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Trinidad is Nice, Trinidad is a Paradise.

“When will a half a million people, wake up, and do something for the struggle, but to wait for the next holiday, to feat their lives away. With Blockorama, panorama and just now is …… And the foreigner comes for Carnival, and he telling himself after he had a ball- Trinidad is nice, Trinidad is Paradise. Mr. Foreigner, in La Trinity, the people have a Carnival mentality… Trinidad is nice…. paradise”.
Sorry Valantino, good and well intentioned Kaiso , but that’s who we are , fun loving people that loves a celebration. Even polio could not stop our festivities, for those of familiar with our interested in our country’s history before 1990 and Abu Baka’s Red House debacle. We enjoy our chutney, soca monarch, Parang, countless holidays, and carnival too much to do more than lament about crime every day without demanding real actions.

I have a theory, it is not tested as yet but I hope to in time. It is the following: For criminal activities to cease, then a country must value a policy of equal justice for all irrespective of social class, or racial and ethnic origins. It is the only way to develop faith in the system. This is the paradox however. Most people understand that those with the economic means are more likely able to beat the system readily because of the ability to acquire better legal representations. The challenge therefor remains to try and ensure that equitable distribution of wealth occur across a nation that is rich in natural resources, and by some definition might be better than most in the Caribbean or the world at large.

In the spirit of justice for all, I can see why the good intensions by the soldiers in Diego Martin in trying to find the criminals that murdered one of their own Cpl Ancil Wallice, are denounced by many in the public. Their actions are seen as high handed, a subtle breach of Human Rights, and perhaps unconstitutional , especially to those Richplain folks that are having their houses ransacked and their loved ones hassled by the army , while the police play second fiddle as they eagerly await a new COP to lead them out of another political morass that has become so symptomatic of life in the land of the humming bird. From all indications the residents aren’t too trilled with ski masked soldiers overrunning their territories, introducing curfews, questioning people at random, without local area police having a hint. They are more agitated because it looks also like some Police hierarchy, Defense force brass, and now the National Security Minister Joseph is trying to give them a 6 for a 9 by claiming that these are joint activities.

I am not going to get in a tantrum and attack the Police and defense force brasses, as it is easy to understand the predicament they are in with passionate officers that lost one of their own. I will also hold restrain on the National Security Minister as he has an obligation to defend the integrity of members of his department. There are more than enough people out there whishing that he resign and that we import the entire police force from New York, London, and Norway to do a better job. Some logical concerns however are being voiced that this precedent might well lead to similar -‘joint patrols’ -request for other blatant criminal activities that might be committed , even if it is not against a high profile individuals.

So now we are reminded of a problem that exists in T&T. It is that crime is common in our country. Members of the public are reluctant to corporate to eradicate the criminal elements from amongst them even if the acts are gross, and were committed against an important civil servant from within their community. I am not going to speculate as to why the bums that killed an outstanding, hardworking soldier and his friend- thus leaving a young son and mom without a father/ husband- is not handed over to the police as yet. That leads to my first point as to why crimes cannot be curbed. The community must believe that the law is on their side and can protect them when they hand over or rat out criminal culprits such as these. So we are talking about a fear factor which is in essence terrorism of the highest nature. To eradicate it, anonymous reporting mechanisms must be put in place; authentic witness protection systems for entire families must be introduced. Law enforcement officials, DPP office and Judiciary as a whole must be passionate in addressing crimes that are perpetuated by all irrespective of class.

At the end of the day the political will must be present to do something genuine if the goal is to finally eradicate crime in the country and allow it the peace and stability it requires to be attractive to potential investors. In short to finally propel it forward towards real and sustainable development in keeping with its massive natural wealth and human resources. It is instructive to hear what worthwhile political suggestions were presented. It was Opposition Senator Wade Mark that held court today. After lambasting the government for not having a grip on crime he suggested that ‘the Government enter into talks with the Opposition for a national front Government comprising all stakeholders, political groups, churches, etc together. I personally have no clue what that means, as he particularly lost me on the part of “national front government.’ Whatever it is , I know it isn’t going to work with the level of rhetoric that exist as an excuse for dialogue between government, opposition, and their many cohorts throughout the society at large.

My reactions to such wishful thinking by Mr. Mark are that he should forget it. Such opportunities and chance for reconciliation was squandered after 86, and we know how that went. My Prime Minister got a shot in his knee, and the nation held to ransom by pseudo- religious opportunist in an abortive coup. Least he forgot or the lesson is still lost, under Westminster system-that we love so much- you have to win the elections to run the country. Mr Mark, you might do well as a distinguished Senator that is above politics to encourage both parties to rewrite the script and ensure that new progressive political actors are brought to the political fore. While we are at it, let’s start to review a more effective way of utilizing our military. There first job is to protect the country from external aggression. They are also expected to intercede in the event that the police are incapable of protecting the citizens internally. To the first concern, Uncle Sam and Mother Britain is always there as close allies to help augment any deficiencies we might have in the defense line. We therefore might not need to worry much on that score In the case of the latter we might be better served to introduce a hybrid military law enforcement body patterned along the lines of the FBI in the USA, empowered to deal with crimes at all levels where the police are deemed to be failing.

The military can be given the option to redeploy fifty percent of its present strength towards this unit, and the rest from outside with well trained, competent people. It does several things two of which is create employment, give members of the military something useful to do and show the nation that our country is willing to attack crime in one area. No one enjoy seeing military personnel moving around a country terrorizing citizens under the guise of law enforcement with no accountability to the law. It should not be encouraged. This unit should be non military or uniformed, as it is counterproductive and mere face dressings for servile political fan bases. The criminals and people must know that we are serious about crimes.

Changing the head of the Ministry of National Security without putting in place comprehensive plans geared to actions at each law enforcement levels is pointless. Remember the nation is watching. They know what help undermine our police service years ago. It started in after the 1990 failed coup when the military were brought back from the dead after Rex LaSalle, Raffique Shah and the good old Col Serrette placed them there in the 1970’s. Joint police and Army patrols were the new order. It was also the introduction of British police officials to run our police service. Finally, it was the defiance of a now former Chief Justice in allowing the Commissioner and his men do their job and serve him a warrant for alleged criminal activities. To be subjected by political leaders to years of ridicule and accusation of phantom racial prosecution claims and of condoning terrorist actions against segments of the population did not help. It made their Commissioner a lame duck even before he began his job. Now, what do we have today but politicization of the process again in getting a new Commissioner? Justice for all, I say. Sorry Valentino, the people do know their rights, what they need is sound leadership that is willing and able to articulate where our real national interest lies. Security translates to peace and eventually economic and social prosperity for everyone.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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