On May 26th, Kamla Persad-Bissessar was sworn into office as Prime Minister of Trinidad with her hand on Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad Gita As It Is.
Persad-Bissessar, who is the island nation’s first female prime minister, has defied convention for decades. Each time, it has won her popular support. ``She needs to have people around her,'' said Ingrid Ismael, a longtime aid. ``That's her personality. She wanted to get to the people.''
The move has no doubt endeared the new leader to the Hindus of Trinidad, who comprise nearly a quarter of its population.
Persad-Bissessar, 58, led her People's Partnership coalition to a landslide win over incumbent Prime Minister Patrick Manning in the recent election in this energy-rich southern Caribbean nation. The coalition won 29 of the 41 seats in Parliament. Mannings' PNM won just 12.
Persad-Bissessar's victory bolsters a trend of women being elected to lead countries in the hemisphere.
Argentina's Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was elected three years ago, and Costa Rica's Laura Chinchilla won the presidency in February, becoming the first woman to be elected there. In Brazil, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is backing Dilma Rousseff, his chief of staff, for the presidency of Latin America's largest country in October's elections.