Do-or-die: Forget Brazil W/Cup, Port of Spain has the real group of death

The Brazil 2014 World Cup has dominated conversations all over the globe and, in the past week, there was finally irrefutable evidence about which nation got stuck in the “Group of Death.”

Spain? Not even close. More like Port of Spain.

Photo: Criminals are as emboldened as ever in east Port of Spain.
Photo: Criminals are as emboldened as ever in east Port of Spain.

A four-day long weekend was a chance for families to hit the beach, jet off for a mini-vacation or get intimate with your television set according to the size of your wallet or the breadth of your imagination.

But, in East Port of Spain, some unidentified criminals saw it as an opportunity to test their weapons. And, in what appeared to be a senseless shooting spree, a 39-year-old mother, Petrina Salandy, was gunned down in front of her four children including her five-month-old baby, Kayla, while 16-year-old Rohan Riez was also murdered.

Elsewhere in St James, 72-year-old Janice Heath, an avid Jehovah Witness, was stabbed to death at her home on Sunday morning.

Even on public holidays, Trinidad and Tobago’s murderers refuse to put their feet up.

As always, there are no leads; just as, nearly two months later, there remains no breakthrough in the assassination of former Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal.

Presumably, Seetahal’s killer did not park his white panel van downtown or in Woodbrook. The detection rate for serious crime might stand at around ten percent; but, if you park on the wrong street at the wrong time, there is a 90 percent chance you will be charged within the hour.

Follow the parking regulations and you can get away with murder. Because the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service cares about nothing as much as keeping Ariapita Avenue clear of parked cars; even though the two-lane road is probably the widest in the country.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service does not have the world's sharpest detectives. Damn good parking attendants though.
Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service does not have the world’s sharpest detectives.
Damn good parking attendants though.

Noone can accuse the People’s Partnership for not caring about hardened criminals, though. If anything, they care too deeply.

In just over two years, the budget for the Ministry of Sport’s LifeSport program mushroomed from $6.6 million to over $113 million. And, when the Government ran out of money, it didn’t tell the participants to tighten their belts, hold a cake sale or check them back next year; as they do to the country’s sporting ambassadors.

Instead, according to Trinidad Express investigative reporter Asha Javeed, the PP started borrowing money from commercial banks to ensure that no one went without. And Ruth Marchan, a deputy director at LifeSport, gave some insight into the esteemed citizens who populate their programme.

“This was a programme that targeted criminal elements,” Marchan told the Express. “These same people, some have court. Who don’t have court, some might make a jail in between for robbery.

“So when they leave, after you leave, we don’t dismiss you from the programme, you come back.”

And, as generous as ever, the Sport Ministry devised a ratio for attendances to ensure that participants could still collect payments despite missing sessions to “make a jail.”

Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago star sprinter and Olympic medalist Keston Bledman has gone six months without State funding and had to dip in his own pocket to buy vitamins, fund his training and treat injuries.

Marchan, who is oblivious to irony, also revealed that she hired a LifeSport member with supposed underworld connections and a presumably unlicensed firearm to protect her; after she received information about a possible threat to her life from a phone she stole off another Sport Ministry official.

So, Marchan has hired a possible LifeSport criminal to protect her from other LifeSport criminals after her act of theft against a fellow public servant led to a tip-off. And she painted herself as the victim in this mess.

If the Government cannot protect its own middle men and women, what chance do the likes of Salandy have?

Tonight, 2010 World Cup champions Spain will head to the departure lounge with wet eyes before a first class trip back to Madrid.

Photo: A football fan says goodbye to Spain at the Maracana Stadium. (Copyright AFP 2014/Martin Bernetti)
Photo: A football fan says goodbye to Spain at the Maracana Stadium.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Martin Bernetti)

You think your life sucks, Xavi? Try taking your family for a walk in Port of Spain.

