Jamaica’s politicians have been given a three-week ultimatum by the private sector to break publicly all bonds with criminal elements or face being voted out of office.
Beverly Lopez, president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, delivered the ultimatum on behalf of a group of private-sector organisations at their anti-crime rally at Emancipation Park, Kingston, according to the Jamaica Gleaner.
Ms Lopez, who presented the 2005 Declaration of Emancipation Park, said:
“All 60 members of the House of Representatives and officers of all the political parties, sever and publicly declare in writing by June 15, 2005, a commitment to disassociate themselves and their constituency organisations from gunmen, dismantle garrisons and disassociate themselves from any association with criminals or the acceptance of any financial or other support from criminal elements.”
She stated, to thunderous applause from the hundreds who turned out to support the initiative, that the commitment to breaking the existing bond between politicians and hoodlums must be underscored by “the understanding that the political parties will undertake to publicly rebuke and automatically expel any member who is found to be in breach.”
Ms Lopez was adamant that Jamaicans must become much more demanding of their political leaders and use their right to vote as ammunition.
“If the government says, ‘Look, we are going to do this within a certain time,’ and when the time comes they don’t do it, we must say ‘Guys, what’s happening,’ and if they continue not to do it, then there is only one way it’s the vote,” she said.
The ultimatum was the second item on the private sector’s list of demands. The business community is also insisting that the Government and the Opposition “accelerate the passage of legislation relating to fingerprinting, plea bargaining and electronic surveillance, including wire-tapping by the end of 2005.”
Measures to strengthen the weaknesses in the judicial system were also requisitioned at the hands of the political directorate.
Nine out of the 13 requests were fired at the political directorate while the remainder were aimed at corporate Jamaica and the ordinary citizen.
Among the requests directed at corporate Jamaica was a passionate plea to adopt a police station and assist in providing the requisite resources.
However, Monsignor Richard Albert, episcopal vicar of St. Catherine, told the gathering that such a plan would amount to nought if the communities are not given the same foster care.
“I urge you also to adopt the communities around the police stations. Those poor disadvantaged people… empower them to become self reliant and self sufficient,” he said to cheers of endorsement.
Ms. Lopez, who admitted to being fearful, also urged her colleagues not to give in to the far-reaching tentacles of extortionists.
Douglas Orane, chairman and CEO of Grace, Kennedy, lauded the rally as a “special moment in the history of Jamaica, where we have people from all walks of life … all joined together to say enough is enough.”