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23. Trinidad & Tobago (1962-present)

 

Pre-Crisis Phase (August 31, 1962-April 20, 1970): Trinidad & Tobago formally achieved its independence from Britain and became a member of the Commonwealth of Nations (CoN) on August 31, 1962.  Sir Solomon Hochoy was appointed as the Governor-General of Trinidad & Tobago, and Eric Williams of the People’s National Movement (PNM) formed a government as prime minister on August 31, 1962.  Parliamentary elections were held on November 7, 1966, and the PNM won 24 out of 36 seats in the House of Representatives. The Democratic Labor Party (DLP) won 12 seats in the House of Representatives.  Basil Davis, a Black Power Movement protester, was killed by government police on April 6, 1970.  Sugar workers went on strike in Trinidad & Tobago beginning on April 18, 1970.

Crisis Phase (April 21, 1970 – September 26, 1976):  The government proclaimed a state-of-emergency, banned political activity, and arrested fifteen Black Power Movement leaders on April 21, 1970.  Black Muslims and East Indians rioted in Trinidad & Tobago on April 21-24, 1970, resulting in the deaths of four individuals.  Some 400 rebel soldiers led by Raffique Shah and Rex Lassalle mutinied against the government on April 22, 1970. Six U.S. naval ships (and 2,000 troops) and two British ships were deployed offshore on April 22, 1970. The U.S. government airlifted military assistance (weapons and ammunition) in support of the government on April 23, 1970. Government troops suppressed the mutiny on April 25, 1970. The government ended the state-of-emergency on November 20, 1970.  The government lifted the ban on political activity on November 24, 1970.  In March 1971, nine government soldiers were sentenced to prison for their involvement in the April 1970 military rebellion.  Parliamentary elections were held on May 24, 1971, and the People’s National Movement (PNM) won 36 out of 36 seats in the House of Representatives. Opposition political groups boycotted the parliamentary elections.  In response to labor unrest, the government declared a state of emergency on October 19, 1971.  The National Union of Freedom Fighters (NUFF) was established under the leadership of Guy Harewood and Brian Jeffers in opposition to the government in December 1971.  The government lifted the state of emergency on June 30, 1972.  Sir Ellis Clarke was appointed as Governor-General of Trinidad & Tobago on September 15, 1972.  On September 13, 1973, government security forces captured a NUFF camp located in the northern range of the island of Trinidad.  The NUFF rebellion was suppressed by government security forces in late 1974.  Some 18 individuals, including 15 rebels and three government policemen, were killed during the rebellion.  Government police brutally suppressed a labor (United Labour Front-ULF) demonstration in San Fernando on “Bloody Tuesday” (March 18, 1975).  The parliament approved a new constitution on March 29, 1976, and the constitution was promulgated on August 1, 1976.  Parliamentary elections were held on September 13, 1976, and the PNM won 24 out of 36 seats in the House of Representatives. The United Labour Front (ULF) won ten seats in the House of Representatives.  The Republic of Trinidad & Tobago was officially proclaimed on September 26, 1976.

Post-Crisis Phase (September 27, 1976-July 26, 1990):  Ellis Emmanuel Innocent Clarke was elected president by the parliament on December 29, 1976, and he was inaugurated as president on December 30, 1976.  Local elections were held in Trinidad on April 21, 1980.  Prime Minister Williams died on March 29, 1981, and George Chambers of the People’s National Movement (PNM) formed a government as prime minister on March 30, 1981. The parliament was dissolved on September 18, 1981. Parliamentary elections were held on November 9, 1981, and the PNM won 26 out of 36 seats in the House of Representatives. The United Labour Front (ULF) won eight seats in the House of Representatives.  Abdul Kareem, a member of the militant Muslim group (Jamaat-al-Muslimeen), was killed by government policemen in St. James on July 8, 1985.  Parliamentary elections were held on December 15, 1986, and the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) won 33 out of 36 seats in the House of Representatives. The PNM won three seats in the House of Representatives.  The labor union movement organized a general strike (“Day of Resistance”) on March 6, 1988.  Arthur Robinson of the NAR formed a government as prime minister. Basdeo Panday formed the United National Congress (UNC) on April 30, 1989.

