Trinidad & Tobago has declared a limited state of emergency in areas across the country. The Caribbean nation has seen increasing violence related to drug trafficking and its Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar says the response is necessary to help subdue the recent rash of killings that left 11 people dead in three days.

Giving her Sunday address to the nation, Persad-Bissessar said that she would be instituting a 9 p.m. to 5 a.m curfew in cities and towns and calling upon 5,000 members of the military to help enforce it. The Prime Minister stressed that the curfew would be instated for the next 15 days, during which police will have broader powers to search suspects, their residences and possessions as well as more discretion on making arrests.

While many within Trinidad & Tobago have questioned the legality of the state of emergency, Foreign Minister Surujrattan Rambachan claims they have been highly effective. So far 58 gang leaders have been arrested. Rambachan says that those worried about the state abusing their powers are not weighing the risks, telling The New York Times, the curfews and broader police powers were “a limited intervention to deal with gangs and get guns off the streets.”  According to The Guardian, over 100 people have been detained since the state of emergency was imposed.

Though the violence in Trinidad and Tobago has sent the nation into lockdown mode, it is not the only one. Last month, a beheading of a mother and daughter in Spanish Town, Jamaica was said to be linked to police seizures of narcotics. Many policymakers point to the spikes in violence in the Caribbean as warning that emphasis needs to refocused on drug trafficking in the region.

In recent years, much of U.S. aid has be directed to Mexico where 95 percent of drugs destined for America came from. 60 percent of those drugs passed through Central America before Mexico and as such lawmakers directed their resources to locking down land and air trafficking. The pattern of drug related violence across the Caribbean suggests that traffickers looking to move narcotics have found more holes in port security and are moving their shipments by sea.

But will lockdown become the tactic of governments across the Caribbean? It certainly may trend that way. On the island of St. Kitts and Nevis, lawmakers are urging their Prime Minister to implement a state of emergency similar to the one in Trinidad & Tobago in response to their country’s own increase in drug related murders.

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  • ……………..

    as a native Trini..although I am appalled from hearing this news,I knew it was coming! These twin island’s crime rates has been kept under the radar on a global level for a very long time.I am pleased to see that news of it is spreading. I hope this lockdown can be the beginning of several proceedures to bring Trinidad BACK!!It has been bombarded with ruthless murders,kidnappings and just plain ignorant crimes.I have a lot of pride for where I’m from,but this really needs to stop.I can’t even wish to go visit,when in the back of my mind I’m wondering if I’d get shot out of pure ignorance!!;(

  • This SoE was necessary for my country what was once a place of paradise is slowly becoming hell on earth…which is not good for our economy, along with other things…it saddens me but HARSH measures are needed at this point….over 800 arrests have been made thus far and we have 6 more days to go…and since the inception of the SoE there have been no reports of murders, gang killings, drug deals NOTHING…..so it’s proving that it’s working……… i PRAY that God will heal my land :)

    • Adrian

      The two previous commentators are delusional. This has been a most unnecessary state of emergency that demonstrates the government’s incompetence in with dealing with crime. They have shown the population from the start that this state of emergency was not properly planned: whether it be The Prime Minister declaring a state of emergency before it was declared by the President, the fact that she declared this an entire day before any policing action took place giving criminals sufficient time to move their operations elsewhere, the misinformation that was put out by her, the Attorney General and the Minister of National Security that confused the population, the fact that alleged gang members are being rounded up with little evidence only to be most likely released once the state of emergency is over, the fact that detention centres were not identified leading to nation’s prisons being overwhelmed and the disturbing absence of white collar criminals ,who are most likely responsible for the guns and drugs in the country in the first place, among those arrested. This state of emergency is yet another PR stunt by the government where they arrest an arbitrary number of people a day to appear as if they are doing something. Meanwhile it allows them to put a damper on the growing unrest within the labour movement.

