The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago has alleged that the country’s police have foiled a plot to assassinate her and three cabinet members.
About a dozen conspirators -- including members of the military and police force -- have been arrested, according to Dwayne Gibbs, Trinidad and Tobago’s police commissioner.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has placed the nation’s security agencies on high alert.
We want to confirm the protective services have unearthed a threat to national security, a spokesman for the police said in a statement.
I don't want to disclose any further details at this time because this could compromise the operation of the investigations.
Trinidad and Tobago, a leading supplier of liquefied natural gas to the United States, has already been under a state of emergency since August due to an escalation of drug trade-related violence and wanton murders. Under emergency, police and military were granted sweeping powers to conduct surveillance and make arrests.
Persad-Bissessar blamed the alleged plot on criminal elements who were seeking reprisal for the state of emergency she imposed.
In an address to the nation, she condemned the murder plot as an “an evil, devious act of treason.”
However, she vowed that the plot would not prevent her from maintaining tight security, claiming that emergency measures have been successful in reducing crime and violence. Since August, the Prime Minister declared, more than 7,000 people have been arrested on drug charges and their weapons have been confiscated.
“In this three-month period my government’s focus has been on the protection of life and property,” she said in her address.
“We have seized over 1.5 billion dollars in drugs, the largest single ‘drug bust’ worth over 55 million dollars. We are hurting them in their pockets. The criminal elements have tried to make good on their threats to carry out reprisals. I am grateful to the intelligence resources that uncovered the assassination plot.”
However, some opponents of the governments are skeptical that a murder plot even occurred, implying that it is a ploy to justify and extend the state of emergency.
We have no evidence of this so-called assassination plot, Vincent Cabrera, head of the Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union, told Agence France Presse.
A reader for the local Trinidad Express newspaper similarly commented: “I agree that a threat to anyone's life must be taken seriously, especially when that threat has been made to the Honorable Prime Minister and cabinet ministers. However the PM has ‘cried wolf’ so many times that I have to receive this news with a dose of [salt]. Is this for real or just another distraction, or a reason to extend the [state of emergency]? I'm not sure… All this does not add to the PM's credibility. “
The state of emergency is due for review in December.
Located just off the coast of Venezuela, the small nation of about 1.3-million is a key stop on the cocaine shipping routes from South America to Europe and the U.S. Trinidad and Tobago’s population is evenly divided between people of East Indian and African descent.
Persad-Bissessar, who was elected in landslide in may 2010, is the nation’s first female Prime Minister.