Author and ex-journalist Raoul Pantin, who has experienced two states of emergency, believes the present one is a necessary move by the Government to stop the wanton murdering taking place in T&T.
"I believe the immediate impact is that it will stop the wanton murdering that is going on," Pantin said in an interview yesterday. He criticised those who are complaining about the state of emergency.Convinced that the lawlessness began when the 1990 Jamaat al Muslimeen insurgents were freed, he said,"You can't have people running through communities shooting people wily nily and not have the Government do anything about it."Crime is endemic and the Government has to take drastic action to put an end to the free for all criminal action."
Pantin was a journalist during the 1970 Black Power Revolution which resulted in a six-month state of emergency and a second one for three months in 1971.He was also a hostage at Trinidad & Tobago Television in 1990 when Jamaat al Muslimeen insurrectionists seized the building as part of their attempted overthrow of the government. A state of emergency was also declared that year.
He has written Black Power Day and Days of Wrath, which chronicles the two events.
Today, at 68, Pantin is living through his third state of emergency.Responding to those complaining about it, he said, "I am not in favour of the suspension of Constitutional rights."But you also have to bear in mind the reason why."I wish people would stop being ignorant. You can't have your cake and eat it too."People have been accusing the Government of not doing something about the crime situation and now that it is doing something they are complaining."He said, like in 1990, he was sure people were feting and holding curfew parties during the state of emergency.
Pantin dismissed allegations that the state of emergency is a ploy by the Government to deter the trade union movement which has been threatening to shut down the country. "That is foolishness," he said.
He saw no similarity between the three states of emergency."In 1970 it was to detain people who were protesting against the government. "In 1990 it was declared after a violent overthrow of the government.
"The main intent of the present state of emergency is to go after criminal elements."Pantin said rounding up people on Nelson Street, however, would not solve the crime problem and the Government needs to go after white collar criminals too."Where are the guns coming from? T&T does not manufacture guns. Who are bringing them in and through what process?" he asked.