The views expressed herein are solely those of the writer.
By Professor Richard A. Byron-Cox PhD.
No one would deny that there are many challenges varying in size and difficulty to our development process. There are however three seemingly intractable problems which no government since independence has been able to grapple with effectively. These are: steady high unemployment, stubborn poverty, and continuing deadly criminal violence. I hasten to state, I am not saying some governments haven’t tried. My argument is that these malaises persist despite governments’ efforts. Admittedly, these are large and complex issues none of which can be comprehensively discussed in one article. I therefore here share a few thoughts on crime, specifically callous murder, on the rampage once again. l don’t pretend to be some Socratic social anthropologist or bigoted Mister-know-it-all who has the answer, check Leroy for that! But like every patriot and noble being, I would like SVG to be purged of this scourge.
There is in some circles an attitude of cynical indifference which claims that this is beef among criminal gangs that will gun each other into oblivion. History shows that violence in any society rarely if ever punishes the perpetuators. Ours is a tiny polity, which cannot adopt an approach of disinterest to this malady. Indeed, recently, murder was committed all but in the midst of Karaoke; and a man was gunned down in Little Tokyo with the sun in the middle of the sky, and the place a hive of activity!! Secondly, what civilized society can allow regular wanton murders to go unchecked? This nation must not play ostriches, but ought to put an end to this savagery that will surely engulf us all, making us a replica of Jamaica. This later practice is now a national pastime, where we take the worst slime coming out of Kingston, hailing it as national culture!!
When I say government and the police are less than serious in suppressing criminal violence, the ULP simpletons bark, “What yo’ want government fo’ do?! This happening all over the world.” This is a party-political poorly-informed emotional response, that sees every question about the action or lack thereof by government as attack on the party and its leader. This infantile paranoia and refusal to accept responsibility for ineffectiveness if not ineptness, is shameful. Any government which finds itself in a mode of de facto paralysis in the face of real threats to its citizens’ security has in effect taken initials steps on the road to being a failed state. The fact is SVG is 7th in the world for murders per capita with 36.54 per 100, 000 people and we are not yet done for 2022. The English-speaking Caribbean has eight in the first twenty with only Jamaica and Belize ahead of us. This is astounding!!
Significant amounts of our very limited resources are being spent on the police. They are better trained, educated, paid, housed and financed than ever in history, yet we have this state of affairs with violent crime! In fact, the police is powerless in simple matters like getting minibuses to stop being deafening chariots, from which seniors alight with splitting eardrums and terrible headaches, while the young are slowly being made deft! Yes, we all have a role in uplifting SVG, but the state and police must be the vanguards in preventing and solving violent crimes and maintain law and order. If not, we must then ask: isn’t ploughing so much resources into the police criminal squander? The state cannot continue to spend our money like this with little or nothing to show as justification!
Nothing supra dictum is new, so why this piece? This country has a way of sometimes normalizing evil and bad, embracing these as sine qua non to our society. Desperate poverty of 27.5 % was ignored by Jessie James while he squandered 300 million in his swamp of corruption wilfully misrepresented as a marina. The present government does nothing about the squalor between P.H. Viera’s and Bonadie’s supermarkets and the monstrosity Jessie built calling it a vegetable market. These are just twosocial infirmities we had/have normalised! The inaction of the government and the laziness of the police -empty chatter is meaningless- in their inattention to deadly violent crime signals accommodation if not encouragement. We must never become indifferent to heinous crimes, giving the police and the government a “bly” because of personal friendship and/or political allegiance. There is no honour in lies! Integrity demands that I say and do what is right, knowing that some will make enemies of me because of it! We must not allow this country to descend into a paradise for murderers, and so be governed by guns! No, this is not being alarmist, history shows that when societies ignore random acts of deadly violence, they rapidly become an essential flavour like Sicily’s Cosa Nostra. So, soon, the real question might be: when will your number call?