Flynn said it most aptly said it; Jamaica was where the folks who wrote the Bible ''got their
descriptions of Paradise.''
islands stretch like an arc from the tip of Florida to the western most reaches of Venezuela
in South America.
The islands are divided into two groups called The Greater Antilles and The Lesser
Antilles. The Greater Antilles makes up the northern most islands and includes
among others, Cuba, Hispaniola,
The Lesser Antilles: include
all of the islands south of Jamaica. Those islands in which English is the official
language are normally members of the English Commonwealth and are known generically as the West Indies.
surrounds the territory, the body of water in which these island lie is called
the Caribbean Sea.
At the epicenter of the Caribbean
Sea stands Jamaica which is the largest of the English
Speaking West Indian
Islands and the third largest island in the Caribbean behind Cuba and Hispaniola, having an area of 4,411 square miles. Because of its location at the geographic
center of the Caribbean Sea, Jamaica strategically lies within the sea routes from the
to the Panama Canal.
thirds of the area of Jamaica is covered by cave riddled limestone. So far over
1000 caves have been discovered with the deepest on located at the abyss of Morgans
Pond. That cave is over 500 feet deep. The record for the long cave is held by
one by the Bourie and its length is better that than 2 miles. Early buccaneers
found that the cave belt which extended throughout the country was an excellent
place to hide their booty. Today people from all over the world are exploring
these underground caverns while enjoying this tropical paradise. However,
that is the good news, Jamaica
is the world leader in percentage of deforestation.
probably, in prehistoric times the mountain range whose peaks make up the islands
was a land bridge connecting North and South
America. The Spanish historian, Andres Bernaldez put Christopher
Columbus's thoughts in perspective as he first witnessed Jamaica; " It is
the fairest island eyes have beheld; mountainous and the land seems to touch the
sky; very large; bigger than Sicily, has a circumference of 800 leagues, and all
full of valleys and fields and plains; it is very strong and extraordinarily populous;
even on the edge of the sea as well as inland it is full of very big villages,
very near together, about four leagues apart." In reality the date was May
fourth and the year was 1494. He claimed the place for Their Catholic Majesties,
Ferdinand , Isabella of Spain. The natives that Chris found on the island called
it Xaymaca which in English meant, wooded land of water.
also thought he had discovered the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and so
informed his benefactors back in Europe. Although Chris didn't have it all together, his
public relations piece played well to the crowd at the court in Spain and its
heavy duty investors, Ferdinand and Isabella were overjoyed with his statements
and initiated a slave trade in order to get out all of the gold as quickly as
possible. . In 1540, after Columbus
had died, his estate was awarded what is now the country of Jamaica for all of the exploring and conquering he had
done in the name of Spain. By this time all of their
efforts to find anything of value in the country had failed and they began pulling
up stakes. They probably figured they owed the guy something for gambling that
he was going to drop off the ends of the earth and giving him Jamaica
wasnt that big of deal once they found that there was nothing there.
they were occupied with wars and revolutions elsewhere they couldn't drop by and
it was another 146 years when Juan de Esquivel from Santo
Domingo in 1509 that it became occupied. Well not exactly,
in reality, the Arawaks or Tainos had been living there for some time living in
huts, sleeping in hammocks and making their way in the world by fishing. The land
was bountiful and the women raised cassava, sweet potatoes, corn and cotton. The
Spanish people didn't respect these folks at all and made them slaves.
If You Are Going
To Be A Slave, Do It right!
Arawaks weren't really good a being slaves and it took a great deal of punishing
of them to have them toe the mark. In spite of Spanish patience, they just couldn't
get their act together and for the most part had been wiped out within fifty years.
The Spanish didn't spend a lot of time fretting over the demise of sixty-thousand
people and sent an order to Spain
for reinforcements. The order was filed within the allotted time and replacements
arrived from Africa shortly thereafter. As soon
as the new slaves arrived, the Spanish began to have them look for gold and other
precious metals in earnest, but literally nothing of value was to be found. Spain tended to lose interest at that point in Jamaican
Cromwell in 1655 decided that it would be a good idea to capture the island
of Hispaniola and when General Venables, his commander could not take the city of Santo Domingo,
they gave up in disgust. Not wanting to report back to Cromwell that he had failed
he sailed on to Jamaica and thinking that Cromwell would not know the difference,
laid siege to the island and luckily for him the Spanish defenders
surrendered . He gave them a short time to pack their bags and for the
most part they headed for Cuba.
In spite of the fact that the Spanish literally surrendered on the spot, the battle
has gone down in history as biggest ever fought on Jamaican territory. However,
there havent been a lot of battles fought here by warring nations because
other than the bauxite and magnificent beaches, there is little of natural value.
Moreover, some of the fights between street gangs in Kingston have produced a lot more dead people that this
The English Arrive
that the English had the island they found that they didn't know what to do with
it either. Not only did the English commander of the island who soon died of fever
and most of the sailors and soldiers who garrisoned there met the same fate.
the English believed that in spite of the fact that they themselves couldn't find
much use for the island, the Spanish were just ornery enough to want it back and
with what resources that were left, they started constructing fortifications.
Well it turned out that the Spanish hadn't all fled to Cuban and a Don Cristobal
Arnaldo de Ysassi, the man the Spanish had appointed governor of the island,
came storming out of the interior leading a rag-tag band of Spanish zealots.
With the English fortifications facing seaward they thought the element of surprise
would be in their favor. At the same time, the Spanish from Cuba also joined the fray but ultimately General Doyley
the English commander was able to destroy the opposing forces in what was to become
the biggest battle ever fought on Jamaican territory. Ysassi slunk back into the
Jamaican jungles and held out until most of his comrades defected and he grabbed
a passing canoe and left permanently this time for Cuba.
firmly in command the English began to set up shop. Doyley as a reward for his
victories against the Spanish was appointed governor of the island and English
citizenship was granted to the children of those born of subjects in Jamaica. The more than 4,000 people living on the island
were also allowed to vote for their own leaders by Royal Proclamation.
In the meantime, there were a lot of decedents of the slaves that the Spanish
had requisitioned and they were cluttering up the territory. In a number of pitched
battles, the English more than met their match and determined that the Maroons
as they were called could under the right circumstances indeed make good neighbors
and a peace treaty was initialed by all concerned.
Who Is Going To
Handle The Hard Labor Now?
the Maroons being treated as equals, the English were fresh out of people to do
their work for them and needed hearty folks to till the soil, cut the sugar cane
and cultivate the coca. It was now their turn to requisition slaves from Africa. Spanish Town was now the capital of the country and the colony
had forty-five new laws along with and the Pirate, Henry Morgan became Lieutenant-Governor.
There was booty to be had by all and the residents were warm in their hearts that
Morgan was one of them who immediately upon becoming ensconced in his job, captured
the city of Panama,
plundered it and burnt it to the ground. You see, England had learned that the best incentive that they could
give to people was the license to steal in the name of the crown. This allowed
their duly licensed mercenaries to kill, pillage, maim and rob provided the crown
got its agreed upon share. By pillaging everything in sight the British
were also able to keep unwanted visitors out of their territories.
1690 the British slaves became unhappy and they first had a tantrum and then a
rebellion. For the most part, those that survived the rebellion took to the woods
and mountains where they joined the Maroons and blended into the scenery. The
British were now totally without good help. Their minds were soon taken away from
that problem when an earthquake totally destroyed Port
Royal, the city known as one of the wickedest places on earth. You see this
is where the Assembly was now meeting, it was where the buccaneers took the booty
to be inventoried and it was the most modern place in the new world having houses
that were made only of stone. As most
of the city sank beneath the sea, one resident who was rumored to have been the
oldest person on the island remarked that there were many similarities between
the end of Port Royal and that
of the end suffered by Sodom and Gomorra. Many of the natives, despite never
having heard of Sodom
and Gomorra, shook their heads in agreement.
However, after the city had finished sinking into the sea a tally of the
damage was made and it was determined that over 2,000 had been killed and the
entire commercial area of the city was not substantially submerged.
few residents that hadn't been drowned, crushed or burnt to death tried to make
the best of a bad hair day and attempted to restore the city to its former glory.
Several years later, a fire broke out in a downtown warehouse and ravaged everything
that was left but the stone forts.
A Losing Battle
loss of Port Royal
and the Buccaneers was by no means the end of the Jamaican economy. By this time,
there were large estates on which sugar, cocoa and would you believe sarsaparilla,
were being grown and horses, cattle and pigs had made their appearance. Moreover,
had found a replacement for the slaves by emptying their prisons of murderers,
rapists and thieves, and sent them to the new world. Although it was ultimately
possible for these men to regain their freedom, the work was backbreaking and
their treatment was similar to that meted out to the blacks that had been brought
over from Africa. Some of those blacks had come down
out of the mountains to go back to work stating that "as long as they were
getting three squares a day, it was better than eating the weeds in the mountains."
the destruction of Port Royal complete, the British needed a new capital and
chose the land that ultimately became Kingston. Because it was so carefully chosen, Kingston
became one of the earliest of what later became known as planned communities.
It was not long before Kingston
had become an important city. In the midst of this revival, the French, who were
at war with the British, struck Jamaica. Although
eventually driven off, the French grabbed over a thousand working slaves and destroyed
a substantial number of plantations. In 1702, Admiral Benbow caught the French
fleet out in the open and attacked. Two of his captains, who were not in the mood,
determined to cut and run, embarrassing the heck out of the British Navy and they
were shot to death on the spot. This didn't make things any better for Old Benbow,
who died shortly thereafter and was buried in the Kingston Parish Church. You can see him there today.
got a tad quiet around these parts until 1720 when two of the best buccaneers
that ever slit a throat died, Blackbeard and Charles Vane, had gone to their maker.
