Dem and us! Beetham protests and societal inequality from a historical perspective

I do not write for everyone. As a matter of fact, I am well aware that I cannot. I am committed to confronting every aspect of who we are, even the ugliness which we pretend we can ignore.

Our general acceptance of the notion of subordinate cultural groups and communities—even as we project liberal enlightenment—is not surprising in the least. I contend that it is a part of who we are and part of the ugly which we have carried for centuries and which we will carry for centuries more unless we can learn to confront it directly.

Photos: Patrons enjoy the festivities during Trinidad and Tobago’s 2016 Independence Day Parade.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Trinidad—I leave out Tobago deliberately—had the unique circumstance of having the largest free black population in the region during the period of slavery.

One can look at this academically as we have and we can talk about the Cedula and non-whites coming to the island with their unfree labour just as the whites had done. Or we can go deeper to contemplate the extent to which the institution of slavery was accepted as normal.

How did the 40-odd percent of the non-white population view the enslaved?

At the time of the British capture of the island, the free coloured population, though not seen as equals with their white countrymen, enjoyed several liberties which Governors Picton and Woodford would eventually undermine in no small measure. Their response to the new discriminatory measures which marginalised them was not to have an epiphany about the fact the they were an active part of a society where slavery existed but rather to organise themselves to fight for equity with the white population.

Trinidad did not have the explosive plantation rebellions for which Jamaica, Guyana or Barbados is known but, in the pockets which have been recorded, there is no mass condemnation of the institution by the non-white population.

In my own readings, I have not come across a mass mobilisation against the institution of slavery by this group which, by the time of Emancipation, had grown to over 17,000 and boasted a wide range of professionals and landowners among its rank and file.

Photo: Actor Leonardo Di Caprio plays Calvin Candie, a colonial slave owner in the movie “Django Unchained.”
(Copyright Django Unchained)

In other words, the group consisted of ‘enlightened’ men and women whose enlightenment did not extend beyond the social cultural norms of the construct in which they found themselves. But the narrative of the African as being less than human and therefore unworthy of the human condition allowed persons to rationalise the African status as slaves.

As a matter of fact, by the 1820s, this group, led by doctors and lawyers educated in Europe, conducted a strong public campaign on the island and in England for full civil and political equality with the whites. They saw their ‘skills’ as disassociating them from the labouring sectors, especially the enslaved.

I can say with absolute assurance that if we were to take 17,000 persons from 2017 of similar standing and transplant them into the period, any of them who had a voice of condonation would be drowned out by the tumult of condemnation of slavery from among the majority.

This is because we live in a society today where there can be no tolerance for the reduction of people to chattel. That slavery even existed would unsettle even the most callous among us if they were to see it in practice first-hand. But therein lies the problem.

Lloyd Best captures the condition by asking, “How can a culture escape from itself?” Understanding is contextual and our understanding of that period is going to be filtered through our understanding of our present environment and norms.

So, let us ask ourselves, are there norms and values which we have in 2017 with regard to the exploitation of people which will also be condemned by future generations?

Photo: A depiction of slaves serving their masters in Trinidad.

Yet again the Beetham was in the news yesterday and the story is all too familiar. We can all agree that what happened should never happen. Where I will differ with many is on the question of why. I do not agree that it can be simplified to a condemnation of “de kinda people who livin’ dey.”

You genuinely believe that they are the only community that rallies around leaders who have allegations of illegal activity levied against them? Hmmmm…okay.

Of course, we can also say that if you have an issue, that is not the way to handle it. Let me turn to our history again to address this particular comment.

Mac Donald tells us that, in 1823, a coloured delegation led by Dr John Baptiste Phillip went to England and met with the colonial authorities, resulting in the 1826 repeal of many of the discriminatory English laws which targeted them as a group.

There was therefore a measure of recompense and justice in appealing to the Crown. But slavery still existed in this ‘just’ society! In other words, the experience of different groups in dealing with the state differed significantly.

What recourse did the enslaved have?

Photo: A scene from acclaimed move “40 Years A Slave.”

There was a slave revolt planned for Christmas Day in 1805. When the authorities heard of the plot, a curfew was imposed and military personnel sent to Carenage. The aborted revolt was organised by those on the estates.

The leaders of the group were held, and Brereton tells us that they were hanged and decapitated and many others lost their ears or were flogged and banished. The female leader, identified as Samson’s queen, was sentenced to wear chains and a ten-pound iron ring on her leg for the rest of her life.

