At left, Pundit Rudranath Maharaj greets Pastor Clive Dottin at the press conference held by the Concerned Cirtizens for a Better San Fernando held on Harris Promenade, San Fernando. – Photo by Lincoln Holder
Seventh-day Adventist pastor Clive Dottin has called on people of all religious backgrounds to join forces to rid the nation of crime.
“The Yorubas, the Baha’is, the Pentecostals, the Catholics, the Hindus, the Muslims – all the groups, let us come together and display an unprecedented level of courage and make the criminal element know it might appear that they are winning the battle right now. But in the end, they will lose the battle,” Dottin said.
He spoke to reporters on Tuesday at Harris Promenade in San Fernando, where he supported the group Concerned Citizens for a Better San Fernando.
“This is a plural society, and the first thing we have to do is reframe our perceptions of the implications of plurality. Some people see diversity as a weakness, but we see it as a strength,” he said.
Dottin is the public affairs and religious liberty director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Caribbean.
He quoted Irish poet and politician WB Yeats’s lines from The Second Coming: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.”
Dottin added, “He made a one-line statement that applies to this country. He says, ‘The ceremony of innocence is drowned.’
“In other words, Ayn Rand (Russian-born American writer and philosopher) said our society is doomed when instead of protecting the just from the corrupt, it protects the corrupt from the just.
“We have to come together. I am seeing bright signs in the horizons.”
He said it must not only be the responsibility of the Government and businesses to address crime, but also the responsibility of communities.
Pundit Rudranath Maharaj speaking at the press conference held by the Concerned Citizens for a Better San Fernando on Harris Promenade, San Fernando – Photo by Lincoln Holder
He recalled visiting Felicity with Chaguanas West MP Dinesh Rambally in connection with the rising crime rate. They have launched a programme involving 15 NGOs in Kelly Village and he said they were already seeing a drop in the murder rate there.
Dottin spoke of the importance of courage, saying some people do not understand the brain drain in this country because of fear, discouragement, and depression, even among the business sector.
While in Kelly Village, he recalled, an ex-prisoner told him people are leaving and those who are not are content to pay what is called “the coward tax.”
Dottin explained, “In other words, those who are staying are committed to paying a tax to the local mafia, with their foreign elements, right here.”
He referred to police reports of an elderly woman being raped in the Southern Division.
“How can we remain quiet about that kind of heinous, horrific crime (against) a woman who could be a grandmother or great-grandmother?”
Without calling names, he referred to Sunday’s killing of Garib Gorwin, who police said was the “main man” of a gang.
“That guy, whatever the allegations, was tied to a chair and burned to death. With that extreme and bizarre and grotesque level of criminality, the country cannot remain quiet,” Dottin said.
“I do not care who he was, and I never met him. We often forget the walls that divide us.”
He said this country is not too far from becoming Haiti, where vigilante groups are attacking gangs.
He quoted Mahatma Gandhi, who said, “We don’t kill our enemies; we kill their desire to kill.”
The pastor also shared a conversation between two secondary school principals in the East-West Corridor about a junior drug dealer in one school recruiting students from the other. He recalled they devised a plan “to nip it in the bud” and confronted the students.
“Many young people want a better way. They want to be shown a better way. They want their hearts to be transformed.”
Dottin added that Trinidad and Tobago has underground shooting ranges controlled by the local mafia and their foreign counterparts.
TT is going through a massive crisis with children, many under 16, having children, yet a few people are arrested for this statutory rape.
He said some parents encourage their children to take money from drug lords to feed the household.
“That is a compromise you will pay a heavy price for in the future. Let us save our country,” he pleaded.
“I believe we should launch a national grief campaign to deal especially with single mothers who are at their wits’ end and their homes have been turned into jails by the recruits of the guns.”
Dottin acknowledged that there is no quick fix to crime and getting rid of criminals.
“But there’s a commitment fix, and once we are committed, fearless, and courageous, we shall win the battle.”