Gangsters won’t be allowed to disrupt Crop Over, a Barbados Police chief has pledged.
Quoted by Barbados Today, Assistant Commissioner Sylvester Louis said that the Barbados Defence Force soldiers will be working alongside police officers to ensure the festival is secure. He promised that Barbadians and visitors will be able to enjoy a safe and peaceful Crop Over.
There is increasing alarm at mounting, mainly drug-related, violence in Barbados, where 30 people have already been murdered this year, almost matching the total for the whole of 2015.
Fears were heightened after a security guard was shot dead on board MV Dream Chaser during a party cruise on 10 June, which came less than a year after the fatal shooting of another of the same boat’s Crop Over cruise customers. The release of gang videos threatening to kill rivals’ family members and even to shoot up school graduation ceremonies has heightened tensions in this Crop Over season.
To keep the figures in perspective, however, the intentional homicide rate in Barbados is only about one-third that of Trinidad & Tobago, St Kitts & Nevis and St Vincent & the Grenadines. Jamaica remains the most violent island in the English-speaking Caribbean: in 2017 it lost 1,616 of its people to murder in 2017. Per 100,000 people, 47 were killed in Jamaica compared with 1.2 in the UK.
The threat of violence is harming tourism and related industries in Barbados and holding back economic growth across the Caribbean, according to the Caribbean Council. A report by the Institute for Economics & Peace found that the economic cost of murder in Trinidad & Tobago is equivalent to 12% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). In other words, if the country was as peaceful as Iceland, every Trinbagonian could be 12% better off – and a lot more would have jobs.