There are many root causes to crime, as agreed by several heads of state at the Caricom symposium on crime at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain on Monday.
But St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said one of the reasons youths are picking up guns to commit crimes is to keep providing the lifestyle for high-maintenance, pretty women.
He said for most criminals, a life of crime was a choice.
“They chose to be murderers and kill and they do so by and large because they want to make some easy money dealing drugs and running crime,” he said.
“Some of them, in order to maintain rank in the community, they get a fascination with guns. They associate with young women – in some cases beautiful young women who are high-maintenance – and they have to rob and steal and kill and deal in drugs in order to maintain them.
“Everybody here knows what I am talking here is the absolute truth,” he insisted. “What I am talking here, people in the taverns across Trinidad and Tobago are talking about. Well, it’s time we spoke about it here.”
He dismissed the perceived social effects of crime – poverty, prejudice and a lack of access to opportunities. He said if people were really that frustrated, they would kill themselves instead of turning to crime and killing others.
“I note that in TT and all the countries in the Caribbean, with the possible exception of Guyana, we have among the lowest rates of suicide. So if we are really frustrated we should be killing ourselves more individually. We don’t...we kill other people,” Gonsalves said.
He described criminals as cowards, adding his wish is to have the death penalty applicable again across the region.
He pointed out that most crimes are committed by young men who come from broken homes and did not take up opportunities presented by governments, education systems and civil society. He added that because of capitalism, these youths see people getting away with criminal activities, and are trying to do the same.
He said contrary to popular belief, most young men are doing their country proud. Those in Boy Scouts, cadets or who play sports or music hardly ever find themselves before a magistrate. However, their successes are not highlighted as crime is.
He knocked opposition members and the media for sensationalising and politicising crime. He said journalists – who are too cowardly to enter into politics – speak in general terms but have no contribution to solving the issue.
“They have no plan,” he said. “You know that and I know that. And we have to call out this foolishness.”