Rejecting the State of Emergency

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
August 30, 2011

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeIs either I stupidly or Anand and dem know many things I don’t know. But I didn’t know that one had to declare a state of emergency to capture some gang leaders and charge them with possession of marijuana or cocaine. I didn’t know that the only way to solve the crime problem was to declare a state of emergency and arrest about five hundred young people (call them gang members) from Black areas in order to solve the crime problem. If so, the PNM was more than stupid to hold its hands until the PP discovered that it takes a state of emergency to capture all these black people so easily.

The Attorney General declares that few crimes have been committed since the state of emergency was declared. Given such thinking it seems logical that they should continue the state of emergency for the foreseeable future. When Parliament convenes on Friday to discuss the matter one should have no objection to keeping the state of emergency in place for the next three months as I am sure that is what the PP will be asking for. In that way we will really solve our crime problem.

But such a solution suggests that the PP had no crime plan to begin with. How come after fifteen months in office the only solution they could come up with to solve the crime problem is to declare a state of emergency, arrest some young black men and, as I hear the A.G. and the Brigadier put it, commandeer Tarouba Stadium to house these black outcasts; the Mr. Bigs as they called them? At least this is one legacy that the PNM left for them—a place in which to incarcerate our own.

But is this any way to solve the crime problem? When the PP announced the imposition of a state of emergency many luminaries in high places endorsed the action but, as Martin Daly pointed out, he felt let down. He felt that the PP was not going after the real disturbers of the peace—the men and women who bring coke into the country; the men and women who launder the proceeds of the drug money; and the men and women who bring the guns into the country which we all acknowledge is a major source of the sky—rocketing crime rate.

But no one in high places has been snapped up by the government. We are told that the gang leaders from Laventille and Morvant and Nelson Street are really the Mr. Bigs; that they have attained a level of organization that would make our leaders of industry look like little boys; that their capacity for organization is such that they are the tails that are wagging the dogs or is it that they are the dogs (the Mr. Bigs) that are wagging the tails. In fact, they are so efficient they should have organized the state of emergency rather than leave it to the government who has made a mess of things.

It also might be that the young members of these communities have a penchant for committing crimes. While many crimes are committed in these areas it is also true that much crime—other than criminal acts—— occur in other parts of Trinidad. So that while the government is treating the symptoms of crime they are not concerned with the causes of these crimes which suggest that no matter how hard they treat the symptoms the causes remain. This means that the sore will fester and the on—going oozing of the wound will continue.

When the PP came into power they said that they had a plan for crime. We voted them into office because we believed they could solve the crime problem. God curse the days we got down on Martin Joseph and Patrick Manning when they showed an inability to solve the mounting crimes in the country. They were trying to tell us that there were ways other than a state of emergency to solve the crime problem but we were too stubborn to listen. They could have used the state of emergency option but they rejected it not because so many black boys would have been the victims of summary arrests and placed into detention camps but because they knew—and I am sure that they are correct—that a state of emergency only provides a temporary solution that does not attack the root of the criminal problem.

The PNM also knew that once you begin to criminalize the African community you set up two communities and the racial divide that you claimed so proudly to have bridged when you won the election only widens. In so doing you demonstrate to the populace that one community is the source of evil while the other is the source of all that is good.

Tony Frazier alluded to this tendency in a recent article in the Trinidad Guardian (August 17) when he discussed a national advertisement by the PP Government that depicted “a rude, teenage girl being completely unreasonable, demanding and grossly disrespectful to her mother” that was “offensive to the extreme, counter—productive to national development, cohesion, and racist to the core.” In modeling “an Afro—Trinidad mother and child, those responsible for the advertisement are saying it is a peculiarly Afro—Trini penchant to be unreasonable in the face of all indications by Government (mother) that it (she) simply cannot afford more at this time….The object here is to persuade the Indo population to the side of the Government and against an Afro—Trini population, stubborn, intransigent and desirous of replacing the predominantly Indo government.”

