Trinidad Mayor Junia Regrello’s Afro-centric mission to change street names
In March 2018, Trinidad’s San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello declared he wanted foreigner street names changed. So endowed with a mandate, which to many seem frivolous, he began revising. While some people may appreciate his window-dressing name change, others view it as a botched attempt of rewriting history. Why not learn the history and significance of street names already there? Why put something else just because you can? But also, what about equal representation? Why are the vast majority of dedications in memory of people of African descent when people of Indian descent is almost equal in number in the population, and more so, dominate the population of San Fernando?
So blinded is Junia Regrello by his Afro-centric bias that he said if he had his way, the auditorium of the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA) would not have been named in honour of late chutney legend Sundar Popo, but rather, calypso veteran Leroy “Black Stalin” Calliste. The San Fernando Mayor made this outrageous and discriminatory remark in 2018 during a steelband concert titled “Hello, This is the Year For Love”.
The first streets he made go were Irving and Freeling Streets, which lie parallel to each other near Irving Park. Both named after former British governors, one implicated in the Canboulay Riots. Next, Regrello planned to rename Bertrand Street to Rodney Wilkes Street in honour of the T&T’s first Olympic medalist who used sacks of flour to become a bodybuilder.
Other streets soon followed: Paradise Street near Library Corner became Lennox “Bobby” Mohammed Street; Independence Avenue near Hatters panyard became Steve Achaiba Street; Lower High Street in an easterly direction to Quenca Street, becoming Robert Montano Street; Crosby Lane to JD Guides Lane; and Henry Street, between Coffee Street and Medine Street, became Belgrove Lane.
Then in December 2018, Quenca Street was renamed in spite of opposition due to its historic significance. Quenca Street was named after Don Jose Damien de Cuenca Lieutenant-Governer of Trinidad and Guyana 1783-86 and also a signatory on the all-important Cedula of Population of 1783. Further the street was as one of the four major streets in old San Fernando, diverging out of town centre at the market of Plaza San Carlos. From there ran four streets – St Vincent, Chacon, Penitence and Quenca. Now it is called the Dr. Rupert Indar Sr. Street, in honour of the the man who founded Southern Medical Clinic.
Next, in February 2019, Mayor Regrello dedicated the six-foot length of roadway near Library Corner connecting High Street to Harris Promenade, to the memory of pannist Ken “Professor” Philmore. And in 2020, Park Street Extension at Skinner’s Park has been officially renamed after the late Mr. Dennis, ‘Sprangalang’ Hall.
Then in February 2021, Sando honoured calypsonian Black Stalin, renaming a portion of Lord Street in his honour. Therefore, the corner of Coffee Street to Paradise Street is now called Dr Leroy Calliste Street. In November 2021, Keate Street was renamed to Torrance Mohamed Street, after the former deputy major was beaten in his home and succumbed to his injuries.
Also in November, Jadoo Trace No 2, was renamed Elma Francois Street, in recognition of Black Catholic History month.
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