Prime Minister David Gibbons reshuffled his Cabinet today, demoting a right-wing minister who made outspoken remarks during race riots two weeks ago over the execution of blacks convicted of murder in this British colony.
Harry Viera lost his positions as minister for community affairs and the government's official spokesman. Viera became minister without portfolio but with special responsibility for the 350-strong Bermuda regiment. Gibbons took over the spokesman's position himself.
Viera, one of the white members of the multiracial United Bermuda Party Cabinet, took a hard-line attitude during the four days of riots, arson and racial confrontation on this Atlantic holiday island.
Asked by an American newspaper reporter after the first night of rioting what would happen if the disturbances continued, he said, "We'll step on them."
The riots were sparked by the hanging of Erskine Burrows, convicted of a number of murders, including that of former Gov. Sir Richard Sharples, and of Larry Tacklyn, convicted of murdering two supermarket executives.
Arsonists caused $5 million in damage and three persons died in a hotel blaze before 230 British troops were flown in to help island soldiers and police quell the disorder.
Some of the troops have since been recalled and a dusk-to-dawn curfew, imposed during the rioting, was lifted 10 days ago.