The Gonzales Community
Citizen Security Programme Community Action Officer (CAO)
Mr. Gary Grant
Tel. 868 628-4277 ext. 12618
Gonzales Community Action Council (CAC)
Gonzales Community Profile
Gonzales lies within the administrative district of East Port of Spain east of the St. Ann’s River and bound by Lady Young Road on the north, the city limits to the east and the Gulf of Paria to the south. The population residing in Gonzales varies depending on which boundaries are used to define the study area. To illustrate this disparity, according to community-defined boundaries, there are 5,650 people residing in Gonzales while the smaller defined area used by the Port of Spain Corporation shows a total population of 2,811 persons.
According to the Census 2000, the total population of Trinidad & Tobago was estimated to be near 1.3 million people. The City of Port of Spain, the capital city, has a total population of 49,031 with 12,342 people residing in East Port of Spain. The population residing in Gonzales varies depending on which boundaries are used to define the study area. According to community-defined boundaries, there are 5,650 people residing in Gonzales while Port of Spain Corporation boundaries show a total population of 2,811 persons. According to the 2000 census, women outnumbered men in the City defined area by only a very slight margin (1 464 women and 1 347 men). However, no matter how the Gonzales community is defined, there is relatively little difference between the proportion of men to women in the area.
Trinidad & Tobago boasts a well-educated population as a result of the public education system. However, in the Gonzales community, the data illustrates that few people have received education past the secondary level. In fact, only 3% of respondents in the survey have pursued any university education. Further, almost half of the respondents have only completed primary education inferring any upward social mobility is difficult for most residents in Gonzales.
In comparing educational attainment of residents in lower and upper Gonzales it seems that residents in lower Gonzales have attained better education and therefore have a greater chance at upward mobility. Almost 30% of residents in upper Gonzales quit after primary school while over 60% only complete secondary school. Further, an overwhelming majority of individuals who have continued on to university reside in lower Gonzales.
The history of East Port of Spain has to a great extent resulted in the current socio-economic patterns that exist in the Gonzales community. At present, Gonzales can be described as a low-income area with high levels of unemployment. Although there are no figures to properly support this position, using the 1987 Port of Spain Land Use Plan as a guide, it was noted that in 1980 when the unemployment rate for Port of Spain was 7.2 per cent, the communities of East Port of Spain, including the study area, was almost double the rate of the city. The present rate of unemployment in Port of Spain, according to the 2000 census, is 10%. Based on the demand for employment within East Port of Spain, it is the opinion of most residents that the unemployment rate in these areas is closer to 20% (David, 2002).
Figures from the 1990 Census have indicated that only 26% of Gonzales residents are earning a regular income. In a document produced by the Laventille Working Group in 2003, it is suggested that about 70% of the Laventille population is temporarily employed, underemployed or unemployed. Added to this social dilemma, there is growing evidence that a number of untrained and unskilled young people join the labour market on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis without any prospect of acquiring decent and lucrative employment (Laventille Working Group, 2003).
According to the social survey conducted in Gonzales, the mean monthly household income is TT$3,335 per month while the modal household income is TT$1,000 per month. Given that this is the most frequent response given in the survey indicates that there are a number of persons employed in unskilled manual positions earning minimum wage and possibly living below the poverty line, set at TT$1,000 by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Of concern to any future planning in the area are these households in Gonzales that are highly impoverished and living with minimal resources.
Though the community may be experiencing unemployment problems, a number of people in the community are gainfully employed in high-level government and professional positions. It is this mix of occupational groupings that contributes to the stark differences in socio-economic conditions in different parts of the community. The number of persons employed in these government and professional positions belies the fact that the wider society perception is that only poor, uneducated people live in areas within East Port of Spain.
The location of Gonzales characterizes it as a suburb of Port of Spain and therefore is highly dependent on the central businesses within the city for higher order services and facilities. Educational, community, health and recreational facilities are inadequate within the community and there is a serious lack of designated community areas to meet the population’s need. The majority of those that do exist are in need of serious repairs. Recreation and entertainment in Gonzales is limited to a few recreational grounds, play fields, and youth centres (though the number of these and usage is unknown).
Source: CSO 2000 Census data; supplemented by CSP Community Assessments