The PNM is vulnerable. The UNC is still suspect. The population is fearful and angry.
The PNM, having no answer to rampant murder, is trying a t’ing to keep the UNC’s suspect reputation fresh by alleging that those who stand to gain when the murder rate spikes are fomenting it.
Such is the deplorable state of our civic and political life that I am diverted from seasonal Carnival commentary and am forced to remain on the subject of rampant murder.
In this situation the Chamber of Commerce has shown leadership only in cliché. Its most recent platitudes on crime are those of a leadership that does not challenge our failed socio-economic model; at the centre of which sits a bloated and questionable state enterprise sector, which is the antithesis of its professed private sector values.
For decades, the elites have fed off of the profligacy of successive governments. If you were looking however, you could see clearly that we were already in crisis and that, without a radical change in our governance, we were heading for ‘a breakdown in ordered legal control’—a phrase I repeatedly quoted from the work of Professor HLA Hart, renowned Oxford Professor of Jurisprudence.
Sixteen years ago, in a column published in September 2003, I wrote this: “Readers are familiar with my view that the violence, now so prevalent, is a result of a dysfunctional society to which no enlightened education or social development policies have been applied. More recently, there is great worry that the drug trade and the control of special works will lead us into institutionalised political violence.”
One year later, the then PNM Minister of National Security expressed concern about ‘killing and brutality across the country’. I guess the elites were then too much in their glee to take stock of that and too craven to say anything much that was meaningful or progressive.
Moreover, by the time we had descended into what I described as ‘a narco-controlled State’, I wrote in 2011: “Here in Trinidad and Tobago the slackness of our leaders, not only the political ones, has permitted our country to become narco-infiltrated to the point where no one seriously doubts (except many delusional politicians, if they themselves believe the Nansi stories they tell us) that there are facilitators of the drug trade at every level in the society.”
My observation about special works and violence brings me directly to the current Government’s loudly touted investigation into alleged criminal links of Members of Parliament, implying it is not them. Did it not itself acknowledge that criminal elements were present in the Unemployed Relief Programme (URP) and promise to clean it up?
We have long had ‘random mortality for all’ (a phrase from 2004); but leaders at all levels could not be bothered to discern where soft facilitation and lack of significant socio-economic reform would take us. Now we have a murderous and unstable country.
There is a crisis, but it is one of continuing failure to reconsider and reform what passes for governance.
With love and respect to Skinny Banton, it is easy to answer the question ‘what we do wrong again’; not to get horn, but to have crossed 500 murders last year and to have more murders than days in this January 2020.
Meanwhile as the Carnival season moves on, I would, with appropriate deference, suggest to Gypsy that calypso has had to surrender its place to the other evolving music—like that of Banton, Kes, Nailah and Voice—because of shortsightedness on its part and its replacement as a ‘mark busser’ by social media.
We continue to do wrong again by not valuing the creative dynamism on the ground. As pan music draws persons into the area, why is East Port of Spain being branded as Chinatown instead of the birthplace of pan?
I need the Mayor of Port of Spain also to tell us what became of the audit into the wrecker? He is bringing back the wrecker for the Carnival season without that vital piece of accountability.
Is there a private hidden partner in the venture and, if so, who and what is the partner’s cut?