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Today Trinidad and Tobago celebrates its 26th anniversary as a republic It was in 1976 14 years after it became independent that the country finally cut the final umbilical cord with its monarchical past The Queen of England was no longer our titular sovereign In every possible sense we were well and truly on our own Over these 26 years Trinidad and Tobago has not held together but it has cohered both in the geographical and political senses Every now and then the idea of secession is aired but it has never seriously come to the table neither in Trinidad and more importantly neither in Tobago This is not to say that we have arrived at the final stage of negotiations between us The question of greater devolution of autonomy to Trinidad and Tobago remains to be faced What is required is the wisdom to facilitate it in a way that encourages rather than discourages cooperation What we have going for us are long-standing ties some even manifesting themselves as kith and kin Politically no party has dared to proclaim even to its most die-hard supporters that any group is more or less citizens of Trinidad and Tobago than any other Religiously the ongoing evidence is that citizens respect the right of all to follow and practise their religion with some people even determined to follow more than one at the same time Culturally while there are some differences those differences have never led to the kind of hostility that prevents respect for and even in some cases the embrace of the culture of the other What all this suggests is that the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago continues to be a successful multi-ethnic multi-religious and multi-cultural country in a world that is rapidly almost universally becoming that way as many as the hitherto homogenous nations find that they now have to grapple with a changing national face as the pressures of emigration make
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