Former Trinidad PM’s “Spiritual Advisor” Gone to Africa; Church Construction Scrutinized

A follow-up to a subject I blogged in March; the Trinidad Express Newspaper reports:

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is questioning whether the “lifestyle” of Rev Julia Pena [var. Juliana Pena] was financed under the People’s National Movement (PNM) administration.

Speaking to supporters at a campaign meeting in Penal on Thursday night, Persad-Bissessar said, “I want to ask Dr (Keith) Rowley whether State funds were being used to finance the lifestyle of Mrs Pena.”

…Pena is the spiritual adviser to former prime minister Patrick Manning.

Persad-Bissessar also said no permission was granted by Town and Country Planning to construct Pena’s controversial $30 million Lighthouse of the Lord Jesus Christ Church at the Heights of Guanapo, Arima.

The local Guardian adds:

The “disappearance” of Manning’s spiritual adviser was also played out on the political platform as Persad-Bissessar revealed her immigration records which showed of numerous visits to Venezuela, the latest being on February 6, 2010.

While Newsday tells us that

Police sources said they have an address in Africa for Pena and are making arrangements to interview her by next week.

The police are also wanting to speak to a man named Calder Hart, the Canadian former chairman of  a construction firm called UDeCOTT, in relation to this and other matters. According to another report:

WHILE his company was at work on billion-dollar Udecott projects, Michael Zhang, managing director of Chinese firm SCG International (Trinidad and Tobago), received a private cut out of the work at the Ministry of Legal Affairs project in Port-of-Spain from Sunway Construction Caribbean Limited, the controversial Malaysian company now under police probe for alleged links to former Udecott chairman Calder Hart.

Sub-contracts from Sunway went both to SCG and to another company run by Zhang; the church was among those given to SCG, which is reportedly owned by the Chinese government. Zhang, however, has no comment, while Hart has left the country, either for Miami or the UK.

Meanwhile, the original owners of the site given to the church have returned:

Zeena and Steve Lopez, both 52, for the first time yesterday, were able to walk on the land after they were “evicted” by “policemen” dressed in black, who handed them a bag containing $50,000 and ordered them off the property.

Steve recounted that he lost thousands of dollars in plantain, dasheen, cassava, breadfruit and other vegetables he planted around his wooden home…

The construction of the church was abandoned when Manning lost the election, and the site is now prey to looters:

One man felt the looting stemmed from the view the church was linked to the PNM Government. Martin Fermin held strongly to that view.

Fermin and other members of the congregation said they were saddened at the destruction… Fermin said he was further aggrieved that members of the Christian faith were not speaking out on behalf of the church.

…His sentiments were echoed by others, including evangelist Shirlain Fermin and prophetess Cindy Blanc. Fermin said she had to warn “those evil-doers that destruction will come upon their households.” Blanc, who replaced Juliana Pena as the prophetess, said: “Since I saw what was going on there, I have been crying.”

Blanc also claims that most of the looters are “Rastamen”.

Manning’s association with Pena was criticised by Benny Hinn in 2007:

…”Years ago I was in Trinidad…this man was sitting on the platform and I said… you will be the next Prime Minister and he is till now. I was in his (Manning) office a few months ago… he brought with him a very foolish woman who called herself a prophetess.

…”He (Manning) said I want her to pray for you and give her the word, I take her with me everywhere he said (Manning).

“God speaks to me through her. She has been a great blessing to the Government. I’m thinking you foolish man.”