Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Letter: Crime in T&T is an evil that we created

The beginning of the New Year has seen a sudden escalation in crime which is showing no sign of slowing down. In fact, it appears to be getting worse.

What indeed is the real reason for this upsurge in crime? This did not suddenly appear so we need to trace the root causes that lie in bad parenting, lack of education and a sense of powerlessness. But beyond that we need to look at the political landscape that helped create this evil that we now face.

Successive PNM administrations helped breed a system of dependency through programs such as Special Works, DEWD and URP, all of which offered good money for doing very little and were part of a system of patronage. What's worse, the programs did not put any emphasis on special skills and they had no training content for people to get out of the system. In effect, this army built on patronage was a vote machine that helped keep the PNM in office.

It changed in May 2010.

Patrick Manning's own party revolted against an administration that was marked by maladministration and consorting with criminals and gang leaders. The crime that is crippling T&T today found fertile ground to grow during the Manning administration with murders peaking at more than 550 in 2008; gangland violence fueled and spun off into other crimes, such as drug trafficking, gun smuggling and kidnapping for ransom.

This is when the explosion of gang violence started in Trinidad and Tobago, under the PNM! Does anyone seriously believe that what was cultivated from 2002 to 2010 could be turned around in 3 years?

Known criminals were getting lucrative contracts and were boasting about being 'advisers' to the Manning government. In such an environment, it is no wonder that crime became the principal issue that helped topple the Manning government.

It is clear that the lawbreakers who felt constrained since the PPG administration came into office now appear to have gained some extra muscle and are bent on making a bloody statement with the mayhem that they are creating.

What is worrisome is that anti-government forces, including the opposition, are not offering solutions but appear to see this escalation in crime as something that could cripple the present administration. One blogger showed her hands when she appeared to be happy with the state of affairs and stated, "Call the damn election now!" as if an election would change anything for the better.

The PNM was incapable of dealing with crime between 2002 and 2010 so why would anyone believe they can deal with it today? The reality is that the present government has brought down serious crime by 43 per cent. Interestingly it is when that statistic became public that the brutality started.

Those who feel that an upsurge in crime presents a political opportunity to get back in office should understand that this is a monster that can consume everyone unless everyone gets involved in fighting back. Crime should have no face, no colour and should never be politicized.

We have short memories. Does anyone recall former CoP Hilton Guy publicly stating that monies from the URP and other projects were being used to fund gang wars, murders and other "ghetto" crimes? Manning and the PNM have never denied meeting with gang leaders.

Instead, Manning dismissed crime, refused to fire an incompetent minister and his answer was that he would try different approaches until something worked. The former PM dismissed many kidnappings, which were rampant during his administration, as false and bogus.

That was how Manning and the PNM defended the actions of his so called community leaders. This is when the explosion of gang violence started in Trinidad and Tobago… under the PNM!

The recent pronouncements from the current leader of the PNM are showing every day that he really has nothing to contribute. In fact the PNM has never shown any inclination to seriously attack crime.

Now that the this Government has decided to launch an all-out onslaught on those who are hell-bent on creating havoc in the country, the PNM’s Political Leader is saying that the Government is attempting “to lessen the severity of the increased crime rate when it blames gangs.”

Keith Rowley further admitted that the “PNM lost the general election in 2010 badly, attributing it to spiraling crime. The main issue was the PNM’s failure to reduce the violent crime.” In the same breath, Rowley is saying that “the only way to address the issue was to change the Government.”

So which is it really… first, Rowley concedes that the PNM lost the 2010 General Elections because of its failure to reduce the violent crime, but then says that the same PNM will have the answers to reduce crime if it is re-elected into office!

The PNM has no new ideas to deal with the problem but wants an unsuspecting electorate to put it back in office to fix crime. That defies logic and common sense!

Does anyone - except fanatic PNM members - seriously believe the PNM can solve these problems that they created and nurtured? If they really care, they would support any and every measure to fight back instead of trying to gain political mileage from the upsurge in crime.

They are saying that crime is out of control, but are refusing to put aside partisan politics and will not lend support to any initiative to fight back. There's a reason for it. Jerry Narace once asked Manning to backtrack on fighting crime because that would be an attack on the PNM's voting block.

There is a familiar ring about the sudden upsurge in crime and one might be tempted to question how this has evolved over the week; does it have any political control/planning/influence? It appears as a well-orchestrated plan to attempt to destabilize the security of the Government and the country. In fact, it would appear that the PNM’s antics are not to support the Government initiatives but rather to agitate and stir up discontent within the national community against this performing Government.

If the PNM wanted the crime, violence and drug menace stopped, they would have supported the Government initiatives in Parliament; instead, they have opposed nearly all the crime prevention laws that the Government has bought to Parliament. We need to recall the PNM's objections to the 2011 State of Emergency that worked well to fight criminals. Rowley's response was that the PPG introduced the measure to harass and arrest young black men.

The Prime Minister fully understands the gravity of the crime upsurge. “We are at a time we cannot give up hope and continue not to try. Together we can join hands, hearts and minds so we can continue to wage an intensified war on crime and crimi­nals in our country," she said this week following an emergency meeting of the National Security Council, which she chairs.

"Our strategies recognize that the war on crime does not only mean stopping crime today, but also deterring and preventing crime tomorrow. My Government takes its responsibility to keep the people of our nation safe very seriously and, as we take firm hold of this responsibility,” she added.

“We are a people with a very strong belief that we are our brothers and sisters’ keepers... let us walk that belief into the realm of action,” the Prime Minister declared.

Crime is hurting Trinidad and Tobago, our economy, our international reputation and our good name. The time for persuasive, diplomatic language is over; desperate times require/demand drastic and firm action. We must never allow criminals to endanger the security of country and hold our citizens to ransom.

Capil Bissoon.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai