We will say, ‘I was there’

A gripping chapter in Jamaica’s history is being written in this Year of our Lord, 2010. We will say to our grandchildren, “I was there when Jamaica took the tough decision to take on the gangs, entering a “state” within the state of Jamaica. I was there when we began the painful process of re-integrating the people of Tivoli, our Jamaican sisters and brothers, back into our society.” A JPS executive told the hosts of Breakfast Club that of the 3,000 residents of Tivoli who were using electricity, only 300 were paying customers. A man from the area told Nationwide’s Emily Crooks that anyone could park their car and leave it unlocked in the community as “justice” was speedily served. The conversation suggested that this “justice” could be a broken arm or leg. In reading and listening to horrific accounts, we entered a time warp where members of our Jamaican family were trapped in a medieval system operating outside the laws of the land.

It is a relief that international watchers are noticing that in spite of the sad trauma to our innocents, something good may be coming for this Jamaica that is finally removing the cataracts of denial and cowardice that have clouded her vision for over four long decades.

Carl Ross, managing director for investments of a leading US Investment firm, Oppenheimer, has commented, “One has to admire the political gamble of the Golding government. I have seen no previous governments in Jamaica, and very few anywhere, that have taken the political risk that Golding has now chosen. In addition to the fiscal austerity announced in the IMF programme, he is upsetting the decades-long cosy political relationship between these criminal ‘dons’ and the political class.

In a commentary head-lined, “The smoke clears over Jamaica”, the Economist observed, “When the Jamaican government announced on May 17th that it would comply with an American request to extradite Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, an alleged drug trafficker, it didn’t just declare war on the gang he reportedly leads. It also launched a campaign to overturn the country’s malign social and political order… By some measures, the government’s initial salvo was a qualified success. For the first time in a generation, police can now act freely within Tivoli Gardens.”

The piece was not all positive, however, as it points out that “serious abuses may have been committed in the state’s offensive”. It refers to the killing of accountant Keith Clarke, “in a barrage of 20 gunshots at his home”, saying that “he had the misfortune to live next to one of Mr Coke’s business partners, who presumably was the in-tended target of the raid and later voluntarily surrendered