“The carnage has become part of our lives just like potholes in the road, increased fuel prices, crime in the military and police service and deep-seated corruption in the Judiciary.
“[…] Murder has now become the supreme expression of corruption in our culture.”
The following Letter to the Editor on Trinidad and Tobago’s troubling murder rate was submitted to Wired868 by Rae Samuel:
I remember covering the funeral of one of the two secondary school students shot to death in Laventille around 3 ‘o’clock one afternoon, on a school day, some three years ago.
It was a crowded little church in East Port-of-Spain. The road had been blocked off and there was a tent across the roadway.
The mourners were children—yes, children—who had to come to terms with the shooting to death of fellow students who played, studied, possibly even fought and flirted with them. What one saw on these young faces was bewilderment mostly.
He was a talented young cricketer who had brought honour to his school and community. His gear was on display. All the talk about hotspots/single-parent homes/juvenile delinquency rings hollow at a time like this. They did not do this or create the conditions that lead/led to such occurrences.
The teaching staff was there too, trying to be strong and courageous under terrifying circumstances, an incredibly difficult task.
(Back to the present), The evening news—one night after the Prime Minister addresses the nation and three Cabinet frontline members storm the morning talk shows—shows a car carrying youngsters home from school which was shot at, resulting in the fiery death of two persons, including a 15-year-old.
I do not know how many pre-teens or teens have been killed since that (2016) funeral. For far too many, it is a reason to quickly turn to the sports page or flip the channel.
The carnage has become part of our lives just like potholes in the road, increased fuel prices, crime in the military and police service and deep seated corruption in the judiciary.
And those who imagine that the elements responsible will become exhausted, take a break for Carnival or engage in debate about the gender of the next president, who is the new archbishop or who should really be the next acting police commissioner, they too will end up spouting the latest inane rhetoric, “Keep hope alive.”
Murder has now become the supreme expression of corruption in our culture. While it may be allied to other forms of illegal activity, it is said illegal activity which has facilitated and encouraged it.
In his classic work Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon explained what happens when the underclass are hemmed in to poor social conditions and made to feel dehumanised; they turn that fury inward. They live and die unnoticed until living and dying unnoticed becomes very, very noticeable.
Ministers, lay and clergy, get headlines; no media house is willing to spend a week in the underclass areas capturing daily life.
Then here come the priests, lawyers, sociologists, teachers, pundits, criminologists with myriad postulations, theses, position papers, fulminations and arrant postulations.
The reality is that the current national leadership of the country has broken down and, regardless of how much oil we drill or tourists we invite, we have collapsed. As I said earlier, the persons stealing our oil, mismanaging our transportation systems, holding our prisoners to ransom in Remand Yard, shooting/killing our babies, teenagers and young women are organised and purposeful.
The old days are gone and what faces us has become so terrifying that we cringe into denial.
But that won’t work either.