Crisis Phase (July 27, 1990-December 9, 1990):  Members of the militant Muslim group (Jamaat-al-Muslimeen) led by Yasin Abu Bakr rebelled against the government in Port of Spain beginning on July 27, 1990.  The rebels took control of the parliament and detained the prime minister, deputy prime minister, five cabinet ministers, and several members of the parliament.  The rebels, who took control of Trinidad & Tobago Television (TTT), bombed the police headquarters building in Port of Spain.  The government declared a state-of-emergency on July 28, 1990.  The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads-of-government condemned the rebellion on July 30, 1990, and deployed 300 troops (Barbados, Jamaica, St. Vincent, Antigua and Barbuda) in support of the government in Trinidad on August 3, 1990.  Some 114 members of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen surrendered to government troops on August 1, 1990.  The government lifted the state-of-emergency on December 9, 1990.  Yasin Abu Bakr and 114 Jamaat-al-Muslimeen members were charged with murder and treason.  Some 24 individuals, including member of parliament Leo des Vignes, were killed during the rebellion.

Post-Crisis Phase (December 10, 1990-August 21, 2011):  Parliamentary elections were held on December 16, 1991, and the People’s National Movement (PNM) won 21 out of 36 seats in the House of Representatives. The United National Congress (UNC) won 13 seats in the House of Representatives.  Patrick Manning of the PNM formed a government as prime minister on December 17, 1991.  Yasin Abu Bakr and some 114 members of Jamaat-al-Muslimeen were granted amnesty and released from prison in July 1992.  Parliamentary elections were held on November 6, 1995, and the PNM and the UNC each won 17 seats in the House of Representatives.  Basdeo Panday of the UNC formed a coalition government as prime minister on November 9, 1995.  Arthur Robinson was elected president by the Electoral College on February 14, 1997, and he was inaugurated as president on March 19, 1997.  Parliamentary elections were held on December 11, 2000, and the UNC won 19 out of 36 seats in the House of Representatives. The PNM, which won 16 seats in the House of Representatives, disputed the results of the election. The Commonwealth of Nations (CoN) sent eleven observers from Australia, Belize, Britain, Canada, Sri Lanka, and Zambia headed by Roy MacLaren of Canada to monitor the parliamentary elections from December 4 to December 12, 2000.  Basdeo Panday of the UNC formed a government as prime minister on December 21, 2000.  Parliamentary elections were held on December 10, 2001, and both the UNC and PNM won 18 seats in the House of Representatives.  The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) sent 14 observers to monitor the elections from December 5 to December 12, 2001.  President Robinson appointed Patrick Manning of the PNM as prime minister on December 24, 2001. Former Prime Minister Panday rejected the government of Prime Minister Manning on January 3, 2002.  A three-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) mission led by Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham of the Bahamas attempted to mediate negotiations between the parties on January 12-29, 2002. Basdeo Panday of the UNC initiated a campaign of civil disobedience against the government on February 22, 2002. Parliamentary elections were held on October 8, 2002, and the PNM won 20 out of 36 seats in the House of Representatives. The UNC won 16 seats in the House of Representatives. Patrick Manning of the PNM was sworn in as prime minister on October 9, 2002.  George Maxwell Richard was elected president by the Electoral College, and he was inaugurated as president on March 17, 2003.  Yasin Abu Bakr, leader of the black Muslim group (Jamaat-al-Muslimeen), was arrested and charged by government police for extortion and sedition on November 8, 2005.  Government troops occupied the headquarters of the black Muslim group (Jamaat-al-Muslimeen) on November 10, 2005.  Several weapons and ammunition were seized from the headquarters.  On December 4, 2006, Yasin Abu Bakr was found not-guilty for conspiring to murder two expelled Jamaat al Muslimeen members, Salim Rasheed and Adel Ghany.  Parliamentary elections were held on November 5, 2007, and the PNM won 26 out of 41 seats in the House of Representatives.  The United National Congress (UNC) alliance led by Basdeo Panday won 15 seats in the House of Representatives.  The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) sent 27 observers (25 to the island of Trinidad and two to the island of Tobago) led by Sir Richard Cheltenham of Barbados to monitor the parliamentary elections from October 28 to November 8, 2007.  President George Maxwell Richard was re-elected for a second five-year term by the Electoral College on February 11, 2008 and he was inaugurated on March 17, 2008.  Parliamentary elections were held on May 24, 2010, and the People’s Partnership Coalition (PPC) won 27 out of 41 seats in the House of Representatives.  The PNM won 12 seats  in the House of Representatives.  The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) sent 30 observers and two staff members to monitor the parliamentary elections from May 19 to May 25, 2010.  Kamla Persad-Bissessar of the UNC was appointed as prime minister on May 26, 2010.