If we believe that an obvious measure is to police the Beetham, then we need to look a lot closer at how people responded to police states. The question is fundamentally about what kind of society is Trinidad and Tobago.

You cannot have a society which condones inequity, exploitation and outright barbarism and then be surprised when push-back occurs, regardless of the trigger at that moment in time.

Until we reorganise our society from top to bottom, rest assured that yesterday was not the last. We must understand that inherent in an unjust exploitative, corrupt society lies all the elements for the actions we were subjected to yesterday.

Photo: Police officers clear debris after protests at the Beetham Highway on 23 November 2017.
(Copyright CNC3)
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About Akins Vidale

Akins Vidale
Akins Vidale lectures at the Cipriani College of Labour and Cooperative Studies and is a UWI graduate with a B.A. in History. He has served as the president of the Trinidad Youth Council and is the General Secretary of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and NGOs (FITUN). Read his blog:

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  2. Stop making excuses for these illiterate Neanderthals Africans always quick to include history to justify BS I lived around these people there are good ones- less than more these so called bad boys have hurt and trespass on a lot of people dignities.

  3. Historical causation is a tendentious subject and is rarely subject to scientific proof or full falsification. In the butterfly effect everything is connected. If Columbus did not.. or maybe Eve, and so on. I get it but I prefer in terms of responsibility both criminal or social to narrow the case to proximate causation. What was the last operating event that caused the episode. Useful as it is for other purposes such as fashioning a sociological remedy it is a cop out to raise the issue of slavery here, for one there have been many intervening causes from then to now. How come not all descendants of slaves are so inclined having been subject to as the Marxists say the same objective conditions.

    • ? well it actually wasn’t about slavery but we can choose to erase the entire board completely and just start over. Let’s begin at ‚A‘ right now. Then progress to ‚B‘.

    • Oh nonsense, history is critical to understanding the evolution of individual and societal behaviour. How the hell does a fictional figure like Eve equate with documented ethnocentric and religiously bigoted statements from Cristobal Colon?

      In any case, one can draw a line to connect with insolent ease the ways in which the British solidified colonial rule to criminal behaviour (and by criminal, I include here the criminals in the Chambers of Commerce, the legal fraternity and in politics as well as those in depressed communities) in our own times. In many cases, as David Trotman’s study “Crime in Trinidad: Conflict and Control in a Plantation Society 1838-1900” shows, some of the same areas like east POS, which were created as slum like barrack yards, were crime hot spots. We can follow it through using Arthur Calder-Marshall’s accounts or the Moyne Commission of 1938 and then further connect, say, the culture of impunity from the Caura Dam Racket to the Gas Station Racket, or the coddling of violent unemployed gangs for political votes or by businessmen to intimidate other businessmen.

      The problem is the simplistic binaries some people want to adopt, influenced perhaps by the American models of analysis. People talk this thing about personal responsibility as if it is somehow irrelevant to a wider structural framework.

  4. While the article can stand on its own and is quite well researched and orated. . I think today’s society can deal with inequality better than that.. actually I don’t think that action had anything to do with inequality. . In fact I hope the writer of the article goes into the beetham and get to the root of the matter

  5. clarify to me your main points and its connnection to the events at BEETHAM

  6. People have again decided to play the race card. They have again decided to fly the “dem versus us” flag. And again and again we will hear the born into poverty and ignorance so they don’t know better song. But all those people are not considering the reasons for this riot. “Ganstas” were taken into custody. That was all. There were no “injustices”. Innocent people of all races could have lost their lives that day and that seems to not be bothering anyone.

    • Melissa, does the fact that the two “gangstas” held by Police are HDC contractors with State contractors make this any more complicated for you?

    • No. In fact it simplifies things. It simplifies things quite a lot. And if it complicates things for you, then that doesn’t say a lot about your intelligence. Stop romanticizing this issue, it does not help in any way. My stand on this issue is one of zero tolerance. Every time they can’t have their way or perceive some slight injustices, they hold the country to ransom. And then the phsycoanalysts crawl out to talk about slavery, years of oppression and socio-economic injustices. Hell I was even told that one of the reasons they behave like children is because they are too ashamed to use their own address. Hogwash and poppycock!!! My solution? Two 50 foot walls running the lenght of the highway and the bus route, with entrances/exits at Sea Lots and Morvant junction. Police and Army should be guarding these entrances/exits and patrolling inside 24/7. You might say I am harsh and unreasonable but when a child misbehaves, you give them time out. When a prisoner steps out of line he goes into solitary. It is time to stop rewarding them by thinking we need to pump more money into them. Give it where it is deserved and due. We have to think about protecting law abiding citizens who don’t deserve to be subjected to their ignorant behaviour every time they perceive any unfairness towards them. ZERO TOLERANCE. Someone said if they are treated like animals then they will see no choice but to behave like animals. My question is this, who treats them like animals? I don’t. Nobody I know does! So I say this, if you behave like animals then you can’t be surprised when people see you that way.

