Ronald Mason | Reach out and touch
The phenomenon of lottery scamming is well known to, and embedded in, Jamaica. It rep dastard acts committed on vulnerable older persons, in general. The overwhelming majority of the victims are to be found in the USA.
As such, one can understand the rationale behind having the FBI open an office in Jamaica. If this were just a solitary action, one could understand. However, this is the continuation of a policy of overreach that makes me uncomfortable.
This intrusion started within the American power structure many decades ago in the form of the Munroe Doctrine. The Americans have always displayed a domineering attitude that suggests that our sovereignty is just offered to us as a placenta. The Americans 'giveth' and the Americans 'taketh away'.
Their history and current actions all support this. During World War II, when we were not even yet independent, they held as their territory Vernamfield and Goat Islands. Today, they have legal rights to Vernamfield.
They have always been involved in the politics of independent Jamaica. We have had the Americans asserting negative influence about our continuous relationship with Cuba. They stepped up that involvement in the 1970s, and we were well aware of the CIA's role 43 years ago this month in the regime change of Chile where Salvador Allende chose to assert his country's right to chart its own course, in keeping with its sovereignty. The CIA was most active; see the book by Casey G. McCalla titled Inside the CIA's Secret War in Jamaica.
The current thinking is that Jamaica has a poor ranking in terms of crime; murder and mayhem stalk the land, but until the nexus between politicians and criminals is broken, we are not likely to see any significant change.
The DEA has been here operating for years. The ATF has been operating here for decades. We are subject to the Shiprider Agreement. American law officers board our vessels in our ports, at will, and all our pleas fall on deaf ears.
So now by mutual agreement, our Government has acquiesced to the fixed presence of the FBI. Will the FBI agents have powers to arrest Jamaican citizens? Will they be permitted to be armed in contravention of our firearm laws? Will they need to acquire judicial permission to intercept our conversations, or will the Jamaica Constabulary Force Officer become their Mr Step and Fetch in doing the Americans' bidding without question?
All good intentions and the political benefits are known. However, here comes the USA to diminish our sovereign value. Does training of our security forces require their personnel being permanently stationed in Jamaica?
At least this time we were communicated with, unlike Jamaican citizens who apply for passports reflective of their nationality. We are issued passports that read 'CARICOM' - a grouping of territories that share no incidents of statehood, but that is what we have been reduced to.
This deepening of American presence is reflective of policy of lawmakers in the USA. America is intent on fighting corruption overseas. In July 2016, the junior senator from the great state of Maryland, Benjamin Louis Cardin, introduced legislation that would elevate the issue of corruption to a historically prominent place in US development policy. He is walking in the footsteps of former UK PM David Cameron, who in May hosted dozens of world leaders at the massive Global Anti-Corruption Summit in London. There Cameron stated, "Corrupion is at the heart of so many of the world's problems."
If passed, the Cardin Bill would require future presidential administrations to rate countries around the world according to their commitment to tackling corruption, and US assistance would be linked to that index.
Never before has the problem of corruption come so close to dictating future flows of US funds to dozens of key allies and partners. The bill further argues that anti-corruption measures are instrumental in protecting human rights and achieving sustainable economic growth (bye-bye Jamaica buggery law). These are ideals most observers will agree on.
Corruption is a known impediment to development. This legislation will now give cover to American actions in the name of better serving their taxpayers. All the rankings are going to be subjective, similar to the rankings published in the Trafficking in Persons Report.
Corruption is treated as a single, monolithic scourge - low-level government officials taking citizens for a petty bribe ("let off suppen nuh, boss") or more sophisticated by MPs and government ministers dictating the shared distribution from roadwork and building contracts, school book purchases and school building repair contracts, approval and issuing of telecoms licences and telecoms mergers, divestments of key government entities or agent fees for massive government contracts finding their way into political party coffers will all now be subject to the big stick of Senator Cardin's legislation.
This law is likely to be passed. Think on this. Senator Cardin is currently the highest-ranking minority member of the Foreign Relations Committee. He could become the chairman in November. Will the legislation pass if this happens? Bet on it.
So Jamaica is now being further stripped of her sovereignty. All the ills of crime and corruption must be visibly and vigorously tackled. Where is the will for us to do it ourselves and remain free and Independent? The USA continues to reach out and touch us.
- Ronald Mason is an attorney-at-law and Supreme Court mediator. Email feedback to