The natives around these parts remarked that things were never quite the same
again. As long as these folks were dead and privateering was no longer in vogue,
acting governor, Sir Nicholas Lawes, determined to get rid of the last of the
privateers, Calico Jack Racham. Calico Jack
was a rather strange dude and had at best what could be described as a
very mixed crew. It seems that when Lawes pinched Racham and his men in
a sneak attack that really caught them napping, they also pinched two of his most
ardent followers, women disguised as men. In one for Believe It or Not, Anne Bonney
and Mary Read had both signed on with Calico Jack as able seamen and these girls
had more than held their own when the real pillaging needed to be done. They could
pillage with the very best, and not one of the other men knew that they were really
women. Some say that Calico Jack knew but no one was every really sure because
all of his men were hanged immediately and they didnt speak a lot after
that. However, in deference to their sex, Anne and Mary were allowed to rot in
jail where they died a natural death, if that is what you call it when you die
in a cell. Rackham was publicly hung and placed on display as evidence as to how
pirates would be treated in this area. However, in his honor they named the spot,
Rackhams Cay in respect for his memory. Or maybe out of respect for his
ability to disguise two attractive women as men for years without anyone ever
there on in, things started to slide downhill. The Maroons, which is derived from
the Spanish word cimarron, meaning wild and untamed broke the peace treaty and killed a
substantial number of British citizens, a drought hit the area and the crops wouldn't
grow, and in 1722 to cap it all off a hurricane blew through the island and pulverized
it. Someone said that the island was in a rut and there was not a lot of optimism
in general. Not wanting the inhabitants to become dejected, Major General Hunter,
then the Governor, brought two detachments of troops over from Gibraltar to go after the Maroons, who were now becoming
a pain in the butt. When it was found out by intelligence that a woman named Nanny
was leading the revolt, the General became enraged. He was determined to rid the
island of this problem and promptly reinforced his troops by contributing to the
Jamaican Militia bloodhounds imported from Scotland and highly trained hand to hand combat experts,
the Mosquito Indians. When they arrived
they went out to corral the Maroons in manner reminiscent of an old English foxhunt.
Maybe with this kind of fighting force he could do the old biddy in. They attacked
a place appropriately named Nanny Town, which is where Nanny lived with her cohorts. Eventually
the British were able to destroy the city, but with a tremendous loss of life
among their fighters.
A Somewhat Unfair
British were not doing well in Jamaica at all. The fact that blacks outnumbered whites
by a ratio of 14 to 1 was not the only problem that they were facing. A strange
thing happened, the Maroons were at this point in 1739 were lead by a military
commander by the name of Cudjoe. Cudjoe was just about to pack everything in when
the British, suffering from about every known disease and losing countless men
every day, asked for a peace treaty. Cudjoe was naturally startled, but played
his cards close to the vest and was able to extract a set of pretty fair terms.
The Maroons were given domination over whatever of their land would be considered
traditional, i.e., historically theirs, and they were also given the right
to effectuate their own law on this territory. In exchange, they would stop attacking
the Brits and they would stop recruiting British slaves for their army. Moreover,
be attacked by a foreign power, the Maroons would join the British in fighting
them off. To the Maroons this seemed a deal made in heaven, and they quickly agreed
to all of its terms. The Maroons for the most part kept their word and the deal
was sealed. However, that only solved a small part of the total problem that the
British had in these parts. Things were quiet again until
1760 when the remaining slaves rioted and seized the town of Port
Maria. The murdered
as many whites as they could and made a good old time of it until they were overwhelmed
by British Regulars. Six-hundred were deported to British
Honduras, four-hundred were killed and the ringleaders were
tortured to death English Style.
British became complacent by the time 1760 rolled around, having ridded themselves
of their most fearsome enemy. The seemed to have forgotten about the evil Coromantees.
Those folks had a chieftain who ate nails for breakfast by the strange name of
Tacky. Tacky really didnt like the British one whit, and got together a
small band of ragged slaves and then proceeded to attack the British military
supplies located at Port Maria. The British crumbled like a house of cards and
the Coromantees had become more successful than they could have dreamed.
For the first time, the British would be now be fighting an insurrection where
their opponents had British weapons including muskets and all of the ammunition
they could carry. Tackys troops tarried not and as they picked up steam
they also picked volunteers by the wagonload. For no particular reason, the British
were not particularly well liked among the natives.
British, fearing the worst, went ballistic and not only called out just about
every available man they had on the island,
but also called on the Maroons to keep their blood oath, which in case
your forgot, to help them should they need it. The Maroons were good to their
word and the British and Maroons met the Coromantees at Spanish Town in a battle that later was referred to as the Easter
Monday Rebellion. Tacky was a better talker than fighter and was killed early
on. Seeing their leader fall, almost all
of the rest of their warriors lost heart and valiantly committed suicide rather
than face the lousy food that they had heard that was served in English Jails.
However, there were still pockets of resistance and a large number of people died
before the insurrection was totally brought under control.
All this fighting made the British are very sorry they ever heard of this
place. Moreover, Jamaica
by this time has surpassed Barbados as the biggest British outpost in the region and
of course the Brits had already gone beyond the point of no return. They were
now stuck, to say the least. Not much else happened other than the killing and
fighting that would flare up now and again but one important event did occur.
In 1778 some misguided person brought akye fufo to a festive meal in Jamaica one day and everyone liked it so much that it soon
became the national dish. It may be better known as Ackee.
again people settled in and were interrupted in 1778 by the war between England
A French fleet made short work of the West
Indies as the British were otherwise occupied by rebellious
colonists in the states. Sure that there would be an attack on Jamaica,
Horatio Nelson was made Governor of Fort Charles in Port
Royal. This appointment came none to soon as the French
probably hearing about it stayed clear of the island. On the other hand, there
was a small revolution in France that had to be dealt with.
the next decade or so the British had their minds totally directed to trying to drive, not only the French, but also the Spanish out
of the region. The reason that this was getting some press was the fact that they
were alternatively blockading the island, making it difficult to get three squares
a day there. You see, nothing much was being produced and most of the food that
was fed the British Garrison had to be imported. In a series of rapid moves, the
British started the natives growing Mangos, corn, yams, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon
and coffee as an alternative to starving to death. Moreover, none other than Captain
William Bligh sails in unannounced right out of a fog bank, and arrives with breadfruit,
jackfruit and otaheite apple plants. In the meantime he takes the Jamaican pineapple
plants to the South Seas talking about making the exchange that helped create the fabled Hawaiian
pineapple industry. As the story goes, Bligh left Hawaii and then sailed into oblivion, but not before he
had made his mark on Jamaica.
without killing, maiming and burning, things seemed slow here, so in 1795 the
Maroons, having nothing better to do on a Saturday night, attacked the British.
Nah, just kidding, in reality, a couple of loyal Maroons grabbed a couple of runaway
slaves in the Trelawney district and for some reason or other the British got
pissed. They whipped the Maroons within an inch of their lives and in front of
their captives to boot. Now everyone was mad. The captives for getting caught,
the Maroons for getting beaten with whips, and British because a number of them
had developed the gout from the rich Jamaican food. Talks between the two sides
led nowhere and things began to fall apart with both sides saying evil things
about the other. Eventually things got worse primarily because the British had
installed the highly sensitive Earl of Balcarres as the Governor of the Island.
He was very unhappy at being assigned what he called a god-forsaken spot at the
end of the earth where they didnt even have a workable cricket field. A
war began in earnest and quickly spread throughout the entire island. After five
years of fighting with a substantial number of casualties the British were able
to overcome most of the Maroons and exiled them to Sierra
Leone, a fate at that time even worse than death.
The Hateful French
Rear Their Ugly Heads
France and England began another war in 1805 and Martial Law was proclaimed
in Jamaica. The French sent a fleet into West Indian waters to divert the British
by threatening to pillage the towns and cities. This threat was short lived when
Lord Nelson ate their lunch in the Battle of Trafalgar. The British Parliament
at the same time absolved the Slave Trade between Africa and Jamaica. It was estimated by some
that from the time that Jamaica came under English domination until this act was
passed, over one-million blacks were imported from Africa. At the time of the abolition, there were slightly over 300,000 slaves
on the island.
having been decimated by revolution and the Spanish by virtue of losing every
war they ever fought no longer provided threats to Jamaica in particular or the West Indies in general. Although this
appeared to be good news on the surface, in reality it wasn't. Jamaica was located in a strategically important crossroads
and thus, the British kept it well fortified and well manned. These expenditures
from home greatly aided the economy in bad times was disappearing. No less a loss
was the commerce in goods to the Spanish Ports that had been blockaded by the
British. This source of income was even greater than the former and with a feeling
in peace in the air, clandestine operations of almost all sorts were no longer
the order of the day.
changes, perhaps more subtle were also taking place. Now that there was no longer
an endless stream of slaves available to plantation owners, it was no longer economic
to work them to death. With their value rising and the amount of work that they
did falling, the slaves started to get some rights along with a degree of economic
muscle. They were given small pieces of land on the plantations to work one day
in twenty as their own. They could sell whatever they produced beyond their needs.
Thus, the more industrious of them soon were able to buy themselves and their
children out of slavery. This was the advent of the freeman.
next milestone in Jamaican slavery occurred in 1816 not long after the time that
Simon Bolivar, the Liberator of Spanish Central America, was given political immunity
by the Duke of Manchester, who entertained him royally. Meanwhile, back at the
ranch, the Government rescinded the regulation that a slave owner had to pay a
tax of one-hundred pounds in order to free a slave. This, the government determined
would tend to control the number of slaves that would be released at any given
spite of the gradual erosion of slavery
things weren't moving fast enough and in 1831 a major insurrection occurred in
St. James and spread throughout the Island. The English were becoming easier on the slaves than were the Jamaican
landowners and the slaves interpreted this as meaning that they had been freed.
Whether started rightly or wrongly, this insurrection was the beginning of the
end of slavery in Jamaica. In 1833 the Abolition Act was passed that stated that all children under
six years of age would be set free. In the meantime, an "apprenticeship"
was ordained for all other slaves and they were to remain in servitude from 1834
until 1840 when they to would receive freedom. To make the cheese more binding,
the British Government threw in a prize that could not be equaled, almost 6 million
pounds to be compensation to be divided between all of the slave-holders in Jamaica. Slave-holders in Jamaica,
in spite of being well paid, did not like the abolition shoved down their throats
and took their animosity out on the slaves. The British Parliament in a reaction
to this mistreatment cut two years off of the apprenticeship and slavery was abolished
as of 1838.
