For much too long Trinidad has been a home to appalling murder rates, gang violence and mass illicit drug and weapon trading. These unlawful activities were starting to take a toll on the country’s economy, international reputation and law abiding citizens. During mid August 2011, the county lost seven persons in the space of 24 hours to murder, driving the murder toll to 263.These allegedly gang related homicides persuaded Prime Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar to declare a limited state of emergency in the country with an accompanying curfew of 9pm – 5am in designated “hot spots” for fifteen days on the 21st August, 2011.
The state of emergency was further extended until 5th December, 2011. The recent state of emergency in Trinidad (August 21st 2011- 5th December 2011) was chosen in relevance to Caribbean Studies because it was one of the most recent events that had a serious impact on the lives of the citizens. The financial and cultural inconveniences faced by my family during this state of emergency persuaded me to study this event.
The researcher is under the opinion that the state of emergency was the government’s “quick fix” for the crime situation which had no long term worth to the country. It is intriguing that as soon as the curfew was lifted, criminal activities continued whilst the state of emergency continued. This implied that the cultural and financial inconveniences associated with the state of emergency had no value if crime were to continue as normal prior to the state of emergency. The purpose of this study is to access the practicality of state of emergency 2011 to the citizens of Trinidad and the criminal future of the county.
This study conducted locally is an attempt to compare the experiences and views of a small cross- section of local businessmen and women with what is reported by economic experts and government officials in the local reports.
For this study, the researcher hopes to raise awareness on the effects of state of emergencies on the general public and to help others to critically assess other decisions made by their government and determine whether or not they are profitable to them on an individual and societal basis. These
evaluations would make for a better educated, developed society. Also, the researcher hopes this study would be helpful to future students conducting research on a similar topic.
Was the state of emergency 21st August, 2011- 5th December, 2011 beneficial to the citizens of Trinidad?
(1)How did the state of emergency impact on the culture of the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago? (2)How did the state of emergency impact on the small local businesses of Trinidad and Tobago? (3) How successful was the state of emergency in its efforts to crack down on crime?
The questionnaires were given only to persons who owned small businesses in order to research the impact of the state of emergency 2011 (August 21st- December 5th, 2011) on small businesses as well as culture and crime. Also, for the purpose of investigating at the immediate effect of the state of emergency on crime, criminal statistics from February 2011 and February 2012 were compared.
Definition of Terms
Illegal- forbidden by law. Narcotics- any of a class of substances that blunt the senses. Culture- the ways of life of a people within a society. Homicide- the killing of a human being by another.
Legislation- Law enacted by a legislative body Act- A formal decision, law, or the like, by a legislature, ruler, court, or other authority. Curfew- an order establishing a specific time in the evening after which specific regulations apply, especially that no civilians or other specified group of unauthorized persons may be outdoors or that spaces of public assembly must be closed. Economy- the management of the resources of a country.
Ammunition- the material fired, scattered, dropped, or denoted from any weapon. Tribunal- court of justice. State of Emergency- a governmental declaration that may suspend some normal functions of the executive, legislative and judicial powers, alert citizens to change their normal behaviours, or order government agencies to implement emergency preparedness plans. Government- the political direction and control exercised over the actions of the members, citizens, or inhabitants of communities, societies, and states; direction of the affairs of a state, community
The state of emergency 2011 (August 21st- December 5th 2011) was a decision made by the government to halt the spike in gang activity and crime in general in the shortest time possible. However, continuous complaints of regular citizens led investigators to believe that the state of emergency had no noteworthy effect on crime whilst disrupting the natural flow of small businesses and person’s everyday lives. At first the state of emergency had astonishing results, where on September 5th 2011 a reported 1, 356 alleged criminals had been detained, 33 guns and more than 1,700 rounds of ammunition were seized. Prime Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar declared the state of emergency a success and opted to extend the event until December 5th 2011.
