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Decoding crime in T&T

By Kwame Nantambu

 One of the apparently unknown realities of crime in Trinidad and Tobago is the fact that neither the current People’s Partnership Government, a People’s National Movement (PNM) government nor an Independent Liberal Party (ILP) government can prevent certain crimes.

For example,  if  as occurred quite recently, an aggrieved ex-husband  decides to kill his ex-wife, then there is absolutely nothing any of the aforementioned or the Commissioner of Police can do to prevent this crime.

If relatives have a heated dispute over a piece of land (as occurs frequently in T&T)  and one of them decides to “adjudicate’’ the matter, then there is absolutely nothing the aforementioned  or the Commissioner of Police can do to prevent this crime.

In addition, if a jilted or a “horned’’ man internalises his hurt by killing the woman involved, then the same holds very true.

The fact of the matter is that crimes of passion are beyond the reach of policing and governmental authorities, period. And that’s the nature of the beast called crime in T&T today. Indeed, the record reveals that no government has ever formulated policies to deal effectively with  the prevalence of domestic violence in this country.

On the flip side, I must hasten to state that the root cause of crime in T&T is two-fold, namely, the foreign, as in United States’ subliminal influence and the supreme propensity for crass materialism/material values.

In other words, crime in T&T is foreign-driven and material value-related.

By way of elucidation, it is an accepted national truism that Trinbagonians love foreign, preferably the negative aspects. That’s a fact.

One finds that today young Trinbagonian men walk around with their pants down to their knees, proudly exposing their underwear, a la criminals  in prison in the United States. And they walk with an attitude. Trinbagonians love to mimic  things foreign, period. 

The other salient aspect of things foreign is culinary crime which is directly associated with the plethora and proliferation of American fast food outlets in every nook and cranny of T&T.  

And of course, the latest crazy craze in T&T is the intractable phenomenon of bullying  in schools  by  both  male and female students (with their school uniforms on). 

Now, the automatic Afri-centric question that comes to the fore is: where is the locus of origin of this behaviour? It is certainly not Laventille, Nelson Street or San Juan.  This  juvenile chupidness is another valid example of Trinbagonians mimicking the most negative aspects and anti-social behaviour of a foreign country.


The correlative aspect of crime is the issue of values. Indeed, it is  an accepted national truism in T&T today that one is judged by how one looks and not by who one is. That’s the intrinsic modus vivendi  in this country today.

If a young person does not possess the necessary educational qualifications to get a quality paying job, then crime becomes the option of last resort to acquire those material things—looks mean everything in T&T today.  And young people are determined to acquire material things, as in bling/bling, “by any and all means necessary” a la  the insane “50 Cent philosophy”—“total madness’’.

A variable is the advent of gangs in T&T. Now, where is the locus of origin of this chupid phenomenon?  It is certainly not Laventille, Nelson Street or San Juan. Bottom-line: Trinbagonians love to mimic things foreign.  And one does not need a PhD in applied econometrics to figure that out.

Many Trinbagonians, both male and female, who crave “nice things” but don’t want to or totally refuse to work for them now elect to travel the crime route. This is overtly reflected in the incidents involving well-known and respected  entertainment personalities such  as  Shadow, the Baron and Denyse Plummer. Crime in T&T is not gender-based.


In order to deal with the ever-exponential increase in crime in T&T, the Government must formulate and advocate policies so that young Trinbagonians would look inward to emulate local role models and exemplars   instead of mimicking foreign things and people 24-7-365.

The fact of the matter is that the issuance of more guns to  police as a crime-fighting strategy is not the solution because the salient reality is that the criminals are already miles ahead of law enforcement officers in terms of quality ammunition. Such a policy represents the problem with crime in T&T. 

In the final analysis, the crime situation in T&T brings to the fore the stark reality  that criminals do not put a very high premium on human life. Criminals have absolutely no respect for the law and law enforcement authorities. However, this writer is  totally convinced that  the only person  criminals will respect is the hangman.

• Kwame  Nantambu  is a 

part-time lecturer at  Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies

 
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