Jamaica and Watergate-A legacy of cover-ups

Jun 20th, 2002, 12:06 PM
Read this
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Associated Press noted, "Politicians disavow ties to Jamaica's ruthless gangs, but their histories are intertwined. The fearsome gang culture developed...when politicians armed criminals to intimidate voters as the two main parties fought for supremacy. The gangs, made financially independent by the drug trade, now have evolved into a virtually uncontrollable force."

Jamaica's murder rate has long been among the world's highest, lagging only behind South Africa and Brazil according to current U.N. estimates. While rising crime rates were used to justify the Gun Court Act and a variety of other repressive laws, crime today is skyrocketing out of sight. The problem has been the focus of ten comprehensive studies and recommendations since 1976, the latest one released this year.

Jamaica's police are a big part of the problem. Jamaica's rate of lethal police shootings is among the highest in the world. At 5.38 per 100,000 population (vs. about 0.11 for the U.S.), that's higher than the overall homicide rate in many American states, and in most European nations.

Joining the Jamaica Constabulary Force is tantamount to obtaining a license to kill. Of every two police officers who spend 25 years on active duty in Jamaica, one of them is destined to kill in the line of duty, suffering no legal or employment repercussions.

Contrast that with the aftermath of a questionable fatal shooting here in the US: an officer might lose his gun and badge, be sent to jail, be sued by the federal government for the deprivation of the victim's civil rights, or face trial for a wrongful death. Not uncommonly, it marks the end of a career.

The problem was exemplified when, in a prelude to July's public relations debacle, more than 40 police and soldiers swooped down on a house in Braeton during the pre-dawn hours of March 14, and shot dead 7 men, all purported gang members. The police account is that they identified themselves as officers and asked the occupants to come out, but were greeted by gunfire. Relatives and residents disputed that, calling the raid a "cold-blooded killing", pointing out that not one of the lawmen was bruised or injured. The high percentage of fatal headshots to the victims described in the post-mortem report strongly suggested that the police action amounted to seven assassinations. Former Prime Minister Edward Seaga called Braeton an act of state terrorism.

Jamaica's violent side has taken a heavy toll. The economic lifeline of Jamaica is tourism, with the island attracting nearly one million visitors each year. In the 1970s and 1980s, tourists flocked to places like Negril, Ocho Rios, and Montego Bay, ignoring the turf wars going on several hours away in Kingston.

But no longer. The latest outburst of violence came with a price tag estimated at $14 billion in lost tourism revenue. Frederick March, area chairman for the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, warned that the industry, already in dire straits, can not afford to take another beating. As March pointed out, Jamaica's image overseas is problematic and travelers fear for their safety.

Mark Kerr-Jarrett, President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce, agreed: "Crime and tourism do not go hand in hand and I am afraid that if the crime rate continues to climb like this then we are really in for some very rough times."

The problem is exacerbated by tourist harassment. The April 1, 2001 Gleaner noted that "Jamaica will lose an estimated $1 billion annually because of two cruise lines' decisions to redeploy several of their vessels from Ocho Rios
Jun 20th, 2002, 12:08 PM
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The complete text of this article can be found at National Review Online, Dave Kopel, "Jamaica Farewell". It is amazing.
Jun 20th, 2002, 02:32 PM
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I just read the whole thing, man what A messed up country, I had no idea.
Jun 20th, 2002, 02:46 PM
itsinfrontofyour nose
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Message: I went to Jamaica in 2001, my travel agent never mentioned all this turmoil, Is Jamaica tourism paying the travel agents or is the resorts to keep mum about this? This IS a cover-up!!


Jun 20th, 2002, 05:06 PM
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Thank you so much for your input "read this".
The gist of this info is common knowledge among well informed travellers, but having the text you provided provides objective evidence of what most people here have been saying all along.

People who ignore what's going on in Jamaica are naive, foolish or simply relish the risk.
Jun 21st, 2002, 05:06 AM
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I go to Jamaica twice a year..I stay on the cliffs in Negril.. I have NEVER had a problem...the Jamaican people are the most kind people on earth. Ive been to 18 islands in the Caribbean and Jamaica is my favorite - because of the people!
Armpit?? HAA........
I hear Port A Prince is nice this time of year.......go there LOSER
Jun 21st, 2002, 05:39 AM
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Sheryl: You need some anger management classes. These people are simlply stating an opinion, just like you I may add, or quoting an article. No need to call anybody a LOSER. Get a grip.
Jun 21st, 2002, 09:22 AM
Get a Clue
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You really need to get a clue. After you learn to manage your anger, you may want to wake up a smell the coffee. And to call someone a loser because they don't agree about YOUR favorite place?....what, are you 10 years old? If you like Jamaica, fine, but if you choose to play your little denial fest games, then you deserve what you get.
Jun 21st, 2002, 09:24 AM
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Got robbed at gunpoint while there.
Jun 24th, 2002, 04:22 PM
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Got robbed while we slept in our room. Glad I didn't wake up! Not the only ones I have heard about either. Three other couples were also victims!

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