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History of Trinidad and Tobago

Categories: GovernmentHistory

9th of March 2019

Today I began monitoring the blog page I created for this assignment. The year 1990 is very important to the history of Trinidad and Tobago. From the bombings of government buildings, to looting and shooting of innocent individuals, the events of this horrific day will forever be etched in the hearts of many who lost their loved ones.

It has been almost 29 years since the attempted coup and the country still has not recovered from the dreadful and cruel acts of the members of the Jamatt al Muslimeem led by Yaisin Abu Bakr.

On Friday 27th July 1990 the country experienced a series of unfortunate events over a six day period. The leader of the Jamatt al Muslimeem, Mr. Yasin Abu Bakr and about one hundred of his followers invaded the capital city where they took charge of the Trinidad and Tobago televison station to inform the rest of the country about the overthrow.

Some members then sealed the Parliament around 4pm that day and held the Prime Minister Mr.

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A.N.R Robinson and other members of the parliament hostage. The city was totally destroyed with a state of emergency implemented many business owners suffered a great loss.

Some of us were either toddlers or was not born yet, but what caused the attempted coup can be related by the elders of our country. In order to find out information on the attempted coup I created a blog page HYPERLINK ” and I posted several questions

  • What is your name and do you know about the attempted coup in 1990?
  • How old were you at that time?
  • What do you think caused the coup?
  • How the coup did affect our country?
  • Do you think that the coup solved the problems that our country was experiencing at that time?

15th March 2019.

From the blog page I created I got several responses from different people. One individual, age 65 years who resides in Diego Martin Trinidad gave me an account of what he remembered about the coup. He stated the following “At that time I was working at the Ministry of Education as a curriculum assistant.

I remembered everything as though it was yesterday. The confusion and the horrible events still lingers in my head. I remembered that clearly at around the time of the attempted coup I was waiting on transportation to go to my home. At the city there was chaos as civilians ran to get out of the city.

Luckily I managed to escape, the entire ordeal. It was broadcasted that the prime minister at that time Mr. Robinson and other members of the parliament were held against their will. The Muslimeen invaded the parliament and there was massive shooting, bloodshed, and looting in the city.

As a result of this twenty four individuals died and many others injured. The Port of Spain hospital was over packed as families cried in horror for their love ones to be treated. There were guns and looting throughout the streets of Port of Spain for about six days. I was around 36 years old at that time. I think the state of affairs meaning the government and their decisions caused the attempted coup.

At that time the country was in a difficult economic situation resulting from the reduction in the price of oil. The government at that time went to the IMF for assistance because there were a lot of job losses and people were suffering in our country. The leader of the Jammat Mr. Abu Bakr was upset and decided to have the coup because his concerns were not being dealt with.

There was an increase in corruption, prostitution, rape, incest, poverty and a deterioration of the health services and that the NAR government was doing nothing about it. Some were upset about the fifteen percent Value Added Tax. I believed that the coup affected our country in a negative way.

Due to the incident people no longer had confidence in the government at that time and as for tourism we had a major decline in the amount of people visiting our country. To this day many people are afraid to visit our lovely island because there are rumors of the Muslimeems being terrorist. No I don’t believe that the attempted coup solved problems.”

Where as another person who resides in Penal but works at the capital city stated that “this incident has had a major impact on my life and others of the protective services. The 1990 Coup was an attempt to overthrow the then Government of Trinidad and Tobago.

At that time I was a police constable attached to the City Police. I vividly remembered these events as though it happened recently. Forty two armed members of the Jammat-Al-Muslimeen, a Muslim organization invaded the Parliamentary session at the Red House on Friday July 27th 1990, and took Prime Minister A.N.R Robinson, six of his cabinet members and other government officials at the Red House.

At the head quarters of the Trinidad and Tobago Television station some people were held hostages about 4:45pm and the country was informed about the motive of the leader of the Jammat. People were screaming and scampering for safety.

The Army and Police responded, protecting the Red House. Though the rest of the country strove to remain calm, looting and arson took place throughout the capital city. My colleagues and I were instructed to take up duty and act with force in firing back. Several innocent persons including some of my colleagues were killed during the attempted coup. I was shot in my ankle which left me with scars and pain to last throughout my lifetime.

I was 30 years old at that time. The Jamaat Muslimeen believed that the government was being oppressive and was illegally occupying their land thus leading to the arrest of Abu Bakr several times. The coup was caused because of the decisions made by Mr Robinson.

He was somewhat malevolent, spiteful and not caring towards the people of our country. As a result of this There was growing economic hardships as unemployment was on the rise. The citizens especially the leader Abu Bakr were against his rulings and the polices that he implemented.

