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The Roots Of Jamaica's Deadly Violence

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Michael Roberts     Permalink
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So now we come to more issues of politics in the case involving Mr. Coke and Mr. Golding's behavior. Initially Mr. Golding was convinced that, in the words of Mr. Coke's attorney, he was just a simple businessman, and that he was compelled to protect a Jamaican citizen from unfair and unjust legal proceedings awaiting him in a New York courthouse where if found guilty he would spend the rest of his life in prison. Apart from the fact that Mr. Coke was the wrong candidate that the prime minister chose to hang his human rights credentials on, he clearly miscalculated just how much of a violent backlash would occur when he suddenly was struck by a righteous epiphany and reversed himself.

Enter economics that other important factor in understanding the roots of this new round of violence in Jamaica. Mr. Golden and his government, especially his minister of national security, are both aware of the explosive and violent nature of the country's reputed 80 garrison communities of which Tivoli Gardens was the most violent and dangerous. And from every indication Mr. Coke is Jamaica's leading exponent of not only garrison-style politics, but also garrison style economics. His brand of economics rests on a foundation of drugs, guns, murder, extortion, intimidation, fear and violence. In essence, the sobriquet "don" mimicked after the Italian mafia - is a fitting title for Mr. Coke.

Garrison communities by their very nature are not engines of economic development. People are duped into believing that going to "a don" for financial and other help means that the don is protecting the community and looking after its interests since established government does not seem to care. But on closer examination the degree of exploitation by these criminal elements is exposed. Economic and social development cannot occur in a garrison community and therefore poverty, illiteracy and underdevelopment are what define garrison communities. The result is violence of all kinds, drug use and abuse, prostitution, and other anti-social, negative forms of undetected oppression by the don and his henchmen enforcers.

In Jamaica these garrison communities are ruled by a thuggish element that historically is closely aligned with the ruling political classes and parties. This suppression of people's freedom is the hellish exchange that an impoverished populace has to make to put food on the table and keep a roof over the heads of their children. As the only game in town young men and boys aspire to be dons or soldiers and eagerly join these gangs thus continuing the cycle of intimidation, patronage, violence, lawlessness and fear. This is the situation in Jamaica's Tivoli Gardens, Trench Town and other garrison communities today.

The garrison phenomenon started in the 1960s just after Jamaica's independence but tribal political violence started way back in the late 1940s when Jamaica attained universal adult suffrage. Political contests back then were marred by violence carried out by both elements of the Peoples National Party (PNP) and the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP). In those early days fanatic supporters of both parties used sticks, stones, bottles and knives to intimidate and cow voters. Guns and rifles are the preferred tools today.

Soon politicians mainly from Jamaica's mulatto upper class were actively engaging these gangs from poor, ghettoized communities as surrogates because of their disdain and contempt for these communities populated by a poor, largely uneducated mass of people. Politicians and political parties looked the other way as these gangs ruled their garrisons with brutal efficiency delivering votes and guaranteeing political loyalty to the JLP or PNP. Both political parties channeled funds and other resourced through these dons as opposed to engaging the people themselves and building grassroots institutions that would become grounded in these communities, thus empowering them.

Over time this gave the dons in the garrisons enormous power, influence and control. These garrisons became their own personal fiefdoms. Inevitably, wars between various groups and dons supporting either the JLP or the PNP broke out first along political lines and then over turf and expansion of territory. By the 1970s the old original dons had all died, been murdered, or arrested by cops. But a new breed of dons assisted by a criminal element in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, changed the social composition of the don structure and their gangs.

By the 1980s these new-age dons were using the Internet and other modern communications technology to do their business as they branched out and built their criminal enterprises while successive Jamaican governments looked the other way, pretended that everything was all right, and allegedly became politically entwined with these criminal organizations for political gain and power.

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MICHAEL DERK ROBERTS Small Business Consultant, Editor, and Social Media & Communications Expert, New York Over the past 20 years I've been a top SMALL BUSINESS CONSULTANT and POLITICAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST in Brooklyn, New York, running (more...)
 

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