Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 4th 2015 Contents A20
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt October 4, 2015
Iwould like to think the surge
of murders since the Septem-
ber 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, deca-
dence (Carnival), low literacy, low
sustainable employment, and
Massa day done (poor or no
work ethic), and is also a trans-
shipment 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 peo-
ple." Even in a city where people
pretend that everyone else is
invisible on a crowded tube, peo-
ple'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 hus-
band 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, detect-
ing 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, Chagua-
nas, is popular online. In the
video, the person heard rapping
speaks of carrying out violent
acts on 'Rasta City' gang mem-
bers from the Enterprise area.
Also shown in the video are
images of high-powered rifles
"For residents of Enterprise,
their fears have mounted follow-
ing this spate of shootings and
the release of the rap video.
CNews visited the area on Mon-
day 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
"They are more scared. Some
might move out. They are getting
scared because those who doing
business in Enterprise, business
slow down, salesmen not com-
ing, the vans not coming so that
means things will get worse.
Imam Lynich believes that the
war', as being described by resi-
dents of Enterprise, will not end
I felt a chill when I read on.
This is a symptom not an aber-
ration. What happens if the fear
spreads area by area in Trinidad
"Nothing is done on either
side. Both sides not looking for
peace and the police in the cen-
tre 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 under-
stand, 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
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 night out.
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 busi-
nesses 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 neigh-
bourhood near you no matter
where you live.
In this tiny twin island, we have
more non governmental organisa-
tions possibly than anywhere in the
Caribbean. They are doing the Gov-
ernment'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 deal-
ing with the symptoms of the prob-
lem that is partially societal but also
very much the Government's
responsibility. It is in the Govern-
ment's power, and in the power of
the armed forces to bring about
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.
If David Cameron wanted to
talk business, he'd have come
to Trinidad last Wednesday.
We've got a new government.
We've got BP and BG.
If he wanted to backup a part-
ner in difficulties, he'd have gone
to Guyana. They too have a new
government, and they've got the
But he wanted trouble, so he
went to Jamaica. And trouble he
got; a whole set of history, slav-
ery and reparations.
That was after an embarrass-
ing week in England, dealing
with allegations from his ex-col-
league, the ex-lord Ashcroft,
about rude goings-on with a
Jamaica's US-funded evangeli-
cal churches feared an assault on
their beloved buggery laws. They
organised a hate-rally two days
before Cameron flew in. That
was a missed target: the prime
minister avoided all mention of
Jamaica's human rights record.
He would have loved to avoid
reparations, too. Prime Minister
Portia tried to help him out; she
said she had "raised" this "diffi-
cult issue" privately. But that
was not enough.
"Reparations" was all over the
Jamaican media---both main-
stream and social. Sir Hilary
Beckles wrote a carefully-worded
open letter. He warned of "gift
granting designed to divide and
rule and to subvert."
Cameron said slavery had been
"abhorrent"; but he did not
apologise. He said, "I acknowl-
edge that these wounds run very
deep indeed. But I do hope that,
as friends ... we can move on
from this painful legacy."
That was on the lines of the
"deep sorrow and regret" from
Cameron's predecessor Tony
Blair in 2007; it was not enough.
He said: "I don't think that
reparations are the right answer."
Given the numbers being
quoted, I would not expect him
to say any different. The Nation-
al Commission on Reparations
wants US$3.5 trillion for Jamaica;
that's trillions, not billions.
That's Britain's entire GDP for
one year. It is 220 times
Jamaica's annual economic out-
put. For Britain's other former
colonies, the commission wants
another US$8 trillion.
Worldwide, there's a lot of bad
history. When the slave trade
started, most of North and
South America was still in the
hands of its indigenous inhabi-
tants. Canada, the US, Brazil and
Argentina are stolen lands; their
non-Amerindian inhabitants are
Righting the world's past
wrongs would not come easy.
David Cameron did not talk
trillions. He offered US$450 mil-
lion in grants to improve
Caribbean roads, bridges and
ports. That's grants; not loans.
It's enough to make Britain the
region's biggest bilateral donor.
There's another US$45 million
for improved governance, and
US$45 million to protect hospi-
tals from natural disasters. Those
are priority needs.
A link to slavery? "It's nothing
to do with that," said Cameron.
The item which caught the
media eye was US$40 million to
help Jamaica build a new prison
with capacity for up to 2,000,
and improve rehabilitation and
resettlement programmes. For
comparison, Dodds prison in
Barbados has room for 1,250,
and cost US$145 million to build.
Further cash could be raised by
selling Kingston's existing prison,
which sits on valuable downtown
The offer makes sense. Condi-
tions for Jamaica's 4,200 prison-
ers are on a par with Frederick
Street. But when you're talking
slavery, "prison" carries all the
One young man told the
Gleaner: "There is too much suf-
fering in the country for govern-
ment to build a prison for poor
people. Youth dem want work."
Said two young women: "Is
education we want, school," and:
"Go back with your money."
For opposite reasons, the
prison proposal triggered anger
from Daily Mail readers,
Cameron's core demographic.
But it makes financial sense for
Britain. There are more than 700
Jamaicans in British jails. Send-
ing 300 back home could save
Britain up to US$15 million a
year; that's a great return on a
US$40 million investment.
Not everyone in Britain thinks
like Cameron. Newly-elected
Labour Party leader Jeremy Cor-
byn spent two years as a volun-
teer in Jamaica after leaving
school. He wants Britain to apol-
ogise for slavery. Reparations?
He's cautious: "I would be inter-
ested to hear what the proposals
are." Meanwhile, he's in opposi-
It's not just slavery. Next Sun-
day marks 150 years from the
Morant Bay rebellion, when
British forces killed more than
400 former slaves. A new prison
will not heal Jamaica's historic
UNITE AND LOBBY FOR REAL CHANGE
LOCKED IN: CAMERON'S JAMAICAN PRISON
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