However, no detainees had yet been brought before the three-member tribunal established by the Chief Justice Ivor Archie to review their cases (Richards, P. (2011, September 5th) Trinidad: State of emergency in more ways than one. Global Issues. http://www.globalissues.org/news). By 5th December, 2011 a total of 8,118 alleged criminals were arrested, 400 of which were under the Anti- Gang regulations. Since then, all the men arrested under that Anti-Gang Act were freed. During the state of emergency 45 homicides had been recorded, 15 of which occurred after the lifting of the curfew. (Alli, J. (2011, December 5th) State of Emergency Ends. C. News.
http://ctntworld.com/LocalArticles). To date, the TTPS (Trinidad and Tobago Police Service) boasts that the state of emergency has allowed them to gather crucial intelligence. (Alli, J, 2011, December 5th). According to the Police Service Serious Crime Statistics, the murder rate has seen a slight decrease from 72 murders in February 2011 to 67 murders in February 2012 whilst there has been even greater success in the narcotics trade with only 56 cases being reported by February 2012 compared to the 69 cases by February 2011.
However, the state of emergency seems to have had no effect on “smaller” crimes such as robberies which have increased by 11% since 2011. (Bhagan, K. (2012) Policed Service Serious Crime Statistics. Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago http://www.ttps.gov.tt/Statistics/). The state of emergency also brought with it some short- term and long term consequences for local businesses with its imposed curfew negatively impacting the entertainment industry. According to economist Indera Sagewan- Alli the extended curfew would “…. damage economic growth and the country’s prospects for growth this year…. It will bite into small businesses, restaurants, nightclubs, factories and even hurt Christmas sales…”
She went on to say that once a country is under state of emergency, that in itself is a disincentive to foreign investors who will not be inclined to choose Trinidad until the state of emergency is lifted and local investors will follow the trend. During the state of emergency, business in the service industry had felt a significant bite in their revenues, restaurants and nightclubs for example lost approximately 90% of their revenue. The negative impacts on the service industry were to be mainly blamed on the curfew with the state of emergency and once the curfew was lifted, businesses were given a chance to revive themselves. (Bridglal, C. (2011, September 6th) State of Emergency Damaging to the Economy.
Trinidad Express Newspapers http://www.trinidadexpress.com/businessmagazine) On the other hand, according to the Governor of the Central Bank, Mr. Ewart Williams “…. If the state of emergency succeeds in significantly reducing the rule of crime then, it should, in the long term, help the business climate. That is what we are hoping for… The big issue is the extent to which the cost you pay is compensated by the benefits that you get down the road and it is only time will tell… potential investors will adopt a wait and see approach on the way forward for business with this country.” (Bridglal, C.)
The state of emergency’s success with regards to the local businesses cannot yet be determined until a substantial decrease in crime is seen, in the mean while local businesses especially those involved in night life are still recovering from the mass loss in revenue during the event. A major disruption in the everyday lives of the citizens also accompanied the state of emergency. This interference however was to be totally blamed on the curfew which had both positive and negative effects. According to Prime Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar’s state of emergency address the curfew would have had a positive effect in promoting family life and in the future, make families feel safer in their own homes. This promotion in family life might have had an impact on the value systems of the people, in turn changing their habits and thus, changing the culture of the people for the better. (Alli, J. (2011, August 21st) Breaking news: State of emergency declared.
Trinidad Express Newspapers. http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/BREAKING-NEWS) The state of emergency in Trinidad only lasted for 104 days and so would not have had a permanent impact on the cultural celebrations of the people such as Divali and Eid- Ul- Fitr. The present study is located within this body of both Caribbean and International data and presents survey data on the impacts of the state of emergency on an individual basis to the citizens of Trinidad. It adds to the growing body of work on the success of the state of emergency 2011 (August 21st- December 5th, 2011), as few studies have yet been undertaken specifically on this topic. While survey data provides only a ‘snapshot’, this study could be extended by researchers in the future to obtain more in- depth perspectives.