Crisis Phase (August 22, 2011-December 5, 2011):  On August 22, 2011, the government imposed a limited, 15-day state of emergency to fight drug trade-related crime in Trinidad & Tobago.  On September 4, 2011, the parliament approved an extension of the state of emergency for a period of three months.  The government foiled an assassination plot against Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on November 24, 2011.  Some 12 individuals, including government soldiers and policemen, were arrested by government security forces.  The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government expressed support for the government of Trinidad & Tobago on December 5, 2011.  The government ended the state of emergency on December 5, 2011.  More than 7,000 individuals were arrested, and large amounts of drugs and weapons were seized during the state of emergency.

Post-Crisis Phase (December 6, 2011-present):  Anthony Carmona was elected president by the Electoral College on February 15, 2013, and he was inaugurated as president on March 18, 2013.

[Sources: Associated Press (AP), December 19, 2000, October 9, 2002; Banks and Muller, 1998, 921-924; British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), December 19, 2000, January 24, 2001, December 9, 2001, December 10, 2001, April 6, 2002, April 7, 2002, May 24, 2002, October 8, 2002, June 3, 2007, November 6, 2007, June 24, 2010, July 27, 2010, August 23, 2011, November 24, 2011; Caribbean Community (CARICOM) press release, January 23, 2001, November 28, 2001, November 29, 2001, December 12, 2001, January 13, 2002, January 29, 2002, October 23, 2007, October 26, 2007, November 2, 2007, December 5, 2011; Commonwealth of Nations (CON) press release, November 29, 2000; Degenhardt, 1988, 372; Facts on File, November 17-23, 1966, April 23-29, 1970, July 2-8, 1970, November 26-December 2, 1970, May 27-June 2, 1971, September 25, 1976, December 31, 2001; Jamaica Observer, January 13, 2002; Jessup, 1998, 749-750; Keesing’s Record of World Events, June 6-13, 1970, July 31-August 7, 1971, March 18-25, 1972, December 10, 1976, July 1, 1977, May 8, 1981, March 5, 1982, June 1987, February 1997; Langer, 1972, 1250-1251; Reuters, December 11, 2000, December 12, 2000, December 14, 2000, December 18, 2000, December 20, 2000, December 21, 2000, December 15, 2001, December 27, 2001, January 3, 2002, April 5, 2002, October 9, 2002, May 25, 2010, August 22, 2011.]

 

Selected Bibliography

Abdulah, David. 1991. “Jamaat al Muslimeen Insurrection in Trinidad and Tobago, 1990,” Caribbean Quarterly, vol. 37 (2/3), pp. 84-88.

Addo, Herb. 1991. “Crisis of Shock: Insurrection in Trinidad and Tobago, 1990,” Caribbean Quarterly, vol. 37 (2/3), pp. 1-13.

LaGuerre, John. 2008. “The 1990 Violent Disturbance in Trinidad & Tobago: Some Perceptions,” Caribbean Quarterly, vol. 54 (4), pp. 129-139.

Millette, James. 1991. “Power in the Streets: The Muslimeen Uprising in Trinidad and Tobago,” Caribbean Quarterly, vol. 37 (2/3), pp. 89-107.

Pantin, Dennis A. 1991. “Political Crisis in Trinidad and Tobago: Cause or Coincidence?” Caribbean Quarterly, vol. 37 (2/3), pp. 63-83.

Ryan, Selwyn D. 1979. “Trinidad and Tobago: The General Election of 1976,” Caribbean Studies, vol. 19 (1/2), pp. 5-32.