1990: before, during and after
A documentary series by Mariel Brown
For six days in July and August 1990, the people of Trinidad and Tobago watched in fear and disbelief as the single most deadly – and arguably the most shocking – event in the modern history of the country unfolded. During the attempted coup of 1990, members of the Jamaat Al Muslimeen, a local radical Islamic group, raided the Parliament, bombed the police headquarters, commandeered the national television station, TTT, and killed seven people. To bring an end to the armed sieges, the Government signed an amnesty which, ultimately, meant that no members of the Jamaat Al Muslimeen ever went to jail for the crimes they committed.
In all, twenty four people were killed during “The Coup”. Port of Spain suffered millions of dollars in damage and losses as a result of looting – to the extent that many feel that the city has never fully recovered. And across the society, a deep-seated trauma, which was never fully acknowledged or assuaged, remains.
In the four-part documentary series, ‘1990’, award-winning filmmaker and television producer, Mariel Brown, will explore the issues that gave rise to the 1990 coup attempt; take an in depth look at each day of the stand-off – in the Red House and Trinidad and Tobago Television, and in Port of Spain as a whole – which culminated in Abu Bakr’s surrender; examine the effect of the resulting amnesty and other court cases around the Muslimeen; and try to highlight the scars left on both the people who were directly involved, and the national community.
The series will combine material from a variety of sources to weave a comprehensive and compelling narrative of the events that led up to and took place during and following those days in late July and early August, 1990. We will utilise newsreel and archival footage of the attempted coup, archival newspaper reports and photographs, contemporary B-Roll footage of downtown Port of Spain of (for example) the Red House, TTT and environs etc. The series will also paint a picture of the lived experience of the coup through extensive, first-hand, on-camera accounts of persons who were at TTT and the Red House and downtown Port of Spain when the sieges and bombings were taking place; these will be interwoven with contemporary analysis of the coup and amnesty (now, in retrospect) along with analysis and discussion of the results of the Commission of Enquiry into the 1990 coup attempt.
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