By Gerry Kangalee
August 23, 2011 – workersunion.org.tt
So in the midst of the joint unions’ mobilising for the general strike, the government has declared a state of emergency under the guise of dealing with crime. It is clear that this latest desperate act by the PP government has nothing to do with reining in crime, but everything to do with beating back the rising tide of working class discontent. On July 21st the website of the National Workers Union published this article.
If you are declaring a state of emergency to deal with crime, you cannot just arrest and detain the identified bad boys. They are a dime a dozen and in terms of a criminal enterprise they are the labourers.
What about the financiers, drug lords, arms and cocaine importers, money launderers, those who invite the president to their functions, chair and sit on the boards of state enterprises and finance the political parties.
Why don’t they seize their assets, open their bank accounts and go through their business with a fine tooth comb. Of course they won’t because those who control the co-ercive force of the state, generally speaking, serve the interests of the fat cats and big business.
The government is taking an enormous gamble in attempting to bramble public opinion that its desperate attempt to emasculate constitutional rights is aimed at bringing crime under control. During the state of emergency all constitutional rights are suspended. The State can tell you when to go home; if you could lime; who to associate with; whether you can assemble, whether you can display dissent, whether you can express your opinion. In the quest to protect what they call your civil rights, they attack and forcibly remove those very rights.
If bad boys are arrested and cannot be brought to court for lack of evidence they have to be released after the emergency is over. Why have a curfew if you are hunting down the bad boys. It makes no sense and will in no way make that job easier.
When the Emergency comes to an end and the crime situation returns to normal, the government will have lost its last remaining shreds of credibility. What the Emergency will achieve is to validate the police hit squads that are already roaming the land. While the people in the so-called hotspot areas are already accustomed to having their constitutional rights violated on a daily basis by the police, a new section of people may learn the bitter lesson that the state which poses as the defender of constitutional rights is often the greatest violator of those rights as it plays its role as enforcer for the big shots, the employers and the capitalists.
The curfew puts low paid fast food and other workers under pressure. They will lose income when they have to work shorter hours in order to get home. Others who will lose income are vendors, taxi drivers. PH, pubs, clubs, show promoters. Art groups, steelbands etc. will find it difficult to rehearse. This has nothing to do with crime, but everything to do with breaking up the mobilisation toward the general strike.
The battle to suppress the working class is well and truly on. They try to choke and rob us so that the capitalists will not have to pay for the crisis that they engineered. Now they want to interfere with the rights and freedoms we have fought for and won since slavery and indentureship at great cost in terms of lives lost and struggles fought. We must make it clear that WE WILL NOT BE DRIVEN BACK TO THE PLANTATION.