Caribbean news gets more ghastly by the week

Channel 4's Caribbean Summer season hit the broadcasting world with a bang, woven as it is around the Test cricket series between England and the West Indies.

I have been very active in the production of the season. It seemed a natural consequence of the columns I have been writing for this paper. Perhaps nowhere else in British journalism has the Caribbean been so comprehensively written about. In fact, the documentary Darcus Howe: trouble in paradise was inspired by one of my columns. Top people in the Caribbean and their friends in Britain are absolutely furious at the frank and uninhibited cataloguing of the essence of contemporary society in the region.

But ordinary West Indians who return home on holiday and for family visits have been overwhelmingly in support of the programme. They, more than anyone else, are able to measure just how far Caribbean society has degenerated. They make historical comparisons between the situation now and when they first left for England.

I am accused of painting a negative image. Perhaps I should have filmed the breakfast buffet at the Hilton Hotel one morning in Trinidad, and shown the business elite - once referred to by Basdeo Panday, the current prime minister, as "the parasitic oligarchy" - lining their stomachs, knowing full well that they live at the margins of an economy dominated by international corporations.

As I write, the weekly Trinidadian paper to which I subscribe has fallen through the letter box.

It gets more ghastly each week. This week, the front page surpasses all that have gone before. The main photo shows two people on the floor of a car park. A woman of some physical weight lies dead, with huge clots of blood plastered over her face. Her husband is sprawled across her, his eyes and mouth wide open, his face also covered in blood. There are others out of shot who, according to the caption, are in a similarly terrible state.

The murderer, who later took his own life, was responding to his wife's desertion a few weeks before. The photographs were gruesome, and that is the norm. No place for the squeamish here, no suggestion that the dead should be respected. The picture shows that the scene of the crime was being contaminated by busybodies. Nothing is sacred. On this tiny island, all are consumed in the orgy of violence.

The victims and perpetrators are all Trinidadian Indians, who make up a little more than half of the national population. This domestic mayhem is a fact of today's rural life where, for the first time, women are dragged hothouse fashion from the isolation of their homes into the margins of the world of work. The male turns savage in an attempt to keep his wife adhering to the traditional customs of Hinduism.

The wife of a former schoolmate of mine is dead. Apparently, she was having an affair with someone. Either her husband or the family of the wife she was cuckolding put a hit on her and paid one of the widely available bandits to kill her. She was a medical doctor with a thriving practice; she had to die, rather than be allowed to break the chains of quasi-religious isolation.

Suicide, too, is rife. The preferred method is to consume weedkiller. The trade name is Grammoxone, known locally as "Indian wine".

I could not cover this critical issue in the TV documentary. There are layers and layers of social and political degradation that I did not mention.

As I was leaving Trinidad, the party in power, the United National Congress, announced that anyone who held the party card could have discounts at furniture shops, fast-food outlets and so on.

Politics has sunk to an all-time low and, at this stage, there is not a glimmer of hope on the horizon.

Darcus Howe is an outspoken writer, broadcaster and social commentator. His TV work includes ‘White Tribe’ in which he put Anglo-Saxon Britain under the spotlight. He also fronted a series called Devil’s Advocate.