    • So I ask you a question and you question my intelligence. If you don’t think I’m worth your time then it doesn’t make any sense for me to continue.
      Nice bit about the wall btw. I’ve always said Trinis are Trump-esque deep down. People all over the world are realising that walls and Police States don’t work and only exacerbate the problem.
      For us, we believe those are solutions.
      High walls and train guns on people who have the same civil liberties as you and me. Nice.

    • So your answer sacrifice the many and only consider the well being of a few? There is information you either don’t have or refuse to consider. The arrest of these “community leaders” had nothing to do with any government contracts. It was because of a big shootout between these “community leaders” and police last Sunday on Ariapita Ave. So you can save the bleeding heart nonsense for someone else. I,.and many others have had enough.

    • Melissa it is not about a bleeding heart but about finding a solution. I don’t think a wall or permanent police post is the answer.
      But since you know that the Govt gives million dollar State contracts to “gangsters”, does that concern you? Do you feel that can have any influence on the dynamics of a neighbourhood?
      If you lived in an area where the miscreants were the ones with State contacts and cash, how would that change where you live?

    • “Police officers need to stop befriending gangsters in the Beetham who are called “president” and “prime minister” by some children, claimed head of the Beetham Police Youth Club and retired police inspector Sheila Prince.

      “People in authority supposed to know better and have the power to deal with the law. And they have been playing games with gang leaders. Putting so much status on to them. Calling them all kind of names projecting innocence and they…know the (gangsters) have influence on the young people in Beetham.” She made the comments in an interview with Sunday Newsday about the protests and traffic disruption in Beetham on Thursday following the arrest of two men by police.

      She claimed officers took part in Christmas parties in Beetham organised by criminals.

      “Where is the integrity? Why are police compromising integrity to be part of a whole masquerade? Where did they get the money from? Why you have them around young children?” She said the police would be talking and laughing with these individuals. She also claimed when some people made reports to the police they would ask if they spoke to the “bossman” of the area, taking their vested authority and giving it to criminals. Prince said it was sad Beetham was going down that road of destruction because there was no proper mentor or anybody to denounce wrongdoing.”–cPNl.facebook

  7. Is psychological okay for these ppl to act they way they do and stoned down innocent ppl if they dont get work or if they feel neglected? Oh please this is BS! If they want work so bad go drop in some resume or apply for work jeez! Also no community should be built so close to a highway or country capital.. there are always walls ppl put up near highway and busroute because it is protocol! What make these ppl special? They only thing that is true is the fact that ppl stereotype the behavior of beetham ppl but clearly they proving us right by protraying it regularly..

  8. The cold hard truth is that the PNM created that culture of people. The PNM is responsible for destroying these people psychologically and what is sad is that the people allowed the PNM to brsinwashed them. They live in poverty and they breed criminals. They are being controlled by the PNM mentally. Now they want to hold the country at hostage. Shame on Williams and the other that followred. The PNM leaders destroyed their own people. I am now going to be attacked for speaking the truth.

  9. my mother forgot to teach me that every body owes me something —thank god that these parents in beetham teaches their children that and the best lesson –sit yuh ass down and every thing yuh want will just appear and the last lesson make sure u have a criminal record by age 10 so u can get a good job

  10. A very balance view of the issue Kareem Marcelle

  11. Do an article on how Pnm have them so .

  12. History and the past are not excuses . Many persons have overcome setbacks and poverty in their childhood days and pulled themselves up to overcome earlier challenges and succeed . This is the twenty first century , stop using the past as an excuse for these lawless lazy bunch of people

  13. Mr Article writer why did you leave out who established a population near a dump?

  14. “So, let us ask ourselves, are there norms and values which we have in 2017 with regard to the exploitation of people which will also be condemned by future generations?”

