Piracy is the act of attacking and robbing sea going vessels and its occupants, and is as old as the oldest known profession, prostitution. And ever since humans realised that boats could be used to transport precious cargo, including other human beings, they have been the victims of pirates. Pirates have been romanticised in film, in story books and in folklore but the truth of the matter is that they are thieves and murderers and scoundrels just like the ones who rob and kill daily on land. They are real and they are not the heroic swashbucklers that they have been made out to be on the silver screen.
Today, these seagoing demons are the highlight of what has become another avenue for the robbing and killing of innocent, hardworking people, allowed to flourish right under the noses of the national security commanders. Several families are bawling and crying over what we know with certainty now, are attacks by pirates who come from right here among us. Trinidadians just like you and I. Over the years, when we heard of attacks on fisher folk in the Gulf of Paria and elsewhere, we automatically thought they were Venezuelans. What could possibly be done about that, we wondered. Trinidadians could never be pirates! Surprise, surprise! We just prove ourselves wrong. Are we really surprised though?
Well it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone as well that piracy has been given a free hand to flourish, primarily due to the blatant neglect of our maritime borders. Drugs sailing in by the ton-loads, illegal immigrants landing freely along our coasts and fishermen being attacked, robbed and killed over several decades yet there is always a ridiculous reason why our national security network has turned a blind eye to the waters that surround us. Now we’re seeing drug dealers killing each other over turf and escaping by boat. Instead of placing urgent attention on maritime security we continue to hear the preposterous blame game that the other party is at fault. What excuse would we be expected to swallow now over the deaths last week of several fishermen who were hijacked by locals and thrown into the ocean to drown?
It’s no wonder that a large swathe of the population believes that there are those with influence that stand to gain from the maritime doors that are left open. Those who have the ability to plug the holes but don’t because it will hit them in the pockets. Someone needs to say it ain’t so. Someone needs to find out how the engines from the missing fishermen ended up in Sea Lots. And why aren’t there frequent and abundant patrols along our coastlines and maritime borders to catch or at least keep off smugglers, killers and pirates. Money can’t be the excuse since there are tens of millions available to build highways and overpasses. How long can we go on blaming the opposition? The excuses are growing thin and so is our patience.