We want $1m each - Tivoli residents put price on their loss
Daviot Kelly, Staff Reporter
Happy that Public Defender Earl Witter's report, at least an interim one, has finally been published, residents of Tivoli Gardens, west Kingston, are now mainly concerned about the compensation the document has recommended they receive.
The residents want to know who is responsible for their pain but believe an enquiry could take years to be established.
"Enquiry a go bring out who is at fault," said Lilieth James. "But at the same time, we a suffer. Me old, have sugar, and pressure."
When informed that Witter had recommended that more than $110 million be paid out for the more than 680 claims, the residents said they believed this was too little.
However, the public defender did note in his report that more could be paid out for pain and suffering.
Annette Marshall, one of the residents who marched to Jamaica House in March to deliver a petition asking for an international enquiry, believes each claimant should get at least $1 million.
"We not settling for less than that," she said adamantly.
Brian McFarlane tried to put a dollar figure on his losses, including his car and a TV he bought shortly before the incursion. He believes close to $1 million would be fair.
"Mi nah go be outrageous and say mi did have millions over here," he said. "Mi nuh really waan fi harass nubbody. Mi jus waan dem compensate mi fi wah mi lose."
$250,000 will not do
His brother Willis said if he was to add up his lost chickens, hog pen, and other damage, it would also be a tidy sum.
"Dem a come and a gi man some likkle $250,000. Dat can't buy back wha mi lose," he said. "Dat can't build back mi house."
But for some, even the money won't ease the pain they still remember vividly.
Tamara Lindsay, who lost two cousins, a brother, and her partner in the incursion, said there are nights she has the shivers. She has had to seek medical help, not just for her bruises, but for her troubled mind.
"We can't get back who we lost. An di compensation fi yuh tings yuh work fah woulda nice, but dem caan give yuh back who yuh lost. We want justice!"
May happen again
Unlike others, Lindsay is eager for an enquiry.
"If this just cover under the mat, it may be 10 years from now, but it goin' happen again. It nuh mus' happen a Tivoli, but it wi happen somewhere else."
The residents are not convinced, however, that even if anyone were to be found responsible, such a person would see prison time. They believe the incursion has left a permanent scar on the area.
"West Kingston will never be the same no more," said Marshall. "Right now, you still have kids down here who are traumatised."
So they wait for the compensation, and Marshall added: "Please do not take the whole year for us to get it. Let us have a merry Christmas and even a good Independence."
In an article published on A1 of yesterday's Gleaner under the headline 'At long last', it was incorrectly stated that it was previously reported that 76 persons had been killed during the Tivoli incursion. The figure previously reported was 73 persons, but the Public Defender's Tivoli Report now states that 76 civilians and a soldier were confirmed killed.
Also, the then chief of defence staff was incorrectly identified as Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin. At the time of the events referenced, Major General Stuart Saunders held that post. We regret the errors.