    This is the main point of the article. It’s not about excusing the behaviour because of slavery. The people who were driving past the beetham and whose lives and safety were threatened by that disgusting display were the same descendents of slaves like the pests behind the wall. However in 2017 we can look at ourselves as the “free coloured” because we (for the most part) took advantage of education to free ourselves from being dependent chattels. However what Atkins might be challenging us to do is look at our own status and see if we can identify with the educated blacks who chose to plead their own case for equality even as others of their own race were treated as sub-humans. For me the article is quite thought provoking and I appreciate the historical context. It doesn’t give any answers as to how we can fix this problem and even though I’m an optimist by nature that whole situation seems hopeless.

    • Does URP (whatever it’s called now) help such communities, especially when given to “thugs” to manage? Or giving lucrative contracts to “community leaders” but taking money away from worthwhile projects for the people who are trying to really do something positive in these areas?
      Isn’t the Gov’t itself guilty of empowering anti-social behaviour when the badly behaved people are the ones who are feted while the real community leaders are ignored?
      I feel we look at how State resources are spent in areas like the Beetham, we could find a starting point to improving things.
      And everything I said had nothing at all to do with encouraging lawless behaviour.

    • Yup. Dais it right dey. That’s why I’m not hopeful. Because no matter how we cry down the residents for their self imposed vicious cycle of poverty and dependence (think “children making children”) we can never condone successive governments perpetually handing out favours for votes. It just empowers the gang leaders and godfathers. The one who need still get crumbs.

    • Yes. Our political parties do not have their hearts in the right place or are unable to see the bigger picture. And we, the people, either cannot compel our politicians to act appropriately or are not sufficiently bothered by the mess.

    • Yes it actually does suggest a solution. ‚Fix the society from top to bottom‘. That’s the solution or at least it’s the key to the solution.

      You can see that the society is unequal simply by looking at the police forces and coast guard. Do you see any coffee brown people, fair skinned people or white people? Since 1834, 1962, 1970, there has been no true mixing of the population of the key work and state forces in the country. What does that tell us? The general populace holds itself to be better than the rest. If it’s never on the table to make a choice to train in the police academy, coast guard etc it means that we have always looked down on such jobs as ‚below us‘. Now, it’s technically impossible to consider it. Because everyone who has good passes looks at climbing the ladder to the elite which means the legal, medical and similar professions. We don’t think anything of ourselves otherwise. Parents boast about it.

      So, the solution is to fix this inside out. I’ve heard statements from others suggesting a rounding up by a Castro like leader who can get rid of the problem overnight. No, we do not want communism or s terrorist government but perhaps we should look at some form of social democracy. That means, we create a civil service which every high school graduate is expected to complete for a period of time and maybe we can get those who think they’re better, rubbing shoulders with those who think were never up to their standard. The whole thing has to be turned on it’s head. There’s no hope otherwise.

      I would really like to see a coffee colored, high colored or white person stopping traffic or giving parking tickets.

      I’ve seen the sons and daughters of black of mixed families, equally as white families have a life so spoiled that they don’t know what to do with themselves. The lighter the color, the more they hide the failures from the general populace.

      Top to bottom, if I can see a true mixing of our populace in all forms of service, then I know that our society is as equal as we can get. The problem is that as soon as some of us get ‚up there‘ we are as unreachable as the white planter settler was to his slave and we feel we are better and more powerful than the rest. We don’t care very much about those who don’t have and we want nothing to do with ‚dem‘. No or little empathy for a lesser man’s true condition. Once we can eat and fete, we don’t waste much time studying the rest, even as some of us go to church and pray every weekend we call out and say the word ‚dis nigger on de road‘. I dropped a lifelong friend like this recently. No miss because such a person was never anyone’s true friend anyway. This society needs a serious shake up.

    • Linda Louison I really appreciate that you got the essence of what i said.

    • Akins Olatunji Vidale and I truly appreciated what you said. You probably didn’t need a filler as it was so complete. ??

    • Nah Linda quite a few people missed the essence of what was written?. Some thought it was about using slavery as an “excuse”

    • Rose-Marie yes true. I wonder if they’ll understand now? Hmmmm

    • Linda Louison, you are making a valid observation, and if we are honest, we will admit we notice it too.

      We prefer to hold up those who claim to be better than us, despite how they achieve their assets, rather than respect the person who makes an honest days work.

      Just look around and see who and what we celebrate as a society, and we need nor wonder why we are where we are.

    • Nerisha the only people who make up the force are those who fought during the days at the peak of the black power revolution. A few lighter colored individuals, I’ve probably counted 3 in all the years and I swear I saw a Chinese guy some time last year but I wasn’t sure.