The quantitative data acquired from the total of twenty five respondents determined the beneficial and non- beneficial effects felt by the citizens of Trinidad during the recent state of emergency 21st August- 5th December 2011. According to FIGURE 1.0 a high percentage of the respondents (70%) stated that the state of emergency affected their cultural celebrations whilst only 30% of the interviewed said that the state of emergency had no impact on their cultural celebrations. The common cultural celebrations affected were Divali (25%), Eid- Ul-Fitr(45%), weddings (8%). The most uncommon cultural celebrations were placed into a group called “other” which held 12% of the interviewed. FIGURE 1.0 answered the first research question, “How did the state of emergency impact on the on the culture of the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago?”
According to this figure, the allocated curfew and the ban of pyrotechnics during the state of emergency were mainly responsible for the cultural interruptions. FIGURE 2.0 described the effects of the state of emergency on family life. 67% of the respondents stated that the state of emergency had some impact on their family life whilst 33% stated that it did not. All of the responses pertaining to this figure dealt with the state of emergency’s associated curfew, even those who said that the state of emergency had no effects on their family life all stated that this was most likely because the curfew did not affect them.
The other respondents were further broken up into two groups. Those whose families were affected positively (86%) and those who were affected negatively (14%). familiar problems whilst those who were affected positively said that the state of emergency’s curfew forced them to spend more time together. FIGURE 2.0 aided in answering the problem statement which was whether or not the state of emergency was beneficial to the citizens of Trinidad as well the first research question. FIGURE 3.0 showed the effects on business profits in Trinidad during the 2011 state of emergency. 25% of the interviewed claimed that their profits decreased by 100% while 22% claimed that their profits decreased by 70%.
Another 21% claimed that their profits decreased by 50%, 10% said that their profits decreased by 20% and 19% said that their profits remained the same. Only 3% of the interviewed claimed to have an increase in business profits during the state of emergency 2011. These results were most likely due to the curfew and ban on pyrotechnics associated with the state of emergency. The ban on pyrotechnics would have greatly decreased the firework sales during the Divali and Eid seasons.
The curfew would have affected the sales of night food vendors and night entertainment industry, decreasing sales. Some businesses probably altered their business hours preventing a drastic decrease in profits. FIGURE 3.0 answered the second research question “How did the state of emergency impact on the small local businesses in Trinidad?” FIGURE 4.0 showed the reasons for the decrease or increases in business profits during the state of emergency given by the surveyed. A dominating 84% of the interviewed stated that the restricted hours of the state of emergency was responsible for the loss in business. 12% stated that their products or skills were not required during the state of emergency causing a loss in business. On the other hand 4% of the interviewed said people spent less money on socializing during the state of emergency and were able to purchase their products.
FIGURE 4.0 aided in answering the second research question. FIGURE 5.0 showed the effects of the state of emergency 2011 on businesses in present day and their opinions of the future. 79% of the interviewed said that their business returned to usual profits after the state of emergency had ended. 69% of these persons stated that the return of usual business profits was due to the return of regular business hours whilst 31% said that it was due to people feeling safer at night after the state of emergency, promoting their business. On the other hand 21% of the interviewed claimed that their business profits did not improve after the state of emergency. All of the interviewed simultaneously said that this was due to persons still recovering from the state of emergency thus, having less money to spend.
The diagram also shows that 23% of the surveyed predicted that there would be an improvement in the business sector of Trinidad after the state of emergency, all of whom agreed that foreign companies would tend to invest in the economy since the crime situation has been stabalised by the state of emergency. However, the majority (77%) said that the state of emergency would not improve the business sector of Trinidad. 48% of which stated that the “drug kings” were released and continue to run the economy whilst 52% stated that the illegal importation of goods still exists making it tough for smaller businesses to make a profit. FIGURE 5.0 helps to answer the second research question.
