A weblog by a former soldier and present-day U.S. foreign service officer. My views in no way represent anyone else's than my own although readers are welcome to agree with as much as they desire. If you're looking for gossip, for breaches of operational security or privacy, for public criticism of the declared foreign policies of the United States of America, leaks or other treasonous disloyalty, the reader is invited to look elsewhere.
Keele McFarlane Saturday, July 08, 2006 Its origins are somewhat obscure, but the term "Mexican standoff" arose in the late 19th century, after a turbulent century in which Mexico underwent uprisings against the Spanish conquerors; occupation by a Habsburg prince under French auspices; continued strife and loss of large stretches of territory at the hands of the emerging, supremely self-confident and expansionist United States;
and more than three decades of autocratic rule by a strongman who emerged out of all this chaos. Initially, the term was derogatory, implying that Mexicans couldn't decide anything, but as time wore on it took on the more neutral meaning of an irreconcilable situation - classically, in movie terms, two men with guns drawn who don't really want to shoot, but who don't want to be the first to put the gun down.Now, two men, each of whom very much wants to be president of Mexico, have found themselves in just such a situation.
Forty-one million Mexicans turned out to polling places last Sunday to choose a new president, 628 members of the two houses of congress, the government of Mexico City and local offices. The Federal Election Institute counted the votes, but for a while it was unclear who would emerge as the country's new president.
Forty-four-year-old Felipe Calderón represents the National Action Party - known by its Spanish initials PAN. That's the party of the incumbent president, Vicente Fox. It's a right-of-centre grouping favourable to business, and was the group which dislodged the party that ran Mexico's business single-handedly for seven decades. That outfit - the Institutional Revolutionary Party - is known to almost every Mexican as Pree - from the Spanish initials, PRI. The name is a bit of an oxymoron - the terms revolutionary and institutional are completely contradictory, and the PRI demonstrated this dichotomy during its 70-odd years in charge of Mexico.
It became a tradition for the outgoing president to "lay the finger" on the party's chosen successor, since the constitution stipulates that the president can serve only one six-year term. Even though it was the PRI which brought Mexico into the North American Free Trade Agreement, and has seen the country's economy open up, the party has favoured a nationalistic economic policy, particularly in areas like natural resources. It has shunned foreign investment in the huge oil sector, preferring to foster the national oil giant, Pemez.
CALDERON... Assuming that his victory holds, it's by no means a certainty he'll be able to carry out all the reforms he wants to The PRI is represented this time by Roberto Madrazo, a long-time politician who has served as a member of the chamber of deputies, senator and state governor. He's been trying to bring the party back together after it split into two main factions a few years ago. He never even came close to winning the presidency, ending up with a respectable one-fifth of the vote. The two other candidates didn't make much of an impression.
The other main contender is a charismatic former mayor of Mexico City, Andres Manuel López Obrador, 52, known in the popular press and to his fanatic supporters as AMLO.
He ran for the Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, and appeals to the lower economic classes, as demonstrated by his campaign slogan, "For the good of all, the poor first". His nationalistic line talks about "purifying national life, and these sentiments do not go down too well with the business classes and foreign investors.
They paint him as a left-wing firebrand, part of a dangerous leftward trend in the region, as personified by Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia. But observers say he's neither very strongly left-wing nor very anti-American, tending instead to direct his wrath at the very wealthy elite of his own country. It is they, he says, who will have to make the sacrifices necessary to create more jobs and expand the economy.
As the polls closed on Sunday night, the count was too close to call, and the election institute, which is well respected throughout the hemisphere for its integrity, refused to declare anyone the winner. The early returns showed Calderón with a lead of about one per cent, but there were still many votes outstanding, and AMLO started kicking up a fuss.
By mid-week as authorities began the final tabulation of the votes, they announced that about two million votes had not been accounted for in the preliminary count. López charged that the election had been rigged against him and demanded a vote-by-vote recount. In the event, as the final count ploughed on, he took a slight lead. However, when the final tally was in on Thursday evening, the result was Calderón by a razor-thin margin - 35.8 per cent to 35.3 per cent for López.
Separating them is a measly 220,000 votes, or 0.6 per cent. López says he'll appeal to the election institute, and a seven-judge panel has until September 6 to hear such a motion. And the new president doesn't take office until December. Until all this is resolved, the Mexican standoff could continue, bolstered by mass demonstrations among AMLO's followers, beginning as soon as today in the capital. Assuming that Calderón's victory holds, it's by no means a certainty he'll be able to carry out all the reforms he wants to, as the PRI has a considerable presence in the national congress, and could easily stymie his efforts.
Mexico has never been an easy place to govern, and the new president will need all the toughness he can muster to try to improve the lives of his 100 million compatriots, many of whom continually seep across the northern border in search of a better life in the United States.
The country, long regarded as a source of low-wage labour, also faces serious competition from the vast pool of even cheaper labour in India, China and other parts of Asia. It also has some unresolved internal challenges such as integrating the native groups in several parts of the country into the national economic life. Most recently, natives in the southern region of Chiapas rose up a few years ago against what they felt was the iniquitous treatment of their fellow citizens by mainstream Mexicans.
The demagogue who ruled Mexico at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, Porfirio Díaz, once moaned at what he saw as the big problem his country faced as it tried to dig itself out of its colonial past and bloody relationship with its northern neighbour: "Poor Mexico - so far from God and so close to the United States."
