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Mark Wignall | They want an army takeover

Published:Thursday | June 6, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Members of the Jamaica Defence Force and the Jamaica Constabulary Force doing spot checks on Greenwich Road in Kingston after a state of emergency was announced last year in the Corporate Area.

Two people, newly in love with each other, are fools in that they are no longer led by reason to the same extent that they are blinded by their uncontrollable emotions. And many of us long to become such fools.

The same reasoning can probably be applied to those in Jamaica who believe that the Government is incapable of bringing order to a society constantly traumatised by bloody gun crimes and murder, and the politicians should turn over government to the army or the army should seize power.

According to that dangerous, but understandable reasoning, the army has the discipline needed to get this country back on an even keel and take us away from that constant state of tearing ourselves apart.

Followed by a horribly bloody video clip she had sent me, her follow-up call on Tuesday went like this.

“I’m in a WhatsApp group of about 30 people and almost all of us believe that the army should take over because normal government cannot deal with the type of gun crimes happening now. What yu think?”

Me: “This is dangerous thinking. You really don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. Even assuming that the army regime that takes over brings murder down to, say, 300 per year, have you thought of the likelihood of that same army becoming our brutal masters?”

She paused, then came back a bit more calm and quiet: “I understand, but something radical has to be done. We cannot continue like this.”

In the book, Political Culture of Democracy in Jamaica, 2016/2017, out of the UWI survey numbers are quoted: ‘Support for military coups under high levels of crime ranges from a low of 23.3 per cent in the United States to a high of 59.3 per cent of respondents in Jamaica.’

In 2006, support for a military takeover in Jamaica was 40 per cent. In 2010, it was 41 per cent. In 2012, it was the same at 41 per cent. In 2014, it jumped to 49 per cent. In 2017, it vaulted to 56 per cent.


On about four or five occasions over the last 26 years, I have observed the army on the ground in strife operations in poverty-stricken garrison areas where many of the incubatory gun behaviours are honed every day. Soldiers on the ground in these instances do not care about ‘normal policing’, and in assuming that every household is a potential hideout for guns, they can be quite brutal to even women and youngsters.

The brazenness of recent shootings and murders that are obviously hit jobs have driven many of our people to the edge of utter dread and helplessness. When a man feels powerless his reasoning abilities go on holiday.

Extortion in urban centres has long been the oil which lubricates gang activity across the island. In a military takeover when absolute power lies at Up Park Camp, what would stop a zealous and ambitious major from knocking on the door of a major corporation and demanding from it five million dollars per month (for personal use) on top of the broader tax regime that the army would be overseeing?

And, as I have said before, sometimes when we wish for something (destructive) based on knee-jerk reasoning, when we get it, no preconditions are set for a divorce, should it not work out.

In other words, in excess of 60 per cent of our people would now like the army to take over because of the high crime rate. The bigger concern would then be, how do we get rid of it if it decides that control of the total state is too good to give up when the sweets of absolute power sets in?

We need to think on these things.