FIGURE 6.0 shows how safe persons felt during the state of emergency and after. During the state of emergency, 70% of the interviewed felt safer whilst 10% felt less safe. 20% said that they felt no change in safety during that state of emergency. This was most likely as a result of persons feeling safer due to the large number or arrests made during the state of emergency and the increase in police patrols. Other persons may have felt targeted and in danger of the police officers. After the state of emergency, 30% of the interviewed claimed that they felt safer, 53% felt no change in their safety whilst 17% felt less safe. Persons may have felt no difference in their safety after the state of emergency since the majority of the detained criminals were released due to a lack of evidence against them. Some may have felt safer due to the continued actions of the protective forces after the state of emergency and some may have felt less safe with the continued increase in gang activities after the state of emergency.
FIGURE 6.0 aids in answering the third research question “How effective was the state of emergency in its efforts to crack down on crime?” FIGURE 7.0 shows the view of the interviewed on whether or not the government should have taken other measures to curb Trinidad’s crime problem other that the state of emergency. 42% of the interviewed agreed, 27% strongly agreed, 22% disagreed and 9% strongly disagreed. FIGURE 7.0 aids in answering the problem statement. FIGURE 8.0 shows the percentage of persons who thought the state of emergency was beneficial to them as citizens of Trinidad. 27% of the interviewed thought that the state of emergency was beneficial to them whilst 73% did not. FIGURE 8.0 answered the problem statement.
The persons who agreed that state of emergency was not beneficial to them and that other measures should have been taken to cut criminal activity were possibly under the impression that the release of criminals after the state of emergency due to a lack of evidence did not help in eradicating crime but “bottling” it. The people agreed with the state of emergency and thought that it was beneficial to them were most likely appreciative of the large mass of narcotics and arms seized during the state of emergency as well as the few criminals who were further detained by the police.
According to the data obtained, the majority of people were affected by the state of emergency culturally and financially. This was mainly as a result of the ban of pyrotechnics and the imposed curfew. The few exceptions were explained by persons who were obviously not affected by these impositions or those who altered their celebrations and business hours.
The majority of people were not in favour of the state of emergency since it seemingly had no long term effect on the crime in Trinidad. A few felt unsafe, stating that they felt targeted by the police, some were indifferent and the others agreed with the state of emergency. They possibly saw the effects of the state of emergency to be successful and were grateful for the efforts taken by the government.
DICSUSSION OF FINDINGS
As seen from both the results of the questionnaire and the literature articles, the state of emergency in Trinidad (21st August- 5th December 2011) did have both negative and positive impacts on the lives of the citizens. According to FIGURE 1.0, the state of emergency definitely had a negative impact on two of the most popular religious festivals of Eid- Ul- Fitr and Divali which are very vital to the cultural identity of Trinidad. The interruptions were mainly due to the proposed curfew and ban of pyrotechnics. The interruption in such events would however not continue since the state of emergency ended on December 5th, 2011 and should not have a permanent destructive effect on culture.
On the other hand FIGURE 2.0 showed that the state of emergency had mostly positive effects on family life as expressed in the Prime Minister’s State of Emergency Address, which could have potential long term positive effects on culture. Hence, if the state of emergency did have a prominent impact on culture, it would be mostly positive. According to FIGURE 3.0, during the state of emergency local business profits mainly decreased with less than 5% portion of the surveyed claiming to see an increase.
FIGURE 4.0 explained these decreases in profits to be a result of forced the limited hours of business and the lack of desire for particular products and skills. The surveyed claimed their increase in business was mainly due the restricting curfew encouraging persons to spend less money on socializing and more money on their products. This data is similar to the statements made by economist Indera Sagewan- Alli who predicted that the state of emergency, mainly its curfew, would have a damaging impact on small businesses in Trinidad, harming economic growth.
