10 Mar 2012

Of riots in banana republics

This article in a Trinidad & Tobago newspaper 2012-03-10: Rio Claro protests shuts down courts, caused some concern. It is often said by people of the Rock (abbreviation for Trinidad & Tobago) – either on it or of undying allegiance to it – that such actions are justified because “people have a right to protest”. What is a ‘right’ – and from where such ‘right to protest’ is derived is a mystery. Assertions of such rights is usually without a foundation of evidence – and I have never seen an evidence-based assertion for such right. But the culture determining behaviour, is to open mouth before being informed by facts – it is most culturally acceptable, to them. And those who disagree with the uninformed ‘chest-beating’ mob as I call them, are likely to punished by marginalisation - and other forms of imposed social isolation. Straying from herd-think is a 'dangerous thing' - innit?

"From as early as 3 am, residents blocked strategic points along the Tabaquite Road and the Naparima/Mayaro Road demanding that the deplorable roads be fixed. Armed with placards while surrounded by burning debris, residents yesterday called on their Member of Parliament Winston “Gypsy” Peters and the Government to assist." - is what is asserted by many a Rockian as lawfully permissible and that in the circumstances people have a "right" to do all this.

It sounds like serious disturbance of public order to me, by any reasonable standard, and amounts to a riot or affray [opinion]. Note time, locations, blockade of a public road, and burning debris. If twelve or more people were involved they are potentially committing an unlawful act for which they can all be locked up for 4 years. (S 10 of the Riot Act of Trinidad & Tobago). The civil unrest of the kind described is an unlawful activity that is punishable by fines and imprisonment even on the banana-republics in question (Sections 3 to 7 of the Riot Act) [fact and opinion]. 

But you have to appreciate that as this so-called 'protesting' is a culturally accepted phenomenon - which I would have seen it as minor 20 years ago - that those now imbued with the cultural mind-set will take my attention to this, as disproportionate. That contrast of persective between my 'self' then which was one with the culture and my 'self' now which is able to look from the outside in, on that culture - is what I find fascinating.

In addition, the Riot Act of T&T states "..the expressions “affray”, “unlawful assembly”, “rout” and “riot” have the same meanings as they had according to the law in force in England on 30th August 1962." [fact] and that invites me to make a comparison on how riots are dealt with in England today, especially as England suffered the effects of a large scale national riot recently. I'm entitled to wonder why the law doesn't apply so swiftly on the Rock - as it might in England [opinion]. T&T is known for it's lawlessness [fact] exemplified by it's solve rate for homicide at an international low of 3.65% [fact] - and most people living there in that country do not know that [opinion].

I'm a T&T citizen[fact] and that entitles me to concern myself [opinion] with what happens on that Rock. I am a British citizen[fact], so that entitles me to concern myself with law enforcement here on this 'non-banana republic' [opinion]. It's natural to make a comparison [opinion] - particularly as I feel the loss of my original homeland.

I don't know where the supposed ‘right to protest’ is derived from or if it is protected by law in T&T. I am unable to find a reference to this. And I’m willing to modify my opinions in the face of new facts/evidence.  As far as I'm able to obtain evidence from this distance, Sections 4(i), (g) and (j) of the Constitution of T&T protects 'movement', 'thought and assembly' and 'association' [fact]. The word 'protest' or it's synonym does not appear in the Constitution or as something that is protected i.e. giving ‘right’ to it.

Because my opinion and the way it is expressed disturbs some, does not mean it is wrong or should not be expressed. Perhaps it is more an issue that the facts magnified by my so-called sarcasm - is what is more disturbing. What do people do when the meet disturbing facts, or people who cause disturbance of the cultural order of things? They tend to supress or avoid them, and anything or anybody, that seeks to expose them. That is the way of the world - isn't it [opinion]. So you need no longer wonder why there is so much talk an little action in meetings i.e. people perambulate the truth or avoid it (for starters). [opinion]

Of the thousands who have returned to this Rock, they have not been able to change anything. It would be seemingly arrogant of anyone to think that any one person could return and simply revolutionise such a country, or some significant aspect of it. None of my medical colleagues have been able to do so (other than their own 'fat cat' private practices - that bleed the poor and the rich of their savings) [opinion].

Comments