A similar design—that of depicting Africans as a source of national evil—— is at work in this declaration of a state of emergency which is why I do not support it and disagree with those who think it is the best thing to have happened in our country since slice bread. It is just another attack against black people to which I am irrevocable opposed.

2 Responses to “Rejecting the State of Emergency”


  • Interested…. Its not to late to invest in children, all children No one else responded because they do nothing much, just curse other people’s children, forgetting that language moves in a circle.It comes back to you.
    Bacon 20000 (or something) called the 14 year old abuser of the PM a “child-whore”. I wonder how much she charged him for her sexual services? And if he has that knowledge of her, is he one of those dirty pererted pople of South Asia who are always trying to get their jollies off of other people’s young children? (The Pundit of Sando lega massage, the rapist of Hope Aris…, the taxi driver who raped and murdered his school girl charge, the father and son businessmen who assualted a family member, a twelve year old deaf mute, and the list goes on.) Are you one of those, you pervert? The thing about calling names is that they smear you also.You cannot know she is a whore unless she charged you.
    That sould teach you to cast aspersions at other people’s children.

    Until we realize that every child in TnT, including those abandonned in orphanages-many of them mixed blood children, many sent there in the middle of the night becausse a drug raid sent the police to a house where they were sleeping; until we realize that these children are people, we would continue to condemn them, and the land of their birth and all the people from it and living in it, including you. Perhaps MS. KAmla knows this, and wanted to meet with the child for that purpose.

    About a plan, I wrote a previous piece directed to the Minister of NAtional Security and the Minister of Culture. Here is the gist of it:
    Children need things in their lives they can take pride in, especially when they are poor. Are there programs that take these children on tours of their own country? How many of them have ever seen the bird sanctuary? The pitch lake, Simla? The park atop San Fernando Hill?

    How much would it take from all the businesses that get rich in our country to give back in the form of assisting with more mobile libraries? subsidized school trips,story reading programmes, young actors programs?These can lead children back to books.

    We tend to think that putting up a basketball court in an area is all. Children need role models. How many succesful people in TnT are willing to become a mentor- big brother, big sister to a fatherless boy or a child of a teen mother? Why are the churches- the age old ones, and the ones that “discovered ” us when we became a wealthy country, not putting something back? I am not talking about prosletysing, but setting up and subsidizing walk-in clinics, boby-care centers, after-school clubs and other child safe programs?
    Ask yourself- how many of these children of the poor are left alone at home for excrutiatingly long hours because their mothers work, and there is no safe care available?What will it take for the long-established churches, temples, mosques, that have facilities in almost every ward of Trinidad and tobago to establish homework centers, for after school care, until parents can come to get them?
    These are real programs that work. Instead we lock our door, peep through the crease and cower in fear.

    When I ran that programme at Russel LAtapy Sec.all sorts of people warned me about “Those Children” I went there every day for two weeks, worked with them, and there never was a fight among them, neer a cusing, never a quarrel. Dr. David Bratt gave some of his time to talk about becoming a doctor, and an engineer friend of mine came t inspire them about math and engineering. They came because I asked. Now, are there other docors in TnT willing to take daytime hours to go to a school to taklk to children? What if every doctor on the island gave two hours of such community service each month? What if every lawyer did the same, and engineer? they all went to school somewhere.
    I was hoping this would have been a model for doing things to enrich children’s lives, but sadly, again,politics got in the way. Not PNM
    vs anyone’s politics, but the deep seated feeling on the part of some, that the poor do not deserve first class opportunities.

    Give our youth something to aspire to, give them a feeling of self worth. It makes a tremendous diffrence. I know.

  • I love Selwyn Cudjoe! He is so consistent and accurate. After all, it is indo-Trinidadian youths that are gunned down by other indian youths, 3 or 4 per day. It is indo-Triniadian leaders and followers who populate the top echelons of the labour movement, calling for more money regardless and for shutting down of the country. If a crime is committed, and the black dominated police force arrived and saw an indian youth and an African youth, wouldn’t it be the indian youth who is most likely to be arrested? That is why the jails are so full of indo-Trinidadian youths, isn’t it?

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