Wed | Oct 28, 2020

JaRistotle’s Jottings | Border walls and political fluff

Published:Wednesday | January 9, 2019 | 12:00 AMj'aristotle

And so it came to pass that as 2018 came to an end, common sense jumped ship and left quite a few politicians fluffing and lost for logic.  US President Donald Trump’s determination to secure funding to build his promised border wall at the expense of shutting down the federal government dominated international attention.  Here in Jamaica, the decision of the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) not to support any further extensions of the States of Emergency (SOEs) in St. James, St. Catherine and Kingston and St. Andrew hit home like a kick in the nuts. 

Such political fluff and paucities of logic forces one to ponder whether some politicians have their country’s interest at heart, or are so caught up in the politics of self and party that they have lost sight of what really matters?   

Whereas the issue in the US surrounds the desire for a border wall to ‘keep Americans safe’, in Jamaica the SOEs have been the border walls that have kept law-abiding citizens safe from murder, maim and mayhem.  It is absolutely befuddling, this decision of the PNP to reject such an important measure at this critical juncture in the government’s efforts to tame the crime monster and protect the citizenry in the areas concerned and the country at large.

Fear and desperation

I have in the past articulated my support for the SOEs and opined that unless sanctions for criminality are sufficiently harsh, criminals will remain undaunted and we will forever be at their mercy.  Putting aside the holier than thou, the bleeding hearts and the incessant objectors, it is our politicians who are ultimately pussyfooting with the implementation of such sanctions.

Is it that they have become so embedded with criminals over the years that they are afraid to go harsh lest they cause their ‘business partners’ to become whistle-blowers?

From the PNP’s perspective, the SOEs have been instrumental in curbing the runaway murder rates in the areas concerned, thus allowing the Jamaica Labour Party- (JLP) led government bragging rights.  Such successes for an in-power party invariably spells disaster for the opposition, and so the PNP’s decision amounts to an act of desperation: the politics of self and party taking precedence over the safety and security of their fellow citizens.

Where to?

SOEs are not the most sustainable crime prevention solutions, but having needed an immediate fix, they were and remain the most appropriate for the time being.  That said, the government ought to have more wisely used the breathing space created by the SOEs to concretise a strategic foundation for future undertakings. 

If Jamaica is to realise Vision 2030 and become the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business, there has to be improved coordination between all relevant interest groups and sectors to harmonise activities targeting the social, economic, security and political ills of the country.

Ours is not solely a security problem, but in order to lay the groundwork for sustainable development, we have to first secure and control the operating space, thereby keeping the criminals at bay.  Only then will follow-on activities be viable.

Much has already been said and done regarding economic imperatives and social interventions: it is the politicians that we need to drag into the modern era, exiling the dinosaurs, the contaminated and the myopic attitudes that dominate our politics.

Where bitter medicine becomes necessary, political maturity would suggest appropriate support by the opposition rather than stock vilification. Where better ideas are proffered by the opposition, so too should the government take heed and adopt. 

Build bridges, not walls, say many, but border walls keeping evil at bay also have their place in our national architecture.