Read My Lips,
No More Slave Trade
much happened until 1807 and that was not unusual. However, in that year the British
Parliament abolished the slave trade effective in the following years. However,
this made little difference because the British used nominees in their stead and
were able to hold on to their ever increasing stable of free workers. Nevertheless,
with a push by the Quakers, in 1823 along with the pushing by a number of prominent abolitionists,
the British finally put the heel to the wheel and got something accomplished.
Parliament decided to gradually abolish slavery with a series of amelioration
measures: a fee day for slaves to sell produce, religious education, and the eradication
of whipping in the field. While this seemed to be a step in the right direction,
the Jamaican Assembly refused to go along with the British mandate. Now this is
really something else. Sounds like an insurrection or something even worse, but
I guess that the colonials really needed people to work endlessly in the field
for no pay and without the benefit of religion. Talk about being really bad guys.
However, in as a move toward baby steps, Jamaicans of mixed heritage, who were
dubbed mulattos, were given all of their rights in 1830. It would
seem that if you had a little piece of British Blood you could vote and own land,
but if you didnt you were dirt.
year later a fellah by the name of Sam Sharpe, feeling that the blacks werent
getting a fair shake decided to lead a strike to peacefully during Christmas Week
to protest their actions. The British were not firm believers in fact that striking
especially during Christmas and were not sure that it was allowed under their
rules of engagement. Considering the fact that Christmas was a festive season
here for the British and what is festivity without servants, they determined to
express their anger in a way that would send a strong message. They constructed
a gallows in the middle of the main square in downtown Montego
Bay. They then lined up hundreds of strikers and hung
them one at a time until hundreds had perished. Among those killed by the British
was Sam Sharpe and the place he was killed is still known as Sam
in his honor. Shortly after the hangings, the British House of Commons passed
a bill that would end slavery, however, it was far too late to help Sharp at that
point. However, the bill as it finally came down would only free slaves that were
born after 1828 so in effect it did not affect any one in the current work force.
However, even those that would be free would be obligated to spend approximately
five-years in an apprenticeship before they were released from their obligations
to the British. Moreover, during that
period, they would be obligated to work long hours for little or no pay. As they
say, old ideas die a very hard death in the British
Empire, these folks were trying
eat their cake and have it as well and they were making unhappiness with their
rule, the order of the day.
British highly concerned about who would do the work, in the 1840s turned toward
a policy of bringing contract workers in from China, India and Africa to pick up the slack. The main bank in Jamaica
failed and there is substantial concern about the economy. The new contract laborers
are not treated much different that slaves and they start to become very unhappy
with their lot. With their economy in shreds, their slaves being set free and
the contract laborers unhappy and
in a rebellious mode, the British are now beside themselves trying to figure out
what to do next.
The Ashanti Influence
it is a good idea to analyze what the makeup of the slave population was at this
time. There was an inherent intelligence in these people and the British were
always saying that it was as if they knew something their captors did not. As
slave trading picked up steam, the culture of Jamaica started to become a melting pot of the various
civilizations from whence they had originated. No stronger influence was felt
than that of the Ashantis who were most probably plucked from their homes
in what was then known as the Gold Coast in Africa. Various historians
began looking into the matter and were trying to get a fix on the socio-geographic
background of the people making up the population here with the best history having
been written by Reverend William James Gardner, a Congregational Minister who
first came to the Island in 1849 and remained for the next quarter century. In
1873 in an attempt to pin down the Ashanti influence he wrote something that could
just as well have come from the pen of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:
Writing of the period that led
up to the Anti-Slavery struggle of 1782, in his chapter on Manners and Customs
of the Inhabitants, Gardner describes what he calls the social life
of the slaves, and tells us: Little can be said with confidence as
to the religious beliefs of these people. The influence of the Koromanytyns seems
to have modified, if not entirely obliterated, whatever was introduced by other
tribes. They recognized, in a being called Accompong, the creator and preserver
of mankind; to him praise, but never sacrifice, was offered. Edward Long,
the first historian of Jamaica, to go into such details, writing in 1774, expresses
uncertainty concerning the source of these Koromanytyns. Unquestionably they came
from the Gold Coast but he finds it impossible to determine whether their tribal
habitat was some distance inland or not. Their classification as Akims, Fantis
and Ashantis raises a doubt in his mind. It may signify the town of origin or
the market where they were bought. However, he insists that the entire group are
effectively banded together by their obeah-men who administer the oath or fetish.
From our later knowledge, this fact alone would be sufficient to identify their
leading spirits with the Ashanti. Long further informs us concerning these Koromantyns:
Their language is copious, and more regular than any other Negro dialects;
their music too is livelier, and their dances entirely martial. And again:
Their persons are well made and their features very different from the rest
of the African Negroes, being smaller, amore of the European turn. And finally:
On many estates, they do not mix at all with the other slaves, but build
their houses distinct from the rest.
reasoning seems most logical, but for some reason or other I do not quite get
the drift. I am sure that he has made his point beyond much question, but I am
not sure what we know now that is either valid or of continuing interest. I have
met the ruling Ashantis
that are now ensconced in Ghana, literally every one of them
from the King on down. These are highly intelligent people, many of whom
have been educated in the very best of schools in either England or the United
States. We were very impressed with their grasp of internal and external events
and if indeed the Jamaicans are descended from the like of these folks, they have
much to be proud of in the background and it is a superb culture.
Three Square A
Day and Pay Beside
1, 1838 became freedom day for the slaves and Queen Victoria, who had recently
ascended the British Throne, became the people's hero.
Now that wages had to be paid
to the slaves, the economics of farming cotton or sugar came into question.
The English helped support the newly freed slaves with donations and the
landholders, not believing they were getting enough bang for their buck started
to bring in East Indian's to do farm work.
During this period Jamaica constructed its first intra-island railroad,
which went from Kinston to Angels, a distance of fifteen miles. There wasn't much
happening in Angels and they didn't produce anything so that while the railroad
was an artistic success, the economics were dismal.
it was at this time that the British Government established global free-trade
which meant in essence that countries that still supported slavery and that weren't
in the Commonwealth were free to sell their "subsidized" produce directly
to Britain. Naturally this caused a panic throughout the West Indies and the Jamaican
Banking system went into a state of suspended animation after the collapse of
its biggest banks. The Bank run was accompanied by an unrelated outbreak of cholera
taking 32,000 lives and Port Royal took an especial hard hit. An
equal number of people of done in by smallpox which broke out two years later.
Naturally everyone blamed the Crown for these events. The country was broke and
England was forced to advance Jamaica five-hundred thousand pounds to help them
make ends meet.
was trimmed, excesses were eliminated and some degree of prosperity returned along
first postage stamp in 1858 followed by its
first telegraph system in 1859. This for some inexplicable reason was followed
by a religious revival which didn't take long to degenerate into superstitious
practices bordering on black-magic. The American Civil War and the various delicacies
so loved by the Islanders were cut off while a drought in Jamaica caused much
Just A Minor Rebellion
John Eyre become the new Governor General of Jamaica in 1864. Sadly for the people of Jamaica,
Eyre is a substantive bigot that down deep, for whatever reason really hates black
people. He resists giving the slaves any benefits whatsoever and seems to be rubbing
salt in open wounds with whatever new legislation he proposes. Things become so
unbearable under his leadership that the blacks put together a petition which
lists their grievances. The petition which recites chapter and verse the problems
that Eyre has brought to the colony are sent to the Queen Victoria of England as a last resort. The always helpful Queen who
for the most part lives secluded from reality, reads the petition and writes a
memorandum on the subject which became known as the Queens Letter. Amazingly
Victoria who was not the brightest of the British Monarchs indicates that hard
work is the best remedy for the condition of poor blacks. This letter is
posted all over the country by Eyre who has found a major by daft champion in
actions lead to the rebellion that took place in the 1860's that caused wide scale
destruction of property and took many lives. The people gather and eventually
go after the police station in Morant Bay after their leader is arrested. They take a large
number of rifles and bayonets where they set fir to the courthouse and kill a
number of British soldiers. The uprising is lead by a Black Preacher by the name
of Paul Bogle who is eventually hanged along with a number of his followers in
the square at Morant
However, by this time, the Government of the Colony has become so upset over their
inability to handle that matter that they gave up over two-hundred years of power
and asked that the British Crown take possession of the colonies political affairs.
The British sent Sir John Peter Grant over to take care of the situation with
the title of Governor. He arrived with excellent credentials as he was had been
a major administrator in India.
He immediately re-organized the legislative set-up in the Colony along with a
revamped police force and court system.
brings a semblance of order to these chaotic conditions and in 1869 a cable reached
from Europe and direct communications
became possible for the first time. A government savings bank, island medical
services, botanical garden as well as public works are established. And the capital
of the country is moved to Kingston from Spanish Town. The railroad was extend a piece and now went as
far as Old Harbor.
There wasn't much in Old Harbor,
but the people were proud of their achievement and would go to Kingston on Saturday Nights just to watch the motorman blow
the engines whistle, a stirring experience for all. Of greater importance, a college
for the higher education of Jamaican youths was established and the Rio Cobre
Irrigation Works were begun and in 1875, a street car system was started in Kingston.
Railroad was extended to Porus in 1885 and later that year to Ewarton while the
throngs cheered and for some unknown reason an American Syndicate bought the line.
. Smallpox broke out again and five hotels were opened to accommodate the expected
tourist boom. Not too many foreigners visited Jamaica that year because the timing between the opening
of the hotels and the smallpox epidemic were not well thought out.
