Treat mental scars or face bangarang, warns Smith
Veteran journalist and publisher Lloyd B. Smith is predicting "bangarang" in St James if the Government lifts the ongoing state of public emergency without first treating the mental state of citizens in the parish.
"The day that the state of public emergency is lifted, it is going to be bangarang," declared Smith, while addressing the annual general meeting of ASIS International in Montego Bay last Friday. "The state of public emergency is a Band-Aid, it's a temporary Band-Aid, to cover a putrid sore foot."
Despite the eight-month-old security measures, more than 60 persons have been murdered in St James since the start of the year. However, the security forces have had some successes, seizing 58 illegal firearms and 1,461 rounds of ammunition, in addition to arresting 20 persons who were on the police most wanted list.
60% drop in killings
According to the latest statistics provided by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), in addition to the more than 60 per cent decline in murders in St James, the parish has also seen a 56.4 per cent reduction in shootings.
Nonetheless, despite the encouraging gains by the security forces, Smith still believes the private sector and the local business community must put more pressure on the Government to get even better results.
While agreeing that the state of public emergency has created a comfort zone, Smith said people don't want to think about life after the security measures because of the great uncertainty that exists.
"I ask you, gentlemen and ladies, is the problem solved? Are we really safe, or are we now living in an artificial bubble that one day will burst?"
While praising some aspects of the ongoing zone of special operations in Mt Salem in the parish, where several social intervention programmes have been taking place, including the removal of zinc fencing, Smith thinks that the mental state of the people must be addressed in order to get the desired result.
"There is one aspect that is not being addressed, which is the mentality, the mind of the people," said Smith, using the lottery scam as an example. "That (lottery scamming) is seen as reparation. It is their (scammers) way of getting back money from the colonial masters. They will tell you quite frankly that they don't see anything wrong with it."
He added, "You have mothers, you have pastors, you have everybody who benefits from lotto scam."