By Raffique Shah
September 26, 2022
One of these not-so-good days, when the good citizens in this nation have had it up to their throats with the thugs who are turning this once-peaceful country into the killing fields of the Caribbean, if not the murder and mayhem capital of the world, they will rise up like the mythical crimson tide with a fury they didn’t think they possessed, to reclaim the slice of paradise they once owned and enjoyed from the mindless criminals who have made Trinidad and Tobago a living hell, something the population will never accept as the norm.
Many will see my bold pronouncement amidst murder sprees that claim up to ten lives a day, as a flight of fancy, wishful thinking.
Trinis, they swear, ’fraid guns and war, and they will flee from both, expecting someone else to clean up the mess—maybe a police commissioner who will enforce a “one shot, one kill” policy, or a government that will hire bounty hunters the way they used to in the Wild West. Maybe I am indeed expecting too much from the population.
Then maybe not. I don’t know if you looked at the outrage that came universally when gunmen literally mowed down three security guards in La Romaine before they attempted to flee the scene but instead ended up stuck in a house where, like cornered rats, they had their miserable lives snuffed out.
Most people were outraged over the fact that the bandits made no attempts to subdue the security guards. In other words, their priority seemed to have been murder, not robbery. They alienated members of the public who might have been okay with them snatching the large sum of cash and escaping.
The business owners may have had the money insured anyway.
But when they callously killed two working people and critically injured a third—those security guards who had left their homes earlier that day to work for sub-standard wages to support their families—the dead bandits thought nothing of that.
They also had no scruples, no heart. Did any of them spare a thought for these guards’ families, most of all their children, who will cry blood for years to come, having lost their “daddies”?
I suppose not. Today’s criminals are worse than wild animals: animals attack mostly when they are hungry or feel threatened. The criminals who stalk our nation are plain greedy, much like the elite of the society who cannot amass enough loot. These two have a symbiotic relationship, they literally depend on each other in order to co-exist. I am not suggesting that wealthy people are thieves. I am saying many of them are unscrupulous. Invariably, armed robberies that end in the victims’ life-blood seeping into the earth are mostly the tragic results of greed.
Further, I submit that few such crimes are committed by poor people whose families are starving. Such persons are victims of the economic and political systems in which they live. They fall prey to societies that are structured to exclude large numbers of their populations from opportunities to earn money and provide for their dependants. Many of their youth who are equipped with tertiary-level education are forced to work at jobs for which they are over-qualified and grossly underpaid. They are not criminals.
The criminal “class”, if I may so classify them, are a different breed. They are born into families in which the values that we take for granted—education, honesty, integrity—simply do not exist. Using their wiles, being dishonest, having no respect for other persons in their families and the wider society are taken as the norm. Here greed takes precedence over all moral and ethical values.
Material things matter most. Securing them by any means necessary, fraud or banditry included, preferably if you can get away with it, is acceptable. This malware spreads from homes to communities much like a locust or other pest infestation. Within a few generations, it becomes endemic and morphs into “gang culture” that spreads and speeds around the world from Delhi to Lagos, Kingston to Laventille, Tunapuna to Tobago.
By then the phenomenon is like a plague. Its practitioners, seeing no value in life and indeed placing more value in death, add speed to their greed, spread across all classes that reduce societies to utter lawlessness. This is where we’re at in Trinidad and Tobago. Add corruption to the unholy brew outlined above and you see the mess we are in.
We have two choices, no more. Either we accept this vandal nation as our model and our gift to the world or, we break down its fortresses and attack the plague with the full force of a united “Save Trinbago” campaign.
Two choices. You decide.