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Farewell, 2012

We hope that tragedy will be kept at bay and the mood will be mellow as 2012 wends its way into memory in making space for the New Year. Even for a country accustomed to public drama, 2012 has been a stand-out year. For twelve months we have lived the extremes of Dickens' Tale of Two Cities in the best of times and the worst of times. We were taken to the heights of ecstasy by Keshorn Walcott's Olympic gold and dropped to the depths of gut-wrenching angst by the Section 34 fiasco. And so it went, a roller-coaster year of loudly debated public issues in which the Prime Minister and her Cabinet often featured at centrestage.

In some ways, 2012 was also the Year of the People with a rising level of participation by citizens in matters of public interest. From rural communities to the suburbs and cities, everyone seemed willing to step forward to defend and promote their interests. In this, Dr Wayne Kublalsingh's 21-day hunger strike was the most dramatic of all in plunging the nation into an acrimonious but illuminating debate over the Mon Desir to Debe segment of the Point Fortin Highway. In a show of citizen power, civil society stepped in and broke the enveloping deadlock between the Highway Re-Route Movement and the Government. We now await the 2013 sequel when the Technical Review Committee turns in its assessment of the State's process in the $7 billion highway project.

Not everything has worked its way to some resolution, however.

Murder figures moved well past last year's while carnage on the roads continued unabated. The succession of crime initiatives introduced by both the Government and the Police Service are yet to bear fruit despite the high-level changes that brought new management to both the Ministry of National Security and the Police Service. Gang-related gun violence and domestic violence still top the list of challenges to be met and conquered in 2013.

Making the dishonour roll were the adults who attacked and abused children, including newborn babies forcing us, as a nation, to reflect on our culture of violence, especially against children and women.

In art and culture, a national debate is intensifying as we leave 2012. Notwithstanding the loudly expressed concerns of the artistic community, the Government continues to keep the public in the dark over its plans for the Creative Industries Company of T&T. The plan, reportedly hatched in the Ministry of Planning for implementation by the Ministry of Trade, is under fire from the national artistic community and will, no doubt, become the focus of escalating controversy in the New Year.

Indeed, like any other year, 2012 has had its share of mixed blessings. We grieve for those who are in mourning as it passes into history and hope that 2013 will bring them peace. As the hours count down, let us give thanks and celebrate our triumph of endurance and commit to facing the future with confidence and unity.

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