney Jacqueline Samuels Brown.

"I have never been implicated in any of those events," he stressed. "However, I was, undoubtedly, a friend of Maurice Bishop and Bernard Coard," he said.

Munroe said his WPJ was very close to Grenada's New Jewel Movement.

"Both organisations were driven by the insufficient recognition of the importance of democracy, equality and freedom," he said.

IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTIONS

Added Munroe: "No one can deny that in the case of Grenada, important contributions [were] made by the New Jewel Movement despite the tragic, regrettable and painful end to that episode."

He also sought to put into context his claim that he was no angel.

"Like you, I am a human being with faults," he said.

He noted that members of the WPJ, particularly those who remained in public life, continued to be committed to the upliftment of the Jamaican people.

Munroe said that his interest in Jamaica was not terminated with his rejection of communist ideology.

"After the WPJ was closed down, I joined the New Beginning Movement, which brought together persons from different political persuasions around the need to reduce political tribalism among the Jamaican people and to develop a unity of purpose," he said.

As a senator appointed by former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, Munroe said he remained consistent in advocating laws and measures to uplift the people of Jamaica, including matters of transparency accountability and anti-corruption.

Munroe said the formation of the National Integrity Action was another expression to address one of the major obstacles to equality and social justice among our people.

"Throughout my public career, that principle has been consistent although it has changed from time to time."

Said Munroe: "I learnt from my parents, my friends, my church, my family, my school - to be honest, even before I knew the word transparency."

As such, he said, when he became a communist, "I told you, and when I was not I told you I am not, and I will continue to be honest and transparent".

gary.spaulding@gleaner.com