deputy UNC leader Jack Warner takes the Soca Warriors to Germany
next June, the fact boxes on T&T for international consumption
hopefully will not include this countrys latest, biggest,
fastest growing phenomenonan exploding crime rate which
broke all records in 2005.
Warners Warriors delivered one of the rare bright spots
of 2005 and his party may have provided some of the more glaring
highlights of the political calendar past.
But the crime crisis which Warners political opponents
in the ruling PNM have failed to come to grips with in their
three-year term overshot either set of events by spectacular
Increasingly, the bane of the PNM administrations political
life in the last three years could very well be the cause
of its political death in the next couple ahead.
Growing as the countrys economic gains have increased,
crime peaked in 2005 with a chilling toll which will have
more than a few rethinking plans for 2006.
TTMA president Paul Quesnel, agreeing yesterday, added: Nothing
has improved since the start of 2005. Unless addressed quickly,
T&T will continue to slide as it has been doing in various
has become more heinous in 2005 and theres increasingly
senseless disregard for life, property and the law,
added San Juan Business Associations Gail Merhair.
The last 12 months saw the Government attempting to focus
on certain situations as quickly as they were brought to light.
The next 12 will determine whether that was sufficient enough
to bring those situations effectively under controlincluding
crime which has been the recipient of various types of attention
since sharp deterioration of the situation in 2002.
The Governments earliest complaint this yearthe
rate of project implementationwas turned over to various
special companies to address.
When the Opposition complained of alleged corruption the Prime
Minister immediately promised an inquiry. When former PNM
chairman Franklin Khan and Minister Eric Williams were hit
with similar allegations, Khan (eventually) resigned as minister.
He quit his party post as his charges went to trial (after
initially digging in.)
An integrity commission investigation involving accusations
by the PSA against Health Minister John Rahael is also still
The public meanwhile has had, to a certain extent, fight its
own battle with crime which the administration sought to address
with infrastructural, human resource and legislative measures,
external assistance and recently clamping down on certain
To no avail.
Early initial optimistic reports about a reduction in kidnapping
levels, still showed murder rate increases. And with renewed
kidnapping trends, pleadings and posturings by the Government
and further decreasing faith in security agencies, a more
alarming phenomenon also arose this year: bombings.
It is cold comfort that T&Ts crime/kidnapping rate
is not (yet) comparable to Haitis which is reported
to be the highest in all of the Americas. But like Haitis
kidnapping trend, T&Ts also went into overdrive
in 2005. And like Haiti, patterns recently appear to be degenerating
further into random targetting as this weeks abduction
gone-awry and murder of Mark Rattan indicates.
Similarly, high is the local murder rate which for this year
in T&Ts one million population is almost five times
the murder rate in Toronto which has a population of three
to four million.
The blinkered who view the situation as being blown out of
proportion or sensationalised would have had only to glimpse
the Death March to get an inkling of public sentiment, spilling
on to the streets after seething for three years.
How this years record crime high might impact on T&Ts
bid for the FTAA headquartersdecision due next yearor
whether the situation will be brought under control in time
for T&T to successfully host high security events as the
2008 Summit of the Americas and 2009s Commonwealth leaders
conference remains to be seen.
The PNM will be rated well before either event by the voting
public which PNM leader Patrick Manning primed up all year
for a coming election battlethere the Government will
have to feel the heat of the battle which the population has
been engaged in for survival during the term.
If the PNM scored a minor point in achieving consensus with
the Opposition on one of a package of nine anti-crime bills,
the administration has lost just as many when (after a particularly
bad Christmas week) the Government sprung a second airship
on a wearied and wary public.
The first having failed so abysmally, a second aging blimplacking
security equipment and so obviously constructed for advertising
like its Goodyear cousincan hardly be accepted as an
appropriate avenue for taxpayers funds, enough having
already been spent on equipment, so far producing little tangible
Impending Carnival fever may make short shrift of the furore
including arguments that the airships only ability may
be to advertise the Governments anti-crime effort. Perhaps
it will actually nab those 66 gangs noted this year, but which
seem never been nabbed.
But neither should the Government expect World Cup fervour
or the Oppositions problems to save its hide on the
crime question next year.
The UNC indeed enters 2006 still trailing remnants of its
recent tug- of-war.
When the dust of internal elections cleared, UNC chairman
Basdeo Panday was still very much in fighting formnot
just where PNM is concerned.
Leader Winston Dookeran learned that all that glitters isnt
gold. And the true central figuredeputy Jack Warnerhad
Odd man out , MP Gerry Yetming said yesterday hes awaiting
Dookerans return to discuss the situation. Asked if
he is at all encouraged by developments in UNC so far, Yetming
replied: No. Not yet encouraged.
If the Opposition wanted to revive the spirit of 86,
former NAR minister Lincoln Myers may aid the cause next year
with a planned fast at the Hall of Justice, as he did 20 years
ago to protest alleged PNM corruption, a move which served
the NAR in good stead then.
But unless either political party bites the bullet where its
respective issues are concerned, the increasing crime problem
might well spin off not only an increasing awareness among
the populationbut much worse.