The Governor of the Central Bank, Mr. Ewart Williams however, had a different outlook on the state of emergency. He thought the severe crime situation to be hindering economic growth and saw the state of emergency, if successful, as an avenue to strengthen the business sector of the country. According to FIGURE 5.0 the majority of business profits had returned to normal and in other cases was still suffering from the state of emergency. Not one business saw an increase in business profits. The majority of the surveyed predicted no future increase in business profits since the bulk of alleged criminals had been released back into society. The majority of the obtained data did not support Mr. Williams’ statement. Hence, the state of emergency had a negative impact on the small businesses.
The major aim of the state of emergency was to cut down on crime in Trinidad making it a safer home for the citizens. FIGURE 6.0 revealed that the mass of the sample felt safer during the state of emergency, which is most likely a result of mass numbers of alleged criminals detained and weapons seized during the state of emergency. However, after the state of emergency, the greater part of the sample said that they felt no difference in their safety which is most likely a result of the mass of detainees being released back into society. The Police Service Serious Crime Statistics showed no major decrease in criminal activity after the state of emergency nor did the general public feel safer. Hence, at this point in time the state of emergency had not had a major positive impact on crime.
FIGURE 7.0 and FIGURE 8.0 showed that majority of the study thought the state of emergency to be non beneficial to them and would have preferred if other measures were taken by the government to curb the crime problem in. To date, there has not been a significant reduction in crime which was the main purpose of the state of emergency. The state of emergency did not only have positive but also negative impacts on the small businesses and culture of the people. In the case of this study, the state of emergency was not truly beneficial to the citizens of Trinidad.
The research conducted therefore concludes that the state of emergency was a poor decision made by the government of Trinidad which had no real effect on criminal activities and hindered the financial and cultural lives of the citizens. Hopefully the research conducted would encourage people to take a closer look at the decisions made by their government and encourage the government to be more cautious when making decisions that could potentially disrupt the lives of a large number of people for the worse. Also, the findings may be used by other researchers who may to compare the direct impact of the state of emergency to that of the delayed impact of the state of emergency.
The purpose of this study was to determine whether or not the state of emergency 2011 (August 21st- December 5th) was beneficial to the citizens of Trinidad. The state of emergency negatively affected some of the most popular cultural celebrations in Trinidad. It was however not very lengthy and so its associated repercussions would not have had a permanent effect on culture. On the other hand, the state of emergency did benefit family life in most cases, strengthening the values of the institute family. Hence, the state of emergency 2011 had more of a positive impact on culture. The state of emergency had mainly a negative effect on small businesses which were mainly a result of the curfew.
After its end, the majority of small businesses had gone back to their regular turnovers with a few exceptions. Not one business surveyed had an increase in business profits and the majority did not predict an increase since the event did not provide a significant decrease in the crime rate. Hence, the state of emergency was not beneficial to the majority of small businesses of Trinidad. Through my research, it can be concluded that the state of emergency was not beneficial to the majority of the citizens of Trinidad and other efforts such as the implementation of other laws with similar but less harsh repercussions to that of the state of emergency would be more advantageous to the citizens.
Throughout my research, many limitations were encountered, reducing the accuracy of the study. Firstly, data collected by the means of questionnaires were collected from a sample limited to the town of Marabella a department of the city of San Fernando for easy accessibility. This means that only people in those areas were surveyed, and hence the entire population of San Fernando was not well represented and hence my research may only represent that portion of San Fernando. Also, my sources were very limited due to the fact that the state of emergency 2011 (August 21st- December 5th 2011) was a very recent event and there were not many studies done were present. Hence, the search for appropriate resources was time consuming and difficult. Lastly, my domain was a very large one and could not be properly be represented by my sample size. Hence, the conclusion drawn may not fully represent the entire business community of Trinidad since the sample size was so small, making the conclusion slightly biased.
