Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Much progress since 1980 - Levy

Published:Friday | September 16, 2016 | 9:00 AM

Even as the country grapples with a frightening murder rate attributed largely to infighting among gangs, Horace Levy, chairman of Jamaicans For Justice, is convinced that Jamaica has made significant strides in arresting political violence.

The progress has been slow but noteworthy, Levy, who is also a board member of the Peace Management Initiative (PMI), told a Gleaner Editors' Forum yesterday.

With some three-quarters of the 899 murders in Jamaica in 1980 attributed to political violence, one of the bloodiest times in Jamaica's modern history, Levy argues that much has been achieved in the ensuing 36 years.

"There has been a lot of progress from 1980 to 2010 (when the Tivoli incursion occurred), and we've moved beyond the violence of that stage, (but) we have a long way to go," the peace advocate declared. He went on to explain that in 1980, the country was divided along political lines, with the private sector, communities, and police all one on side. However, 30 years later when a joint security team invaded Tivoli, where gunmen effectively challenged the State's authority, things were much different, according to Levy.

"In 2010, both parties - the private sector, civil society - were all together, basically, in favour of the security operations. That's progress, enormous progress," he stressed. "The violence has been as a result of the garrison and the party involvement, but we (are) not going back. Now, that's a hopeful view, I agree, but I see changes."

Levy pointed to the provision of funding to the PMI to carry out is peace and mediation initiatives by former security minister Peter Bunting and a continuation of this by the Jamaica Labour Party as a real sign of political maturity.

"This is something the State had never done before. The money is inadequate, but it's still flowing under the present administration, and we are extending our operation to Clarendon, Westmoreland, and St James on very inadequate money. But it is movement, and the PMI has been able to do things very quietly in Denham Town and Tivoli, which will move the process," he disclosed.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com