At the post-Cabinet briefing on Thursday, National Security Minister Stuart Young accused, “certain persons in society who may stand to benefit from criminals carrying out random acts of violence against law-abiding citizens.”
It was a week of unbridled terror as gunmen stalked the country with apparent impunity.
On Tuesday night, three men allegedly kidnapped two doctors of the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH) on Rushworth Street in the southern city. The car crashed on the Solomon Hochoy Highway, killing one of the doctors. On Wednesday afternoon, gunmen opened fire on Queen street, killing two men and wounding another man and woman. Responding officers ended up in a shootout. Three suspects were arrested. That evening in Arima, three young men ranging in age from 16 to 24-years-old were murdered at home. A fourth young man, Marlon Cust, is in hospital in critical condition. By Thursday, the country was on high alert. Citizens were nervous. That morning, rumours at the SFGH that a gunman was in the corridors of the hospital led to an immediate security lockdown.
If ordinary citizens are terrified, how heavy must the burden be on the man with ministerial responsibility for the security of the country? Perhaps Young’s accusation was born out of frustration and annoyance? It’s unclear what purpose such bluster might serve without evidence that would command decisive action.
It wasn’t the first time that the National Security Minister had implied that members of the opposition were meeting with criminals. He’d done so quite infamously in August 2019. MSJ political leader David Abdulah dismissed the accusations as “ghost blaming.” Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, SC, a former attorney general, called on the minister to provide evidence. UNC PRO Anita Haynes denied the claims and warned that having to deny them was dangerous for national security and the country.
The UNC is hardly blameless in this running accusation/counter accusation game, but the brutal truth is that broadsides of hot air advance the business of crime management not a bit. They aren’t even particularly effective politics.
The public face of gun violence in the first three weeks of the year is appalling. On the last day of 2019, gunmen shot at a maxi taxi with assault rifles at four in the afternoon, wounding three occupants and six passers-by.
The National Security Minister is right to ask who benefits from apparently random violence. The answer does not seem to lie in pointless crosstalk but in action. The answers to these shootings will not be found in angry diatribe, but there might be value in turning the best minds in governance, on both sides of the floor, to the task.