FYI, No K&R for RSD in S.A.

Because I love you all, I give you this, a scene from the little known, but oh so marvelous, Indian Superman movie:

I’m busily getting crap done before heading to Guyana for a couple of weeks at the end of this week. I’m going to finish up consulting work on our grand public health programme in that country, but will also be taking a week for myself to explore the untouched arcadian interior. Fellow epidemiologist Adam S. will be joining me for the latter. Regular followers of my escapades may recall that Adam was one of my fellow travellers on my brief exploration of Malaysia back in 2002.

Now, Guyana and Trinidad have pretty much identical cultures, macro histories and, in some respects, political dynamics, especially where racial issues are involved. The two nations constitute a natural social experiment with one major factor differentiating the two: Trinidad has oil wealth and tourism income, while Guyana relies solely on its land-based natural resources for income. Today, Trinidad inches toward genuine “first world” status, while Guyana still languishes as as “third world” basket case nation, a favoured play place for Western NGOs and do-gooders.

So it was troubling when both I. and Anjali R. alerted me to new unrest in Trinidad (see also here, here and here).

K&R (kidnap and ransom) has been a booming business in South America, Latin America and the Caribbean for some years now. Some of the more wealthy multinationals even offer “K&R Insurance” to its Western employees working in dangerous areas. The somewhat entertaining film Proof Of Life explores this phenomenon. Trinidad is rapidly becoming a K&R endemic region. (Luckily, Guyana has yet to slide down this path significantly).

What these new reports seem to suggest, however, is that K&R is being employed, not so much for financial gain, but also for political purposes. I as yet don’t have a fully formed theory about what’s going on, but it is an interesting and concerning phenomenon nonetheless.

Sadly, my client does not offer K&R insurance. So if any potential kidnappers are reading this, please be aware that neither I nor my family have any money. Remember, I’m the poor kind of doctor. The most you can get for me is an autographed copy of my books, which now sell for under $5. So go kidnap somebody else, preferably someone who voted conservative.