As a result they rebelled which led to the coup occurring. I believed that the coup affected our country in a negative way and we are still experiencing the after effects of such crime. No I don’t believe that the attempted coup solved problems.One thing I can recall is feeling an ants bite in my right foot.

That is when I realized I was shot by a bullet. One sad thing I can recall is waking up in the hospital and no family members around. I did not see my family for over two months after the shooting. They were not allowed to see met. At that time my wife was pregnant with my son and we had two other little toddlers at that point in time”

Another person who comment on the blog post stated ” I reside in Arima but worked at Port of Spain during the years 1986 to 1998. I was around the age of 39. One thing I can remember clearly is searching desperately for a taxi to go home. At my work I thought it was just a rumour. Eventually i got transport. At about 5pm i remembered looking at TTT station and we were told about the coup.

The prime minister was taken in hostage some members of the parliament to it was not good for our country.I remember that their was a curfew. We felt like prisoners in our homes. Along the east west corridors troops were up and down for several days . Smoke, dust filled the air. All them stores and businesses suffered a great loss. Everything was completely destroyed by the Jammat people.

You cant really blame them. It is wrong according to the constitution but those times were hard for us. We had wage cuts, tariffs imposed on importing goods like apples and foreign fruits, they caused the VAT which made it harder to survive. The people were against it. Even I could not support my kids. The coup destroyed families and innocent lives. Although so much years have gone the city is still not developed. Our country is still going through hardships.”

After conducting extensive research I learned that the attempted coup was carefully planned and the causes of the coup stemmed from the harsh and inhumane decisions made by the appointed government during that time. I learned that in 1986 the National Alliance for Reconstruction won the general election and they were met with a treasury that was largely depleted and there was a massive depth of $7.4 billion dollars.

As a result of this there was the dire need to stabilize the economy and the Prime minister introduced measures to curb expenses of the country. These belt tightening measures affected the population greatly there was a drastic increase in unemployment to 25 percent, a 10 percent cut is salaries which made the cost of living extremely difficult and by 1987 there was a cut is the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) which made the people of the country rebel. These measures were continued to the early part of 1990 where Value Added Tax was implemented.

20th March 2019

Today I visited the Port of Spain library to conduct research on the question I chose. I found the information to be very enlightening and interesting as I was just about four years old when this incident took place in our country. Before this I never took the chance to do any reading on the coup.

From my research I learned that Imam Abu Bakr was a wise thinker and planner, he carefully studied the affairs of the country and chose a date to overthrow the government. He was aware that the Oilfield Workers Trade Union had written to the Prime Minister giving him the deadlines as July 27th 1990 to break up the structural adjustment programme.

The quality of oil drew higher prices on the worldwide market, creating employment for residents of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. This did not last for long as financially problems occurred both local and foreign, increased inflation, outbreak the construction industry.

In 1986, the price of oil began to fall, which leads countries to reduce their spending in oil. Therefore price collapse, which occur a deficit in returns for all the oil producing countries. Petroleum had become the foundation of its economy, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago was negatively affected. By the year 1990 the economy of Trinidad and Tobago started to experience an economic down turn and people loose their jobs and children were suffering. Also there was an increase in the crime rate at that point in time and also suffering.

At that point in time there was the erection of a statue in honour of Gene Miles amounting to over $500,000 by the government and the cries of the people went to deaf ears. Also I learned that the leader of the Jammat tried to assist the country by importing medicine and other drugs from Libya but the government refused his assistance because Libya is a Muslim state.

In addition the land dispute between the government and the Jamaat was unresolved. The Jamaat claimed that the land located at Mucurapo belonged to them but the government did not want to grant the deed for the land which created a rift between the two parties. Thus, Yasin Abu Bakr plan of action was to remove them from power by obtaining the people support of those in opposition.

The coup lasted over a period of six days. The following is an account of what took place during those days. On Friday 27th July, 1990, the Muslimeen revolt took place at the Parliamentary Session at the Red House, and took the Prime Minister, ANR Robinson, six members of Cabinet, 10 MPs, other members including Public Servants, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, and National Security Reynold Fernandes, and former High Commissioner London Mervyn Assam, was held hostage.

The atmosphere was filled with cries and confusion as gunmen who dressed in black, and carried powerful weapons, raced up and down the Red House. The Prime Minister and other members of the Parliament were made to sleep on the floors of the Chamber while the bodyguards were beaten, stripped-down and bare, of their garments and set free after.

