By: Tony Best
As Caricom leaders meet in Haiti this week with rising crime and economic problems on their minds, a murder spree and a bloody weekend in Trinidad and Tobago are underscoring the peril the region faces and emphasizing why the issue is considered so important.
During a three-day weekend that ended on Sunday, at least seven people were killed, many of them murdered by unknown gunman in the volatile east-west corridor of the twin island republic.
Trinidad and Tobago, which like Jamaica registered a decline in its murder rate last year, has so far recorded 59 homicides in the first 48 days of the year.
According to the police in Port of Spain, the victims ranged in ages from 26 to 41 years ago age and while the circumstances of the recent deaths are under investigation, some of them might have been gang-related.
For example, Terry Gill, 29, was gunned down at his Longdenville home after answering a knock on his front door. His wife was in the house at the time when he shot several times. Law enforcement authorities linked his killing to drugs because of his multiple prior arrests for possession of narcotics. A 31 year old man, Brent Delcon, was killed near his Arima home by an unknown gunman on Saturday while Marlon Bradshaw was murdered in a drive-by shooting. The next day Sherman Toussaint, 27, was shot and killed in Cocorite while Ronald Nurse, 23, lost his life in a stabbing incident outside of a bar. Detectives are also investigating the murder of an unidentified man who was shot several times on the outskirts of Port of Spain.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, is joining her Caricom heads of government colleagues at a summit in Port-au-Prince to discuss how to curb the flood of U.S. made guns into the region.
U.S. Attorney-General Eric Holder is expected to attend the summit which is being chaired by Haiti’s President Michel Martelley, Caricom’s current rotating Chairman.
Holder’s presence underscores the Obama Administration’s crime and security initiative in the Caribbean that aims to heighten safety in the streets and the homes across the region.
Three Caricom leaders, Tillman Thomas, Prime Minister of Grenada, Freundel Stuart of Barbados and Jamaica’s Portia Simpson-Miller are absent from the summit. Thomas and Stuart are seeking a new mandate from the voters. Grenadians went to the polls yesterday and Barbadians are due to select their next government on Thursday.
In the case of Simpson-Miller she is staying at home to help finalize the negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for a $750 million standby lon arrangement designed to help ease the country’s financial problems.
Caricom states have has some of the world’s highest homicide rates with 49 murders committed for every 100,000 people, while Trinidad and Tobago has a rate of 30.38 per 100,000 persons while Belize’s stands at 30.8 murders. Haiti where the summit is being held is much lower at 11.5 killings. Barbados’ stands at 7.49 and Suriname’s 10.30.