LETTER OF THE DAY - Why is Jamaica so crime-ridden?
THE EDITOR, Sir:
People should stop obfuscating serious and even critical social issues and their causes, in order to further what they perceive to be party political advantage. It is absolutely counterproductive and futile to ignore the real causes of bloody brutal crime in Jamaica. Policing cannot reduce the rate of serious crimes in present conditions. The Tivoli scenario is a slice of what happened, and may continue to happen if underlying matters are ignored. Violent murders, scams, and garrison politics et al, in Jamaica are self-defence moves by the people to escape the ravages of subhuman poverty. They were dealt the poverty legacy by the former slave owners, the British, when all they were 'given' was nominal physical 'freedom', but economic slavery, when assigned to infertile, backwoods, mountainous hinterlands in 1838. To survive, their modern descendants, still in a relatively bad place economically, will do anything, even listen to, become dependent on, and become tools of, self-serving politicians.
In fact, during their struggles against slavery Jamaican slaves suffered massacres, torture, whippings, and Lynch-like brainwashing to make them hate themselves in a most disgraceful way. Yet, they still resisted until slavery gradually became more and more unprofitable, and the Abolitionists were able to come to the fore and face down the ship-owning, slavery businessmen in England. The plantation men in Jamaica then necessarily had to fold because of lack of supplies. The Royal Navy, under post-emancipation orders when slavery was 'illegal', then seized many slave ships and arrested crews who they found to be transporting Africans to the New World to be sold as slaves. But, as a matter of fact, some of the most rabid anti-abolitionists were the African chiefs at the supply end of the business. The English may not even have had the military power to invade the hinterland, at the time, to capture Africans in the numbers needed to make slavery a profitable business. They were hampered by diseases which their immune systems could not cope with, and the potential for guerilla attacks in bush wars against the chiefs, which they could not have won.
But if Jamaican slaves resisted back then when barely armed and heavily outgunned, then how do we expect a vastly outnumbered police force in what is now a (largely) political democratic setting, to make permanent headway in keeping order? It is to their tribute that basically Jamaican blacks have shown very little, if any, real hostility against Caucasians. Racism is not the focus of Jamaicans: economics, poverty and lack of fair life chances are foremost in their thinking.
The prevalence/extent of poverty in Jamaica has hardly budged despite the (perhaps somewhat anaemic) efforts of home-grown politicians of both parties over the past 50 years. So, in my opinion, the crime rate is very much linked to the life conditions of a substantial number of the people. When we further consider the mashed-up family structure (another slavery legacy) and the fact that disconsolate pregnant women can influence the emotional development (even unwittingly) by certain hormonal flows in utero there is much to consider. Researchers are now saying that Hitler was one such dog-hearted killer whose mother was constantly frightened, threatened, and beaten severely while she was pregnant.
In the present type of life scenario, happening much too often, where, say, a three-bedroom cardboard house is burnt down, and 30 people are homeless as a result, what do we expect?