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Phony Mask Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 21 August 2014 00:00

I think our young democracy made a significant stride towards maturity on Tuesday 19 August when the Ministry of National Security not only exercised calm restraint, but demonstrated full respect towards the protesters in Benque Viejo.  The situation was explosive for most of the day and even became provocative when the protesters turned violent against the authorities by hurling projectiles at them. In all honestly, these Police Officers and Firemen were only doing their jobs and did not deserve to be hurt.

The protest, as everyone knows, was staged against the Police Department whom the demonstrators believed was giving preferential treatment to the Deputy Commissioner who was involved in a serious traffic accident the previous Saturday morning, where a lady lost her life and a taxi driver is still in serious condition at the KHMH.

Truly, the protesters complaints may have been legitimate since they claim that any other individual under the same circumstances would have been arrested immediately with basic charges until the full charge sheet could have been prepared. But the harsh reality of the situation was, the gentleman is indeed a very senior officer, and unless his boss, the Commissioner, gave the orders to arrest him, which subordinate would take the gamble to do so?

The Commissioner of Police, on the other hand, thought that by promptly putting his Deputy on interdiction was strong enough a signal that this incident was being treated seriously, and would not be “a stinkin’ Police cover-up” as one journalist put it.  On 20/20 hindsight, he probably erred in judgment; a slip which the people of Succotz did not forgive. As passions escalated on Tuesday, the protesters demanded full transparency in all matters relating to the accident, and fortunately got their demands met from the Police without difficulty or hesitation. It was a broad shift in policy by the Department; a welcome one some may say.

It is a gratifying feeling (except, of course, for the violent part of the protest) to note the tacit environment being promoted by this UDP Government in not suppressing the constitutional right of freedom of expression. This Government allows protestors to vent their grievances out in the open and does not use violence to quell protests, unless the safety and welfare of other citizens is threatened.

On the contrary, we can never forget what happened in 2002 when Benqueños were incensed against the hike in bus fares being implemented by the recently created PUP monopoly bus line, Novelo’s. The commuters most affected by the new rates were the students who had to travel to San Ignacio daily, and they took to the streets to express their dissatisfaction.  The police pulled the trigger of an M-16 on two protestors, one of them being a 16 year old minor.

The contrast in which the two Political Parties handle demonstrations is like night and day. In addition, because of the UDP’s maturity in governance, Prime Minister Barrow does not have to don a phony mask like Musa and be forced to visit the injured in the hospital the following day. You agree?