The Opposition, which is attending Caricom Crime Symposium launch, is appealing to Caricom leaders to get Prime Minister Keith Rowley to remove National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds.
UNC Senator Wade Mark confirmed this on Sunday.
Mark told Guardian Media that a UNC team will be attending the symposium launch. Members are Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Mark and MPs Rushton Paray and Dinesh Rambally.
“We’ve only been invited to the opening ceremony. We’ll make our views known later at UNC’s Monday Report,” Mark added.
At UNC’s Port-of-Spain media briefing on Sunday, Mark said,”Barbarians are at the gates. Everyone is living in mortal fear in T&T. No one’s safe. Nowhere’s safe—all are affected. Gangsters are telling people ‘pay up or face death’—that’s where we reach.”
“The white flag of surrender has been hoisted on Whitehall. The beleaguered, incompetent National Security Minister has appealed to people for patience, but how much more can people offer?”
“It’s now clear the Prime Minister has abandoned his post and is literally running for cover, afraid of reporting on crime to the people, hoping a regional symposium will save him…. ducks, runs and hides behind regional colleagues,” he also said.
Mark appealed to Caricom leaders, “Please convince the Prime Minister to get rid of this ‘tombstone’ around T&T’s neck where the letters read ‘H I N D S’ , who says he’s not responsible for safety, security or a crime plan.”
“This man isn’t fit for purpose, he doesn’t understand his role,” Mark claimed. Hinds didn’t reply to Guardian Media’s WhatsApp query on this.
Mark said the symposium was “a brazen attempt and cop-out by the Government to buy time so Prime Minister Keith Rowley “can provide an excuse for his ineptitude on crime.”
He claimed after the event, Rowley would tell T&T “wait, as they’re waiting for Caricom to provide solutions.”
Mark said he wished leaders well and hoped they would find solutions but thought it would be “another talk shop” because Rowley, who heads security, “is a monumental failure.”
“He cannot give solutions as he’s part of the problem, so we have no confidence. He’s in his eighth year of office and T&T has the most murders recorded ever,” he said.
Mark said anything coming from Caricom had to come to Parliament for approval.
On whether the Opposition would respond to the Government’s request to assist, Mark said the Opposition had discussions with the Government on crime and other issues, “But this Government isn’t serious about solving crime.”
Mark asked how the symposium would improve T&T’s porous borders, detection, efficiency and speed in the judiciary, provide jobs and get T&T off two agencies’ listing as number six in crime and criminal rates.
“How will a symposium equip T&T with more body cameras when we hear police switching theirs off —what’s the Police Commissioner doing about that?” he asked.
He also asked how Rowley could want to solve crime following a Special Branch report alleging a Senator’s involvement with gangsters yet the person was promoted.
“We cannot continue as we’re going,” he said, noting the Sunday Guardian’s story where in Aranguez residents took measures to protect themselves.
“(Rowley)’s abandoned his post! No symposium can save him, he must call elections—let the people decide. If this Government remains in office ‘til August 2025 every community will have to find money to hire security to protect themselves,” Mark added.
Meanwhile, political analyst Dr Bishnu Ragoonath said ,” I had a look at the symposium’s draft programme. But I’m uncertain what will come from this apart from the academics’ and other perspectives’ input. “
Ragoonath said he was uncertain that two days of talks from speakers in one location, on the issue and its various aspects, could come up with a plan specific to the crime problem in the entire region.
“Maybe they have some people to come up with a plan, but I’m unsure they’ve done sufficient strategic thinking that will yield a workable plan in the region.
However, we wait to see what they come up with,” he added.
Ragoonath said it appeared that the reason there was movement from having a national symposium on crime to having the Caricom one was because there was no clear agenda to deal with crime locally and it was decided to put it in a Caricom symposium.
“And we may go nowhere. But let’s see what they do,” he added.