Thu | Nov 23, 2017

NDM hails Chuck's call to dismantle political garrisons

Published:Monday | October 16, 2017 | 12:05 AM

President of the National Democratic Movement (NDM), Peter Townsend, says he welcomes the recent call by Justice Minister Delroy Chuck for the Jamaica Labour Party and the People’s National Party to tackle the task of dismantling the political ‘garrisons’ in Jamaica.

According to the NDM, since its inception in 1995, it has called for the end of “this shameful and awful practice wherein zones of political exclusion were created and enforced by criminal elements working in tandem with politicians in the country’s two major political parties ­ an ugly culture which breeds crime and stifles the growth and development of Jamaica”.

The movement said it hopes that the slaughter of more than 70 people in Tivoli Gardens in 2010 “at the altar of ‘garrison’ politics and the hundreds of millions of dollars spent by Government from taxpayers’ money to stage a commission of enquiry will not go down in vain”.

The security forces stormed Tivoli Gardens in May 2010 to serve an extradition warrant on then fugitive drug lord Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke. He was extradited a month later

BLIGHT ON DEMOCRACY

The NDM president said one of the key recommendations coming from the final report of that commission is for the dismantling of the ‘garrison’ structure, which it found to be a blight on the country’s democracy.

The NDM also recalled that former US President Jimmy Carter, on his visit to Jamaica in 1997 to observe the general election that year, expressed shock and horror at the existence of political garrison communities ­ a phenomenon Carter said he was seeing for the first time. He made an appeal for the practice to end.

The movement said it is hoping that Chuck’s call at this time, “when we celebrate our national heroes and, on the eve of by-elections in two major garrison seats (South West St Andrew and South St Andrew (both PNP garrisons) will gain traction and gather momentum for the process of degarrisonisation of Jamaica now. 

“In the name of our national heroes who fought for our freedom, set our people (free) from the clutches of ‘garrison’ politics.”