      Worse than back then, Trinidadians are more likely to literally riot, for the least hold mass demonstrations if we were to even suggest a mandatory civil service. I can just see what would transpire in the offices and at family dinner time. Smh.

  15. Enough of the Slavery/ Indentureship B/S , they are suffering from mental slavery under their Political Massas and held hostage by their community leaders.
    Can anyone recall the Holocaust, that is more recent, what did the victims, mainly European Jewry do?
    They built a country and made a garden out of the desert, so please the people of the Beetham need to free themselves from their mental slavery, I don’t think anyone will deny them a helping hand if they ask for it and that includes through the ballot box…. no more UNC or PNM

  16. There are so many more communities in Trinidad and Tobago that don’t have access to opportunities like the Beetham and still they don’t behave like this. There are many residents in the Beetham who work hard and are grateful that they live so close to the city and wish that these lazy ass dunce criminals who have grown accustomed to hand outs but refuse to work when they get it only to use the money to fuel their criminal empire would just disappear so they can improve their lives and their community. And for God sake stop calling these men community leaders they are criminals

  17. How long will people continue to use slavery for the position they find themselves. BEETHAM residents have had monetary investments more than some towns. villages in T&T., Over the years they have moved form shacks to middle class housing. The people who live there are fourth/fifth generation who have access to education, health, housing etc, They made choices to continue to support the PNM government. that’s democracy, and when they can’t get hand outs they behave like animals, Well treat them accordingly. Critics of the government= will make all sorts of trivial excuses ( no jobs, no money for them), that’s why they reacted (NONSENSE, ) well many citizens are in the same boat. Those behind the scene iwho orchestrated such action SHAME, SHAME and they know who they are, hiding behind the unfortunate to do theirr dirty work . It’s people like you who use and abuse them and leve thme out to dry. They are they ones who will soon be gunned down , Accident you think? Its the GOVERNMENT fault , social ill,s not lack of PARENTING. Since the 1980s drugs and guns entered the fray, and governments did not deal with them . They have always protested when they feel thy ca’t get their way, urged on by political parties promises, in addition to the dependency syndrome. Mothers saw their kids return home with monies etc and turned a blind eye, BLAME the government for everything and absolve delinquent parents who kids hose gang over schools., Be aware that they have all the amenities required in LAVENTILLE. PNM government built schools and trade institutions there, what have they done? rob students at gun point , How many in the area took the opportunity to attend these institutions in their back yard. Now is not the time to play party politicks and blame game , HOLD them accountable, ALL PARTIES have used criminals for support when in office so self righteous actions from the OPPOSITION at this time is pretense. It is is a waste of time, In the end what occurred SHOULD Not be dismissed, BEETHAM resident need to be held accountable, Those intent in destabilising the country, check your self.

  18. It’s time to move on from the effects of slavery as the reason, or the location if a community as the reason and all the other excuses as the REASON for some in communities through out Trinidad and Tobago, and particularly in the Betham and laventille communities who use the veil of underprivileged to commit and support criminal acts and violence as a form of protest for their laziness in not getting theirs. They at the outskirts of town why they didn’t try and develop commercial enterprise as a stopping area for passers by instead of robbers guns and drug running as their commerce and the threat of violence as their bargaining chip to be allowed to do as they please . That article is not relevant to what happened

  19. Hear they are not the only ppl experiencing difficulties..there are many ppl who left laventille,sealots n there who used education or sports to get out..they are not unique in their struggle..however many choose a life of crime and hate against innocent hardworking citizens..They want fast cash not education and opportunity….as a black woman we all struggled…but our mindset is to work hard achieve..
    Most of these characters are heartless unhinged bandits

  20. This slavery article as nice as it sounds is exactly why the nonsense continues ….beetham etc. And mind you this broader than you think it stretches as far as Valencia come down the east west corridor and along down south marabella train line, etc. It occurs mainly due to a poor mentality ( be superiority or inferiority complexes) fuel by perceived injustice true or false…for example when talk about who thief what or how much reaches the ears of these pockets of society they in turn feel left out while it is perceived that the wider society eating the pie ….guess what ….we want and we going and get it too… It is that together with conniving politicians, stupid individuals and TIME….. It is now entrenched behaviour. The only way to change this….. bell the cat. Stamp out corruption on top and everybody will realize that legal hard work equal most times to success. Put true social programs for times it didn’t. Example a child watching his parent work hard then meeting an untimely death left to fend for himself instead of getting state help…so he doesn’t come out hating society. These simple things not happening and TIME is taking its toll. Most of them had humble beginnings Spanish included…. check their stories but “fedupness” lack of genuine care and concern harden peoples heart. What is need now is a ruler with true love and testicular fortitude moving forward. Stop bowing to pressure from first world countries bcuz they in a monkey pants too.

