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FISHING AROUND IN THE GULF

funny business

By tony deyal

I have an idea for the venue for the next extended holiday by the Prime Minister or the next Government retreat. I believe the PM, her Cabinet, entourage and executive including the Minister of National Security should strongly forget New York and Tobago and consider spending their next quality time together on a big pirogue fishing around in the Gulf of Paria. 

Of course the Coast Guard might be hanging out in Icacos while the government is off Couva, and maybe the pirates will be bold enough to attack every Tom, Jack and Bissessar and make them swim to San Fernando. 

However, that is a risk most fisher-folk are forced to take these days and, though unacceptable in a well-governed country, is unavoidable if you make your living in the sea in TNT, the new Somalia.

It is not that I want them to replicate the Biblical miracle of the loaves and fishes, or even have a salmon on the Mount (St Benedict).  But they definitely won't be loafing around in a boat catching fish.  I want them to accomplish the second task without succumbing to the first. 

The reason for my preoccupation with piscine pursuits for our politicians is based on a plea, a lament perhaps, of Magistrate Alicia Chankar in a San Fernando Court recently.  

Three Venezuelan women who claimed not to be 'wahbeens' but who might have been engaged in maritime activity (dealing with seamen) in a 'pub' in La Romaine, told the magistrate that they came to work as domestics but were fooled. 

According to a newspaper report, Magistrate Chankar questioned the inability of law enforcement officers to find the "bigger fish" responsible for helping people to enter the country illegally. 

It is interesting that in all these cases the owners of the 'pub', club or establishment are never brought before the Court. 

The Coast Guards never catch boats with women aboard. 

In fact, they claimed not to know about a huge brothel which operated on Monos Island, right across the channel from their Staubles Bay Headquarters. 

Immigration generally allows some of the women to enter the country as 'students' and some time ago the police spent months at an establishment before they determined it was a brothel and hauled in a few women. 

The whole thing smells decidedly fishy.

My concern is that the people who bring in women also transport guns, ammunition and drugs. 

Immigration, the police and the Coast Guard all come under the Ministry of National Security and yet there seems to be no coordination in their pursuit of the wahbeens, sardines and the sharks, swordfish or killer whales who own the smuggling operations, boats, brothels and the women who are the humans being trafficked across the borders. 

For that matter, they might even own some of the people whose job it is to enforce and uphold the laws of our country. 

But, in fish terms, the scales of justice are as unbalanced as an overloaded pirogue. 

It might sound utterly sell-fish of me but I would dearly love Mr Sandy and his cohorts to take the bait, so to speak, that the conscientious Ms Chankar is dangling before them as an opportunity to clear the decks and to rid the country of the piranhas that profit from the crimes that now threaten to engulf us. 

Somehow, though, I don't think it will happen. 

The Government still seems to be all at sea in grappling with the problem of crime and the Minister of National Security looks as completely out of his depth as Jonah in the belly of a whale.   

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