Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 22nd 2014 Contents A5
Thursday, May 22, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
National Security Minister Gary
Griffith has knocked a documen-
tary produced by a US online news
organisation, saying it does not
give a true sense of Trinidad.
Vice News has produced a 23-
minute documentary, titled Cor-
ruption, Cocaine and Murder in
The video is online at
has been shared and viewed thou-
sands of times via social media.
Griffith, who said he had seen
the video, said it gave a sense of
gloom and doom when that was
not the case.
"It focused specifically on a small
percentage which is causing fear
among the 90 per cent of the law-
Serious crimes, including wound-
ings and shootings, have gone down
dramatically," Griffith said.
He admitted murders still posed
a challenge to the police but assured
they were doing all they could to
hunt down criminals and bring
them to justice.
He added: "The police have been
doing an excellent job and on a daily
basis have been recovering a large
number of illegal arms and ammu-
nition. We still have to crack the
murders and go straight to the
He said he intended to "rip out
the fangs" of gang leaders who have
access to state funding as they were
using the money only to fuel gang
violence and the drug trade.
"There are a small number who
continue to call themselves com-
munity leaders and the best way to
deal with them is to cut their finan-
cial access to state funding as this
affects the whole criminal justice
"They are using this money to
purchase more weapons and to pay
youths to carry out their nefarious
activities. I am not turning a blind
eye to anyone," Griffith added.
On the issue of bribes being taken
by the Coast Guard, as alleged in
the video, Lieut Commander Kirk
Jean-Baptiste said the organisation
did not condone that.
Urging anyone with such infor-
mation to go to the police, Jean-
Baptiste added: "We trust they will
do this in the best interest of
national security so the allegations
could be properly investigated, as
opposed to just making blanket
Video paints T&T's
PNM's public relations officer
Faris Al-Rawi said the video showed
a "darknesss" which was felt by
He also questioned the role of
the police in the video and demand-
ed answers as to how its presenter,
US citizen Daniel Gold, was allowed
"easy access" to handle exhibits,
such as a gun, when the local
media were not afforded such an
"Very importantly the video
brings to the immediate fore a crit-
ical issue which this government
hopes will never come to light,
which is the connection that this
government has been feeding crim-
inal elements through state work.
"The most silent Prime Minister
continues to be resolutely defiant
to the needs of the citizens. All talk
and no action have resulted in the
destruction of the psyche of T&T,"
Smoke filtering into the capital city as a
result of the recent fires at the Beetham land-
fill lessened yesterday while the Environment
Management Authority (EMA) continues to
guard the details of the exact levels of pol-
lutants in nearby areas.
The authority yesterday, however, divulged
which pollutants were being checked and said
the Draft Air Pollution Rules were used as a
benchmark for the tests.
Manager of Emergency Response and Inves-
tigation, Ria Ramoutar, in a telephone interview
said the EMA had done air monitoring for the
pollutants which it felt would have been most
pertinent to the situation.
As such, the EMA meters were used to test
levels of six of the over 30 substances listed
in the Draft Air Pollution Rules, namely ammo-
nia, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen
dioxide, hydrogen sulphide and volatile organic
The authority also conducted visual sur-
veillance, paying special attention to "sensitive
areas", such as Laventille, Sea Lots and down-
Despite the fact the EMA was working as
part of an inter-agency response team, includ-
ing the Health Ministry, Fire and Police Serv-
ices, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and
the Port-of-Spain and San Juan Laventille
Regional Corporations, specific details of the
air-monitoring tests were not shared with
"We shared our report with them," Ramoutar
Asked if the report included the results of
the levels of pollutants, Ramoutar said no.
"All of the tests came back with lower levels
than the accepted limits provided in the Draft
Air Pollution Rules," he added.
Children, senior citizens
Paediatrician Dr Benjamin Bratt told the
T&T Guardian that senior citizens and children
were at risk from the smoke in the city and
said the EMA should be telling the public the
precise levels measured.
"Senior citizens (over 65) and children (under
18) are at risk... seniors for heart attacks and
bronchitis/pneumonia and premature death,"
Bratt said in an E-mail.
He said everyone else were at risk for sinus,
ear infections, conjunctivitis, bronchitis, pneu-
monia, bronchial asthma attacks and disorders
of the respiratory tract, manifesting basically
in cough, chronic cough, spasms of cough,
leading to poor sleep, daytime irritability, espe-
He said pregnant women were especially
at risk for premature labour and birth.
He said people needed to "stay away from
the areas of pollution.
"Don't send the children to school in Port-
of-Spain. Don't go shopping downtown or
wear a mask," he warned.
Communications manager of the Solid
Waste Management Company Limited (SWM-
COL) George Elias said in a telephone interview
yesterday the fires were very close to being
"We are not 100 per cent finished but we
are very close. The landfill was reopened on
a limited scale today (yesterday)," Elias said.
Asked whether the EMA had provided
SWMCOL, the company responsible for the
landfill, with a copy of the air quality reports,
Elias said he had not seen the report but
assumed they would have done that.
While Elias maintained that an investigation
into the cause of the fire had not been com-
pleted, he said investigations had revealed they
had been deliberately set.
That supports statements by Environment
Minister Ganga Singh on Tuesday that the
fires were deliberately set.
However, he said, the motive for the fire
remained under further investigation.
The company dismissed suggestions that
SWMCOL stood to benefit from fires at the
Beetham landfill and said Central Government
was discussing proposals to improve man-
agement of the site.
A Gasparillo woman who was
asleep in bed narrowly escaped
death when a part of a truck pierced
the wooden house of her bedroom
and crashed onto her head. The
truck overturned near her home
The woman, Suzette Henry, 49,
was admitted to the San Fernando
General Hospital, where up until late
yesterday, she was still waiting for
a CT scan to determine the extent
of her injuries.
While thanking God for sparing
Henry's life, her relatives said the
incident brought back sad memories
for them as two other members of
their family, including Henry's hus-
band, had been killed in nearby traf-
fic accidents several years ago.
Henry's brother-in-law, Brian
Rackal, 40, recounted the incident
when, around 1 am yesterday, the
truck crashed into a van on the
north-bound lane of the Sir Solomon
Hochoy Highway and ran off the
It overturned ten feet from the
house Henry shares with six other
people, just before the Gasparillo
Rackal said: "I was asleep when
I heard a loud noise. I looked through
my window and saw the van spin-
ning on the road. Next thing I know,
the truck is overturned in our yard
and I heard my sister-in-law (Henry)
When family members went to
Henry's bedroom, they found her
holding her head and crying loudly.
"A piece of iron broke off from
the truck, burst through the wall
and burst her head while she was
sleeping," Rackal said.
Rackal said when he got outside,
he saw the driver of the truck.
"He flew out of the cab and was
lying on the grass in front of the
"When I ran outside, I saw him
on the ground. He kept saying he
wanted to lie down so I took him to
lie in the gallery until the ambulance
came," he added.
Rackal said the incident brought
back a flood of bad memories for
He explained: "We have been liv-
ing here 30 years. This highway take
the lives of two of my brothers.
In March 2008, my brother, Win-
ston, was knocked down and killed
while attempting to cross the high-
way. Five months later, in August,
my other brother, Alexander, was
killed as he walked home."
The identities of the two drivers
were not revealed and the owner of
the truck declined to speak to the
EMA guarded on dangers of landfill fire
The Draft Air Pollution Rules states the
following maximum permissable limits in
milligrams (mg) for the pollutants
• Sulphur dioxide: 500.
• Carbon monoxide: 1,000.
• Nitrogen dioxide: 500.
• Ammonia: 50.
• Hydrogen sulphide: 15.
•Volatile organic compound: 20.
Sleeping woman escapes
death as truck 'comes calling'
Gary knocks US video on crime in T&T
A description of the
documentary posted with the video
said Vice News visited depressed
communities of Port-of-Spain and
spoke with the police, activists,
community leaders and gangsters
to understand Trinidad's decade-
plus-long spike in killings.
It added: "Many of the murders
are attributed to ruthless and
politically connected street gangs
which control territories that are
sometimes no larger than a city
block. The gangs fight over
lucrative government contracts
meant to provide social services
and combat unemployment.
"But gang violence is merely a
symptom of a bigger problem.
Trinidad has become an important
stop for drugs headed to West
Africa and the US.
"Many observers point to 'the big
fish', the nameless political and
business elites who are behind
drug trafficking and the culture of
endemic corruption and murder
that comes with it."
The description also mentioned
the assassination of prominent
Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal on
The video features interviews
with self-proclaimed Beetham
community activist Kenneth
"Spanish" Rodriguez; a gang leader,
who wears a bandanna to hide his
face, and Muslimeen leader Yasin
Abu Bakr, who says crime spiralled
after 1990 because he was no
longer keeping it under control. Sgt
Roger Alexander and other police
officers are seen patrolling
Community activist Hal Greaves
and commentators Renee
Cummings and Daurius Figueira
Apart from Cummings, the
interviewees' comments are sub-
WHAT'S IN THE VIDEO
Kit suzette Henry, 49 who was
struck in the head by piece of iron
during the accident, yesterday.
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