An open letter to the Leader of Cardiff Council, organised by young people at Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel (SSAP) and signed by citizens of Cardiff is calling for the statue of Sir Thomas Picton to be replaced with a memorial to his most famous victim – Louisa Calderon.
Over 80 Cardiff citizens have co-signed an open letter – organised by SSAP Youth – to the Leader of Cardiff Council calling for the statue of Sir Thomas Picton to be replaced with a memorial to his most famous victim – 14-year-old Louisa Calderon.
Picton’s governorship of Trinidad was authoritarian and brutal and led to his trial in 1806 accused of ordering the judicial torture of Calderon. Calderon was a 14-year old mulatto girl, accused of being involved in the theft of money from a Port of Spain businessman, Pedro Ruiz, whom Louisa’s mother had arranged for her to live with as a ‘mistress’ at age 11.
Unable to get a confession through interrogation, Picton issued the order to ‘Inflict the torture on Louisa Calderon’. Calderon did not confess and was imprisoned for a further 8 months before being released. Picton admitted ordering the torture and was found guilty by a jury in England. He was never sentenced, however, and in 1808, Picton was acquitted.
The letter says:
“While statues of slave traders continue to be taken down around the world, the question of what is to be done with the empty plinths left behind by these statues and how to address their history is undoubtedly posed. These are questions that should be answered by the communities in which these statues have long stood. Indeed, in the case of the statue of Picton, residents of Cardiff ought to have a say.”
Takura Aldridge, SSAP Youth said:
“We are seeking the help of leaders that aren’t afraid to confront the past in order to move forward. But as young “BAME” people, we aren’t afraid to do it alone. Though, it’d be better if the council and other institutions could join us.”
Fadhili Maghiya, Director of SSAP said:
“The #BlackLivesMattter movement in Wales has seen many young people rising up to denounce and address historical and racial injustices. SSAP Youth is no different. We need to ensure that the narrative is changed to reflect a more balanced telling of our histories.
“The story of Louisa Calderon and her abuser, Thomas Picton, is part of our Welsh history. Her story represents hundreds of thousands more. Their story needs to be told.”
Notes to editors
The full letter can be found here.
Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel:
For interviews in Welsh or English, please contact:
Peter Frederick Gilbey, Communications Manager, Hub Cymru Africa