  21. “You cannot have a society which condones inequity, exploitation and outright barbarism and then be surprised when push-back occurs, regardless of the trigger at that moment in time.” This statement is pure journalistic gold. For too long the mentality has been “we vs them”. Solving crime on this island is not about exterminating the “cockroaches” but about social change and moving away from a society that created this problem in the first place.

  22. How come poor East Indians communities who suffered the same inequality and neglect by successive governments for years never stoned, threw debris and robbed innocent people in their community? This type of lawlessness has nothing to do with the so called social injustices experienced in the Beetham. Pictures of the men arrested showed huge gold chains, money thrown on the grown while half naked women twerked to the sound of hardcore dancehall music. There is an expectation that crime and criminality should be left alone to flourish on all quarters. All governments have left criminal acts and white collar corruption, crime alone and allowed it to flourish. Imagine a community is hindering the police from executing their duties and they feel they have that right. Yet they will allow murders to happen almost daily without protest. Isn’t that a display that lawlessness should be left alone and any attempt to insert law and order is met with strong resistance. Yet we have writers giving credence to them warning us lawabiders that we should be afraid when they erupt. What about us, who are totally fed up of the crap we have to endure by the bands of a few. Why not society be afraid of law abiding citizens who are totally fed up of being held to ransom by a few and the law that seem to protect them?.

  23. The people demself say dey block de road because police detain dey leader , so dis victim angle is b.s.
    They also said they are going to rob and kill s enough of the violins. That they terrorized motorists shows them for what they are .

  24. Give them excuses and they will use it. How many of us were poor. So poor in the 80s even potato that was less than a dollar we had to take in ‘trust’ from the shopkeeper. We live in multi-ethnic communities and the biggest drug lord lived at the bottom of a short street. Even today people getting killed on the same street still. But did the residents fall into depravity…no. The lure of fast money, little effort and power seems like a better reason.
    I remember sitting a lecture where it was justified that the descendents of slavery were not capable of monogamy because of their cultural upbringing. They needed to live freely. I gawked and felt sorry for the women.

    If we are not honest with ourselves then how can a solution be found. Academics read books. Get on the ground and understand the mentality of these people you might be enlightened.

  25. What happens periodically on the Beetham is merely symptomatic of the underlying challenges the nation faces. Ironically Beetham and La Brea residents are a lot more organized than many of our other communities. Ppl are fed up of the BS passing for governance– for years now, and we taking the BS and “jamming still.” Any ppl will only take so much until the fight back; failure to push back generations will end up being victimized

  26. Ah yes, it begins,,, slavery as an excuse to defend this type of behavior …

  27. utter rubbish …

    Siparia and Mayaro are much poorer than Beetham,,

    statistically shown..

    Highest rate of unemployment = Mayaro
    Largest Concentration of people living below the poverty line = Siparia

    limited access to schools, and water , poor roads and almost no public health care.
    The cost of Public Transport is 4 times higher than what someone from Beetham has to pay ..

    The use of historic fact, to make an abject lie seem true is quite a noteworthy effort …

    People in Beetham are NOT the VICTIMS of INEQUALITY …


  28. Nice article… not relevant to what happened yesterday. Beetham residents reacted that way because their leader and another person both known were arrested.. and actions halted when they were released.. plain and simple.. interesting article but what happened yesterday wasn’t as complex as that

  29. Jennise Gilalta-Balkaran

    It was an interesting read. Truly an eye opening piece. Thanks for your contribution.

  30. I agree with what u saying. They were initially bought in by dr eric williams back in the day. And it seems this set were never integrated into society as other immigrants from selfsame islands in other parts of trinidad. I feel tho that this is because of their location. Close to the capital. And governments past and present have used them for votes. They have reached a point now where many depend on government to provide. And that not restricted to the beetham. Trini get too accustomed on oil money and government padded tenders and jobs where once in the union protects u. Slavery and oppression have nothing to do with this case i feel. Its abt dependency on government and their community leaders to provide funds for them. Clean drains and ghost gangs. But now the economy low and no projects and the police arresting the leaders to negotiate jobs or hits or drug and arms operations. They push back at as this article says everyone who is not them. But for how long can governments feed them with a sinking economy? Lifesport and dem days done for now.

  31. poor needy ppl all over but they don’t behave like thugs

  32. Order is a derivative of law and law is a social construct that takes all elements of what form the society. This includes historical pre-existing conditions and cultural norms that are carried through and stay alive generations after generations. To attain justice for all we must understand the totality of the forces driving everyone in this society… including the “Beetham criminals.”

  33. Mr Vidale,you made some valid points.

  34. Thank you Akins, but as we already seeing, pearls to swine. Below was a response I sent to a friend who is thinking of leaving not just the country but the entire region:

    Leave and go where? You heard it from your friend, in little (and more stable) Barbados it’s happening. It’s happening even in North America and England. But no one wants to openly make the connection between what we saw on the Beetham and the economic policies and culture that we refuse to let go. In fact, as “ordinary” capitalism morphed into neoliberal capitalism, we just fell in line and joined in the fetishised culture of consumption, “bling” and no thought about those who were born into a completely different reality because of that same economic model.

    I lie, we often do think about them. We think it’s their problem, their fault, they too lazy, want handouts and governments contracts (and yes, many of them do), but how did they get to that mindset in the very first place?

    The thing is that Trinis prefer to live in denial; people much more qualified than me have been warning us that this would happen. When Ella Andall and the writers in the T&T Review were warning us about missing generations and about maintaining an economy and society that pushes out whole swathes of people, every single one of those who threw objects on the highway yesterday were either infants, or not yet born. Hell, I can go further back and direct you to the first chorus of Chalkdust’s calypso “Somebody Mad” which was done back in the early 70s. Better yet, go read Arthur Lewis’ comments in the Moyne Commission of 1938, see if anything looks familiar. It was ignored then, being ignored now.

    By all means, pray if you want, but back up that prayer with sound data and common sense actions. Address the issues of inequality, use your creative gifts to call attention to the invisibilising of whole communities in this country; communities that were created for only one purpose: a close-by labour force to maintain estates and the new industries that were emerging in the opening years of the 20th century. It eh that hard to address it really, but it’s not being addressed in that manner because as Fr Harvey pointed out more than once, it goes against the interests of those who are the most respectable in our society who are financiers of BOTH major political parties and who need for things to remain as they are.

    People talk about the fact that Beetham residents protested only because two of the major gang-leaders were arrested by police. Men who were “Robin Hoods” in that community. That may very well be the reason. But ask yourself how did they come to be seen as Robin Hoods? Wasn’t “Dudus” Coke one in Jamaica? Wasn’t Dole Chadee one too? Ent he help with the infrastructure in Piparo and Biche? Why he had to be the one to do it and not those whose responsibility it is to do it?

    Kneel down and pray of you want, but get up and answer it.

  35. “An unjust exploitative, corrupt society” afforded him the opportunity to show off his intellectual historical masturbation skills, in a convoluted attempt to link the barbarism (by any definition) of yesterday’s Beetham experience (one just has to read or listen to Nikki Crosby’s account) with chattel slavery and post slavery colonialism and on and on.
    I guess that he is simply offering an opinion of one, but somtimes one needs to “call out” such an opinion.

  36. The writer of this article made an interesting statement, “You cannot have a society which condones inequity, exploitation and outright barbarism and then be surprised when push back occurs, regardless of the trigger at that moment in time.” That push back spoken of usually comes from LAW ABIDING citizens, not those who enjoy the criminal lifestyle. Using historical instances during periods of slavery are not good analogies for what happened yesterday. Societal inequality affects all of us, not just those living in the Beetham. Without typing an essay here what we need is a mentality shift in our T&T if we want to BEGIN to change course for the better…

    • ..And a permanent army base on the highway..

    • So are you saying that everyone who was out yesterday was a criminal?

    • .I done. Criminality ruled yesterday. Innocent needed protection and none was forthcoming. People could have been killed. There is a time for socio-historical analysis and it wasn’t on the highway yesterday. That was a time for strong military action to protect working people going about their business..

    • Yes and that is only the short sighted immediate response. By your own admission it will happen again and you are yet to say what you see as the cause.

    • ..Yesterday called for an IMMEDIATE solution. The sociology could come after. Ask anybody who was there. Ask Nikki Crosby..

    • What needs to immediately be done is to stop pumpong money into senseless short term projects to give these ppl ah food while they also deal in other criminal activities. Stop making government tools of them and fraid if u will get their votes if u vex them. More go towards bettering their standard of living and putting education into academics and trade centres for them to learn skills. Do away with community leaders system of recognition and merit those who looking at educational improvements and pump welfare and social support services. It wont change overnight but it will be better eventually for all.

