Trinidad has become a failed narco petro gang state (Part Two)

I have come to the conclusion based on simple internet research that my old homeland Trinidad and Tobago is a failed oil rich state with a heavy icing layer of narco state and gang control state on top. 

Trinidad has become a failed narco petro gang state (Part Two)
Photo : Ramdath Jagessar

I have come to the conclusion based on simple internet research that my old homeland Trinidad and Tobago is a failed oil rich state with a heavy icing layer of narco state and gang control state on top. 

And if you say it’s easy for me to write that while sitting comfortably in my bungalow in Toronto, I would have to agree and disagree. It’s not easy to say the country of your birth has gone to the dogs, and yes I would say it’s easier for me to write this column than for most fellow writers based in Trinidad, who have to watch their backs if they offend powerful criminals with the truth. 

No way could I disagree that the Encyclopedia Britannica description of a failed state would have to include Trinidad and Tobago.  To summarize, such a state is unable to perform the two basic functions of the sovereign nation: projecting  authority over its territory and peoples; and protecting its national boundaries.  It’s unable to fulfill the administrative and organizational tasks required to control people and resources and can provide only minimal public services. Its citizens no longer believe that their government is legitimate. 

It’s composed of feeble and flawed institutions, and often, the executive barely functions, while the legislature, judiciary, bureaucracy, and armed forces have lost their capacity and professional independence. Crumbling infrastructures, faltering utility supplies and educational and health facilities, and deteriorating basic human-development indicators are signs of such a failed state. 

An environment of flourishing corruption and negative growth rates, where honest economic activity cannot flourish are signs of the rot. Civil war, ethnic violence or genocide, and predatory government and bureaucratic behaviour are also part of the menu, though I must say TT doesn’t have all of this last group. 

In short, a failed state can no longer deliver physical security, a productive economic environment, and a stable political system for its people.

Now I ask you, is that Trinidad and Tobago today? How are we different from Nigeria, Libya, Iraq, Yemen and Venezuela, which despite being rich in oil are really basket cases for development and human rights? Oh, and lest I forget, TT has closed down its only oil refinery and is importing fuel, oil and gas production are down sharply and the country is in a foreign exchange lock-neck. 

When we move to the narco-state, things get very scary indeed.  A narco-state is defined as a political and economic term applied to countries where all legitimate institutions become penetrated by the power and wealth of the illegal drug trade.[

Narco-states can be divided into five categories depending on their level of dependence on the narcotics trade and the threat the narcotics trade in said country poses to domestic and international stability. These five categories are: incipient (e.g. Papua New Guinea, Iran), developing (e.g. Senegal, Thailand), serious (e.g. Honduras, Mexico, El Salvador), critical (e.g. Tajikistan, Peru, Colombia), and advanced (Afghanistan, Guinea-Bissau, North Korea, Venezuela and Myanmar).

I would say TT is in the developing narco state category, moving rapidly to serious. No commentator is saying that the country has any real hope of curbing the entry of drugs through our wide open borders, controlling the internal sale of illegal drugs or closing down the transhipment of such drugs to lucrative North American or European markets.   

I understand TT’s radar system to monitor entry into its air space or marine ports doesn’t work and has never worked, that the blimps don’t float, and the few patrol boats have no chance of effective control of an extensive coastline. Anybody bringing in drugs, guns to protect them and American dollars from Columbia or Venezuela can sneak in to an unguarded beach at night or drop the stuff from a light plane in relative safety. 

Drug dealers have police spies in every police station to warn them of impending raids. The big shipments of drugs are going out in containers to the USA where less than 5% of containers are inspected, and  the small amounts carried by drug mules on airplanes is only a distraction. Marijuana, cocaine, pills of various types, fentanyl are being sold everywhere by well paid and ferociously armed drug dealers. All of this is well known and very old news indeed.

How did this drug culture come about to such an extent in Trinidad and not in neighbouring countries like Grenada, Barbados, Curacao, Aruba, St Vincent and so on right up to Jamaica? 

Who was the drug lord who brought about this apocalypse? Was it Dole Chadee, Mice Lutchman or the mysterious Syrian overlord? No, it was the once lovable Police Commissioner Randolph Burroughs who did the foul deed. Since his days as head of the famous Flying Squad it was common knowledge that Burroughs was raiding mostly drug dealers who didn’t pay up protection money and ignoring those dealers who did hand out the cash. 

When he became police commissioner Burroughs oversaw an explosion of illegal drugs and dealers that swamped Trinidad. It’s not an exaggeration to say that in the seventies and eighties there were drug dealers in every village and town and in front of every secondary school in the nation. Port of Spain alone had hundreds of zonked out vagrants, young people turned into walking dead by drugs. The police were clearly overwhelmed and unable to cope, but more likely ordered not to stop the drug dealers. 

Burroughs, regrettably, was not an educated man, and he seemed to be a very stupid man when it came to long term vision. He didn’t read books or he would have known of the rise of the American mafia to immortality because FBI director J. Edgar Hoover ordered his agents to ease up on the mafia at an early stage when they could easily have been crushed. 

Hoover was a closet homosexual and the mafia had pictures of him wearing the famous red dress, which they threatened to publish unless he gave them a break. We know the rest. In contrast, the mafia in Canada never got any break in the early days from the RCMP Mounted Police and have never been anything like the force they became in America. 

Burroughs, poor fool, saw a chance to make some money for himself from the drug dealers and could never visualize the consequences for the police force, the young people, the government, and the future of the country. Now we have large numbers of young men and not so young men who have no educational qualifications or prospects in the job market but who are making thousands and tens of thousands of dollars per week in the drug trade. The only way to stop them is to kill them outright and that no government or political party or police commissioner will do. 

(To Be Continued)