Sun | Mar 7, 2021

Maroon chief hits back at quasi-sovereign label

Published:Tuesday | February 23, 2021 | 12:20 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
Chief Richard Currie, the youngest elected leader of the Accompong Maroons of modern time.
Chief Richard Currie, the youngest elected leader of the Accompong Maroons of modern time.

WESTERN BUREAU:

Newly elected Chief Richard Currie is rejecting the depiction of his Accompong Town enclave as a quasi-sovereign state, saying that it helps drive the misconception of who the Maroons are and what they represent.

Pointing to the usage of the term in a Gleaner story published yesterday, Currie said that the word ‘quasi’ – which means supposedly – could seem like an attempt to undermine the indigenous status of the Maroon people.

“Entangled in this duality is that people feel that we fall under the Jamaican jurisdiction, but that’s not what a treaty does. So anyone who keeps coming back to me with these terms, I challenge them to that for their lack of knowledge and understanding of treaties between sovereign nations,” he contended yesterday.

But historian Shalman Scott has hit back, saying that Accompong Town was indeed a wannabe state, adding that unless it has its own constitution, own police force and judiciary, among other things, it is a quasi-sovereign state.

Scott said that by raising an objection, the Maroon chief was misdirecting himself in terms of the meaning.

“They have always been a quasi-state within the context of the Jamaican State. But they have been given some privileges arising from the 1738 Peace Treaty, among the Leeward, and Westward Maroons, and the 1741 Treaty of the Eastern Maroons, in contrast to the over 850 other villages in the island,” said Scott.

He noted that these villages do not enjoy the kind of quasi recognition that the Maroons have received over the years from the Jamaican Government, but they ought not to fool themselves that they are an independent state within an independent state.

For Accompong Town to be a sovereign state, Scott argued, it would need its own police station, be able to appoint its own judges or enforce superior jurisdiction. As a sovereign state, he said, it would not be subjected to the dictates of the courts of Jamaica and would be excluded from any intervention from the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

The Maroons would also not vote in Jamaican elections as they currently do, with one of their former colonels even running as a candidate in the local government elections.

The 1738 treaty signed between the British and the Maroons resulted in a truce after bitter wars costing too many lives and economic devastation.

With sugar as king, Jamaica was the centre of the Crown’s economic growth, contributing significantly to the British coffers.

“This was a treaty of peace and friendship for the honour of respecting each other’s boundary, allowing the Maroons to pursue their own agenda within the defined space, as assigned under the treaty, which is the cockpits,” Currie explained.

Having outlined the borders, the Maroons were then confined to the Cockpit Country, where they were to farm their lands uninterrupted, participate in trade and commerce uninterrupted, he added, with Jamaica having that understanding through the treaty that there is a diplomatic engagement.

“That was the level of diplomatic arrangement that came together as a result of 1738 – government-to-government relationship – that, to me, is clear definition. One, you have a border; two, you have a people with a permanent state; and three, you have a constitution.”

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com