A People Look On As A Nation Turns Into The Caribbean’s Hive Of Scum and Villainy

The Latin American and Caribbean region is no stranger to corruption, bad decisions and organized crime. However sometimes, a member of this community takes things to a new level that risks both damaging and redefining its long term image and future prospects. In this case we’re talking about the twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago. A nation rich in oil and considerably industrialized for a Caribbean territory, it still finds itself lagging behind, even compared to its far less resource endowed and smaller neighbours.

What on earth has happened? From declining corruption and economic competitiveness ratings to sickly growth rates, recession and now absurd manifestations of organized crime. Things have gotten to such a point that its gone from being known as the hemisphere’s largest per-capita source of ISIS recruits to a potential haven for terrorists and domestic terrorism. In fact, just prior to carnival there, the media was abuzz as police announced raids aimed at capturing perpetrators aiming to ‘disrupt’ carnival festivities via ‘unusual crime’. As if to fuel speculation, things were kept intentionally vague and no explanation as to what ‘unusual’ crime entailed was given.

That is, until numerous embassies such as the US and UK’s put out travel warnings for their citizens with the former outright stating that a terror attack had been planned. Once the story made international news, local media was quick to follow with acknowledging the reality.  Islamists had planned multiple terror attacks that would have likely culminated with one on the local US embassy. However, due to intervention from the US armed forces and FBI serving as a guiding hand, local authorities, perhaps for the first time ever, became aware of terrorist elements teeming on their own soil.

Likely, reports from sources both local and foreign as to Trinidad’s growing number of Islamists and ISIS supporters didn’t cue them in years prior . Indeed, state entities actually did deny these things as fraudulent claims, even when numerous Trinidadians appeared in documentaries from outlets such as Al Jazeera and Nat Geo. Here we saw them openly boasting of their allegiances and noting that they did have attacks in store in the event they ever wanted to deliver a message. In light of this it has been quite telling that, short of law enforcement, state entities and even the political opposition were practically silent as things unfolded and remain so. Perhaps the national anti-terror strategy involves pretending hard enough until it goes away?

Unfortunately not, as placation seems to be involved as well. Indeed, to acknowledge just how established and ingrained TT (Trinidad and Tobago’s) Islamist elements are is to acknowledge that it is also linked to the nation’s thriving organized crime and by extension, state elements. These range from the ‘economic’ activity of Islamist gangs to the obvious business and private enterprise backers that must exist. Training, recruitment and the expenses of travel to the other side of the world is no cheap affair. To unravel this problem means unraveling elements within reputable as well as influential business, religious and state institutions. Once more, as with any major or useful action ever occurring be they economic or social, change may have to come at the behest or direct action of Uncle Sam or some other international power.

We see a similar paradigm play out elsewhere as well. Murder rates are gradually on the rise and despite more and more police raids yielding seizures of an increasingly larger selection of drugs and guns with many foreigners now involved, things seem to only be spiraling out of control more. With Venezuela imploding on itself with each passing day, it is no surprise that the murder and narco capital’s illicit activity would spill over to its island neighbour. Trinidad and Tobago has long been known as a hive for trafficking and money laundering as data from sources such as the  International Narcotics Control Strategy Report  indicates.

Where other nations are swiftly condemning Venezuela’s socialist government for the unraveling of its democratic, judicial and economic institutions, TT has instead seen fit to both defend these events and seek out greater economic ties. This despite it being well known that Venezuela’s government is deeply entrenched in organized crime. Clearly its own corruption and criminogenic based elements would lucratively benefit from these developments. This should shock no one as TT is one of the regional nations first in line to defend Venezuela where others condemn its increasingly totalitarian nature.

In fact, it seems as though TT is content with mimicking Venezuela’s failed economic policies. These range from managing a foreign exchange crisis with more punitive currency controls to stubbornly propping up indebted, unproductive, overstaffed and corruption ridden state owned companies and other socialist initiatives. The former policy has only served to create a thriving US currency black market while numerous legitimate businesses suffer. The state believes punishing economic activity in the interest of ‘conserving’ reserves rather than trying to generate more or operate according to markets is wise. The latter approach has only served to increase debt and waste in an environment where stifled prospects for growth means more and more layoffs or closed businesses.

As such, it appears the government of TT is content with punishing consumers, restricting greater access to goods and making it a painstaking affair to conduct business. Unless of course one is part of a handful of private entities well established and entrenched with those in power. Then, benefits at the behest of state entities such as contracts among others come with ease. This all sounds eerily familiar to the conduct of its next door neighbour. Thus, we should not be surprised if we see crime and human development follow suit in due course, particularly if the twin island republic commits fully to its current path. Until then, the ‘wicked capitalists’ shall be resisted, the oligarchs shall benefit and the drugs, guns and profits of organized criminals shall flow. All at the expense of the average citizen.

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24 thoughts on “A People Look On As A Nation Turns Into The Caribbean’s Hive Of Scum and Villainy

  1. How much did the emissaries of the corrupt opposition (who raped our country from 2010 to 2015) pay you to write this propaganda piece? We in Trinidad and trying to pick up the pieces after the corrupt UNC raped our treasury and even some of our women and presided over the worst scandals in our country’s history from Section 34 to the 7 billion dollar highway to Life sport and of course the most infamous and high profile assassination in the region of Dana Seetahal. Where was this author during those darkest days of ours when no one dared speak out against the UNC government without fear of victimisation or death?

