Put many of the most recent news headlines in a montage and they paint a deeply troubling picture of a part of the world known for its tranquility, amazing topography and record breaking international sporting achievements.
Some examples. “The U.S. to help find murderers of two American missionaries,” was the way a leading national television news network in the U.S. informed millions of viewers of the double homicide in a Caribbean country on Tuesday. The same day another media organization reported: “Cop Killed at School fair.” A teenager had allegedly fatally stabbed a police officer.” And yet another regional institution told the world that so far this year 160 people had lost their lives to violence between January and the first week of May in a single Eastern Caribbean state.
On and on go the tales of woe across the English, French, Dutch, Creole and Spanish speaking nations and territories that belong to the Caribbean archipelago. The stories they tell are of a region facing a serious social and indeed economic threat to its stability: rising crime.
“The Caribbean is recording some of the most unusual incidents of serious crime, things that never happened before,” said Dr. Ivelaw Griffith, perhaps the Caribbean’s leading security expert yesterday. “It’s worrisome indeed.”
With some of the world’s highest crime rates — Caribbean’s murder rates are often four times higher than those of most major American cities, the Caribbean is adversely affected by what a U.S. report on crime and security described “as opportunistic” criminal behavior; limited financial resources to patrol wide open borders and seas; and challenging economic times that leave some countries with exceedingly high rates of joblessness and poverty. The situation worsened after the global economic recession hit the region with a vengeance as would-be European and North American tourists suddenly found themselves unemployed and strapped for cash, making them unable to get away to the idyllic Caribbean for a week or two, even a few days.
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