Friday, February 10, 2017

Intentional Homicides in Trinidad and Tobago

Using World Bank data, I plotted a graph of the murder rate in Trinidad and Tobago. (Here is a link to a better quality version.)

In 2016 there were 462 murders in Trinidad and Tobago. This is 34.4 per 100'000, up from 2015, and roughly equal to the murder rate in South Africa.

2017 is not shaping up to well either, with 65 intentional homicides to date (10th February). Naturally there is outrage. This recent rise is against a backdrop of broken trust between citizens and the police force due to the latter's abuse of power. So it is unlikely that a more aggressive police presence will be an effective long term solution.

Other factors, like organized crime and narcotic trafficking can explain the rise in the murder rate, but social inequality is certainly a factor. There are been some local studies, but they are dated, and so cannot tell us as much as we would like about wealth, class, and local uneven development. While helpful to get a better sense of the social structure in Trinidad and Tobago, recent UNDP reports do not break down the distribution of wealth. I hope I am incorrect, and there needs to be more investigation from my side, but these knowledge gaps are terrifying. Meantime, the inflation of food is quickly increasing...

Until there is a forthright attempt to register how material inequities foster resentment and violence, the public discourse will political gestures and moral pleading, both of which are insufficient attempts to address this social problem.