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Tuesday 17 September 2019
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PM: We have not succeeded against criminal elements

Conversation Dr Keith Rowley Thursday night at City Hall Knox Street Port of Spain PHOTO SUREASH CHOLAI
Conversation Dr Keith Rowley Thursday night at City Hall Knox Street Port of Spain PHOTO SUREASH CHOLAI

THE PRIME Minister said this country has not succeeded against the criminal elements but is no failed state.

He was speaking on Thursday night at Conversations with our Political Leader at City Hall, Port of Spain. He said in the face of the outrages of the "small minority of imps" who kill people in this country – and the Government is fighting against that storm – he gets a front-page editorial in a national newspaper.

This, he said, offered "no comment of useful help. They did it twice in a row because they declared war on the Government on the matters of crime. And, of course, is quite happy to list our country as a failed state."

He said the country has not succeeded in overcoming the criminal element but this was not the only country fighting with it.

Rowley recalled while he was building a house in Goodwood Park in 1984 he visited the job site with his friend, a police officer, and they saw two young men in a white car. His friend investigated and told him the boys, one of whom he knew, was snorting cocaine.

"That was the first encounter I had with cocaine in TT. Because before then, we heard about it and read about it in the American sphere, but here in TT, in 1984, was the first time I came that close to it."

He said from that age of innocence much of the country has changed, because as the Americans put pressure on the cocaine trade through the South American route, the drug started coming via the Caribbean route, and the best jump-off place to go into North America was TT.

"And the cocaine started coming, and the guns started coming with the cocaine, and the gun owners started staking out territory, and of course the murder and mayhem started, and it continues and continues."

Rowley said the drug trade has corrupted the entire society, as those who handled the trade got richer and richer. He added the nation has been fighting this up until one point the budget allocation for national security was the largest.

Rowley said the Americans have also been fighting the trade and despite the resources and multiple military and intelligence sub-units specifically to fight the drug trade, still have a $40 billion drug trade.

He said TT was fighting the drug trade, gun trade, those who see crime as a way of life and those who prosper from the criminality of the trade "that has virtually destroyed this island nation."

He added: "I didn't see any front-page editorial on that. But in three and a half years as prime minister I am supposed to wave a wand and it gone."

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