With regard to the topic studied, a number of recommendations can be made: •The curfew of the state of emergency seemed to cause the majority of the problems and hence, if one were to occur again it should not be accompanied by a curfew to prevent negative cultural and economic consequences. •The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service should conduct more random yet regular patrols and raids, to cut down on the illegal trade of narcotics and murders. •The Anti- Gang Act 2011 and Bail Amendment Act 2011 which are both already- enacted legislations should be used more frequently. These legislations allow for the persons for up to 120 days without bail. Hence, it gives the police service more time to gather appropriate evidence to ensure prosecution of criminals.
Anonymous. (2011, August 21st) Breaking news: State of emergency declared. Trinidad Express Newspapers. Retrieved January 15th, 2012 from, http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/BREAKING-NEWS-State-of-Emergency-declared-128160123.html Anonymous. (2011, December 5th) State of emergency ends. C. News. Retrieved January 15th, 2012 from, http://ctntworld.com/LocalArticles.aspx?id=35954 Anonymous. (2012) Policed Service Serious Crime Statistics. Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Retrieved March 18th, 2012 from http://www.ttps.gov.tt/Statistics/tabid/141/Default.asp Bridglal, C. (2011, September 6th) State of emergency damaging to the economy. Trinidad Express Newspapers. Retrieved January 15th, 2012 from http://www.trinidadexpress.com/business-magazine/_State_of_emergency__damaging_to_economy_-129350363.html Richards, P. (2011, September 5th) Trinidad: State of emergency in more ways than one. Global Issues. Retrieved January 15th, 2011 from, http://www.globalissues.org/news/2011/09/05/11066
The questionnaire is for a school research project based on the State of Emergency 21st August- 5th December 2011 in Trinidad. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence. The researcher is grateful for the time and effort you take in completing the questionnaire below. Please tick the response most likely to be correct.
(1)Did the recent state of emergency affect your usual cultural celebrations? 0 Yes 0 No (Move on to question four if your answer is no)
(2)If yes, state the cultural celebration(s) that was/ were affected by the recent state of emergency.
(3)How was/ were these celebration(s) affected by the state of emergency?
(4)Do you think the state of emergency was worth the interruption in your usual celebrations? 0 Yes
0 No (5)Did the state of emergency have an impact on your family life? 0 Yes, negatively. 0Yes, positively. 0 No. (6)If you chose either “yes” option in the previous question, in what way did the state of emergency affect your family life?
(7)Did the state of emergency have a negative impact on you financially? 0 Yes. 0 No. (8)If you answered yes in the previous question, how did the state of emergency affect you financially?
(9) As a business owner, did your usual profits deplete during the state of emergency? 0 Yes (approx. 100%) 0 Yes (approx 20%) 0 Yes (approx. 70%) 0 No.
0 Yes (approx. 50%) 0 No. My profits increased by (9) What do you believe was the cause for your decline/ increase in business profits?
(10)Since the end of the state of emergency, has your business returned to its usual profits? 0 Yes. 0 It has improved. 0 No. (11) If there is an improvement in your business, do you think it is due to the state of emergency? State why. 0 Yes. 0 No.
(12) Government officials have predicted that there would be an overall improvement in the business sector of the country due to the recent state of emergency. Do you agree? State why.
(13) Did you feel safer than usual during the state of emergency? State why. 0 Yes.
0 No I felt more unsafe.
(14) Do you feel safer now that the state of emergency has ended? 0 Yes I
0 No I feel more unsafe.
(15) Do you think the state of emergency will improve the crime situation in the country in the long term? 0 Yes, it will improve.
0No, there will be no change.
0 No, it will deteriorate.
(16)Explain your answer for the previous question?
(17) Do you think the state of emergency was a solution to the crime problem of Trinidad? 0 Yes.
(18)The government should have taken other measures to curb the crime problem. 0 I agree. 0 I disagree. 0 I strongly agree. 0 I strongly disagree. (19) Do you think the state of emergency was worth the problems faced by the citizens of Trinidad? 0 Yes.
(20)Was the state of emergency beneficial to you as a citizen of Trinidad? 0 Yes. 0 No.