This country had been desperately clinging to hope since Andrea Bharatt was kidnapped last Friday—hope that this time around things would turn out differently, that the good people would win.
That hope evaporated yesterday when Andrea’s body was lifted out of a precipice off Heights of Aripo Road in Arima, just a few miles away from where she was last seen in a taxi heading to her home.
Collective grief, raw and almost palpable, mixed with anger over the loss of another daughter, is once again being expressed through every available medium of communication. The nation that had been united in the single cause of finding Andrea, keeping vigil, offering prayers and petitions, now demands more from those who must be held to account for this latest tragedy.
T&T has been this way too often before. Sadly, as transfixed as this country had been over the past six days by the desperate search for Andrea, her story tragically mirrors too many others who have also been lost in the most horrific of circumstances.
Whenever these heinous crimes are recorded, there is the inevitable finger-pointing, usually at the T&T Police Service and other elements of our underperforming criminal justice system.
But others need to be held to account for their many egregious failures and they must be called out for repeatedly neglecting to do what they were elected to do in the interest of this country.
The politicians who have been putting narrow self-interests and partisan preferences above those of the people they were put into office to serve have been failing T&T repeatedly.
They failed Andrea Bharatt, who was not safe even on the short commute from her workplace to her home.
They failed Ashanti Riley, who fell victim to predators that prowled the streets near her home.
The deaths of these two young women, along with all the other violent crimes committed against women and girls, can be blamed on the legislative failures in the past year that has given the upper hand to the criminals.
They have been playing politics with the lives of our loved ones.
This raging, grieving nation is owed an explanation about this propensity by elected representatives for scoring cheap political points rather than supporting urgently needed anti-gang and bail laws.
If they truly grasp the depth of the pain and loss felt by so many throughout this week, then they should realise that citizens’ tolerance for empty words and unkept promises has worn thin. Andrea’s murder has put us all in a very dark place.
Exorcising this evil from the land requires immediate action by politicians, who must accept responsibility for all that has gone wrong and seek redemption by finally doing what they should have done months ago.
The priority must be the filling of every gap and loophole in the legislative framework that gives the advantage to murders, rapists, kidnappers and gangsters.
There is no time to waste.