The exploit took place after the firebombing in the Old Colonial Building which was the Police Headquarters, on St. Vincent Street. The Trinidad and Tobago television station was taken over and the Leader of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen, Imam Yasin Abu Bakr notified the people of the country that it was a coup.

On Saturday 28th July, 1990- Hundreds of persons, run amok in the streets, stores and businesses were set on fire, there was robberies taking place.On Sunday 29th July, 1990- There was a break in fight, to the opposing armed forces, at the East-West corridor, during curfew hours, a lot of individuals were detained.

The Police Headquarters, the Red House, and the downtown shopping area were lit on fire. Looters were on Charlotte Street and soldiers with gun followed Abu Bakr, as he surrendered. On Monday 30th July, 1990, the army officers had sufficient firepower to destroy Bakr and his men.

On Tuesday 31st July, 1990-the Prime Minister was wheeled by Attendants to look forward to an ambulance from the Red House. The ordeal was done by Mr Mervyn Assam to the Red House. People scampered hiding for their lives, as the rebels searched the entire structure shooting. Government members were kept back, while the other members and women were allowed to leave.

Bodies were perished, lying in pool of blood. The last day of the wrath was Wednesday 1st August, 1990. At, 500.am the gunmen was awaken by the leader of the Jammat to pray who believed, everything was the willpower of Allah. Everyone was awaken by the echo of explosion.

Mr. Robinson was shot in his legs during the riots, and Mr. Dookeran was held as a hostage, and acted as acting Prime Minister. MP Jennifer Johnson is one of the first captives to leave from the Red House, on 1st August, 1990. The Piarco International Airport had closed down the country seaports that were taken care by Trinidad and Tobago Defense Forces.

Visitors were stranded, in their hundreds, were sleeping with their luggage, waiting for the resumption of flights.Citizens’ bodies were retrieved outside the Red House, Woodford Square, on 1st August, 1990, by the health authorizes as well as damaged cars was found at Police Headquarters.

25th March 2019

As I reflect on the aftermath of the coup, I realized that although it has happened so many years ago the people of our country are still affected by it. Some of these individuals can still recall the events as though it happened recently. To some people it has impacted on their family life and their well being.

To others the country is at a current state where development is taking place and efforts to this day are being made to rebuild our capital city. The devastation had created a strained economic situation in the country. The state had to rebuild ,for most of the city buildings were destroyed and ravaged by arson and looters .

Many citizens were rendered jobless and business men suffered tremendous losses which mounted to millions because several insurance agencies failed to compensate for the losses incur. The airport was closed and many flights was postpone ,revenue was lost .

The government also incurred many losses in the health sector, as many patients, who got shot and wounded had to be treated and hospitalize . Then the government had to endure cost and compensate the families who lost twenty four love ones. Next the government had to facilitate these one hundred and fourteen men, feeding, housing and standing the full cost of trial ,which eventually led to their freedom, due to the amnesty which was signed.

From my research I believe that the people of our country did not get justice. Up to this day the men who did these heinous acts were not punished severely.

Mr. Yasin Abu Bakr led more than one hundred men in overthrowing the government, they were just tried for treason and later released because the London Privy Council the country’s highest court ruling invalidated the amnesty but the members of the Jammat were not arrested. I strongly believe as a result of his power and influence on society and the number of followers the people of Trinidad and Tobago will not get justice for the coup that took place many years ago.

Bibliography

  • “A Quiet Coup in the Caribbean: The Takeover of T&T.” Association for Diplomatic
  • Studies and Training, 16 Mar. 2018, adst.org/2015/07/a-quiet-coup-in-the-caribbean-the-takeover-of-tt/.
  • “Background – The 1990 Coup in Context.” Culture Division -Ministry of
  • Community Development Culture and the Arts, 27 July 2015, HYPERLINK ” www.culture.gov.tt/background/background/
  • Daily Express Trinidad Under Siege, The Muslimeen Uprising, six Days of Terror, Copy 1990 Trinidad Express, Newspapers Ltd.
  • McComieDennis , PinheiroDayAdrian The Personal Account of a Journalist Under Siege, 1990′ s
  • Pantin, Rauol A. Days of Wrath: the 1990 Coup in Trinidad and Tobago. IUniverse, Inc., 2007.
  • “Trinidad Marks 1990 Coup Attempt.” BBC News, BBC, 27 July 2010,
  • www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-10774647.
  • Vitruvius E T Furlonge-Kelly. The Silent Victory. 11 Nov. 2018.

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History of Trinidad and Tobago. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/history-of-trinidad-and-tobago-essay

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