Kingston in state of emergency

A
limited state of emergency existed in parts of Kingston, Jamaica after gangs
loyal to reputed drug lord Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke attacked police stations
with guns and firebombs on Sunday.

The
attacks came after Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding bowed to pressure from
the United States and said the country would allow the extradition of Coke to
that country.

Coke
is wanted in the US for allegedly running a drug ring that sold ganja and crack
cocaine in New York and elsewhere, and then funnelled the profits and weapons
back to Jamaica.  He faces life in prison
if convicted.

The
state of emergency covered the West Kingston and St. Andrew districts, where
five  police stations were attacked
Sunday.  The Jamaica Observer reported
Monday that civil unrest had also spread to Spanish Town in St. Catherine.

Security
force officials said at least two policemen and one civilian were killed and
seven police officers wounded in the attacks, which were accompanied by
sporadic reports of looting and carjackings.

Over
the weekend, Coke barricaded himself in his Tivoli Gardens neighbourhood of
West Kingston with barbed wire and heavily armed supporters. According to
Police Commissioner Owen Ellington, “scores of criminals” from other gangs
across the island have arrived to help defend Coke, who is seen as a modern-day
Robin Hood to many.

Relations
between Jamaica and the United States grew strained when Jamaica ignored an
extradition request from last August for Coke, who is a supporter of the ruling
Jamaica Labour Party and wields influence in the volatile inner city constituency
that Golding represents.

Prime
Minister Golding initially refused to extradite Coke to the US, arguing that
the case against him relied on an illegal wiretap. He also hired a public
relations firm in the United States to try to get the extradition request
dropped.

Last
week though, under pressure from Washington and the Jamaican public, Golding
changed his mind, and issued an order to extradite Coke to New York. Within
hours, violence erupted in the capital.

The
US Department of State issued an alert to US citizens about travel to Jamaica,
and Kingston in particular.

“US
citizens should consider the risks associated with travel to and within the
greater Kingston metropolitan area,” the advisory states.

The
alert also advised US citizens living and residing in Jamaica or the Cayman
Islands to register their presence in either country with the US Department of
State.

A
spokesman for the US Embassy’s Consular Agency in Cayman said the advice for US
citizens living in Cayman to register their presence was a formality because
Cayman came under the jurisdiction of the US Embassy in Jamaica.

The
travel alert lasts through 21 June, 2010.

The
Canadian Foreign Affairs Department also issued a travel alert warning citizens
of the possibility of violence in Kingston, as did the UK Foreign and
Commonwealth Office.

Travel
agents in Cayman said Monday they had seen a small number of cancellations from
travellers, but the vast majority of people were travelling as normal on
scheduled Cayman Airways flights.

Steve
Pillar, office manager of Travel Pros, said some passengers were changing their
flight dates, but there had not been many cancellations.

He added that Cayman Airways had rescheduled its
night flights last week to arrive in Kingston an hour earlier so passengers
would land before the night-time curfew.

Cayman Airways said it 7am flight to Kingston would
depart as scheduled Tuesday, but the return flight 601 would stop at Montego Bay
to pick up passengers who had been unable to make it to Kingston.

Its night flight to Kingston on Thursday, Friday and
Sunday, 27, 28 and 30, will depart earlier than scheduled with its Flight 606
departing Grand Cayman to Kingston at 4:30pm rather than the originally
scheduled 6:50pm, and Flight 607 each day departing Kingston at 6:15pm instead
of at 8:45pm.

Mr.
Golding vowed “strong and decisive action” to restore order.

“We
must confront this criminal element with determination and unqualified
resolve,” he said.

In
a nationwide address Sunday, Golding said the state of emergency would remain
in effect for a month and would demonstrate that Jamaica is “a land of peace,
order and security” where gang-related violence will not be tolerated.

“This
will be a turning point for us as a nation to confront the powers of evil that
has penalized the society and earned us the unenviable label as one of the
murder capitals of the world,” he said.

0
0

1 COMMENT

  1. May I say the government of Jamaica and the United States is corrupt too!

    Certain people of Jamaica has just chosen the corrupt head that has always provided for them through rough economic times – the godfather Dudus!

    In a way I understand their complaint: If you take away Dudus what do they have??? The politicians and elites are only looking out for themselves

    0

    0

Comments are closed.