Bad Seeds or Bad Blood?

Why are certain persons the way they are?  What will cause one person to take another’s life?  What will cause a person to take a life in the most heinous of ways?  Is violence taught / learned or are some people just born violent?

Given the so-called prevalence of violent crime in Trinidad and Tobago, I have also asked myself whether: T&T’s society is one that nurtures violent behaviour, particularly amongst members of the population who may be naturally pre-disposed to it? 

This nature-nurture, heredity-environment debate is by no means new, but it is always interesting.  For a good introduction read:  

Wright State University? (n.d.). Nature vs. nurture. Retrieved January 29, 2008, from: http://www.psych.wright.edu/intropsy/Nature%20and%20Nurture.pdf

Pinker, S. (2004). Why nature & nurture won’t go away. Dædalus. Retrieved January 29, 2008, from: http://www.amacad.org/publications/fall2004/pinker.pdf 

One possible example of the nature-nurture, Trini violence connection is that of the infamous Taylors.

Who?

Charles Ghankay Taylor, ex-President of Liberia.  

What has he allegedly done?

He is currently on trial in The Special Court for Sierra Leone for crimes against humanity and other violations of international humanitarian law.  The charges refer to terrorizing the civilian population, unlawful killings, sexual violence, abductions and forced labour and looting.

What is the so-called Trini connection?

In a 2006 entry, Caribbean Free Radio cites Kim Johnson’s 1997  biography of Taylor. This bio suggests that Taylor’s father was a Trinidadian from Point Fortin who had migrated to Liberia.  It makes for humourous reading (e.g. Johnson refers to Taylor’s supposed half-sister as a “sharp-eyed harridan.”).  Notwithstanding, one should note that Jennifer Brea also references that bio in her profile of Taylor, but describes it as “perhaps a bit fictionalized”. As far as I know, Taylor has never publicly claimed his Trini roots, but then, why would he?  

Links of interest (i.e. sites that gave me good background
info): 

The BBC has a good section on Charles Taylor: biography, photographs, the trial.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/2963086.stm

The trial has its own official webpage where one can read about the full charges, peruse trial transcripts and minutes (conflict diamonds, child soldiers…) and listen to audio from the trial, all of which are up-to-date.  There is a video feed feature, but I have yet to get it to work. 
http://www.sc-sl.org/Taylor.html

Who?

Charles McArthur Emmanuel, or Chuckie Taylor, supposed son of Charles Ghankay Taylor.                          

What has he allegedly done?

“He is the first person to be prosecuted under a law making it a crime for a U.S. citizen to commit torture or war crimes overseas.”  The charges specifically refer to murders, burnings, beating and stingings.  Chuckie supposedly committed those crimes while acting as the head of his father’s paramilitary / anti-terrorist unit in Liberia. This article outlines the full charges. 

What is the so-called Trini connection?

Chuckie was born in Boston, U.S.A. to Taylor and Bernice Emmanuel, a then girlfriend of his.  Emmanuel was married to Trinidad-born Roy Belfast from 1983/4 to 2004.  Belfast adopted Chuckie in 1987.  Chuckie later had been known to use the name Roy Belfast Jr.  In 2006, he was arrested by officials at Miami International Airport after disembarking from a flight from Trinidad.   One should also take note of an undated CMC interview with “Bernice Yolanda Emmanuel,” in which she identifies herself as the Trinidad-born, first wife of Charles Taylor, but denies that her son’s (Charles Taylor Jr.) father is Liberia’s Charles Taylor.  Instead she identifies the father as her husband at the time (Roy Belfast?). Notwithstanding, Chuckie’s Trini connections exist. 

Links of interest (i.e. articles that I referred to for biographical information): 

http://www.newsday.co.tt/news/0,35674.html
http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2006/08/06/activists_want_charles_taylors_son_tried_for_war_crimes_torture/?page=1 

Summary                                                             

Charles and Chuckie are supposedly father and son that have Trini relatives. At some point Chuckie worked for Charles in Liberia. At least one of them (Chuckie) has spent some time in Trinidad. Both are now facing charges for violent crimes.