1893, elementary education became free and mandatory while the American Syndicate
extended the railroad to Montego Bay and shortly thereafter to Port Antonio. Sir Henry
Blake oversaw the construction of a substantial number of bridges, tunnels and
roads in the country and communications between areas had become greatly improved.
.Regular steamship traffic was inaugurated by Imperial Direct Line and with direct
service to England.
This main thrust of this activity was to open a market for Jamaican bananas which
were not in any kind of demand.
A Touch of the
was abundant in Jamaica in the late 1800s and various strange phenomena were constantly
being reported in books and papers. One of the groups of people that were given
credit for most of the mostly nocturnal activities were the duppies, shadow like
figures that were really just into causing trouble. To get a picture of life in
during that period we are going to give a small quote from Reverend Abraham J.
Emerick, a missionary who was born in Falmouth, Pennsylvania and worked in Jamaica from 1895 until 1905. The incident that he reported
apparently occurred shortly after he first arrived.
One of the favorite pastimes of the duppies is stone-throwing.
Reports of persons and places being stoned by duppies are very common. My first
experience of stone-throwing duppies was rather startling and trying. It happened
soon after my undertaking the mountain missions on the north side of the island,
and before I was acquainted with the habits of the people and knew anything about
their superstitions and occult practices. One evening after dark, I was on my
way to Alva mission, situated at a lonesome spot on a hill in the Dry harbor Mountains.
I was met by a crowd about a mile away from the mission. They said the duppies
were up there at night throwing stones; that the duppies had stoned the teacher
away from the Alva school. It seems that the stone-throwing had been going on
for a week or more before my arrival. For several nights crowds went up to the
old Alva school, not far from the church on the mountain spur partly surrounded
by a deep ravine covered with thick bush. The teacher of the school, a certain
Mr. D. lived in two rooms that overlooked the declivity. Every night the crowd
was there, stones were thrown from various directions, but most of them seemed
to come from the bush-covered ravine. What mystified the people most and made
them believe and say, as did the teacher and the most intelligent store-keeper
in the district, that the stones were thrown not by human hands but by spirits,
was that those who were hit by the stones were not injured, and that some of the
stones which came from the bushy declivity, after smashing through the window
turned at a right angle and broke the teachers clock, glasses, etc. on a
In spite of the dreadful stone-throwing duppies, I went up
to the hill followed by a crowd. I found the school building littered with stones,
broken windows and a generally smashed-up, sure-enough ghost-haunted place. The
story of the stone-throwing, which I afterwards put together amounted to this.
On a Saturday night Mr. D. and a hired girl notice a suspicious person lurking
around the premises. They became frightened, left the place, and returned later
with a man by the name of H. who brought a gun with him. They were not long in
the school building before stones began to fall here and there in different rooms,
at first one by one but gradually very plentifully. They ran away in fright and
with the stones pelting after them as they ran. H. turned around once and fired
, pointing his gun in the direction from which the stones were coming. As he did
so, a stone flying from the opposite direction hit him the back of the neck. The
stone-throwing followed them into the house to which they fled for refuge about
a quarter of a mile away. They. With the family living in the house, made a gathering
of six or seven or more. Stones were fired into this house and broke a number
of things on the sideboard, but no one could tell from where the stones were coming.
Some of them seemed to come in the open door, turn around and fall at the teachers
feet. One of the persons marked a stone and threw it out saying: If him
be a true duppy, him will throw this stone back. This marked stone was said
to have been thrown back, proving that the stone-thrower was a true duppy. A while
after they went to bed, the stone-throwing ceased.
can not fault anyone for thinking the duppies had done the evil deed, but it was
more likely to have been one or more students that were not to happy with their
teacher that determined to pepper the school with rocks in exchange for a punishment
that had received. Naturally, the Jamaicans blamed the duppies that were an historic
whipping boy in these parts. Whenever something untoward happened in these mountains,
the duppies did it and having said that everyone felt much better.
A Small Earthquake
In The Wrong Place
remained quiet through 1907 with the only thing of any passing importance being
the destruction of the entire city of Kingston by earthquake. Nothing was left upright, fires
ravaged the city for days and hundreds were killed.
Starvation was averted by quick assistance from The Imperial Government.
The American squadron steamed into Kingston Harbor shortly after the disaster and offered aid. There were soldiers wearing
guns and the Governor did not want armed men milling about his country and denied
them access. As a result, substantially more were killed in the earthquake than
need be. A story written about the
earthquake by a person on the scene might be of interest:
Early in December, 1906, I first visited Jamaica, where I planned staying a couple
of months. On January 14th, the day of the disastrous earthquake, I
was returning from the north side of the island, driving by way of Mount Diabolo and I arrived at the Ewarton Railway
Station about an hour before the starting time of the train that was to carry
me back to Kingston.
The day was unusually tropical for that season of the year
in Jamaica, with a cloudless sky, and what
was really strange, at a time when the Trade Winds should have been at their height,
not a breath of air was stirring. One could almost feel the stillness, and the
brightness of the sunshine was imply dazzling. As I reached the station platform,
a gentleman and a young lady were attracting much attention. They were brown people
of the mulatto type, well dressed and with every indication of refinement. But
the young lady, who, I should judge, was about twenty-five years of age, had become
hysterical. She was wringing her hands, and between convulsive sobs kept repeating:
Father, we should never have left home to-day. I told you that something
dreadful is going to happen.
The gentleman naturally showed great embarrassment as he vainly
strove to quiet his daughter who kept repeating in a mechanical sort of way that
she knew that something dreadful was going to happen. Finally, her father led
her away and I saw nothing more of either of them. But just about a half an hour
after their departure, suddenly the ground began to tremble and to run-in waves
with a crackling, sputtering sound similar to the disruption of a gigantic Leydan
jar an earthquake was upon us. Then as the tremors ceased, I glanced at
my watch, the time was exactly eighteen minutes past three.
It was the following morning before I reached Kingston, and I found the city a mass of
ruins with a ravaging fire still sweeping over the debris. More than a thousand
persons had been killed outright and many hundreds of others were succumbing to
their injuries. Amid the general confusion and excitement, I repeatedly heard
stories of a weird prophet who, it was said, had passed along the citys
streets some hours before the disaster, sounding a cry of warning that had gone
unheeded by the populace who had only laughed at him. Ordinarily, I would not
have given any credence to these rumors which I could have classified with those
numerous after-fact delusions to be expected on such occasions. But the memory
of the strange scene at the Ewarton Station haunted me as it had baffled any explanation
that I could offer. Consequently, I made it a point to inquire carefully from
the least imaginative of my confreres and they were in agreement that they had
heard the rumor many hours before the earthquake had happened.
Years later, this incident was reported in The Times of London
for January 13, 1921, as follows: It is noteworthy that in the forenoon
of January 14, 1907, a man wearing a red mantle, who was regarded as an irresponsible
person, made his appearance in Kingston warning the people that before evening
Kingston would destroyed. At 3:30 p.m. Kingston, and in fact the entire island
was visited by an earthquake of great magnitude which not only laid a large area
of the capital in ruin but killed at least 2,000 persons.
author of that piece was a Boston College Graduate School professor by the name of Joseph J. Williams who later spent over six-years
in Jamaica trying to track down the origins of that psychic phenomena. Even at that
time, Jamaicans were used to growing ganja or marijuana. Many of these folks would
suddenly arise from several hours of smoking grass and make a substantive proclamation.
Naturally, now and again one of these pot heads was gong to be right. The good
professor gave up a substantive period of his life trying to track down what in
would be considered the drug induced ravings of a person that should have on the
funny farm instead in the middle of downtown Kingston.
back to the ranch. Mr. Sydney Oliver arrived shortly after the calamity and took
over from the previous Governor. He went about trying to restore Kingston
to its former vigor by rebuilding the destroyed building and lowering taxes. The
Americans were relieved of when they found that there was absolutely no way to
make money with the contraption. Taken over by the Jamaican Government, the railroad
and it was extended to Clarendon with substantial fanfare.
During this period, just when things were starting to improve, a disastrous
hurricane blew away much of the effort and for good measure destroyed the banana
crop which really wasn't going anywhere anyway.
World War I
came to be know as the Great War began in 1914 and Jamaica responded through a policy of national conscription
by sending ten-thousand men to the front. By this time Jamaica was producing sugar, rum, tobacco, coffee and cocoa,
all of which were well received in the war effort. During this time there was
a consistent problem getting ships to carry the produce to the markets where they
were required. On the other hand, this was a large war, but the big thing was
the fact that some women property owner were given the right to vote.
war ended and the men came home and in 1925, the branch railway from Chapelton
to Frankfield was opened and the Hermitage
Dam was begun which would be a two year effort. A banana cooperative was started
and named the Jamaica Producers' Association as a sort of coop for mutual marketing
of their mostly unsaleable banana crop. Government enthusiasm for the project
was unbounded but to no avail. The flood of 1933 was far from helpful for the
banana crop the nearly unlimited rainfall created on of the great droughts in
Jamaican history when the gullies, water mains and dams burst sending the precious
supply of water cascading into the ocean.
1937, the Jamaica Progressive League brought up the subject of self government
again and radio-telephone service was inaugurated between Jamaica, the Untied States, England, Canada,
The following year a major strike occurs at Frome Westmoreland at the West Indies
Sugar Company, where the workers are demanding the unheard of wages of $1 a day.
The rebellion is crushed by authorities and there are many injured during the
melee. However, the abortive strike results in the creation of the islands
first political parties and a trade union movement mystically appears.
War II broke out with a vengeance in 1939 and the Governor instigated wage-price
controls to prevent profiteering. Censorship of the press mails and telegraph
was imposed for the first time in Jamaican history. The
worked out a deal with Britain to have air, army and naval bases in the territory.
These bases provided substantial infrastructure to the Jamaican country. The airport
that the United States
build during that time is now the major airport in the country and the sea terminals
are still actively being used by Jamaican ships and long-shore operators.