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  1. Folks. This is but a drop in the bucket. Criminal elements have long been given leeway to the access of state funds and illegal financial gain. And I’m not talking about the life sport programme. From unethical tender procedures to bribes in hotel rooms to cloaked business dealings this type of activity has been going on way before the entrance of this administration. What I do believe is that a particular ‘element’ escaped unscathed and paved the way for a more aggressive and devious approach to the funneling of public coffers into private sector pockets. Sooner or later illicit activity of this magnitude is bound to give way to the natural course of violence that this type of greed breeds. How does an administration who holds itself accountable to no one hold any one else accountable. The greatest attack T & T has been facing is on its integrity. With politicians having a morality of their own, can we expect better from any one else?

  2. what is this article really about…making honest hard working ppl feel guilty about watching the w/cup…making it seem as if the problems created by these lazy ass bandits and their irresponsible parents is someone else’s fault…i wish i win the lotto so i cud have the finer tings in life…but dat aint going to happen…i have to beat the pavement evryday to make ends meat and provide for my family…while these f**kers kill ppl steal and walk free…u know wat…i am fed up of this f**king reverse psychology ppl keep trying for us to feel sorry for these bandits …if they want to change their life they can…i not feeling guilty for going to the beach…watching world cup…etc…cuz i deserve it…and if by chance one of these f**kers distress my family…i will defend to the best of my ability…but i am not going to spend my f**king life worrying about these waste of human space…and worrying about the problems they create for themselves and their community…if u work for a dollar u appreciate it more than if it was given to you or stolen…dats why bandits and thieves will always be that way…unless they choose to change…so stop f**king making it seem as if its society’s fault

  3. it maybe funny but it is serious as hell

  4. Meanwhile an supposedly international anointed mother……er says we ain’t under spiritual attack. This country is bought by the blood of the innocent & paid for with dollars to the undeserving , greedy, malicious, evil walking our country with authority.

  5. Worldcup yes look like ah striker

  6. This seems like the story outline for a best seller instead of reality

  7. This writer hits the spot every time. Hilarious and true! Read him…..

  8. hmm so true, so true, I am so fed up of all the crap going on in this country 🙁

  9. The ” LHA” has no authority over this.There needs to be a Garbage Disposal Unit to take out this type of shit!

  10. The sarcasm in these articles… too funny.

  11. Hmmmm….god alone..with conscience and heart could change this

  12. Anytime you have a perennial problem crime or otherwise, somebody doing or something wrong.

  13. “It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of non-violence to cover impotence.” Mohandas K. Gandhi

  14. “Not only do most people accept violence if it is perpetuated by legitimate authority, they also regard violence against certain kinds of people as inherently legitimate, no matter who commits it.” Edgar Z. Friedenberg

  15. I prefer the group of death in football because big team, small team is same licks passing, however, in T&T look at which team getting licks all the time.

  16. Well, well you might think that with all the efforts to assist the ” bad man them” in this society they would recognize this and show some sort of intention for change. We have to realise that change is not what is desired, so this attempt is just funding for ” badness”. Is anyone from the program willing to bring forward stats ” real stats” to show we have reached at least 10% of the total attendance, NO ONE THERE HAS DONE ANY RESEARCH INTO THIS. Where are the professionals in the system to identify where can change be effected and administer that help, no sir, this was a D.E.W.D. project from the seventies. I appeal to the now holier than thou Mr. Gary Griffith remember uncle “Ray” when he would say “not everyone is the same” you have been given the program put the necessary policies in place to try and reform these young people so you do not have to give the instructions “shoot to kill”

  17. It will NEVER change! More to come

  18. After the “turf war” was reported there has since been 5 incidents of gunfire heard in the same area the mother and child was killed from handguns and automatics, 9mm and 5,56 as with the frequency you learn the different gun sounds.

  19. This is the corner of Prince and Nelson St. A large mobile police post was here and since removed. If it was still there the shootings in the vicinity could of been prevented through sheer presence. The blocking of Piccadilly street by burning debris a few days ago in protest of the killing in Laventille could also have been prevented. The police post built in the place where a woman lost her life by fire and built by a gang leader serves absolutely no purpose and is so out of the way that on the next corner a man could kill someone and get away.

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