This is pure speculation on my part. Make of it what you will.

Mango

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~ by mangoandmosquitoblog on January 30, 2008.

3 Responses to “Bad Seeds or Bad Blood?”

  1. What do you think about what is happening in Kenya right now?

    Do you perceive violence in Trinidad as being along racial lines?

    Do you think Ushahidi could work for us?

  2. Posted the following response on Viekevie’s blog. Visit https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=1606179606156942803&postID=7792276831773156830 to see it in its original context.

    ——————————————————————

    Thanks for the questions. I going to try to respond to them in the order asked (be all official an’ ting;).

    What do you think about what is happening in Kenya right now?

    I had a Kenyan friend at school who had once said to me that Trinidad sounds a lot like Kenya (post-colonial, multi-cultural, still working on getting the basics right). Yet, in the light of this current conflict (not an adequate word to describe the turmoil and violence), I cannot see Trinidad reaching that point, but I will also never say never.

    The international community is leaning towards classifying the situation as civil strife / ethinic cleansing(this article was useful to me: (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/world/africa/31kenya.html). In my opinion that kind of labelling makes the issue seem like solely a national / internal problem, that the international community, at best, should keep an eye on, but not intervene in unless it worsens. A plus with respect to the sovereignty of nations but not so for those killed, injured, displaced. I wish the African Union would speak out more. After all, it is happening in their region. The situation has much deeper socio-politico-economic roots than disgruntlement with election results, ethnically-aligned political parties.

    Do you perceive violence in Trinidad as being along racial lines?

    Hmmm. I am not a criminologist or sociologist, but from what I observe in the news and what I see/hear out there, crime takes place at all sectors of the society. If the focus is violent crime (non-domestic disputes gone awry), then I would say that the perpetrators belong to the segment of the population that is most socio-economically marginalised. If that segment belongs to a particular racial group, then I would be interested in finding out why (different familial constructs?). The victims of crimes, however, seem to fall across the board, but may be concentrated amongst a certain sector. I think that by this stage, all Trinis can say that they have in some way been affected by crime, or know someone who has (robbery, rape). However, not all can say that they know someone who was “gunned down.”

    I do not see violent crime being racially motivated. Crimes, if anything, seem to be intra-racial. Yet, as a woman, I feel that all persons might pose an equal threat to me. Wonder if men would say the same?

    Do you think Ushahidi could work for us?

    To be honest, I had not heard of this before you mentioned it. So thanks for bringing it to my attention. I think it is a novel initiative – another medium to use in the reporting of crime (besides reporting in person or via telephone). Certainly the mapping functions bring a whole visual element to the presentation of crime-related figures, statistics.

    The population in Trinidad that uses the Internet is roughly 12% (2006 figures from http://www.internetworldstats.com/car/tt.htm) and I would guess that this small percentage is limited to a particular socio-economic group (upper to middle class). I therefore do not know how effective such a project would be, if launched in Trinidad, but at least there is another option available to the population.

    Trust seems to be a big issue here when it comes to the reporting of crimes. If you try to report a crime by the telephone (the usual means), the following questions might enter your mind and those questions could also be extended to reporting via the Internet:
    Is the phone / site consistently working? Will the phone be answered / Will my contribution be submitted? How can I be sure that even if they do not ask for my name, they will not track me in some way? (reverse phone directory / IP number). Most importantly, will they follow up on what I report in a timely fashion / do they have the staffing to do so?

    If the stakeholders can overcome those trust issues and effectively promote the various reporting tools, then we (the potential reporters of crime) might have a good chance at making a difference.

    I know that I wrote a lot, but you really got me thinking!

    February 1, 2008 9:18 AM

  3. man my older brother went to school with this fool and said that chuckie was bad knews from the start.he cant go back to boston because he shot and killed aomebody up there and now hes marked for death pretty much.and his step father and his mother were from trinidad for the person who asked about the trini connection.

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