Noble: Will Trinidad and Tobago’s lambs remain silent—satisfied by the ‘appearance’ of crime fighting?

‘The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance.’

— John Philpot Curran (1790).

As a nation, we are sliding into a place of great sadness. The economy’s growth engines are shutting down, and there is a collapse of law and order. Daily, it becomes more difficult to discern who has our national interests at heart from who are essentially bandits. 

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley (left) and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC.
(Copyright Power102fm)

Our neglect of necessary investment in public utilities leads to considerable distress to ordinary citizens. While some persons prosper, others suffer. Life is excruciatingly painful for the average citizen. 

The story of Andrea Bharatt is the story of crushed dreams. A young woman, nurtured in love, snatched away by criminals and murdered. 

Her experience mocks the elusive aspiration that ‘if we work hard, we will succeed’. The hope expressed by that image of Ms Bharatt dressed in her graduation robes ended in a tragic loss represented by her decomposed body. 

The early boast about the Police’s capacity to rescue a kidnap victim was an empty boast based on a dated report. The sister of another missing woman helpfully gave us the backstory of the madcap unsuccessful search in the eastern areas.

The revolting rape of 8 January 2021 apparently went unremarked until the newspaper expose. The official rebuttal was more telling for what it did not address. 

Photo: Alleged rapist Joel Balcon, aka Devon Charles.

In 2008, the Police’s response to a poor missing woman was ‘…laughing and saying my sister ran away to take man…’ By 2021, it is upgraded to: ‘…he was just looking at me… I don’t know what he was thinking, but he was just looking at me… He gave us  the paper and dismissed us again…’

The persistent mother did the Trini thing and got a ‘link’ via a police friend, who got a WPC to meet her at Mt Hope Hospital. Does anything work in this country without a ‘link’?

Obviously, ‘victim preferencing’ (Black, 1976) is at play in our country. Victim preferencing theory says that who you are will influence how diligently and vigorously the authorities would work to solve a matter. 

We are fortunate that Andrea Bharatt, dressed in her graduation garb, ripped the bandages off our eyes. Without that picture, would we have been bothered to wake up from our fantasy? 

We either ignored or did not know about the updated information that showed the modus operandi and the ring that operated with possible human trafficking connections. We do not understand or care that unresolved issues morph into more intractable problems. They never remain the same. They always get worse and more complicated.

Photo: Andrea Bharatt, 23, went missing on 29 January 2021. Her lifeless body was found in the Heights of Aripo on 4 February 2021.

We retrieved Andrea’s body yet walked away without securing the crime scene. We, as a nation, are uninterested in evidence. We neither wish to find, study or understand it. We prefer the zest in anecdotes and unsubstantiated conspiracies. Please do not confuse us with facts. 

Andrea was essentially a marginalised woman like many other missing women. The disrespect meted to the January victim suggests that we do not know whether the others who returned home suffered rape or sexual abuse. We sigh with relief and move on, not recognising the problem that plagues us. 

Why? Because these issues do not threaten our elites. These issues affect the groups by whom they feel threatened. So they silently move on. 

Our leaders, more concerned about the appearance of crime-fighting than the crime fighters and their misdeeds, float the stunning balloon ‘because the officers were masked there isn’t much concrete evidence… identifying the officers’.

We focus on flimsy statistics and ignore the impudent audacity all around. Nobody takes responsibility. We live in the past yet pretend to be fighting today’s battles.

Photo: National Security Minister Stuart Young (left) and Police Commissioner Gary Griffith wave to the crowd during the 2020 Carnival.
(Copyright TTPS)

But think about it, this is not only about the Police; it is true of many other areas of our economy and life. We love Brer Anansi leaders who make us feel good. Their harsh reckless responses to any criticism cower many, even our elites. We only dissent when it is personally safe. 

We are unfeeling and uncaring about ordinary people. How then will we grow this society? 

How will we make life better if we remain silent in the presence of barbarians?

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About Noble Philip

Noble Philip, a retired business executive, is trying to interpret Jesus’ relationships with the poor and rich among us. A Seeker, not a Saint.

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One comment

  1. I am afraid as Caribbean people we are losing it. There are those who commit the crime, those who turn a blind eye because it’s not on their doorstep, those who govern and to them it’s merely a part of crime statistics and who will boast at the end of the year if the reported crime rate is lesser than the previous year. I would however like to place emphasis on the word reported. We often speak about vision 2030, even when the persons to take us there lives can be snuffed out at any minute. At times I tell myself they may soon start making minute calendars.

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