Sat | Sep 26, 2020

Letter of the Day | SOE is a failure as a long-term cure

Published:Tuesday | December 3, 2019 | 12:00 AM


While PM Andrew Holness insists that states of emergency (SOEs) are succeeding, people are dying in droves – old men and old women, young women and young men. Does he not read or believe the police statistics?

While he talks with the usual assurance that people find so comforting about fixing houses in west kingston, what about next door south St Andrew, what about St James, both under SOEs, where the number of homicides continues to climb?

Is wha’ do di man?

The PNP is right to criticise SOEs but wrong to vote in their support of it. Its argument that something is better than nothing must give way to presenting, arguing for and defending another concrete approach.

Why is the PNP not giving the country such a proposal? Finding fault is not an Opposition’s chief task. It is to come up with policies better than the Government’s.

Is wha’ do di PNP?

So the SOE worked well to staunch the flow of blood. A tourniquet, a tight belt or cord above the wound is good at that. But it is not meant to be kept indefinitely in place. After the stitches, to heal a wound, doctors employ a method that has healing ability.

It is now obvious that the SOE, like any tourniquet, is a failure as a long-term cure. The facts stare the Government in the face. Why the refusal to acknowledge them, as the PNP has at least done, and draw the rational conclusion?

The rational conclusion is to examine the alternative that has been on the ground for years, on a small scale, yes, but recently assessed and highly praised by the UWI’s Dr Herbert Gayle. (His study is available.) It is the approach employed by the Peace Management Initiative.


One can only hope that the next session of the Crime Summit, when (if) it occurs, will recognise the need that goes beyond the halfway house of the zones of special operation, where the focus on identification, and road or drain repair, does not touch the real problem.

The summit could, through the help of the private sector and civil society (though I am not holding my breath), identify the necessity shirked by successive administrations. It is to bring deprived low-income communities and their youth into the opportunities and mainstream of full national life. This would heal the wound that is causing this crisis and anguish of violence, murder, rape and robbery.