SAINT Lucia and by extension the Government need to be very mindful of the dangers that exist with respect to the increasing incidences of violent crime.
I offer this advice as someone who has seen the disastrous fallout of not stamping out such criminality with extreme prejudice before it takes root, because like bamboo, it then becomes almost impossible to eradicate.
Having lived most of my life in Trinidad and Tobago I remember when that place was an absolute paradise, and there was nothing like a good lime. You could have walked the streets with your family free from fear and a hardworking man/woman was able to enjoy the fruits of their labour without having to worry about someone snatching it, and in some instances their lives away with it.
I recall when a murder made headline news in Trinidad …now it’s pushed to page five or six, depending on how horrific it was of course. But when the murder toll for the year was 95, it was not stamped out. Then it crossed 100, 200, 300 and now Trinidad regularly records between 500 and 600 murders a year. While that may be alarming in a population of 1.3 million, an annual murder toll of 50 in a population of 180,000 is also pretty alarming.
The truth is that there are some issues, such as domestic violence, where it is almost impossible to predict far less prevent someone being hurt, however, every Saint Lucian should be concerned with the rise in gun-related crimes. I know that the country has had its share of challenges with the controversy surrounding alleged ‘extra-judicial’ killings; however. that should not deter the security forces from being vigilant and brave in their efforts to stamp out crime.
In Trinidad I have seen how easy it is for the weed to catch hold and spread, particularly when no one is plucking it out. Nothing motivates a criminal more than a low detection rate. In Trinidad they are so emboldened by the assurance of not being caught that they now openly challenge the police with their high-powered weapons.
So, I hope we take the lessons from our neighbours seriously and start putting things in place to launch an aggressive assault while serious crime is still manageable in Saint Lucia. This is an issue that requires all hands to be on board, not just the police, but also the citizens. In fact, in a tourism economy it’s even more critical. If we care about the future of our children, then we need to say no to the criminals among us.
Saint Lucia is a paradise, let’s keep it that way.