World War II came to an end, a conference was organized in Montego Bay
to talk about the uniting of the entire British
West Indies under a single Federal Government. Representatives
were sent by the Governments of all the territories, namely: Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, the Windward Islands, the Leeward Islands British Guiana and British Honduras,
and the conference was presided over by the Right Hon. Arthur Creech Jones, Secretary
of State for the Colonies. A Standing Committee to study the problem was appointed;
it made a report, three years later, which was the basis for further debate in
all the territories as to the desirability of federation. Nothing ever came of
this idea and people tended to think of in the same breath as their banana industry.
Radio Jamaica made their first broadcast about this time.
a precursor of things to come, Jamaicas George Rhoden wins the 400 meters in the
London Olympic Games of 1948 and native son Herb McKenley finishes right behind
him in second. However, one of the Country's greatest days came in 1952 at the
Finland Olympics when Jamaica's team of Arthur Wint, Leslie Laing Herbert McKenley
and George Rhoden won the 4 x 400 relay in world record time, as did Rhoden in
winning the gold medal in the 400 meters. McKenley won silver medals in the 100
and 400 meters and Wint the silver in the 800 meters. Jamaica had become a force to be reckoned with in track
and field events and was now giving the United
States a substantial run for their money.
A Dread Disease
in 1954 during an Industrial fair sponsored by the
Jamaica Manufacturers Association. World leaders attended for state visits
but many called their trips short when informed of the epidemic. Soon thereafter,
Princess Margaret spent five days in Jamaica during the course of her official tour through
the British Caribbean and she opened the Morant Bay Hospital which was later named for her. In spite of the
fact that the Jamaicans still were harboring a grudge against the British
Crown, and especially, Queen Victoria, the receive her with pomp and honors. To
some degree as a result of that visit, in 1957 Jamaica received full internal self-government which meant
a complete change of the political structure that had existed for almost three
centuries. This change gave control of all internal matters to a Council of Ministers,
called the Executive Council, nominated by the Governor on the recommendation
of the Chief Minister, who now became known as Premier. This Parliamentary system
was modeled on that of the United Kingdom.
There were now ten Ministers instead of the nine under the 1953 Constitution.
Also in 1957 the new Montego Bay International Air Terminal was officially opened
to traffic in July , while in August the new 7,600 ft. runway at the Palisades Airport, near Kingston, was also opened. At the same time, Mr. Norman
Manley, Q.C. became Premier of Jamaica.
1961 the Government opened the Bank of Jamaica and almost simultaneously at a
referendum, Jamaica determined to withdraw from the Federation of West Indian Countries. This
was one of the prime reasons that the Federation, dissolved shortly thereafter.
Britain agreed that Jamaica would have independence on August 6, 1962.
1972 The first Test Match of New Zealand's first tour of the West
Indies ended on February 22
in a draw at Sabina
The Jamaican Lawrence Rowe set a record as the first batsman to score centuries
in both innings on his Test debut: 214 and 100 not out. About that time, Michael
Manley was sworn in as Jamaica's
fourth Prime Minister and Jamaica had now seen childhood's end.
The following year saw universal free education and all school services
were to be free as well.
Manley Has Strange
levies were increased and all countries mining bauxite in the country were obligated
to make almost immediate payments. "Democratic
Socialism" was invented. Manley's foreign policy supported Puerto Rico's
independence from the United
States. He backed the African National Congress in South Africa
and other liberation movements.
the government and the people were told that it was to be the nation's new philosophy.
There was no little concern over this as Manley and Fidel Castro were rather close
and foreign governments were then of the opinion that Jamaica was going to be
the next shoe to drop. Politics turned cold blooded and a State of Emergency was declared and 500 people were detained with
no charges other than they may have belonged to an opposition party.
Bauxite Company and Reynolds Jamaica Limited both sold the Government pieces of
their companies under substantial duress in 1977, shortly thereafter, Fidel Castro
arrived for a six day official visit and Air Jamaica's showed a substantial profit
for the first time. Soon thereafter the Jamaica Labor Party
changed their name to the Social Democratic Party and the International Monetary
Fund could not come to terms with Jamaica on a substantial infrastructure loan. This was
followed by an attempt by the Jamaican Government to reschedule the repayment
of its national debt in the amount of $200 million.
an overthrow was attempted of the Jamaican Government by JDF personnel. Many felt
that the United States CIA was involved in this action. Numerous Jamaican military
personnel were killed in the next several years under mysterious circumstances,
but for some unknown reason, the Government of Jamaica was able to negotiate an
IMF loan in the amount of $698 with flexible terms. Shortly thereafter, Jamaica broke off relations with Cuba.
Mysterious deaths ceased and the Western world breathed a sigh of relief. President
Regan of the United States
paid a visit to the Island followed by the President of Germany and the President of Venezuela. Jamaica had indeed become the place to be.
The Queen Arrives
one to miss a social opportunity, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II made Jamaica
a place to visit in early 1983. It appeared that everything was stabilizing when
the Government announced the devaluation of the Jamaican dollar and a call for
new elections. For the first time in history, Manley's party somehow won every
seat. The United
invaded Communist Grenada and called on Jamaica
to act as police relative to the prisoners they were taking. As a good democratic
responded in the affirmative.
1984, the Minister of Education, Dr. Mavis Gilmore launched the Primary School
Textbook Scheme which assured all children attending primary schools of whatever
textbooks that they would need without charge.
As usual, the Auditor General's Report shows substantial irregularities
in most Government Departments. The following year in an attempt to
attract tourist an Anti-Litter Act was passed and implemented the following year.
Misery Loves Company
following year and AIDS epidemic hit the country as Miguel de la Madrid of Mexico,
President of Mexico and Dr. Auelt Masire of President of Botswana visited the
country. Hurricane Gilbert decimated the country
the following year and a great number of people died. It traveled the full length
of the Island and had winds of 160 miles per hour and more. Damage was so severe that
other countries throughout the world came to Jamaica's assistance. That followed the heaviest earthquake
to hit Jamaica
in 30 years. Nature was not finished yet, when the storm had subsided, another
and stronger earthquake again ravaged the country measuring 5.2 on the Richter
scale. This may or may not have aided Michael Manley's return to office in 1989.
The Jamaican dollar tanked and the Cabinet Ministers received substantial raises.
Mandela visited in 1991 with his Wife Winnie who had been accused of torturing
people by throwing burning tires over them. Mandela stood by his wife until he
left her shortly thereafter. Shortly
after Mandela's visit the Manley Government introduced a consumption tax that
amounted to 10% on just about everything but the air the people were breathing.
This operated something like a value-added tax.
1992, Michael Manley who was getting up there in years and who had a much younger
wife started to develop prostate problems and resigned for reasons of health.
Power 106, a new radio station went on the air, the Jamaica Record went bust and
the Jamaica Herald took its place. The following year saw the sugar factories
privatized and Marlene Ottey winning the gold medal in track at Stuttgart, Germany in the World Games.
For the first time tourism became the top foreign exchange earner bringing
in close to $1 billion. Station CVM TV started and Pope John Paul came to visit.
Love FM, a religious radio station went on the air to commemorate his visit.
1994 the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 940 which discussed
the necessity of eliminating the government of Haiti from power. Jamaica contributed troops to that successful operation. Whether or not this was a deal
made in advance relative to Haiti, the United States Government under USAID provided
$10 million is assistance in 1994 which was intended to aid foreign exchange earnings,
environmental quality improvement, the protections of natural resources and the
promotion of family planning.
The Sun, the Water
and The ???
time rolled by, new folks became important in Jamaica and the growing Rastafarian movement soon started to make itself a force to be
reckoned with. The Rastafarians were a combination religious and social sect that
had many unusual habits among them the excessive use of
pot or ganja as it was known in these parts.
The Rastafarian believes considered
the weed ganja an integral part of their culture and attempted to convince the
government that people who wanted to smoke the stuff aught to be able to do it
as long as they didnt bother anyone else in the process. Marijuana had become
the major cash crop here and although outlawed massive amounts had been successfully
processed and shipped illegally to the United States
for many years. Moreover, Jamaican police
had their hands full with unemployed Jamaican youngsters and a very serious
number of other people who banded together in gangs engaged in the transshipping
of cocaine. The government consensus seemed to be that Ganja should be legalized
so that law enforcement officials could concentrate their time on what they considered
to be more serious matters. P. J. Patterson, the prime minister indicated that
he would follow the recommendation of Parliament on the matter and indicated that:
Clearly we are not considering making it legal for people to grow, sell
and to export marijuana. It is for private use and it will confined to adults.
If there had not been any adverse publicity at that point the matter would
have ended but that was not to be the case.
The Jamaican Parliamentary Commission agreed with the fact that the police in
the country were overworked and underpaid and could not be expected to chase innocent
people that desired to smoke a joint now and again. Administering the present
laws as they apply to possession and use of small quantities of marijuana not
only puts and unbearable strain on the relationship of the police with the communities,
in particular the male youth, but also ties up the justice system and the work
of the police, who could use their time to much greater advantage in the relentless
pursuit of crack/cocaine trafficking. Moreover, the commission did not seem
to be adverse to tourists while visiting the island being able to buy a reefer
or two should they be in the need a pick-me-up. After all they said, Visitors
sometimes need to be made to feel comfortable as well. However, the commission
did not indicate how the ganja would be distributed to the islands tourists
but word had it that the Rastafarians had already made a pitch to get the concession
in that they operated within a short distance of all of the countrys tourist
was about all the people from DEA in the United
States had to hear in order to go totally ballistic. Moreover,
Michael Koplovsky who works for the U.S. Embassy in Kingston was beside himself and said: The U.S.
government will consider Jamaicas adherence to its commitments under the 1988
UN Drug Convention when making its determination under the annual narcotics certification
review. What he was saying in reality
was the fact that Jamaica could well be de-certified by the United States
should they go ahead with this plan and indicating that the country under those
circumstances would be deemed not to be making the required effort to stamp out
drug trafficking. Should that happen, the plagues of the universe could be foisted
on Jamaica in the form being cut off from money from organizations like the World
Bank, The International Monetary Fund and possibly worst of all, the benefits
provided by being a member of the Caribbean Basin Initiative. While Jamaica
could keep a stiff upper lip all it wanted to, these installing these restrictions
could well prove life threatening.
they were not about to be bullied and Stafford Neil the Jamaican Permanent Secretary
of the Foreign Affairs Ministry said, The Jamaican government has not yet
decided whether it will accept or reject the recommendations. However, this
statement was interpreted by Washington bureaucrats to indicate that these folks were not
going to succumb to our threats. One Jamaican government official said it they
way it is: This is a matter that will be decided by the Jamaican parliament
and the islands sovereign parliament will not be swayed by any external
is a major exporter and trading in marijuana will continue to be a crime. The
is the major consumer and the US
should attempt to curb demand at their end.
