Despite the grandiose name, Beetham Gardens is one of the most dangerous, squalid neighborhoods in Trinidad, one of the more crime-ridden countries in the world. In August alone there were 41 murders and 38 shootings in Trinidad and Tobago, a country of merely 1.3 million people. Much of the mayhem was concentrated in gangland neighborhoods like Beetham.
Marva, a local woman with a crisp packet conveniently stored in her bosom, argued that Beetham was unfairly maligned. She said two “white aid ladies” recently spent a night and had not been raped. She conceded my point that the need to highlight this fact may itself indicate that things were hardly swell, but pressed the point that even in places like Beetham good people outnumbered the bad.
And she is right. I’ve gone to all the supposedly “worst” neighborhoods in the countries on my Caribbean tour so far, and aside from some initial suspicion, people have been overwhelmingly friendly, helpful and eager to tell their story. Even in Jamaica’s Tivoli Gardens, where three heavily-armed policemen insisted on accompanying us, residents were (eventually) a journalist’s dream: loquacious and brimming with interesting stories.
– Pulitzer Center grantee Robin Wigglesworth, who is reporting on economic struggles in the Caribbean. Image by Andrea de Silva. Trinidad and Tobego, 2013.