STORY By JACK WARNER
The confession of Kenneth Rodriguez a.k.a. “Spanish” is disturbing.
This is the contractor that Member of Parliament for Laventille West, Fitzgerald Ethelbert Hinds, has identified as a gangster who received contracts from the People’s Partnership Government, 2010-2015, that included building a police station on Duncan Street.
The Minister of National Security labeled “Spanish” by extension a criminal, accusing three members of the United National Congress (UNC) of colluding with the dissident elements.
But before the national community could recover from such an exposé, “Spanish” goes public with news that he has received some 3 million dollars in contracts from the PNM Government since it came into power in 2015.
The national community is still awaiting the Government’s response to Spanish’s public admission and, in particular, that of Minister Hinds.
Dr. Keith Rowley who is known to ask for evidence before he acts decisively has nowhere else to look. This is not a report from the Special Branch or allegations made by the Opposition in Parliament. This is a confession from the man who his Minister of National Security and his Minister of State in the Office of the Attorney General have referred to as a gangster.
This was the man whose name was bandied about in Parliament. His name represented ignominy and brought the UNC into disrepute. Yet this man has claimed that the Government of Keith Rowley has given to him 3 million dollars in contracts.
I would have expected the next day that an investigation would have been launched by Rowley’s government to determine whether “Spanish” was giving to us fake news or whether there was any measure of truth in his statement.
I would have expected that the very next day that Dr. Keith Rowley who likes to beg for additional evidence as in the case of Camille Robinson-Regis and Marlene McDonald for information verifying that his Ministers or even his Government are in bed with a man they referred to as a gangster.
The nation sees “Spanish” as a dissident for because the Ministers who branded him so hold positions where access to such information lends some credibility to their statement.
And if it is true that “Spanish” is a gang leader then how come under this “holier than thou” PNM Government could Spanish be given contracts to do work in Fitzgerald Hinds’ constituency?
What is going on?
We are in trouble.
If “Spanish” indeed is a gangster, we are in serious trouble because his exposé reveals that Government is indeed funding criminal activity.
And now we are beginning to get the true picture why peace cannot reign in the war zone of Laventille because State funds are contributing to the war chests of the ones, they say wish harm upon us.
So all this talk about Anti-Gang Legislation and the Bail Bill is nothing more than talk and now we begin to understand why, especially under the PNM, murders cannot go down because this is not an allegation but a confession from a man the PNM calls a gangster, a man who has claimed that he has received 3 million dollars in state contracts under the PNM.
It is no wonder the Prime Minister Saint Dr. Keith Rowley does not want to fight this election on crime but, according to him, “on morality.” He sets the agenda on which others must fight!
It is no wonder that he wants to take the murder rate out of the election platform agenda.
Over the last two years poor Gary Griffith, the Commissioner of Police, has been struggling to get the crime rate down, struggling to bring peace in our land, struggling to create order. And while he is preoccupied with his struggles, the very class of people he is fighting against, we are now hearing that our Government is giving to them millions of dollars in contracts which no doubt are being used to fatten their war chest.
It was Commissioner Gary Griffith who, before a Joint Select Committee (JSC) meeting in January this year, stated that “I have always spoken about the concern whereby we have seen governments come and go, inclusive of this one, where we have seen that (alleged collusion between criminals and politicians), and when we affiliate ourselves with criminal elements, there is going to be a price to pay.”
Dr. Rowley needs to explain what is going on.
When we watch social media and see the quantum of high powered illegal and prohibited weapons in the hands of gangsters, when we watch the police fight and snatch hundreds of bullets from the hands of criminals, we all wonder from where these people are getting the money to support their war.
And if the Minister of National Security Stuart Young and the Minister of State in the Office of the Attorney General Fitzgerald Hinds accuse the UNC of putting money in the pockets of gangsters only to find out that they are deepening the pockets of the same gangsters then all our lives are at risk.
Is Dr. Rowley going to tell us which Government agency was so benevolent to “Spanish” and what he proposes to do to convince this population that the PNM under his administration is not a part of the crime problem that we face?
To be honest, one does not expect Dr. Rowley and his minions Stuart Young and Fitzgerald Hinds to do anything about “Spanish’s” confession because this is not the first time that credible, actionable evidence about the PNM’s collusion with gangsters has come to the fore.
In the Guardian of March 6, 2020, under the caption “Gangsters benefit from contracts through Corporations”, Mark Basant exposed how under the PNM, seven reputed gang leaders received some 6 million dollars in funding from contracts.
One gangster, the article revealed, who goes by the name of “doggy” and is the leader of the Bagatelle gang according to a Special Branch report received over eight contracts from a PNM-led Diego Martin Regional Corporation.
We all know from news reports and the number of murders in that region that Bagatelle is a hotbed for crime and criminal activity.
The report tells us about contracts given to a gangster referred to as “CB” another whose alias is “Bigman” and yet another known by the name of “Sprang” and we are now left to wonder what is going on in our country when there are so many gang-related affiliations to the PNM Government.
I hold no brief for the UNC because they too have been guilty of having criminal associations, providing the kind of funding that will fatten any war chest but it is the PNM now that is in Government. It is the PNM who has just raised the issue of gang funding by Governments.
But now we hear that they are as guilty as Hell because one who has been accused of being a gang leader has openly confessed that the Government under Dr. Keith Rowley has given to him 3 million dollars in contracts.
So, all the time we are thinking that it is drug money and illicit activities that are fostering the wealth of our bad boys and maybe we are right but with these Government contracts, the State is providing opportunities for the very same bad boys to launder their ill-gotten gains.
It is no wonder people are fed up and disenchanted with our politicians because rather than take action to protect us they make decisions that destroy our lives all in the name of power.
In the face of “Spanish’s” exposé, Dr. Keith Christopher Rowley, our Prime Minister can no longer afford to remain silent.
Too many people have died. Too many lives have been lost. Too many children have become fatherless. And too many women have been made widows.
Making contributions through contractual arrangements with gangsters will not solve the crime problem.
The nation needs to know how Dr. Rowley proposes to correct the error of his ways We await an answer.