By CAROL MATROO, TRINIDAD NEWSDAY...
|Nizam "Sugar" Razack, a Guyanese national who operates a wholesale business in Trinidad
The recent murder of a two-year-old child of Guyanese parentage has left many Trinidadians in shock and expressing anger against the Guyanese community in this country. Despite the fact that similar such horrific incidents have been carried out by TT nationals, many locals have been going on the radio talk shows to express their ire with the expanding illegal Guyanese community in this country and their impact on the crime situation.
Baby Etean George Smith was recently discovered dead at his mother’s Freddy Street, Aranjuez home, suffering a fractured skull, severe lacerations to his head and massive internal bleeding. Etean’s mother, Devika Rani Roopwah, 22, reportedly came to Trinidad from Guyana after “marrying” Eddie Smith in Guyana at age 17. She came to Trinidad one year later to join her “husband”.
Aranjuez has become home to a growing Guyanese community, many of whom are said to be here illegally. Newsday spoke to some members of the Aranjuez community to get their opinion on the issue of Guyanese living in TT. Nizam “Sugar” Razack, a Guyanese living in Trinidad for the last eight years, has no qualms about his countrymen, who are living in TT illegally, being sent back to their homeland. Razack has been running his wholesale business in Trinidad under Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) status. This entitles Caricom nationals to free movement of goods, skilled nationals, services, and capital. Razack said he grew up with Roopwah and Etean’s father, Eddie Smith, in Guyana before moving to Trinidad.
“I knew Devika and Eddie from Guyana because we grew up in the same village, but only met (the accused) when he started a relationship with Devika. She was a quiet home girl, not very exposed to the outside world. They grew up without a father so when it came to family life they didn’t have much family values, but she wasn’t a bad person,” Razack said in an interview with Newsday last Thursday. Roopwah’s father was murdered when she was a child, Razack revealed, saying no one knew of the killing since it occurred in another village. “She lived with her stepfather and mom but they were poor. I didn’t know the stepfather. Eddie came here (TT) to work. A company brought him in and then he brought her (Devika) over to Trinidad.
Razack said that the claims against certain foreign nationals should not cast shadows on others. “Aranjuez has a lot of Guyanese living there. If you look at America, most of the people who built America were foreigners...Jews, East Indians, Pakistani, Chinese... Not only Americans did it, it was all these people combined to make America a better place. I am not saying that it’s just Guyanese who made Trinidad better. Razack said when he and his family first moved to Trinidad, they were unable to walk down the streets. “If we went to a Carnival fete and they knew we were Guyanese they would attack us, and beat us. My elder brother had his teeth knocked out, my other brother’s face was slit because they resented us.
“There are good Guyanese and bad Guyanese. There are some who choose to stay home and do nothing. I get up at 3 am to come to work. When I get home in the afternoon most of the neighbours are asleep or now waking up. The first thing they would say is I’m doing drugs because how could I have a vehicle, live in a house paying that kind of rent. It’s causing a lot of problems, but at the end of the day they don’t want to get up and work,” he said. Razack believes that any of his countrymen living in Trinidad illegally should be sent home. However, he said the issue of security had to be addressed.
“We don’t know who are the ones who have committed crimes in Guyana and flee to Trinidad to escape the law. Trinidad is one of the best countries in the Caribbean, but when we reach security, that is where the problem lies. “My son is a Trinidadian, I have my papers and I pay my taxes. Whatever immigration got to do, they got to do their work. If they have to get rid of who are illegal then let them do that and let’s see if that is going to stop the crime,” he said.
Razack said the increased Guyanese community in Aranjuez was being encouraged by greedy landlords who charged excessive rents which the Guyanese willingly pay.
“The kind of rent that we’re paying in Aranjuez, Trinidadians don’t pay that rent. When we go to rent a place, they call $2,500 and Trinidadians are not paying that kind of rent. Guyanese who offer to pay that rent, of course the landlords will take their money, they don’t know or care to whom they’re renting their place.
“Speaking on behalf of the Guyanese community, I don’t see Guyanese being any problem in Aranjuez, but landlords have to share the blame because most of the time they don’t even know who they’re renting to,” he said.