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Dear Editor: Only justice can solve war between ‘haves’ and have-nots’, not ‘one shot, one kill’

“The police and the police commissioner are not supposed to declare war on the citizens of the country. They are supposed to bridge the gaps and develop and maintain good relationships with the people in the communities.

“[…] The youths in our communities are not criminals by nature; it is more maybe by circumstance.

“When lying and cheating politicians together with unscrupulous business people, rob the country by stealing and denying revenues to the treasury, it contributes to a lack of proper health care, a lower standard of education, little or no job opportunities and a rise in criminality among the poor, because survival business is a serious business…”

The following Letter to the Editor on the need for social justice in Trinidad and Tobago was submitted by Michael L Joseph, a community, social and cultural activist from Marabella:

Photo: A protester makes his point to lawmen during demonstrations in Baltimore after the killing of Freddie Gray.
(Copyright Sowetanlive.co.za)

All true and honest politicians in the world know that the wealth of their nation is in the development of their people. So they invest heavily in youth—educationally, physically, socially, culturally and in all other areas—so as to guarantee a healthy, prosperous and productive society.

Unfortunately for us in these third world countries, most of our politicians believe and act like theirs is the right to pilfer our natural resources and plunder our national treasuries with impunity, to the benefit of themselves, their families and friends.

We, the ordinary people, who suffer the negative fallouts, keep wondering aloud why crime and criminality is so rampant amongst the young in our country. We pretend to have no answers.

That’s why we choose to embrace the ‘one shot one kill’ mantra of our newly minted police commissioner, hoping that therein lies the solution to all the social ills that bedevil us.

Nobody is asking the relevant questions. (Fast food and quick fix, is ah lethal mix).

Why are so many of our young people turning to crime and criminality in a society that benefited from many years of oil and gas revenues—where billions of dollars pass through the system with little or nothing to show of benefit to the average citizens?

Photo: Then National Security Minister Edmund Dillon (right) trolls gang member Abdul “Krysis” Wakeel on his home turf in Crown Trace while Deputy Commissioner (Crime) Wayne Dick (background) looks on.

Most of these so-called outlaws saw their parents and grandparents work hard and struggle for years to make wealth for others. And today it seems as if they would have to walk down that same road, growing up in a pirate-like society where those we voted into office and claimed to be willing and able to create a better life for us all, live nice and comfortable—together with their cronies—off their ill-gotten gains.

For frustrated citizens, the answer to the criminal youth seems to be: kill them all, worse if they draw first blood. But where and when will it end? It seems like the more young criminals and cockroaches they gun down, more come, more come!

These young people are the future of our country as strange as it may sound and it is our duty to save them from themselves if that is what it takes. If not, the future will continue to look bleak, uncertain and unsafe for every citizen high and low. The police and the police commissioner are not supposed to declare war on the citizens of the country. They are supposed to bridge the gaps and develop and maintain good relationships with the people in the communities.

This cannot be achieved by defending wrong-doing amongst the cheating high and mighty, whilst prosecuting the low and downtrodden for minor infractions. This will always be a recipe for rebelliousness and resistance.

The youths in our communities are not criminals by nature; it is more maybe by circumstance.

When lying and cheating politicians together with unscrupulous business people, rob the country by stealing and denying revenues to the treasury, it contributes to a lack of proper health care, a lower standard of education, little or no job opportunities and a rise in criminality among the poor, because survival business is a serious business.

Photo: Former UNC Attorney General Anand Ramlogan (centre) and Senator Gerald Ramdeen (far left) have been charged with corruption.

Oppressed man must live! Do what you want, man must live!

When we vote politicians into office who say they could make life better and they turn around and tell you that you must stop depending on them, something is definitely wrong. They depend on your vote to keep them in office.

And who are our politicians? Most of them are doctors or lawyers, two of the most lucrative and exploitative professions in this country.

What is the role of the legal fraternity in a society where most of the people feel oppressed and exploited by one factor or another? There are no known and clearly defined areas where the average citizen can feel that justice is served.

Everything now is up for sale to the highest bidder. Justice and healthcare are the most lucrative businesses in our society today, and it eludes the poor. No care for me, no care for you; while political lawyers charge in the millions to exchange legal letters amongst themselves.

Young people are not stupid, or as tolerant as their parents. So the conflict for a better slice of the pie will only get more violent and vicious; as one ‘kaiso man’ put it: the system works for the rich, but holds no hope for the poor.

It is time we see some dishonest lawyering doctor politicians and unscrupulous business owners doing time for their crimes against humanity in the same overcrowded and unsanitary prison conditions that ordinary citizens are subjected to. Until then, there will be no peace in the land.

Photo: A prison inmate.
(Copyright Getty)

We are still a fun-loving and creative people who would rather enjoy a good game of cricket and football, spend time with friends and family on the beaches, sing calypso and chutney, play steelpan, make mas and enjoy Phagwa and parang.

We celebrate with each other all the national festivities like Christmas, Eid, Divali, Shouter Liberation Day, Emancipation, Indian Arrival and even Dragon Boat and kite flying at Easter. But all these things are becoming increasingly meaningless, when one set of people want to cream off all the wealth of the country for themselves by any means necessary; and becoming dangerously desperate, when the have-nots decide to retaliate.

There must be some justice in the law, for peace to reign.

And on top of all our difficulties, we have the Venezuelans who are suffering from no known natural disasters, taking up our space and limited resources at all levels by appointment.

How much graver is their political system than ours? They are afraid of their government, so we must be inconvenienced for that? Should we run over there as they run over here?