The whole thing seems straight forward enough to me, Jamaica would continue to grow and export the stuff as
long as the Americans had an appetite for it and it was up to them to control
the meantime, whether it becomes law or not, the Jamaican population leads the
world in pot smoking per capita. The island is so laid back because most of the
population is usually out of their heads on the stuff.
I would think that this dispute, for many is the greatest advertising the
country could ever hope to receive, it is like saying, We already have the
most beautiful island in the Caribbean, we have the regions most beautiful women, we have the most beautiful
beaches. Why dont you come down here, relax on the beach and have a joint.
When you wake up you will hardly remember your problems.
And remember, it is only a stones throw from the United
spent myself have spent numerous vacations in Jamaica and have enjoyed the beaches, the sun, the water,
the women and everything else about this magnificent place. I well remember the
time when I was staying at the Hilton in Ocho Rios and there were a group of Rastafarians
nearby, out of their heads on grass behind a fence between their enclosure and
the hotel. One of them came over to me at the fence and said, How would
you like to rent the best boat in Jamaica
and do a little fishing with me? They day was magnificent and the fact that he
had obviously been smoking joints all day did not dissuade me from agreeing. My
wife and I were put aboard a small boat that resembled the one pictures tell us
Cleopatra must have used when going down the Nile.
There was a green awning to beat back the early afternoon, the ocean was like
glass and the weather was magnificent. He headed the boat offshore for a time
and then put down a line with which to catch some fish. While we were waiting
for a fish to bite we laid on pillows under the awning and were served delicious
cold white win and cheese. I thought to myself that surely we had gone to heaven.
We lulled in the sun thinking about little but the weather, the water and the
beauty of it all. Eventually however, I remembered the fishing pole and could
not recall seeing anything that even resembled a fish biting on it.
suggested to my Rastafarian friend that perhaps a fish had eaten the bait and
there was nothing left on the hook to attract our quarry. He admonished me by
saying No Mon, I would have known if that had happened I was enjoying
the day so much that I did not then inquire further into the matter but after
another hour I began to wonder once again. This time after he gave me the same
response I asked him to pull up the line so that I could see whether it had bait
on it or not. I knew that he was not operating with a full deck and if we could
only catch a nice fish that would complete the day. When he brought the line up
there was not even a hook tied to the end of it, forget about the fact that there
was no bait. What are you doing trying to fish without even a hook?
I asked. Hey Mon he
said, The fish here like to eat string. We soak the string in a material
that makes them think it is a giant worm. When they grab it and start eating we
let them swallow it for a time until they get nearer the boat and then we take
a fishing net and pull them in. Today just must be a slow fishing day, yesterday
we caught so many fish that way we couldnt get them all into the boat.
What was there to say to that? Who needed fish anyway and werent
we were having a ball. OK Mon, I said, put the line back into
the water and maybe we will have some luck later.
Believe it or not, I did this without taking a puff of that stuff. The
day was great but I think our guide was having an even better time than we were.
we pulled in I told him what a great trip it was, that I was not upset about not
catching anything and that he had been the best fishing guide I ever had. I think that Jamaica really is learning how to sell paradise and they
dont even have to make ganja legal to do it.
Whereas there has been long and considerable debate
in Jamaica regarding the decriminalization
or non-decriminalization of ganja in well-defined circumstances and under specific
Whereas differing views have been urged on the advisability
of allowing the possession of specified quantities of ganja, its permissible use
by adults within private premises, while continuing to prohibit its smoking by
juveniles or by anyone on premises to which the public ordinarily has access,
Whereas some Groups have proposed that its use as a sacrament for religious
purposes ought to be sanctioned,
Whereas there is a body of scientific opinion which attests
to its medicinal qualities and clinical value,\
Whereas serious questions have been raised as to its impact
on health, on patterns of social behavior, its implications for the economy and
possible effects relating to crime and security,
Whereas there are international treaties, conventions and regulations
to which Jamaica subscribes that must be respected,
thereof a National Commission is hereby established, with the following Terms
(i) To receive submissions or memoranda, hear testimony, evaluate
research and studies, engage in dialogue with relevant interest Groups, and undertake
wide public consultations with the aim of guiding a national approach.
(ii) To indicate what changes, if any, are required to existing
Laws or entail new legislation, taking account of the social, cultural, economic
and international factors.
(iii) To recommend the diplomatic initiatives, security considerations,
education process and programmed of public information which will need to be undertaken
in the light of whatever changes may be proposed.
(iv) To consider and report on any other matter sufficiently
related to the foregoing.
(v) To make such interim reports as it may deem fit and a final
Report within a period of nine months from the first sitting.
the good news is the fact that these folks do a little pot now and again. The
bad news is that Jamaica has become one of the largest drug transshipment spots in the world and
has become home to violent thugs that will kill you just as easily as look at
you. However, the gangs and the tourists dont particularly clash because
they each have their own turf. Most of the 2.5 million people of Jamaica alive in the southern part of the island near and
Moreover, a mountain range literally cuts the island in two and in the northern
sector is where the beaches and hotels that accommodate tourism are located.
While murder, drug dealing and violence had become a part of daily life
on the southern side of the island, the tourists in the north could never have
known that anything had occurred at all if it werent for the newspapers
and television coverage of the events. However,
many of the natives that have been affected by these mini-civil wars that seem
to pop up here every now and again have packed up and left. Nearly one-third of
the population has immigrated elsewhere, primarily to the United
States and many have become citizens. However, for the
most part they are loyal to their families and regularly send money home. As a
matter of fact, they send so much money back home that, next to tourism, the importation
of money from abroad has become the second largest source of revenue for the country.
when things go bad in Kingston they really blow, but this is for a very unusual
reason. The politicians in Jamaica are an unusually savvy group especially for the
islands around these parts and have found new ways to galvanize their constituents
to vote both early and often; for them. This was accomplished in one of the most
unusual manners that I have ever encountered. As political parties waxed and waned
here, each one while in office would take political funds and create massive subsidized
housing projects. However, the rules relative to who could live in these dwelling
had nothing at all to do with money, jobs or education. Occupancy was solely based
on how the particular family had been voting in the past and how they were going
to be expected to vote in the future. If they had shown exception loyalty to the
party currently in office and were willing to give their wholehearted political
allegiance to that party, they could be given a great place to life. However,
each political party could only build so much because funds are always limited
in this beautify but impoverished country. Eighteen of these enclaves have been
created so far and they have now become know as garrison towns.
only things seemingly missing are the castle and the mote. The people that live
in these areas are similar to midlevel vassals and can be counted on to vote over
and over again for the same officials, belong to the same gangs and share the
same religious beliefs. When one of the gang members steps inside another gangs
turf with malice aforethought he is asking for trouble and it soon arrives in
a usually deadly package. This caused the entire garrison community to become
galvanized and what you will often occur soon becomes something a lot worse than
a really bad day at Black Rock. The fighting usually does not spread beyond
the two warring neighborhoods, but the gang members are usually much better armed
than the police and until the fighting stops of its own accord, it is usually
the best thing to leave these folks to their own devices.
The violence surged last
weekend, after more than two months of clashes between gangs with rival political
ties killed 37 people. Some say the unrest has already damaged the island's vital
$1.3 billion tourism industry -- airlines and hoteliers are starting to report
cancellations. Jamaica's two main political parties created
the country's fearsome gang culture in the 1970s, by organizing and arming criminals
to intimidate voters in Kingston's poor neighborhoods. The gangs
are largely focused on the drug trade, now, but most retain political ties. Prime
Minister P.J. Patterson's party and the opposition accuse each other of orchestrating
the latest unrest ahead of general elections next year.
Police took action against
the gangs in a notorious Kingston neighborhood on Saturday. Residents
erected roadblocks in protest, saying the authorities were targeting their poor
neighborhoods because they are strongholds of the opposition Jamaica Labor Party.
On Monday, Patterson ordered the entire army -- more than 3,000 troops -- to quell
the violence. The gun battles appeared to have ended by Wednesday, and security
forces in Kingston cleared smoldering roadblocks.
In all, police said 25 people were killed in four days. Labor Party leader Edward
Seaga put the death toll at 26 -- 22 civilians, three police officers and a soldier.
"It's the politicians.
It's their war," said James Findletter, a 25-year-old fisherman in the northern
resort town of Ocho Rios, where another cruise ship docked
as usual on Wednesday.
