I would like to think the surge of
murders since the September election is a coincidence, that various
governments don’t need to strike a deal with criminals who seem to have
an unending supply of homemade and imported guns and access to drugs.
When a country’s psyche is based on dependence, decadence (Carnival),
low literacy, low sustainable employment, and Massa day done (poor or no
work ethic), and is also a transshipment point for drugs, you have an
explosive on your hands.
It would be hypocritical of us to be
“shocked”. We are seeing all the ingredients going into crime. A friend
was telling me about a conversation he overheard on the tube in London
recently. A woman was pointing to a man and said dramatically to her
friend sitting opposite her, “My husband has murdered five people.”
Even in a city where people pretend that
everyone else is invisible on a crowded tube, people’s heads turned. The
woman went on, enjoying the attention. “Oh, he didn’t kill them exactly.
You see, he is a train driver. He ran over people who threw themselves
on the tracks. After the first suicide when my husband felt the thwak
over the body and helped pull out the mutilated body, he had to take six
months off work. But in time he got used to it. Most recently, he had to
take off only two days. He’s getting used to it.”
That’s us. We are getting used to it.
The spike in murders is disappointing but not shocking. But we would be
foolish to carry on as if it was business as usual without pushing the
police and Government to do their job— social and policing, protecting
witnesses, protecting our borders from drugs, seizing guns, detecting
and prosecuting murderers. (‘Hang them high’ never works.)
But now, the shock is being replaced
increasingly by a sense of menace and fear. This is an extract from a
news report: “An amateur produced rap video made by members of the
'Muslim City' gang in Enterprise, Chaguanas, is popular online. In the
video, the person heard rapping speaks of carrying out violent acts on
'Rasta City' gang members from the Enterprise area.
Also shown in the video are images of
high-powered rifles and ammunition. “For residents of Enterprise, their
fears have mounted following this spate of shootings and the release of
the rap video. CNews visited the area on Monday and found many business
places closed. Shop owners say the closure is due to a drop in sales, as
a result of the ongoing gang violence and shootings in the area. The
Imam of the Crown Trace Masjid, Morland Moakil Lynch, is calling for
peace and urgent intervention by the authorities.
“They are more scared. Some might move
out. They are getting scared because those who doing business in
Enterprise, business slow down, salesmen not coming, the vans not coming
so that means things will get worse. Imam Lynich believes that the
‘war’, as being described by residents of Enterprise, will not end
I felt a chill when I read on. This is a
symptom not an aberration. What happens if the fear spreads area by area
in Trinidad unchecked?
“Nothing is done on either side. Both
sides not looking for peace and the police in the centre not doing
nothing because if I shoot a man and I not getting lock up, I continue
shooting. Nobody investigating nothing and the investigation very slow.”
The issue of young people gaining access
to illegal guns is very worrying for the Imam. “As far as I understand,
I seeing like they don't have nothing to prevent the guns from coming,
and once you don’t have nothing to prevent the guns coming from the
hands of those monsters, then crime will continue. Residents in the area
say there are shootings on a regular basis and this is making life
We have ushered in the new government
with new hope. This means we have to shed our old jaded selves, the
selves that expect murders, that routinely call our loved ones when they
are on the road and heave, relieved when they have returned safe from a
We can’t be defeated and hope that the
Government strikes a deal with the criminals. Equally, we can’t throw
our hands up in the air and say, “can’t do nothing about that,” so we
may as well look forward to Christmas.
Our country is disintegrating from
piecemeal. We may think that “Enterprise” is far; but the Enterprise
situation where businesses are too frightened to open, where boys with
guns who don’t care about their lives (or any one else’s) are coming to
a neighbourhood near you no matter where you live.
In this tiny twin island, we have more
Non-Governmental organizations possibly than anywhere in the Caribbean.
They are doing the Government’s work, of the fallout from the
unstoppable influx of guns. They are taking care of orphaned children,
of children whose fathers are in jail, of children whose mothers are on
They are trying to create small oases in
trouble spots of sports fields, and centres for abandoned children.
Perhaps it’s time all the NGOs unite, come together and say we are doing
the Government’s work. We are dealing with the symptoms of the problem
that is partially societal but also very much the Government’s
responsibility. It is in the Government’s power, and in the power of the
armed forces to bring about change.
Time to unite and
lobby for real change. Government serves the people. Not the other way
around. Now the people should actively but peacefully say it as it is:
the Government, armed forces and judiciary are failing us. We want peace
in our country and we want to see action towards it. Now.