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Dear Editor: T&T citizens are now the “wretched of the earth”; cringed in denial at murder rate

“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:

Photo: A Woodbrook tribute to murdered prominent Trinidad and Tobago attorney Dana Seetahal, SC.
Seetahal was gunned down in the wee hours of Sunday 4 May, 2014.

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.

Photo: Success Laventille schoolboy Denilson Smith, who was murdered in January 2016.

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.

Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago National Under-15 player Abiela Adams was found murdered on Saturday 11 February, 2017.

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.

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31 comments

  1. An bunch of c**ts armed with ticket books and speed guns waiting to charge ppl if they are 1km above the speed limit.. yet can’t solve a one murder for the year …

  2. Smh.. Lord Father God….out a hand

  3. I don’t understand. why This tiny island with so many killings and troubles? To me, stopping crime is a easy thing. For example, just use 25 years old or under soloders who don’t have family worries to carry out arrests, and put them in jail, and execute some of very bad criminals.

  4. What are the authorities waiting on..BRING BACK THE HANGINGS..

  5. Lord put a hand n help especially the innocent in our land

  6. Yeah, however ..Carnival time coming all these MURDERS and SLAUGHTER are not really important/relevant right now ..Its mas ,nakedness,senseless music and fete till people drop dead…! Forget about killings & robbery ..Is wine and jam time ! In any event, since when Trinis care about 500 murders per year ! Fete fete fete fete !

  7. Trinidad society to Lawless is we to Blame95% of the people break the law, whether is Traffic bribing ect.

  8. The real crisis is it won’t have room in the cemetery for old people just now

  9. Stiffer penalties so there would be no second offenders but all is lost when our detection rate leaves much to be desired

    • I know you’re talking with the best intentions but I think everyone deserves a second chance once rehabilitated.

    • I dont think Lasana Liburd that the man means to just lock ppl up permanently and throw away the key. Lol. I think he is saying that criminals hardly face detection or srs penalties.

    • Jehangir I get what you mean now. Lol. Fair enough. Penalties that would deter future illegality. Sure. I agree.

    • In the school system u see the students fighting, cursing, smoking and engaging in sexual activities. Real mahem in some. Those outside some of tge schools cant imagine what some students are like. I wont even call them students. They know that the worst that can happen is that they get sent home a few days. Then back they come bring hell and hurt onto others. They do this till they leave school. No fear of any real repercussions. Then as young men they carry it one step further at a time if they havnt already reached criminal status. And guess what? Low detection rate and a criminal system where u can spree outside on bail for yrs with multiple charges. Trinidad has criminal conditioning as a public system.

    • Rules without penalty for violation are a waste of time.

    • We aren’t a proper functioning country without rewards for doing well for yourself and your community and penalties for being a parasite.
      We might be actually doing things in reverse.

    • 3rd world country, 3rd world people, base level culture, base level thinking people, poor education system, Thieving PNM & UNC, corruption from top to bottom, useless religion,flock & leaders, only “eat ah food professionals”, only selfish and egoistic characters, Failed Nation…= NOTHING WILL EVER WORK…..Truth is African & East Indians really cyah make the grade..They cyah do NOTHING. They were never civic minded people.Too blasted corrupt ! End of story ! Prove me wrong !

  10. What would be our breaking point,murder rates of 4 and 5 hundreds in the last ten years or more just have us frightened or concern that’s all,so what Will make us as a people act.racism on both sides has so fragmented our society that every effort to implement laws to halt the advancing forces of criminality is met with suspicion and resentment,and so we wait, for what,or for whenever another one bites the dust, to hear the screams of loved ones bawling and the subsequent silence of the community after awaiting and hoping that day does not come for you or your loved ones.

  11. Hannibal Najjar

    There seems to be a clear set of misfiring and slip ups in several key areas in the way we, are running our country and in our reconstruction of a pathway to the better and deserving future. The Commissioner is a person that shows to have a heart for the youth but, does he have the steal-mindedness and inelastic resolve to deal with the criminal element? Here lies the problem – we have to prepare the future through the youth, their mindsets and ways, and with this their visioning of a future that has hope and promise. But, simultaneously, we have to box-in and box-out the criminal elements and their habitats. This older group of seeming, lost-in-conscience people has to be attended to with urgency and utmost importance – laws must straightjacket lawlessness. Today, as we speak, there is a very purposeful and successful recovery effort that is being marshalled by a well-liked and known figure of our nation that suggests hopefulness. Captain Clayton “JB” Morris is very active in a prison-recovery program (through football/futsol) and for which I am a participating partner. I promise, this is a most positively growing organism in the country in two real ways. The first, it has been mending the hearts and lives of those inside those walls and, second, through these men, lives and behaviors of those outside the walls, are being tempered and hearts touched in a criminal-curbing and hope-rendering way. Best of all, children and particularly mothers and sisters (very little evidence of fathers and brothers – sadly) of those inside the walls are being given hope, one that further results in peaceful smiles, because of what they are witnessing from their fathers, sons, and brothers. All is not lost, but will be, if, we fail to put smiles on the faces of the youth, because of the hope we lay before them. These smiles shall, in turn, put smiles on the elderly those that are nearing their horizons. This was my request of our Prime Minister in anticipation of a successful campaign – shared on the Friday before the election. Paraphrasing, the following were petitioned, “Please Mr. Prime Minister, use this, two-ends-of-the-spectrum perspective so that you can successfully swing in your role as, Nation’s Leader, the dream of your hearts and product of hard and loyal work to your beloved Trinidad & Tobago. Should you not employ this young-and-elderly mindset, you will, not succeed but also, be as those that have gone before you – no different”. So, I again make the appeal, this humble suggestion, will result in the best smile that we can give both end-of-the-spectrum entities. Not to forget, a key piece of the strategy is, to box-in and box-out the criminal elements and their habitats – deal with the illness while we attend to the patients and inoculate the unaffected.

  12. Well written..#RealTalk ✔💯