Support for the State of Emergency or support for its repeal has been politicized right down Party lines rendering any sensible discussion on it moot and leaves the people voiceless on a very important issue. Reminiscent of George W. Bush's call for support for his war in Iraq where the people were given the choices of being either with the Government (pro-war ) or with the terrorists (anti war), the State of Emergency has divided the people between 'for' the State of Emergency (pro-government) or 'against' it (pro-opposition), without taking any further consideration of their feelings on the matter into account. Surely there are members of the population who support the Government but do not support the State of Emergency as there must also assuredly be supporters of the Opposition who support it, so why the game?
What this type of 'either or' thinking attempts to do is take away the complex nature of decision making and relegates it outside the person, dehumanizing and stripping his or her power to think and to be viewed as an individual. In circumstances such as these we the people are morally bound to question everything and to weigh our decisions on what we believe is in the best interest of the nation as a whole as that is the responsibility of every citizen in a democracy. Beyond these machinations lies the truth, and the truth is that there are stated guidelines that govern the calling and maintenance of a State of Emergency. We are all still in the dark as to the real emergency that prompted this declaration in the first place, and its continuation in the absence of such information seems to undermine our very democracy. It is my view that no Government should be able to assume the authority to sterilize the population in the name of birth control, and while we were hoping for a reprieve from the onslaught of violent crime, we did not want to do so through totalitarian means.
It remains the desire of the people that we continue to be a nation governed by law, and while the argument could be made that the State of Emergency was used as a means to get us back to a place where law and order could be restored, it must not become the law itself. The role and responsibility of the Government in maintaining the rule of law is quite clear where the safety and security of the citizenry are concerned, and it can be further argued based solely on the information available that they may have overstepped their bounds. If it is as many are speculating that this was an attempt to get a handle on the crime situation and the out of control gang violence then the government has an obligation to come straight with the population. Like every other negative plaguing society the issue of gang culture needs to be dealt with at the level where the breakdown occurs. Poverty and the collapse of the family cannot be arrested and charged, and while these two main drivers of the growth and proliferation of gangs and the culture of violence are being ignored (despite numerous appeals and offers of assistance from multiple quarters), the government is doing nothing of substance or value to treat with the problem at the source.
Prime Minister of Spain Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is noted to have said - 'The risk of a terrorist victory is greater when in fighting terror, democracy betrays its own essence.' I could not have said it better. The lesson in that statement is quite clear and is at the heart of the call for the full restoration of the rights and freedoms of the people as articulated in and guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago.
Touting reduced crime statistics based solely on the imposition of emergency law or curfew restrictions is itself an admission of failure and comes across like the rooster taking credit for the dawn. If the government cannot control crime at this point after having the benefit of a State of Emergency for three months then it is safe to assume they never will. This is in no way the solution we lobbied for or campaigned for, and it is certainly not what we voted for.