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    1. Can you indicate to me where I praised one party while casting sole blame on the other in Trinidad and Tobago’s partisan divide? Rather I clearly noted that these issues, which I substantiated where possible when mentioned, have existed for quite sometime and continued to fester and proliferate with the blessing of state policy.

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    2. Pmn dunce. Pmn carrying this country to a point of no return. Look at all the international articles about trinidad since pnm come in power and you will see. Stop being a dunce and try to stop blamig unc for your life being shit.

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      1. If I am to understand you here, this site which has posted pieces about issues around the world, is ‘clearly aligned’ with Trinidad and Tobago’s opposition party because of a single piece well into the tenure of its ruling party that highlights the evidence backed sordid realities of the nation and its history of poor policy making? You seem to be doing a very poor job of hiding your own political biases then as again, these issues supersede petty party politics and their longevity exist due to successive regimes characterized by failure. Please see past political tribalism.

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  2. This article is on point giving a proper assessment of the plight of the economic, social and national security issues currently facing TT. Many blame the former regime but, if the new regime is to be judged solely on their performance, based on tenure, there ia a clear distinction of not having a clue when it comes to facing and dealing with the above issues and kmowing what to do. Good article.

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  3. I don’t understand thus. Obviously the amount of Syrian people who presently enjoying their own food business with a bad attitude to their workers, are members if the Isis. Why are they allowed in? The person writing this article is such a clever dick, why you not in the political party, head of security or are u working for America and sending prpoganda out.

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    1. Are the Indo and Afro Trinbagonians who openly and proudly announced their support for ISIS also Syrians wearing face masks? Its very sad that you need avoid these empirically backed realities with hysterical accusations, insults and xenophobia. Tribalism has and will be the undoing of your nation.

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  4. This article is on point, which is quite sad, but still true. Unfortunately, there is a lot to overcome to get T&T to a better state. We are long past the “good ole days”, and now firmly in the clutches of the problems we all created by being complicit, even with the “simple” things.

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  5. @ Jadedobserver
    Your article was spot on and addressed many current concerns. It takes a certain amount of humility to accept our realities in TnT and assign blame to ourselves as a people. There are those who agree and (clearly) those who oppose. I suggest you respectfully resist the urge to respond to comments which seem to play in the arena of race and politics.

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  6. I think the only fair assessment you made here is “it seems as though TT is content with mimicking Venezuela’s failed economic policies.” Also, in the situation with Venezuela, what should also be recognised is that all these democratic nations who are swiftly condemning Venezuela’s socialist government, are only paying lip service and not taking any action to free the Venezuelan people of that government. So we should perhaps at least entertain the notion that it could be useful in the long-run for T&T to keep diplomatic channels open. After all, the article does recognise that a stable Venezuela would mean less problems for T&T: “With Venezuela imploding on itself with each passing day, it is no surprise that the murder and narco capital’s illicit activity would spill over to its island neighbour.”

    As for the rest of the article, the wording is clearly meant to exaggerate the reality of some situations. For example it was mentioned that “numerous Trinidadians appeared in documentaries from outlets such as Al Jazeera and Nat Geo.”. Now i would agree that any more than zero terrorists are too much. But using ‘numerous’ to refer to less than 10 people who were actually shown on camera, may be inappropriate.

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    1. Beyond condemnation and sanctions/economic pressure, there is little else Venezuela’s neighbours can do without violating their sovereign status.

      Additionally, I say numerous because apart behind these men who appeared and spoke are undoubtedly many more in the network that sponsors, recruits and supports them.

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  7. The picture that you painted of this country in this piece did not come from 6 years of Basdeo Panday or 5 years of Kamla Persad-Bissessar. It came from a combined 55 years of independent self-ruled government, that reflects the larger issues of weak leadership throughout the Caribbean. The brain drain that has affected us here in the region shows that what’s left will not point to a brighter future unless some government can either motivate a nation beyond the current miasma of despair or roll over and let a foreign state to guide them from a distance. VS Naipaul wrote “Among the Believers” and “Beyond Belief” on the continuing fascination with “Islamic fundamentalism”, Islamic revivalism and Islamic activism by countries with a long pre-Islamic history and the “converted people” therein. He also wrote famously, “…small places with simple economies bred small people with simple destinies”. Trinidad may not be far behind.
    Desperate times call for desperate situations, so an alliance with Venezuela is the makeshift concession a government makes to patch up the failure of previous governments’ failure to manage an oil industry — our refinery is woefully out of date and the company that runs it is billions in debt because of piss poor investment — and diversify an economy despite plans to do so since Independence. Aside from the hyperbole of your title — “The Caribbean’s Hive Of Scum and Villainy.” Really? “THE Caribbean’s…” The whole Caribbean’s? — this blog post posits opinion that can’t be denied by simple knee-jerk comments that showcase the pall of shame instead of the armour of reason and belief to overcome. Our conversations need to be better.

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  8. It has taken us 55 years to reach we’re we are now. Where all governments have pandered to their supporters by giving them money for no work which has created a thousands of people who “work” for 2 hours daily and get paid for a days work. I think the figure is now TT$110.00 or $55.00 per hour, more than people in the oil industry. Maybe the best thing for us is that money is now a problem which may get people working, as happened in the 1980s when oil dropped to US$10.00

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  9. This write-up is accurate and anyone who thinks it is an exaggeration or untrue is too comfortable living with the filth.

    Factual content of the article aside, one must only read the comments to see the real reason why TT is in such a state. Idiocracy at its finest. Content with laying blame rather than facing reality.

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