Munchausen Syndrome is defined as "a psychological disorder whereby those affected feign or exaggerate injury or illness in order to get sympathy from others". It was named after Baron von Munchausen, an 18th century German military officer who was known for fabricating or greatly embellishing stories, in order to be seen in a more favourable light by his friends and family. What is important to the Munchausen sufferer, is that they become the centre of attention and are able to manipulate the feelings of those around them. Most politicians suffer from this disorder in varying degrees, because there is nothing quite like a contrived crisis to generate sympathy or deflect attention away from particular shortcomings.
Following the seizure of 22kgs of cocaine at Piarco International Airport in August, the public was told that certain criminal elements were preparing to wage a war in Trinbago the likes of which has never been seen before. In the words of the Minister of National Security himself, the scale of the violence that was planned would have "made the coup seem like a tea party". Notwithstanding the damaging effect that Sandy's "tea party" connotation would have had on the morale of the Imam and his following down in Mucurapo, most people were willing to buy into his explanation in the hope that the state of emergency (SoE) would yield some meaningful results. To say that what followed thereafter was farcical, wouldn't even begin to describe it.
A rogue's gallery of sprangers, jammettes, hustlers, small-time pusher men, and miscreant fathers were arrested under anti-gang legislation, dressed up in wolves' clothing, and hauled before the courts on the most spurious of charges. Every seized ten-piece of weed came to be paraded as though it were a tonne of Colombian pure, and every rusted gun, as though it were a nuclear-tipped WMD itself. The powers-that-be assured us that big fish were being reeled in every day. Even Stern John, one-time leader of the notorious Soca Warriors Football Gang, could not escape the clutches of the SoE when it finally caught up with him for the heinous offence of liming past the curfew.
The fact that all those arrested under anti-gang legislation have now walked free, after the State decided that it could offer no evidence against them, seems to be of no consequence whatsoever. As far as the authorities are concerned, the SoE was a resounding success. Mind you, they did find about two gallons of illegal diesel from a wrecked barge hidden in the Sea Lots mangrove, and some scrap iron down on the Beetham-- credit where credit is due. No sooner had the ink dried on the declaration of the state of emergency, though, did this Anancy government set about spinning another web of high drama and intrigue.
In his last days in power, former prime minister Patrick Manning was reviled by almost everyone in Trinbago-Calder Hart, Juliana Pena and his wife Hazel apart. In fact, not even Keith Rowley spoke with him anymore. Yet, the closest that Manning ever came to any harm was when he pitched up uninvited at Percy "Do So" Villafana's house, tried to barge through the man's gate, and almost got a clout for his troubles. But, we are supposed to believe that owing directly to the 'success' of a state of emergency that apprehended not one major international drug trafficker or money launderer, that seized no meaningful assets, and rooted out no high level corrupt officials, that a substantive threat has now been made against the lives of the Prime Minister and three Cabinet officials?
How could it be that during a state of emergency-with large swathes of the country under lock-down, and not even our trade unions and opposition party allowed the right of assembly-this group was able to meet up and hatch a plan to kill the Prime Minister; an audacious plan, which, according to the authorities, involved the importation of sniper rifles and explosives, and the carrying out of extensive training at a farm in east Trinidad? Or, why indeed would such a disparate group of individuals-a middle-aged Islamic scholar from Freeport, a construction magnate's son, an ex-soldier from Picton, a police sergeant based in St Clair, and Selwyn "Robocop" Alexis, of all people-come together and decide to kill Roodal Moonilal? "Roodal who?" I hear you ask.
Charges may yet be brought against those detained in this melee, but it will be interesting to note in what scope they differ from that which was so sensationally alleged a week ago. The problem with government propaganda, is that whilst there tends to be a few discerning souls who question things that don't quite add up, they are almost always outnumbered by a far greater mass of ignorant souls who bite on any and every bone that is thrown their way.
I would like to leave you with a quote from an article that was written in this very newspaper on Sunday December 18, 2005: "The erosion of human rights and the enlargement of state power (that can be later misused and abused) normally take place in the height of a crisis, with the full support of the people, because rational thought is overwhelmed by panic and fear." Back then, the author was an up and coming young politician just beginning to make his mark. Today, Anand Ramlogan serves as the Attorney General of Trinidad & Tobago. Forgive them father, for they know exactly what they do.