Here is another test for the failed Acting Commissioner of Police, Stephen Williams and the rest of the failing police high command, who do not want their performance assessed by reference to “murders alone”—even though murders continue at more than one a day and are committed with almost complete impunity.
There was a report in the Trinidad Express last week that some residents of a coastal village did not want their community to be better lighted at night. There was the suggestion that there were activities best suited to the cover of darkness.
The source of the report was the Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries speaking to reporters, referring to a fishing depot and quoted as follows:
“It is the residents of that area who come into facility (sic) and they have interfered with the electrical installations. There are people who have an interest in keeping that area dark. There are people who have an interest in using the facility for non-fishing reasons and non-fishing activities.”
What an amazing assertion! It makes one wonder whether the Minister and the Police are living in the same country, such is the apparent disconnect between these different arms of the State.
With or without that report, it is apparently generally well known which coastal areas should be avoided at night—although if one spoke Spanish they might be more hospitable.
So Mr Williams, what about if we judge your performance on the open carrying-on of these non-fishing activities, which are perhaps the unimpeded delivery of lucrative cargoes including bevies of Latinas?
Has a police party been sent to the coastal village to let there be some light after the police apprehend the commercial princes of the favoured darkness?
As the darkened fishing facility demonstrates, our country is made up of many opposite things that co-exist and carry on regardless.
Another example of the paradox is the now established lawlessness where the first rebuttal to an argument or redress of a perceived wrong is a killing. But we have in abundance disciplined producers—such as our performing artistes—whose work, for example, will again stand out in fiercely competitive pan music without a physical blow being struck.
Integral to this paradox is the high reward earned from illegal cargoes, contrasted with the humble living of genuine fisher folk and the pittances our artistes earn outside of the all inclusive stages.
The earnings gap, already wide, is widening still further as Government funding support of arts and culture—as subjective, incoherent and flawed as it has always been, whoever is in power—is decreasing following the drop in earnings from the energy sector.
These earnings were traditionally available to be flung about to purchase political dependency at the low end and campaign finance at the high end along with suck-eye opportunities to mismanage public funds for private gain.
Naturally, for me, this is a high season for feeling the pain of the paradox in the urban setting as I make almost nightly visits to the panyards; but the same pain is to be felt in rural settings where an honest living in fishing or agriculture is trivialised by the massive, blatant shadow of the other trades and trafficking operating in some of the same spaces, undisturbed by law enforcement.
I do not know what to expect as the Carnival tempo picks up but the streets and highways at night are eerily devoid of traffic. The self-imposed curfews are biting deep.
The Trini paradox is making negative progress. The bad side is winning.
Of course good and bad exist side by side in many countries but we are so small that they trip over each other, frequently in interconnecting relationships which, unlike many countries, have resulted in punishment being off the table. That’s why so many persons are “known” to the police but never face the Courts.
The interconnecting relationships have been a subject of comment in these columns.
“Is high time to separate the goat from the sheep because otherwise is the whirlwind we have to reap.”
Thank you Karene Asche. I identify admiringly with Caught in the Whirlwind.
Thank you also Natasha Nurse—or, by her stage name, Sexy Suzie—for your current song Negative Progress: a paradoxical title, which I acknowledge and respectfully apply to a phenomenon on which I have commented for many years.
You deserve to have the good wine in your glass.
We do not need a grandiose ‘crime plan’ to stem the dirty tide. We need competent and untarnished law enforcement—no mixing of the goat with the sheep or convenient dousing of coastline lights at night.
Law enforcement should have long ago been supported by diligent DNA capabilities, the upgrading and maintenance of which would have been a better investment than the Tarouba stadium, once also farcically justified as a tsunami shelter.
When will we urgently re-assess our priorities?