Despite the flood of arriving
visitors, the violence has worried the tourism industry. Joseph Forstmayr, president
of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, said some airlines were reporting
canceled trips. The Jamaica Observer newspaper reported at least four hotels on
the north coast had received cancellations, including a group of Americans who
had booked 120 rooms from Thursday at the new Ritz Carlton Hotel in Rose Hall,
just east of Montego
"They are now going to Puerto Rico," Verona Carter, a spokesman
for the Ritz Carlton, was quoted as saying. Gary Stephens, manager of the
Couples resort in the west coast town of Negril, said concerned travelers have
been calling to ask about the violence. He and his staff have been telling them
all is calm at the resort, he said. "This will cost the economy dearly, and
there are too many people in Jamaica who need jobs," he said.
philosophy more often than not causes additional casualties that well could have
been avoided, but such is what life here is about. Most recently in the summer
of 200 a clash occurred between two garrisons that soon erupted into a full blown
war. Running battles were fought and numerous people were killed. Police were
totally unable to bring the situation under control and the tourists who were
reading about what was going on started to stay away in droves because the story
had been so blown up that it appeared as though an insurrection had occurred all
over the island. Although the violence was literally confined to a small section
of Kingston, the number of causalities that resulted from it
must have seemed to outsiders that the island was ablaze. Eventually the uprising
was put down and the island returned to normal but the damage had been done. The
tourists had determined that in spite of the beautiful scenery and glorious days,
there were other spots just as nice and not so dangerous where they could go without
being worried about being killed. Jamaica
if you are there at the wrong time or in the wrong area, can be a very scary place.
remember the time when Michael Manley was in power and was in the midst of cozying
up to Fidel Castro. The United
States had become extremely upset and things had become
extra fierce in these parts. The massive alumina facilities that had previously
produced the hard currency for Jamaica had recently been expropriated and Americans were
no longer really welcome guests in spite of the money they brought to the island.
Manley, an excellent orator had gotten the natives really stirred up when I arrived
for my annual vacation in the country with my wife. At this point I had been coming
to Jamaica for a great number of years and knew that the problems primarily existed
on the other side of the island, but during my stay I suddenly remembered a pirate
movie that I had once seen. I think the name of it or a location in the movie
was a place called Port Royal. The movie depicted a swash buckling place with great scenery and
I on a dull day I though, what a great place to visit. They
probably had a pirate museum along without a lot of lore of one kind or another
and when you drive in this country, the scenery is always great anyway.
My wife and I had recently been involved in event called Wall Street Charities
where we were among the sponsors of a boxing match where the best slugger from
each brokerage house would take on his counterpart in the name of charity. We
had a very successful session and the charity had done well.
of my wifes successful work with the charity she had just been awarded a magnificent tee shirt that had a
colorful picture of a bear and bull boxing with each other in a prize fighting
ring and there was blood pouring all over
the place from their battle. However,
although this was not what you would call a delicate shirt, she loved it and wore
it whenever the occasion arouse. So here we have her wearing this flaming shirt
with a view of Wall Street so vivid that you couldnt miss it if you tried.
We looked totally like ugly Americans when we headed out to Port
Royal, where ever that is or was. Still not thinking about the political mess
that was occurring in Kingston and what they were saying about our ugliness, we
got into our snappy yellow convertible and drove off to see the pirates. Soon
we started seeing signs that indicated that in order to get to Port Royal you
had to go though downtown Kingston. Stopping a gas station on the outskirts of
town to get directions and gas up the car we were greeted by an attendant who
literally seemed unable to believe his eyes. He was starring at my wifes
shirt and had become incapable of speech. After stuttering for a time he was eventually
able to blurt out that we were not safe going any further into town and were lucky
that we hadnt been killed already. He indicated that the people in town
would kill us on sight when they saw her tee shirt. He wasnt finished with
us yet. He went on to say that we were American trouble makers and we deserved
what we were going to get. He was a large fellow and as he talked he kept looking
at the shirt and getting madder and madder. In the interests of international
relations between our countries I hastily grabbed some money, stuffed it into
has grubby hands and stepped on the gas. I literally skidded out of the service
station very happy that I now had a full tank that could safely take me back to
the security of our hotel.
this time a crowd had started to gather around the gas station and the people
were beginning to get ugly. Luckily were escorted out of town by the police and
told that by them once we got over the dividing mountains, she should burn the
shirt and forget about returning to these parts. Americans were not
welcome in Jamaica
no matter how much money they had and we were the ugliest ones they had ever seen.
Manley was unseated by the CIA and others and Jamaica started accepting our money again. However, that
was a scary experience and these folks were not kidding. Manley had been feeding
them so much garbage that they could no longer see straight. Thankfully this situation
ended and once again Jamaica
became peaceful and serene, especially if you stay on the right side of the mountains.
everything is not just peaches and cream in the New Jamaica and we have excerpted
parties of the U. S. Department of State report on Human Rights Practices for
Jamaica in the their most current reporting year, 1996.
FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
security forces frequently employed lethal force in apprehending criminal suspects,
usually in the guise of shoot-outs. This resulted in the killing by police of
140 people during the year. While allegations of "police murder" were
frequent, the validity of some of the allegations was suspect. This problem is
the result of unresolved, long-standing antipathy between the security forces
and certain communities, especially among the urban poor. The JCF conducted both
administrative and criminal investigations into incidents involving fatal shootings
by the police. The JCF policy statement on the use of force incorporates U.N.-approved
language on basic principles on the use of force and firearms by law enforcement
even though the police in Jamaica are not particularly kind to their own people,
they are even handed in that regard when it comes to foreigners. I guess what
I am saying here is that they treated them just as badly. In spite of this and
probably because of its great beaches and climate, Jamaica has recently become a place where those wanted
by the police in other countries have come here o cool-off while the hunt for
them simmers down. For one recent example of this behavior you only have to look
at the case of the amiable head of Hells Angels, Walter Nurget Stadnick
who mistakenly decided that Jamaica
would be a great place to visit. This was a sudden decision made when some of
his friends indicated that the police in Canada, where he was then situated would soon be picking
him up on a substantial number of charges. He and his biker wife flew down to
and checked in at the Ritz Carlton Hotel there, getting the best room in the place,
a $1,500 a night room, the best they had. However, the always jovial Nurget did
not cover his tracks well enough when he left on his vacation and Jamaican Police
soon found him at the hotel pool. When they entered the pool area carrying evil
looking submachine guns, the visitors of the Ritz panicked as most of the guests
thought they were going to be murdered. The police carefully explained to the
terrorized pool crowd that one of the hotels guests was wanted on thirteen
different murder charges along with a substantial number of lesser offenses. In
addition if you folks would just step aside, the arrest will be over in seconds.
Stadnick, not wanting to cause a scene, went along with the fellow that were carrying
these large guns without a struggle but was apparently ruffed up more than a tad
in the Jamaican Jail that where he was locked up. Moreover, apparently from that
point on things did not go smoothly for the head of the Angels and when it came
time to make a determination of whether to return to the mainland and face charges
or fight his extradition, Stadnick begged to be escorted to first plane back out
of the country. No one has ever described what happened behind the prisons
walls to Stadnick but it must have been something very serious for him to beg
to get out of the country. This will certainly give you some insight into what
things are like in the jails here. A man that was facing no less than 709 years
behind bars along with a possible death sentence actually volunteered to be sent
back to that fate rather than spend one more day locked up in a Jamaican Jail.
This is certainly something to boggle the mind. It certainly does not sound like
the kind of place that I would want to spend any time and you better believe that
I will be walking the straight and narrow path if I every go back there again.
violence resurged in 1996. The former chairman of the opposition Jamaica Labor
Party (JLP) resigned in 1995 and established a new party, the National Democratic
Movement (NDM), late that year. Tensions between the JLP and NDM remained high,
with frequent vilification of the NDM by JLP leaders. Beginning in January, strongly
politicized areas of Kingston
were repeatedly wracked by political violence. According to police, this led to
10 deaths by mid-year, including murders of NDM and JLP supporters. The Government
deployed strong police and military detachments to the affected areas in response
to serious outbreaks of violence, which significantly dampened the level of political
violence. However, the Government could not afford to maintain strong detachments
in all affected areas at all times.
Labor Party leader Edward Seaga continues to charge that the problems are
of a "political nature" and that members of his party are being targeted
by police. Jamaican authorities blame the unrest on common street thugs and drug-gang
members, who they say are trying to "destabilize the islands." Regardless
of who you believe, local observers say that the situation has gotten "completely
out of control," and that extraordinary measures called for by P.M. Patterson
involving spontaneous mob executions in response to crime, rose in 1996, both
in rural areas and in Kingston. Mobs killed 10 persons in West Kingston
between November 1995 and September 1996, 5 of whom were charged with murder at
the time of their own deaths. Official investigations into the killings did not
uncover any information. Mobs lynched four other persons suspected of robberies
in rural St. Catherine in late 1995-early 1996. In May a crowd beat a man to death
after he was allegedly caught sexually assaulting a 3-year-old girl in rural Hanover. In July crowds beat and slashed to death three
other suspected robbers in rural St. Elizabeth (near Montego
Bay). Police reported a total of 22 vigilante killings
between November 1995 and August 1996.
Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, which exists in practice.
However, the judicial system is overburdened and operates with inadequate resources.
Trials in many cases are delayed for years, and other cases are dismissed because
files cannot be located. The Government initiated a night court in September 1995,
which has had some success in reducing the backlog of cases.
Trial Without Benefit of Counsel
the defendant's right to counsel is well-established, the courts appoint counsel
for indigents only in cases of a serious offense (e.g., murder, rape, robbery,
gun offenses). However, the law does not consider many offenses, including wounding
with intent to cause great bodily harm, as "serious." Thus the courts
try many defendants without benefit of counsel.
Votes Marred by
Violence and Fraud
Constitution provides citizens with the right to change their government peacefully.
Periodic elections are held on the basis of universal suffrage. All citizens age
18 and over have the right to vote by secret ballot. The last general election,
in March 1993, was marred by violence and fraud. The violence and fraud was most
prevalent in so-called garrison communities, which are dominated by the major
political parties. The People's National Party (PNP) holds a majority in the House
of Representatives. The Jamaican Labor Party, which has alternated in power with
the PNP since 1944, boycotted all by-elections since 1993, claiming that needed
electoral reforms were not in place. Voter registration under an improved system
was scheduled to begin island-wide on January 6, 1997.
