This is what we have come to

 

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Category: Trinidad Society 20 Jul 08

 

(Fourth in a series of columns on the daily life of citizens in this county.)

“My life is here. My husband runs our family business, which we have built up over a lifetime, but I am preparing to leave this country with my children.

“My husband will join the growing ranks of Trinidadian business people who shuttle between their families abroad and their businesses here.

“My husband told me ‘if you take our 12-year-old daughter to Canada, I will miss out on the best years of her life, and she will grow up not knowing her father.’

“It’s also heartbreaking to think our teenaged son may not be able to take over his own father’s family business. But with the crime like this, do you think I want our son to live here?

“I don’t want to lose my child at 19, being robbed and killed and shot. I thought I would miss him when he went away to university, but I was relieved. He was safe.

“Whenever my son leaves the house, I give him a kiss, because I never know what will happen. I tell him ‘call us when you’re driving to Zen; call us when you are parking; call us when you get there; call us when you leave for home; call us.’

“I want to know which route he is taking, so I will know where to look for him if something happens. I can’t sleep at night waiting for him.  

“We are cornered. It’s a Catch 22 situation: stay and live in fear or leave and break up your family, friendships, allow your children to lose their birthright, their fathers businesses.

“Leaving is never an overnight decision. Fifteen years ago on Old Year’s I was held up at gunpoint outside my grandmother’s house in the east at 7pm.  

“Two men were walking on the street as I was getting out of the car to open the gate. They pointed a gun at me and said: ‘Get out. This is a hold-up.’  

“I had to beg them to allow them to take my two-year-old child out of the car. They said ‘Leave him. We don’t have time. We will take him.’

“I told them ‘If you have my son, I will have to go with you.’ They let me take him out and drove off. I was in shock. Two days later the car was found stripped, in Morvant.

“Ten years later at 9 am, I was held up and robbed outside a gym in Petit Valley. I came out of my car and a regular-looking guy saw me, pushed me down, yanked off my bag with my credit cards, money and personal details and ran off with it.  

“It is scary living in a country where everyone looks normal, well-dressed, but could be bandits. You can’t walk the streets anymore.

“The police called me three weeks later to say they found a suspect who was robbing people in the area. I asked for a one-way mirror. They said, ‘No; you have to go and touch them.’

“I said, ‘No. I don’t want to.’ If I identified him he would go to jail for one month, six months, and when he gets out, he knows where I live. You put your whole family in danger. There is no justice.

“Two weeks ago in Diego Martin, a man got furious because I parked on the road. He was driving past me and proceeded to turn around his vehicle and park in front of me.

“He waited for me until I came out of the pharmacy and came out of his car towards me threateningly, shouting obscenities.

“I got away. If I saw him in the bank or grocery I wouldn’t have thought he would be an attacker.

“Now I live in fear. When I come out of a mall, I run into the car, I look around suspiciously.

“In Canada, even in a poor neighbourhood you feel much safer. You can walk in the night. A woman I know who is abandoning her father’s business to migrate wears running shoes to work, because if she is attacked she wants to be able to run.

“This is what we have come to.

“I used to love Trinidad. But stay for what? The crime? Health services? The court system? Lawlessness? Obnoxious people who attack you for working hard?

“Business people are being destroyed. Nobody has our back.”

 

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur