“[…] We may want to pin it on social injustice or income inequality, but the truth of the matter is that the people of Trinidad and Tobago have a protracted and sustained attitude of lawlessness.
“It is why I believe that ‘Discipline’ was inscribed as part of our national watchwords—because the father of our nation knew that we are undisciplined as a people…”
The following guest column on the possible causes of Trinidad and Tobago’s current murder rate was submitted to Wired868 by Salaah Inniss:
“Oh sweet Trinbago…” Can I still, in 2023, utter these words to describe our twin-island state?
Evidently most people would say that epithet has been smeared for the past two decades and replaced by an inauspicious sobriquet: “of we living in jail”—due to a steady progression of murders, criminal activities and heinous crimes that has proliferated, with no sight of abatement.
In fact, as of April 2023, the murder rate this year has already surpassed the figures for the same period in 2022!
Now how did we get to this point?
We may want to pin it on social injustice or income inequality, but the truth of the matter is that the people of Trinidad and Tobago have a protracted and sustained attitude of lawlessness.
It is why I believe that “Discipline” was inscribed as part of our national watchwords—because the father of our nation knew that we are undisciplined as a people.
Further, the root cause of the lawlessness in our society and the malady of indiscipline of our people are not only caused by the downtrodden or certain communities in our society. Lawlessness and indiscipline is also evident in the case of the privileged, the business sector and our leaders in government.
To understand the degree of lawlessness we can’t just look at the most violent of crimes such as murders, or kidnappings. But we have to look at how we drive on the nation’s highways, with no regard for traffic laws—with driving on the shoulders, speeding, and breaking traffic lights.
There is this malaise that has consumed us, that “don’t care” attitude.
It is noticeable that on public streets and in any community, a person can have their business, such as a mechanic, and do repairs right in the streets, creating a public nuisance by hindering the flow of traffic without being ticketed or fined by law enforcement. Or people set up fruit and vegetable stalls on the highway without permission.
If that for some people can’t be classified as lawlessness, then we must be pleased and thrilled of the pungent smell of marijuana being smoked blatantly and openly by our citizen’s in public places.
It is any wonder that crime and lawlessness has become part of our way of life? Moreover, the continued lawlessness of our people has a negative and direct impact on the economic growth of our society, causing both domestic and foreign investors to regress from opening business or trade.
We have seen many businesses, small and large, close in certain communities because of the criminal activities and out of concern for the safety and security of their workers and property.
The repercussion of such closures is economic stagnation, job loss and poor quality of living standards for families in those areas.
This cycle of crime and criminal activities must be addressed to ensure the generation to come does not fall into this rut. We are not naïve, we know that lawlessness isn’t just about our country, or region—even the first world countries have to deal with the upsurge in advanced criminal activities such as terrorism and cyber-crimes.
However, history would not be kind to Trinidad and Tobago’s obfuscated approach to addressing the lawlessness of its citizens who are bent on creating fear and distress on law-abiding citizens in our society.
The government of the day cannot extricate themselves from this mandate and responsibility, since it would be a dereliction of duty and an ethical misstep.
It is therefore incumbent upon all law-abiding citizens to evoke the moniker “sweet, sweet Trinidad” once again and discontinue the attitude of lawlessness.
Lawlessness deceit and shameless attempts by an opposition themselves tainted in some instances by association and in others by deeds to politicize this unfortunate situation. Imagine the irony of a politician who is currently before the court on corruption related charges referring to persons involved in home invasions as ‘rats’ (quite comical given the extent of corruption that allegedly took place during their tenure). This in a nutshell highlights the extent of our problems and emphasizes once more the need for all crime and criminality to be addressed promptly and expeditously. Otherwise we run the risk of persons becoming very cynical where these issues are concern.