If the assassination of Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal is a wake up call to you…..then something wrong with you.
If a little boy being raped to death in a swimming pool at a birthday party wasn’t a wake up call then, Dana’s assassination can’t wake you up to nothing. You in denial long time and using your moral panic over this latest killing to soothe your general inertia.
Or, you could be a member of the cocooned and protected upper classes here who only get hysterical when they realize crime doesn’t just exist Behind D Bridge or along the distant edges of the East/West corridors in the Malabars and La Horquettas of their imaginations. And then, if you’re a member of that just awakened group….it must suck to be you: having all those resources and still can’t ward off death.
Seetahal’s gruesome and shocking death is a marker. The act, along with Hamilton Holder/O’Connor Street, will become a part of a macabre and grisly list of checkpoints that heralded our descent while we sat shell shocked and panicked waiting for someone else….not us….to take back our power in this country. It will join markers like the Scott Drug Report; the 1990 Coup and the subsequent court ruling in favor of the Muslimeen; it will join the rise of the Muslimeen as a group that was consistently awarded Government contracts as part of every sitting government’s secret crime initiative, whether PNM, UNC or PP; it will join the Crowne Plaza agreement; the illegal SoE; Section 34; EmailGate; Ish and Steve and a very long list of markers that all point to us descending in narco state fourth world hell.
You hear it on the lips of citizens all the time, “Here getting like Mexico”, “Here getting like Colombia”. We not getting folks, we reach. That is what Dana’s death means. Final destination point. When a State Prosecutor is murdered in cold blood like that, in a country that is already awash in drugs, arms and human trafficking and has a corrupt and compromised police force and government…know that we reach. We not heading to hell anymore. It is here. It takes only one high profile murder like that to happen and go unsolved and you know we have arrived. Trinidad now has two: Selwyn Richardson in the 90s and Dana Seetahal in the early decades of the 21st century.
This is not to minimize or negate the murders, assassinations and senseless killings of so many thousands of citizens in the last decades. But, let’s face it. As a member of the legal profession and the wealthier upper classes, a society assumes Ms Seetahal will be safer and more protected, for all manner of reasons. Her assassination in an upscale residential/commercial neighborhood at midnight is meant to send a message. And I’d vouchsafe from the social media reactions yesterday: message received.
We woke up Sunday morning knowing in a very concrete way, maybe more so than before, that a message was being sent to the legal profession, journalists, columnists, activists, anyone bold enough to question the criminal and corruption status quo. Toe the blasted line…or this will be you.
In assassinating Dana, we are very aware that persons with strong Independent voices are under attack. Dana, to my knowledge, never verbally lashed out at any entity , political or otherwise. But, she was a rare thing, a lawyer, who took elitist, legal jargon and made it accessible to the layperson. I didn’t know Dana personally, I knew her through her columns and media commentary. Dana helped me to understand this country’s legal system, without me ever having to meet her or pay her a red cent. You can’t downplay her contribution to this country just for the value of her column. Few lawyers or intellectuals here have been as lucid, accessible and relevant as she has been. That’s what made Dana true silk. She had a fearsome legal mind, and instead of keeping it to herself and her clients for handsome fees, she made it available to all of us for the price of a newspaper…less if you read her articles online.
This Hit will be a success not just because Dana Seetahal has been silenced, but because the wider public will silence itself, retreat further indoors, put more useless security systems in place…not understanding that in growing quiet and retreating indoors, that’s how we gave criminals control of this place. They have fed on and continue to feed on our fear and insecurities. Our very predictable response to violence, from enslavement to now has never been overt; it has been passive aggression. So we will lead trapped lives and break more laws in an unconscious lashing out at all that is wrong around us: more child abuse, more road rage, more petty crimes and more silences and looking the other way when corruption happens because suppose we end up like Dana?
I have no faith that the police going to really solve this crime. I aint mama guying myself. The first official response to Ms Seetahal’s murder was the AG…at 2 am he had a lucid statement prepared of how friendly he and Dana were, and how in the latest scandal involving him, she was actually in his corner, and, “I sorry Dana dead, but lemme take a selfie…” It was an extreme pappyshow on his part. A clear attempt at image management in the midst of what was clearly a national crisis. Then sometime after 2pm the PM roused herself fully to issue a bland cut and paste response from the government. Nothing to offer the victim’s family, or the shell shocked country consolation or hope. And then, by Sunday night, they were back in Media and PR mode. Whole television stations commandeered. Panels convened. Police press conferences, all over a background of National Security ads saying “Serious Crime is Down” despite the fact that we have 29 more murder in 2014 than we had in the corresponding period for 2013.
I expect that three or four bodies of victims of a murder will be discovered soon. Just like with the Selwyn Richardson murder. And whether we know it or not, those bodies would have belonged to Dana’s killers. It’s part of how here, a narco state, works. And the sooner we start noticing the patterns, the sooner we can either grow accustomed or fight back.
I’ve made the very conscious choice to keep fighting back. Dana’s assassination had me contemplative and sober yesterday, because I recognized immediately the threat to free speech and independent thinking this is for journalists, columnists, activists and bloggers like myself. But I’m not going to stop questioning this place and writing about the things that upset me. Dana’s Assassination is real….in fact, too real. We are in dangerous times. But silence and withdrawal has never been nor will ever be the cure for it.
This is it. This is it. This is it. She’s been hit….and Trinidad spread out on a wall bawling for the country it didn’t realize it sat by and watched go.