PRIME MINISTER P.J. Patterson says he will not tolerate corrupt
practices by members of his Cabinet and has warned them to keep their hands clean
or face the consequences. "Anytime I find any one of you putting your finger
in the cookie jar, a gone you gone," he warned from the platform in St. Mary
Saturday night. His comments come against the background of several scandals now
rocking the People's National Party (PNP) led Government, including those involving
the NetServ/Intec Fund and Operation PRIDE projects and charges by the opposition
Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) that the system was riddled with corruption. Mr. Patterson,
addressing a large crowd of supporters at the James Bond Beach, at a "bashment"
celebrating his 10th anniversary as leader of the party, admitted that the Government
had made mistakes. "Yes, we made some mistakes, but we were in hurry to get
things done," the Prime Minister said. He also argued that when anything
goes wrong, his party exposes it and calls in investigators to probe the matter,
an apparent reference to another scandal involving fraud at the National Land
Jamaica has substantial natural resources and their exports
of bauxite and alumina have led the world since the 1970s. On the other hand,
the price of both materials has been at or near dollar related historic lows and
are not making a significant impact on the economy. The increase in the shipments
of these products though was almost directly proportional to the drop in agricultural
exports of sugar and bananas. Tourism although doing well may have seen better
days. New "in" destinations in other areas of the world are constantly
cropping up to compete and although busy the internal travel business has been
heavily hit by discounting do to the competition.
almost five-years, Jamaica has suffered a major economic contraction and during
that period of time over 11,000 Jamaicans have lost their jobs. Private estimates
now put the unemployment at over 20 percent. Interest rates have remained high
to deal with an oppressive inflationary spiral. An excellent example of how bad
things have gotten is the recent hike in the gasoline tax by the government. Before
most of the tax was rolled back, 9 people were killed, 152 arrested and substantial
areas were denuded by looting and arson. As a result of this occurrence and advisory
warning was issued by the Canadian, American, British and German Governments.
American Airlines, Canadian Airlines and a number of other carriers temporarily
stopped flying to Jamaica
Government had been counting on the proceeds of that tax increase to cover the
short-fall in tourist revenues. Without
that alternative, the Jamaican Government is now taking a serious look into the
legalizing of casinos. The Chamber of Commerce in Montego
Bay, the largest resort area in the country, estimated
that tax revenue in the first year of casino operations in the Montego Bay
area alone would produce $50 million which is two-thirds of what would have been
garner from the tax on gasoline. Although
church groups have lobbied long and hard against casinos, horse-racing, lotteries
and slot machines have proliferated the Island for some time.
big economic problem in Jamaica is their crime rate and the tourists are beginning
to find out about it. The United Nations has ranked Jamaica number three after South
and Brazil in murders. Far from the Island in the sun that we envision when we talk of Jamaica,
in reality, crime has become a disease that is eating away at the very infrastructure
of the country.
problem is enhanced by the fact that because the Island's economy has been in
such miserable shape for so long, Jamaica has the dubious distinction of having
one of the highest rates of people exiting its shores for places with better economics
than almost anyplace on earth. Thus, the Jamaican population in the United States
has grown substantially over the last several decades and when a shipment is made
back home, it is not money, food or staples; more often than not they are sending
automatic weapons back to friends and families for both offensive and defensive
to the problem is the fact that the United
States sends criminals that are arrested for crimes in
this country back to Jamaica rather than clutter our cells with them. Last year almost 1,200 hundred
undesirables were returned by the United States to Jamaica, many of them being
involved in the transshipment of heroine, cocaine and marijuana from South America
to Jamaica and then to the United States.
ship patronage is rapidly dissipating due both harassment at the ports (1) and
due to the higher taxes that were recently imposed and competition with other
destinations that are gouging the tourists. In addition, tourists are very quick
to react to internal problems and with recent stories of harassment and violence,
the number of visits has dropped accordingly. Four cruise ship lines have threatened
to pull out of Montego because of the situation and Celebrity Lines has ceased
visiting the port with its top of the line Mercury Ship. Jamaica receives more revenue from the almost 2 million
tourists that visit their shores than any other single source and almost 50% of
foreign exchange was accounted for by their presence. In addition, one out of
every four jobs in Jamaica
is tourist related and 14% of the Country's gross domestic product comes from
visitors. Things weren't helped by the United States State Department's advisory
that visitors to Jamaica
should exercise caution.
Jamaica Hotel and Motel Association stunned by the incredible drop in tourist
traffic and attributing it to the headline stories in the press of tourist's being
harassed, robbed or kidnapped, have been lobbying the Government for armed guards
to be placed in areas where tourist would be visiting.
is effectively facing a murder rate of three time that of New
York City, which
doesnt play well either with the natives or the tourists. In order to show
that they were doing something about the problem, Jamaica withdrew from both the United Nations and Inter-American
Human Rights Conventions because of its dissatisfaction with their restrictions
on the death penalty. (2)
Washington Post did a story on July
27, 1999 written by Serge F. Kovaleski which can give you
an idea of what the Jamaican's are facing,
armored vehicles rumble through the late-night darkness along a blighted Kingston street as soldiers cock their rifles and set out
on foot patrols. A gaggle of stragglers quickly disperses into an alley.
a nearby neighborhood nicknamed Tel Aviv, troops clutching high-powered firearms
stand on corners to enforce an overnight curfew. Their silhouettes are barely
visible because gunfire between gangs has blown out the street lamps. Not far
away, three soldiers detain a passing car at gunpoint and search it for illegal
weapons. An army helicopter hovers overhead.
like these, reminiscent of military occupation, play out around the clock in more
than a dozen troubled communities in the hard-bitten Kingston area. The security measures, including deployment
of the armed forces, are part of a crackdown launched earlier this month to stem
a surge in murders that Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has described as "criminal
madness" and "a national challenge of unprecedented proportions."
505 people have been slain this year, most of them young, unemployed men who belong
to heavily armed drug gangs that compete for turf in poor neighborhoods in and
around Kingston. A total of 185 people were killed in May and June, most of them
in the capital.
one 17-day stretch running into July, 66 victims--including an elderly woman shot
in the head by robbers and three young girls who were raped--were felled in bloodshed
that sent dozens of panicked residents fleeing their inner-city homes. Some sought
refuge inside police stations, where they set up makeshift camps."
Jamaica believes that the only way they can show tourists
that they are serious about the crime problem in their country is to throw the
book at criminals and if that offends their critics, so be it.
Peter Martin, a spokesman for the Jamaica Tourist Board in New York, said
that although the tourist total had risen substantially over 10 years -- the level
is now 1.9 million a year, including nearly 700,000 cruise passengers, Mr. Martin
said -- the police force had not grown commensurately.
did an interesting story on the Jamaican problem which was good enough to include
here in whole. It was written by Earl Maxam.
Jamaica, Aug 4 (Reuters) - Jamaica 's national security chief will meet U.S. Attorney
General Janet Reno on Thursday as the Caribbean nation struggles to stem a crime
wave blamed partly on illegal guns imported from the United States and criminals
deported by Washington.
his meeting with Reno in Washington, Minister of National Security and Justice K.D.
Knight will discuss the flow of illegal weapons and U.S. deportation of Jamaican criminals back to Jamaica,
Jamaican government sources told Reuters.
of the West Indies political scientist Christine Cummings said Knight's
meeting with Reno
could mean Jamaica was looking for outside policing help.
the issues reach the level of Janet Reno, it's very serious, and I wouldn't be
surprised if this was an attempt to get outside policing help," Cummings
left on Tuesday for Washington and also will meet officials at the State and Justice
Departments, Drug Enforcement Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and
murder rate in Jamaica, a nation of 2.6 million, has soared over the past two months. In parts
of Kingston, violence and random gunfire in the streets have
prompted residents to move from their homes and businesses to relocate.
government has responded by deploying Jamaica Defense Force soldiers to help police
in enforcing curfews and vehicle checks. But the measures have had limited success.
Smith, the opposition's spokesman in parliament on national security, supported
Knight's initiative and criticized the U.S. policy of sending Jamaicans raised in the United States
back to Jamaica
when convicted of crimes.
all intents and purposes, they are Americans. They learned their nefarious craft
up there and it is unfair to send them to us," Smith said.
sources said deportees - Jamaicans convicted of crimes who are sent home by foreign
countries - have been linked to several of Jamaicas more heinous crimes in recent years.
also said the United States had not assured Jamaica that it was doing all it could "to minimize
the inflow of illegal firearms," especially through the major gateways of
New York, Florida
Jamaica's external debt remains and a nearly unserviceable $3.6 billion dollars
More critical is the fact that imported items necessary to keep the economic machine
operating have risen in price where indigenously produced products have nose-dived.
concerns are also apparent as the control of industrial pollution has not kept
up with economic activity. Various attempts have been taken to revitalized stagnant
industries especially in the areas of bringing in and maintaining foreign exchange,
generating employment and the utilization of raw materials that can be found indigenously.
Duty free access tax holidays along with free trade zones for light manufacturing,
data entry and garment assembly have had some modicum of success. The United States
has an investment of over $1 billion in Jamaica with almost 100 companies operating within Jamaica's
is averaging about 17%, inflation is critical and the Jamaican dollar has gone
to hell in a hand basket. These factors have caused labor unrest for literally
the first time in the Nation's independent history. The unemployed seem to flow
from agrarian areas in Jamaica
to the cities in an endless flow of humanity. The entire country has been suffering
from a very high crime rate most likely brought on by the simultaneous jump in
drug trafficking with such standards as crack cocaine, marijuana and heroin making
up the menu.
has also been a serious thorn in the Government's side as one official after another
has been forced to resign under pressure because of being unable to their hands
out of the till. Election fraud is common and pervasive and the public is losing
patience in their elected leaders as well as the process itself.
it almost appears that the police have taken over total control of law enforcement. The Government of Jamaica itself indicates
that the police have a shoot first and ask questions second type of philosophy.
On August, 10, in Kingston
seven people were shot by police in two separate incidents according to the Associated
Minister Percival J. Patterson described harassment at the ports as the single
biggest problem facing the tourist industry.
organizations believe that if a person has been held in jail for over five years,
they believe that it is cruel and inhuman punishment. Thus, Jamaican Lawyers push
the legal envelope to keep their clients going for more than five years. Once
over that hurdle under the old guide-lines they would be safe from execution.