Brian Lara laments crime situation in Trinidad and Tobago


Former West Indies cricket captain Brian Lara has warned that without “the skills and resources necessary to succeed, some young people will turn to crime as a means of survival,” as he lamented the upsurge in murders in Trinidad and Tobago.

The country has recorded more than 200 murders since the start of this year, following the record 603 murders last year.

In a statement from India where he is serving as the head coach for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League (IPL), Lara, 54, said he was in “complete shock and dismay” at the killings in Santa Cruz that lies between the hills of the Northern Range where he grew up,   including a triple murder just last week.

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Lara identified one of those murdered as a childhood friend.

“I was in complete shock and dismay after watching video footage in which a childhood friend got killed whilst sitting watching basketball at a local bar in Cantaro, the once sleepy village I grew up in. There is more to the video I rather not mention, but it pains me to see what was once the most beautiful village with cocoa and orange estates lining its outskirts, crumble under the burden of crime and relentless violence.

“Like every kid back in the day, I helped myself to all the hanging fruits available, ignoring ‘No Trespassing’ signs to the detriment of my butt whenever my dad found out, but that was as far as it got,” Lara added.

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He said feuds were settled years ago “on the field of play” with guns and that while there had been some notorious persons, people in the village focused mainly on sports.

“We were in awe of all the greats representing us on the international stage, like Sir Viv Richards, Sir Gordon Greenidge, Claude Noel, Hasely Crawford. Culture and beauty were also creating waves, the likes of the late Bob Marley, Sparrow, the late Kitchener and, of course, our beautiful Penny Commission,” Lara said.

The cricketing legend said growing up was fun and that “most of the positive news we got via transistor radios stuck to our ears as one of our people from the Atlantic Archipelago achieved greatness”.

He said he could never forget the excitement when Trinidad and Tobago’s first gold Olympic medalist Hasley Crawford returned to the island, saying “it was an emotional day watching one man celebrated as he put our small country on the map just by following the dream he had as a kid”.

Lara said that Trinidad and Tobago, like many other countries, faces challenges with youth involvement in crime and that the issue of youth crime has been a concern for many years and is driven by a range of complex social, economic, and cultural factors.

“Young people from low-income families may feel pressure to engage in criminal activities to earn money or support their families. This invariably leads to involvement in drug trafficking, gang activity, and other criminal behavior.

“Yes, I understand, but still I look back with a vivid memory of my first indulgence, stealing cocoa and oranges and quiver at the consequences if I was found out. I had such big dreams that these small misdemeanors were quickly brushed aside because of my steadfast focus on my commitment to become someone my village and country would be proud of…the next Hasely Crawford of cricket,” Lara said.

He said another factor is the breakdown of family structures, which can lead to a lack of guidance and supervision for young people.

“The absence of parental figures or positive role models can leave young people vulnerable to negative influences and peer pressure, which can lead to criminal behavior. I was blessed with two wonderful parents…who kept all eleven of us in line and motivated to make something of our lives.

“I don’t think there is a parent that wants a life of crime for their kids but if you don’t pay attention to your offspring, someone will happily do so for you,” he added.

Lara said the availability of guns was also a major situation in the crime situation here and “has become a symbol of power and status among some young people.

“Without the skills and resources necessary to succeed, some young people will turn to crime as a means of survival,” Lara said, underscoring the importance of understanding the root causes of crime and addressing them.

“Encouraging and investing in sports programs can help channel the energy and passion of young people into something positive, while also providing opportunities for personal growth and development. It’s important for all members of society to come together to address this issue and work towards creating a safer and more prosperous future for Trinidad and Tobago,” Lara said.

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