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AL GILKES: Hitmen for the hire?

Al Gilkes, [email protected]

AL GILKES: Hitmen for the hire?

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TIME WAS WHEN if you heard about a person getting hit in Barbados or any other part of the Caribbean it invariably referred to being hit with a stick, with a bottle, with a stone, with a piece of wood, with a bull pizzle, with a chair, with a cou cou stick, with a hammer, with a hoe stick or with any of a hundred and one other such items.

These days, in many of our countries, from Jamaica in the north to Guyana in the south, getting hit now has a very deadly meaning and has become a matter of  very grave concern for governments, police forces and citizens alike.

The reason is that in addition to the traditional getting hit with the above mentioned stick, bottle, stone and so on, people are now getting hit and killed with bullets fired from the guns of hired assassins.

Hitmen, as they are known, are service providers whose service is available to anyone willing to pay them the requisite fee for them to cold-bloodedly assassinate somebody they don’t even know, be it a husband who wants his wife dead or vice versa. Be it one criminal wanting the same for another criminal, a gang for a member or members of another gang.

The hiring of hitmen for such nefarious acts has also often been associated with wealthy people, with politicians, with businessmen and others of that ilk.

Although being a relatively recent phenomenon for countries in the Caribbean, the hitman has plied his trade in developed countries across the world for centuries and I would not be surprised if evidence exists of their presence in biblical times and even before, depending on whether your belief is creationist or evolutionist.

Obviously, back then the tools of the trade would have been swords, knives, daggers and the like.

In our region, the hitman has now become a source of major concern in countries like Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana to the extent where only last Thursday the Nation published a story from Kingston headlined Rise in Contract Killings, in which Jamaica’s Commissioner of Police, Dr Carl Williams, expressed concern about the increasing number of murders being carried out by those people.

He revealed that the police were seeing a new class of hitmen, “who are carrying out contract killings on behalf of persons seeking to get rid of others with whom they have disagreements”.

He also said that one gang in St James had committed 15 killings of this kind since last year.

Among cases in Guyana, a man who killed a 77-year old woman three months ago confessed to police that he was hired by one of her relatives for GUY$700 000 to kill her and search the house for property documents.

Among their cases, Trinidadians are still in shock over the situation in August last year when a hitman pumped five bullets, at close range, into the head and body of Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal.

I have related all the above in order to ask a question of the relevant authorities in this island of ours as to whether there is any evidence that Barbados now also has professional hitmen and if any of the increased number of gun-related murders were in fact executions by such people in the business of offering their services for hire and being paid to do these jobs.

Al Gilkes heads a public relations firm. Email [email protected]