raffique shah----USE

Continuing with the crime crisis, while I accept that the country is not about to collapse under multiple assaults mounted by criminals, we are a nation living in fear—all of us—being another victim, a statistic to be added to the grim numbers that politicians, criminologists and the police churn out to support their respective positions.

For example, large numbers of people attend the many fetes and associated Carnival events almost nightly, seemingly oblivious to the predators who might be targeting them. The overwhelming majority of them return to their homes unscathed, and this can be cited as testimony to how safe the country remains. But bear in mind that such persons are among the vast majority of citizens who live in steel-clad fortresses, virtual prisons to their occupiers, be they humble tenements in the slums or expansive mansions in the suburbs.

So the gay abandon we witness during the Carnival season is not an accurate barometer to measure the fear that is at the forefront of most citizens’ minds. It is more a mass display of defiance towards the criminals, resistance bordering on recklessness: you are not going to ruin my Carnival, prevent me from having a great time. If you rob, maim or kill me, so what?

But the fear factor is there, always. You never know where the next fusillade of gunfire will come from, if you or people dear to you will fall victim, becoming collateral damage in the wars among gangsters, or targeted because you look like you have a few dollars in your pockets or wear jewelry that can be easily converted into cash.

True, we all have a responsibility to fight crime. See something, say something, the police plead with us. Families, communities must expose or otherwise deliver criminal elements amongst them to the forces of law and order, to the justice system. These are part of our civic responsibilities, we are told. But people vote governments into office, surrender huge sums of money, our money, the national wealth, to them, and charge them to run the affairs of state, to ensure we get good governance, which includes our safety and security.

The population is therefore justifiably disappointed when the law enforcement agencies, the judicial arm of the State and the politicians in power fail to protect them from the ravages of crime. We have established as fact that the array of armaments that enter the country and fall into the hands of young men, many of whom are psychopaths if we are to judge them by the barbarism they display in committing crimes, must come from abroad, most likely secreted in cargoes of goods shipped here.

How many poverty-stricken people, from whose ranks the shooters come, import containers of cargoes into the country? None! But the guns keep coming—new as the day they were manufactured, along with liberal amounts of ammunition, which is bulky and heavy. Yet, no firearm has been intercepted by Customs or the police before they arrive. On the rare occasion that illicit drugs, similarly shipped, have been found, no one has been charged.

Are members of our security services so incompetent, they cannot conduct a proper bust? Or are some of them part of the Mafia that control the death-dealing trade in drugs and guns? We ordinary citizens can only speculate on who or what are behind this thriving, and no doubt lucrative, importation of death and destruction. Yet, the police want us to say something if we see something. The average citizen will hardly expose himself or his family to sure death from the unseen hands of Messrs Big.

Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith should have thought of the implications of him revealing that a well-known man who was recently gunned down in Cocorite had in fact been a “police informant” in his life. That unnecessary pronouncement will likely expose his family (if he had one) and associates to the long arms of the underworld dons.

The CoP should be aware, too, that not only are such “informants” unreliable, but they notoriously use their proximity to power to “set up” totally innocent persons, sending them to jail, or likelier, their deaths from police bullets. The late Randy Burroughs was notorious for using and summarily discarding such low-lifes during his career as a hotshot police officer.

Today’s crimefighters have many more sophisticated intelligence-gathering devices available to them to rely on “informants”, “informers”, call them what you will. Information technology has all but rendered such sources obsolete. Every telephone, computer or other electronic communication device exposes the user to scrutiny from business operators, intelligence agencies, hackers or just nosy users.

Presumably, our intelligence-gathering agencies are monitoring the exchanges and movements of specific persons 24-7, as they say in such circles. In fact, from time to time over the past 20 years, certain officials and agencies have all but admitted to monitoring the conversations and communications of selected targets. What bothers me is why such intelligence has not impacted the fight against crime in a measurable manner, pre-empting or preventing criminal acts.

Surely the police must know some of the more notorious gangsters and their trigger-men. Why are they allowed free rein to unleash mayhem and murder on their enemies, and on innocent citizens? Why aren’t Messrs Big behind bars?

Answer these questions Commissioner Griffith, Minister Stuart Young.


ONE would have hoped that Justice Vasheist Kokaram’s quite thoughtful judgment would have encouraged the Prime Minister to abandon his politically aggressive attitude and apply some statesmanship in dealing with the Law Association’s case for impeaching the Chief Justice.

THE late De Fosto opened his 1993 Carnival song “Is My Turn” with the words: “For too long I have been knocking on the door. Now I fed up, I don’t intend to knock no more. This time I going to break it down.”

THIS is a game which Caribbean children played and perhaps still do.

When the call comes to “show me your motion” we used to do whatever came to mind, a dance, jump up and down and so on. I do not know when it became fashionable for it to be sung at weddings but apparently there is a tradition, in some circles, of the bride being surrounded by her girlfriends who grab an edge of her gown while she shows her motion.

I WAS pleasantly surprised by the quality of many calypsoes I heard during the first half of the Calypso Monarch finals last Thursday night.

My self-regulated sleeping hours did not permit me to take in the second half, which I’m sure was better.

LED by our capital city, it has been fete after fete in the orgy of meaningless merry-making that now typifies the Carnival season in Trinidad and Tobago.

“We have over 200 fetes this carnival,” boasts the Culture Minister.

We in Trinidad and Tobago can now place firmly behind our backs the shame, humiliation and utter embarrassment we all suffered as a Caricom member at the hands of Kamla Persad-Bisses­sar, on two separate occasions in 2010, when she was prime minister of this country.