    • Akins Olatunji Vidale well, throwing debris on the road is illegal, , and when there were protests in Penal, the Minster of National Security came out ready to arrest and charge anyone they caught in the act ..

      So maybe they should apply the law to beetahm’s residents the same way the can apply the law to penal’s residents .

    • “You cannot have a society which condones inequity, exploitation and outright barbarism and then be surprised when push back occurs”

      Boy, we will have HELL to pay, when Siparia and Mayaro get fed up …

    • Akins Olatunji Vidale Your article has validity BUT your historical references distracted from your very valid points
      Junior Phillip’s comment a bit above misses a couple very salient points:
      1) The East Indians were not a “warring people”, intrinsically, Ghandhi fasted his way out of British rule; The African was – Tribes went about conquering Tribes and enslaving the conquered as well as all the other concomitant ills
      Avi Bhagan misses the importance of the piece – distracted by the supporting historical references

    • FACT is successive governments have DELIBERATELY created these pockets of poverty – for many reasons; the maintenance of the underground economy, not being the least of these
      FACT also is it was affordable at one point in time – again for many reasons – Bilinging et al not being the least of these
      These communities were and still are considered low maintenance assets – again for many reasons – voters’ banks not being the least of these
      FACT is our society has outgrown much of that type of governance and those who benefitted the most from it never saw the real impact of Global shrinking – both from the media blitz as well as the local growth – their “money tree” is no longer willing to accept the “small change” – again for a variety of reasons television “re-enactments” not being the least of these

    • Now to Vidale’s points – the wolf is at the door AND force is NOT going to be a solution – we try to go down that road and we will create a huge monster
      A rising tide lifts all the boats AND that is the ONLY solution that will help us
      FACT is illiteracy coupled with brute strength is a formidable enemy; couple that with easy access to arms and a generally “docile” majority and we can be our own worst enemy
      We do need to understand that those “plaster on sores”? They are no longer going to work
      Sitting behind our computers complaining and bashing – whether it be the authorities or the lawlessness? That’s not going to work either
      We all have to realise that our most disenfranchised is NOT the enemy – our governments are and unless we all work to getting our governments to start thinking about ALL of our people and do the job they were elected to do we will all become victims!!!

    • Misty Autumn Dey I agree with you to a point but we can try the velvet glove approach and understand the historical aspects of their situation but I really believe we need zero tolerance and if they don’t behave we need the hammer, this is not only about what they want but what all other law abiding citizens want

    • Colin Mohammed There is zero tolerance and then there is zero tolerance
      What would have been your suggestion? Round up all protesters and throw them in jail? How long would that have lasted? When they came back out what do YOU think would have happened?
      You do understand that the authorities wilted under pressure and released the two “Community Leaders”, right?
      Do you understand why?
      Can you please explain what you would have done

    • Misty it is easy for me looking from the outside in, so in reality this is a difficult answer. So my answer may not fit in with the reality of the political and societal realities in TNT. However it will give you what I think should happen and that is zero tolerance , all involved in the blockade should be incarcerated together with the instigators of this action, then there should be a total Police and Army presence 24/7, this should help get rid of all bad elements allowing the majority of the good people of the Beetham to have some peace. Again this action may not fit in with the political realities on the ground but if the message is enforced I bet you the Beetham will be a bit better

    • Agreed. And the outright barbaric behaviour is what we saw coming out of the Beetham. The article says it should not be condoned yet the the writer goes to ask for empathy and forgiveness because of their ancestral past. This article is stupid and makes absolutely no sense.

    • The cause Mr. Akins Olatunji Vidale was, THEY LOCK UP DE GANSTA DEM!!! Did you hear it now?

  37. ..I agree what happened yesterday won’t be the last time it happens. But colonial slavery and society made twenty-first century young men attack innocent passersby and rob them? Terrorise women. Shoot at the police? Nah man. We could stretch the burden of history only so far..

  38. The Beetham residents decided to hold their own JSC hearing yesterday…The night before armed plains clothes persons/police were seen entering from the Beetham side..What would you do , honest persons, if police came to arrest you so you can sit 6-7-8 years in jail awaiting trial>> How many trips would the P.M’s, Ministers, Chief Justices make , accompanied by cohorts while you rot in jail awaiting ‘due process’…Unless you were/are an ‘oil t,ief’ robbing Petrotrin of money it is no longer supposed to be generating.

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