      What is disturbing is that the government saw it necessary to take this drastic measure to strip away the rights of all citizens, disrupt the economy and do damage to the country’s image internationally to tackle crime. What is strange is that Afro-Trinidadian males have been disproportionately targeted during this state of emergency while citizens living in the ruling party’s constituencies, who are predominantly Indo- Trinidadian, have been spared the harsher consequences of the state of emergency. I can’t say that I believe this state of emergency will yield much positive results based on the numerous mistakes, missteps and blunders of this government.

  • Adrian you’re looking at it from the Gov’t perspective and not that of a frustrated citizen…while i would agree not all are happy with the SoE the MAJORITY welcomes it….. take your head out of the sand and take a look at reality as far as crime is concerned something needed to be done and the Gov’t saw it fit to do so….knowing fully the effects it would have on the economy etc……….but that sacrifice had to be made in order for a better economical turn round…..who would want to invest in a country blighted with crime?! the local business men humbly obliged to it knowing it would also benefit them in the long run…..GETTING THOSE CRIMINALS OFF OUR STREETS IS NEEDED FOR A SAFER T&T it may not solve all the problems as far as crime is concerned but, the SoE exercise although shaky at 1st has proven to be effective thus far…….. btw if Manning had done something while he was in power none of this would of happened he is the one that FAILED………

    • Adrian

      Clearly you have been sipping the People’s Partnership’s kool aid. I think we can all agree that something needs to be done about the crime situation and we can spend all day arguing about which administration should have done something. I do think you should ask yourself these questions:

      1) Is this the best course of action the government could have taken?

      2) Thus far, has this government demonstrated that this SoE was properly planned?

      I am all for the government doing something about crime, but they should be doing something that is meaningful and that will last beyond the 15 days of this SoE. Taking alleged criminals off the streets for 15 days while the “big fishes” remain is not a long term strategy for fighting crime. This just makes the sacrifice that citizens are making in vain.

      P.S. Shouting doesn’t make you point any more valid.

  • Stupesssssss @ Adrian….. couldn’t the current “initiatives” be achieved without a State of Emergency???…what stopped these sort of police exercises before???…….just goes to show how lazy and corrupt the police service is……they could of done this yrs. ago without the need for SoE……..keep in mind also warrants had to be granted in order for searches etc……so our judicial system has to hold blame as well………now that citizens rights have been infringed we seeing results smh………sad to say but it good for us…….we clearly in a Peter pay for Paul and Paul pay for all syndrome….

    Far to long Trinidadians have the notion they’re above the law and day after day lawless behavior was given a pat on it’s back……. it’s time high time ppl realize there must be consequences for their law breaking behavior……..my only wish is that the curfew be lifted after the 15 days so we the law abiding citizen can get some normalcy back to our lives……

    I’m not sipping on any kool aid doh doh head….lol…i’m just sick and tired of all the senseless murders, wondering if i or a loved one of mine could be next….smh…idk where you getting your news from but the arrests made thus far ppl have been charged for out standing warrants to drug and weapons possession etc…..come court day they will be put away for a while…as for the BIG fish they too shall have their day the longest rope has an end “yuh no”………have a BLESSED day my dear i’m over this debate…….lol….

    • Adrian

      I’m sure you are over this debate since you clearly cannot or refuse to accept reason. Thus you must resort to childish insults and incoherent sentences.

  • Chris Robertson

    Adrian seems to have a clear and uncluttered mind. Drugs are the number one evil the world is involved in fighting. It brings with it guns and finds men that have co conscious form of reason other than quick money and the destruction of family life as it ought to be. If it takes the shutting down of a small island state to rid us of this scourge and reduce violence then that is what a working Prime Minister must do. In order to get rid of drugs entirely the Government must create a back up for our Board Of Inland Revenue to act as the IRS in the United States have the power to do and jail individuals for having unaccountable wealth without the proper source of wealth documentation. That is the only way the Trinidad & Tobago government will ever get rid of drugs in our small beautiful country. That, coupled with the death sentence for possession of drugs as is done in Singapore is the only way to clean up a country and make it drug and violence free,

    • Peter Hausen

      Enjoyed your diatribe. Your last sentence was/is somewhat severe and your desire for a crime free world is/was somewhat utopian. Your heart is in the right place though. Bravo!! Pray for a balance my man! God Bless!!!!!