By Neals J. Chitan,
With a land mass of 5, 131 square kilometers and a national age of 54 years since independence from Britain, the twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago has been steadily honing its name as the murder capital of the Southern Caribbean for the past years.
The US Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security published that Trinidad & Tobago recorded four hundred and three murders in 2014, four hundred and seven in 2013, three hundred and seventy nine in 2012 and three hundred and fifty two murders in 2011, while the Trinidad & Tobago DAILY EXPRESS reported as of December 29, 2015 that the murder rate in 2015 was the highest in 5 years, closing with what can be more than the 414 murders, since there were still two days remaining in the year.
In the May 16, 2016 edition of Trinidad & Tobago NEWSDAY, columnists Nalinee Seelal and Laurel Williams both declared “The country is drowning in blood,” while on that same day, the JAMAICA OBSERVER ran, “Bloody weekend in Trinidad” with 14 murders in 72 hours.
I sat at my computer with my eyes bulging with tears as I listened to the disturbing and gut wrenching wails of Erica Thomas being transmitted through CNC3 reporter Ian Alleyne’s microphone. As a parent, my heart sank in sadness as she collapsed on the ground, as David Guide & Sons Funeral Directors brought back to the community of Enterprise Chauguanas, the lifeless throat-slit body of her daughter Patrice Thomas-Fletcher in a casket for her funeral.
According to the NEWSDAY, the man who slit her throat and left her bleeding to death just one day after her 26thbirthday, is a man she knew and also the main suspect in the killing of her own two year old daughter Kimora, three years ago, who was savagely beaten to death.
As of this “bloody weekend” May 13-15, 2016, the murder count in Trinidad & Tobago stands at 179, an increase by 39 as compare to the same period in 2015. No wonder based on NEWSDAY, the Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley admitted – moments after he returned home from a twelve day overseas trip on Saturday evening – that this country is a violent one and there is no switch to turn off murders and crimes. And he is so right!!
For Trinidad & Tobago to experience a sustainable reduction in crime and violence, it will take a multi-dimensional strategic blueprint which must engage every segment of the society from the street corners to the Prime Minister’s office. Sorry, there is no magic button to push to get instant relief from the murderous plague that has invaded the social fabric of the twin republic. It will take a well-orchestrated plan which addresses all the individual, family, community and national social dysfunctions that bred the homicidal mayhem now being experienced.
Here is where I take my hat off to another more northerly twin island nation-the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. Although almost twenty times smaller than Trinidad & Tobago and twenty one years younger in independence age, the government did not throw up their hands helplessly, but showed stalwart leadership by seeking out and investigating strategies and concepts that can methodically and sustainably reduce the incidence of crime in their island paradise.
In 2012, the GUARDIAN- a UK publication, published the list of the ten cities with the highest murder rate per 100, 000 in the world. After the computing was complete, Basseterre, the capital city of the popular tourist paradise of St. Kitts-Nevis was proclaimed #1, with 131.6 in 2011 comprising of 17 murders. Immediately, the Ministry of National Security through the Royal St. Christopher Police Force, got into brain storming mode and engineered a six point action plan to reduce homicides and violent crime in the federation.
Earlier this year, as St. Kitts-Nevis experienced another record breaking year in 2015 of 28 murders, I was invited as an International Social Skill Consultant and Crime Reduction Specialist to travel to St. Kitts-Nevis during March 19-26, 2016, to add my voice to those influencing social change. It was then I briefly met with newly elected Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris and Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of National Security, Mr. Osman Petty whom I have found to be visionaries of a different caliber, men who are perceptive, resolved and willing to rise to the challenge in the name of country and national development, despite inheriting the steep current crime trend.
After a brief discussion on the objectives of our copyrighted EDER© multi-dimensional crime reduction approach, systems were engaged, and I received an official invitation from the government to return to St. Kitts-Nevis on June 04-11, 2016, for a week of intense consultation to showcase and initialize our unprecedented multi-pronged blue print for sustainable crime reduction/prevention in the federation.
I therefore declare the tiny twin island federation of St. Kitts and Nevis as a regional leader in the field of social empowerment and crime reduction and challenge the larger twin republic of Trinidad & Tobago to follow in their steps, if really serious about saving lives, reducing crime and restoring T&T to its once coveted name.
In the meantime, “Let’s go St. Kitts-Nevis!!” You are on the right path! Keep leading the Caribbean!