(Trinidad Guardian) Media magnate Ken Gordon said a state of emergency in T&T was long overdue. In 2003, Gordon had presented a report on crime to the Patrick Manning administration recommending a state of emergency following a spate of kidnappings in the country. After weighing the pros and cons of such an action, the then Government decided against it for three reasons—the disruption to the economy, T&T’s international reputation and social dislocation. On Wednesday, Gordon told the T&T Guardian that it should have been done a long time ago. “It’s not going to stop crime because crime didn’t start yesterday. But it will give the country a breathing space,” he said. Given that the Government has a majority in the House of Representatives, he explained, the state of emergency can be extended for up to three months. “But that would affect too many economic things. I think it’ll be good if they can pick up some gunmen. That would depend on how they plan it to enable them to get on top of the situation,” he said.
Questioned on whether he believed it was a tactical advantage on the Government’s part to announce the state of emergency without consultation with the business community, Gordon said: “It would be of tactical advantage to get people off-guard. But what we are talking about is human life and saving lives. And getting guns out of the system.” The Guardian understands that the business community along with the diplomatic corps were notified about Government’s intent on Sunday night along with the national community. The diplomatic corps, which included the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the United Nations, were informed of Government’s plan at a 2 pm briefing on Monday evening. International carriers, like American Airlines, had to readjust their schedule to accommodate the curfew imposed by the Government.
While the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber commended the Government on its decisive action, it sought to remind them, via a release yesterday, “that this limited state of emergency can only be seen as a stop-gap measure and not a strategy in and of itself to curb the recent spate of violent crimes that seem to be taking over our nation.” “We remain concerned, however, as to how the 9 pm to 5 am curfew will address the now commonplace practice of homicides blatantly occurring during the daytime period,” it said. “The business community stands ready to co-operate fully with the directives of the Commissioner of Police and to assist in any way that it can during this period.