|PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar in Laventille on Wednesday afternoon|
In an address she praised the community, which she described as an important part of the soul of the nation. "It is where very significant aspects of our indigenous culture have originated. This is the birth-place of the steelpan, the only musical instrument to be invented in the 20th century, anywhere in the world," she noted.
She said there is much for which Laventille must be proud. "Out of Laventille came Athaliah Samuel who was selected in June as Miss Trinidad & Tobago to represent our nation at the Miss World 2012 pageant...You have Peter John who was fondly referred to as the “saint” of Laventille whose life was unfortunately lost in a shooting...
"This is a place of great talent, great history and great potential. The people of Laventille have traditionally been progressive and resilient to the challenges of the wider world. The people of Laventille have been strong and resolute in their quest for self-realisation and development," she said.
Laventille has been known for its criminal activity and gang warfare. However the Prime Minister noted that it is changing.
"I am advised that today marks 10 days that there has been relative peace on these hills. Not a shot has been fired from a gun...This is something to be thankful for. I am hopeful as I am optimistic that there will be many more days like these," she said.
Persad-Bissessar noted too many innocent persons are getting caught in the middle of what she called "mindless and unproductive" conflicts and disputes.
"Too many persons are being hit by stray bullets – even inside their homes. Too much unnecessary blood has flowed in Laventille. Too many law abiding citizens have to keep themselves cooped up inside. Too many have to pack up their belongings and flee...It is a tragedy that children cannot play in their yards or at the community recreation ground."
She gave her personal commitment that her government is intent on winning the war on crime. "My People’s Partnership Government is intent on restoring law and order throughout this country. We will put people into the centre of the Partnership. And we are putting the criminals on notice that they must either shape up or ship out, permanently."
However she made it clear that fighting crime is a shared responsibility. "Communities must partner with our law enforcement agencies. You must give the police your support. This is an important factor and is your choice."
She added that National security Minister Jack Warner is putting more police on the streets, giving them more vehicles and modern equipment to identify, hunt down and capture criminals. "He is beefing up the border patrol systems so that we can stop drugs and guns coming into our country," she said.
And she assured the residents that her government is aware of "the fear and the sadness that surround you."
She said, "We are aware of the neglect that you have endured. We are aware of the social disadvantage that affects your children. And I assure you that every day, we are working to make things better for you and for your blessed twin island Republic."