week this columnist took the Prime Minister by the hand on an imaginative
and unofficial tour of his country. Together we saw his petrified people
in La Seiva, their candles flickering at dusk as they prayed for the
release of a 63-year-old vet. We imagined the visceral silent screams of
the families of the scores of kidnapped victims. We agreed he would hate
to feel that fear for his own flesh and blood.
saw in the urban ghettos, the hollow empty faces of young men looking for
prey. We saw the same unseeing eyes in the country their brains addled
with poverty, their minds blind with illiteracy, even worse off because
they are forgotten. We talked about the illiteracy, (600,000 people) the
poverty (500,000 people) and the kidnapping, and agreed it was time he and
his Government took charge of his brothers and sisters.
people wanted the Prime Minister to act. The next day we got some action
but not from the Prime Minister. A 60-year-old woman was snatched
screaming while jogging in Westmoorings by two armed men. A 42-year-old
man of Valsayn was dragged out of a curry house in Aranguez and bundled
into a car by armed men.
streets emptied out, turned into eerie ghost towns, people slashed their
lives in half and then some, and starting living like trapped rats in
there were thousands of little eyes peeping out of the rat holes that
their business places, homes, cars, had turned into. Was help coming?
Would their leader respond.
did, ladies and gentlemen, he did. The very next day to his credit, the
Prime Minister responded to the scourge of kidnapping. He spoke to
did he say? What did he say?” clamoured the people. “Did he say that
he was going to get the regiment involved to patrol the streets? Did he
say that he would do everything in his power to make the streets,
businesses, homes, bars, restaurants, cars, safe again? Did he say he was
going to equip and train the police? Did he say he would personally visit
these believed and scared families as Prime Ministers do, worldwide? Did
he say he was going to get young men off the streets and into classrooms,
and training and jobs?”
Er, the journalists were forced to report that the Prime Minister said in
effect that the kidnapping was none of his business. It was the business
of the Minister of National Security. Did his Minister of National
Security then make a statement, visit homes? No.
State television time is instead taken up with pictures of the Prime
Minister receiving awards for unknown deeds of grandeur, newspaper space
shows other close members of his Cabinet beaming as they give more awards
to one another, article show our diplomats making multimillion dollar
pools. For what?
towns? Illiterate people listlessly waving cutlasses or guns? The
forgotten poor, babies with big stomachs suffering from malnutrition,
illiterate children playing in mud, cursing angry young men in rural
areas? A nation under siege?
retired into their rat holes, as they continued to be terrorised by fresh
kidnappings. This time it was a 16-year-old school girl. No one is spared,
not schoolchildren, not older men, not older women, not young men.
people we have turned into the invisible ones. Time for us to disappear
into our rat holes. The people you have elected into power, and even those
in the Opposition are busy people. They have meetings to go to. No one is
going to do anything for you because they can’t see you. Just fortify
your rat holes. And if you don’t like it, leave.