This is something we should seriously consider, given the fact they have a greater land mass and so much more mineral resources than us. Our political system surely needs an overhaul, and no one shot one kill will remedy that, only a fairer share of the pie.

Photo: Two spectators take a selfie during Trinidad and Tobago’s 2016 Independence Day Parade celebrations.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

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24 comments

  1. great article. thanks wired 868

  2. As you mentioned financial literacy Christian Pallai-Hernandez – https://youtu.be/3YZWWJVBI1g

  3. Corruption is a problem however this article is real fawking shit. Programs like Gate, though abused opened the way for our intellectual capacity in most fields to grow. Mr. Manning financial literacy amongst other programs provided opportunities. Yes mismanagement of the economy dried up funds that could have been put to better use however, “allyuh the police wicked” when a police killing happens vs ” we aint see nothing” protecting the wrongdoer has no correlation with poverty. Let us stop making excuses for shit

  4. Hmmm I wonder when a co-worker tried to assist a young lady back to school. Only to be told she only wear $750.00 sneakers. Was the gap bridge or burnt ?

  5. actually working is one of the ways to combat poverty.

  6. there is a direct link between crime and poverty, what has to be done is the gap between rich and poor should be closed by government introducing programmes to reduce poverty, not giving free money but programmes that aid in the development of human capital and promoting self employment, mandatory contracts for small and medium business instead of big companies getting the lion share of contracts, bridge programmes to ensure employment of young people etc. there are solutions militarizing the police is not one of them.

    • Ifagbemiro F Ali-bey like CEPEP?

    • please read carefully, what we need are programs that give a person the training and skills necessary to earn a decent living, programs that permanently employs persons from underprivileged communities, these comes from setting clauses in government contracts with private contractors they fail to hire the don’t get contracts.CEPEP is not what I am talking about, that is giving a man a fish I am talking transferable skills which can result in self employment or the creation of small and medium companies.

  7. “Most of these so-called outlaws saw their parents and grandparents work hard and struggle for years to make wealth for others.” a lazy narrative that is rehashed by the same “evil politicians” to get votes (e.g. Anil Roberts). He goes on to pipe the need for statesponsered feel “better programs” NOTHING said in the article is new it sounds like a union speech on repeat. The truth is we all desire happiness but the values are not of onecollective, it’s selfish in nature , teaching preservation of me then family then community creating a indifference to each group’s woes hence the working class call the upper class “evil” and upper class call the working class “wotless “.

    • “Most of these so-called outlaws saw their parents and grandparents work hard and struggle for years to make wealth for others.” a lazy narrative that is rehashed by the same “evil politicians” to get votes”

      Hmm, well, it’s the same lazy narrative I used when I wrote the articles “Black Labour Pains” and “The Colour of Crime” and so far as I know I have no aspiration for public office.
      https://wired868.com/2018/07/09/masters-voice-black-labour-pains-by-the-sweat-of-my-brow-thou-shalt-eat-bread/
      https://coreygilkes.wordpress.com/2018/11/14/the-colour-of-crime/

      I *do* know, however, that this has been a view expressed by various scholars whose works I draw from.

      It was also alluded to in the various reports on social unrests at various times in this country’s history; we can point to what was outlined in the report on the 1937 labour unrest:
      “Over-centralisation of wealth is bad in any community; in a society where race is a complicating factor, it is catastrophic. What we find in the West Indies is, broadly speaking, a small white oligarchy which, through its ownership of the land is able to dominate the community in church, society and state; an oligarchy jealous, as every such minority is jealous, of white prestige and privilege, an determined to maintain its ascendency. There is no racial legislation, as in South Africa, nor is there any open antagonism; and yet the coloured population is perfectly conscious of the efforts of the white minority to “keep the nigger in his place”. These things reveal themselves in small ways – in social clubs, in official social functions, in church, etc. – but the form which is most resented is the reservation of certain appointments, both by the state and by private concerns, for white men…”

      Now this is 2019, not 1938, but the conditions outlined here has simply morphed so that the oligarchy is a little more,…….mixed. But the attitutde remains unchanged. So that Ramesh Deosaran in “Inequality, Crime and Education in Trinidad and Tobago” tells us just a couple years ago:

      “David Lowenthal wrote: “Educational patterns throughout the Caribbean reflect, validate and reinforce these class differences. Initially, the elite were taught in Europe, the slaves not at all. The elitist secondary-school system catered for whites unable to afford education abroad and for non-whites on their way up the social ladder. Entrance was essentially limited by status. The curriculum, classical and European-oriented, was designed less to train than to confer prestige on future leaders of colonial societies.” In other words, class and racial discrimination continued to exist after colonialism.

      Randall Collins…wrote: “There is evidence to show that social origins affect educational attainment and also occupational attainment after completion of education….Unequal schooling reproduces the division of labour. Children, whose parents occupy positions at the top of the occupational hierarchy, receive more years of schooling than working class children. Both the amount and the content of their education greatly facilitate their movement into positions similar to their parents……Unequal schooling has its roots in the very class structure which it serves to legitimise and reproduce. Inequalities in education are thus seen as part of the web of capitalist society, and is likely to persist as long as capitalism survives.”

      But, I imagine all this is irrelevant to the discussion.

    • And regarding the claim that the values are not “of one collective:” but are “selfish in nature,” it then begs the question: where did such values come from?

    • As long as freedom is determined by one’s ability to buy the goods and services from the “evil ruling class” in excess quantity ,all of this will remain a “narrative”.

    • oh and why I call it lazy narrative because it is used as a tool by those who are not part of struggle ,they are the problem.