Hat tip to The Jawa Report for including this nice quote from the LOTR: "A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fight!! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!!!" - Aragorn, son of Arathorn
Dear Editor, Although there were not really any surprises in the blogger's article linking Jamaica and the Observer to terrorism, published on the Internet by one David Paulin on June 28, the article, serves to open the eyes of Jamaicans to the kind of propaganda that white, racist Americans spread against anyone who dares to speak the truth.
Readers are invited to scroll down the writer's address and note where the good reverend hangs his hat nowadays; not, as you might surmise, in tropical "Out of Many, One People" Jamaica but rather in "white, racist American" Florida. The URL http://bigcarnival.blogspot.com/ will lead readers to Paulin's poorly written and very mischievous blog. In addition, the article gives links to the 2005 USA report on terrorism in which the Bush II policy of "whoever is not with America is against America" is clearly laid out, especially in the treatment given to Venezuela and Cuba, traditional friends of Jamaica.
Finally, Jamaicans must continue to be wary of Americans who come to the country as missionaries, diplomats or journalists, since, as we learned in the 1970s and 1980s, they could be spies in disguise. Paulin on another website includes in his curriculum vitae stints as a journalist with CNN.com and other USA companies, and speaks of his visits to the Caribbean. The fallacies in his blogging should be obvious even to Jamaican kindergarteners and so deserve no further analysis.
At the risk, nay certainty, of being accused of disingenuousness, let me pose the question: Does the writer intend equating employment as a journalist for CNN.com as being not only a journalist but a missionary, diplomat and/or spy? Rev Mervin Stoddart P O Box 150953 Altamonte Springs, FL 32715 INMerv@hotmail.com
One of the things I always find fascinating is the phenomenon of people who leave the Third World to live in the United States but can't quite resist the temptation to badmouth us "white, racist Americans." Disclaimer: To my knowledge, I have not yet visited the web log mentioned but will be remedying that lack after I post this article.
A 12-MAN jury has begun hearing evidence on the cold-blooded murder of seven-year-old Jamaican Toni-Ann Byfield in the Old Bailey Criminal Court. A single bullet to the back killed the child on September 14, 2003.
The trial is being dubbed one of the most explosive murder trials in England, as the child is recorded as the youngest gun and drug-related victim. She was killed along with Bertram Byfield whose real name is Anthony Pinnock.
The court heard on the first day that Toni-Ann arrived in Britain in 2000 and was killed by 31-year-old Joel Smith who knew Pinnock, the man believed, before DNA evidence ruled it out after the killing, to be the child's father.
The prosecution described the child as bright and fun loving. Toni-Ann was killed after a shopping spree with Pinnock during which they purchased uniforms for her new school. The court was told that the child was excited at the thought of going to school and making new friends.
The prosecution said the accused murdered the child to eliminate her as a witness to Pinnock's murder.
A nod of thanks to Ben at Ben's Rants and Ravesfor the mention. Hey Ben, I think I've been getting some hits on the site meter from a school up your way; is that you are did you sicc the little nippers on me?
PORT ANTONIO, Portland - On a regular Tuesday afternoon, the Errol Flynn Marina in Port Antonio is quiet - very quiet - and certainly does not appear to be the hub of activity and revenue generator for the town it was touted to be when it first opened in 2002.
Two weeks ago, however, it was bustling - filled with participants, organisers and observers of the Panama to Jamaica leg of the Clipper 05/06 Round the World Yacht Race, which stopped in Jamaica with 10 yachts and about 200 crew members.
A biking tour in Portland, Wednesday. Despite the deteriorating infrastructure, the parish still holds much charm for visitors. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)
"It's (the Clipper race) the biggest thing to happen to Port Antonio since the marina got opened, the biggest thing that has happened here in years," said John Louis of Westrec Marinas, the management company that has operated the Port Antonio marina since 2003.But such events happen once in a while. For the most part, the marina just sits there. Louis says, however, it's only a matter of time and marketing before both the marina and associated Ken Wright cruise ship pier start bringing in regular business.Westrac, on its website, claims to be the largest company of its kind in the world. It operates 25 marinas in the United States and several others in the Caribbean, South America and Central America.
The marina business, explained Louis, is seasonal, with yachters coming to the island in the winter, usually to escape foul weather."Our clientele normally summers in Europe and winters in the Caribbean," said Louis, pointing to the fact that during the summer, the weather in North America and Europe was quite pleasant, while the Caribbean is susceptible to storms.
"The biggest concern is that the insurance companies are making it very, very expensive for visiting yachts to be in the Caribbean during the hurricane season."But even with those concerns, Louis remains optimistic about the growth of the business, saying the marina did surprisingly well last year, given the number of storms.
"Revenues are still going up, so presumably we're doing good," he said. "Our total revenues are currently up by about 40 per cent, which is significant, especially since the rest of Port Antonio seems to be going the other way."
The marina, explained Louis, took some time to be ready for business, with the fuel dock opening only last year.William Tatham, vice president for cruise shipping at the Port Authority of Jamaica, the government entity that owns the cruise ship pier and marina, said that last year there were between 14 and 20 calls by boutique (small) cruise ships.
"We've gone from zero to about 20, and its a huge task," said Tatham, explaining that because of the harbour channel, only boutique ships, which carry less than a thousand passengers can call at the port.
"The challenges we face are that boutique cruises don't happen on a weekly run, like say the Royal Caribbean will do a seven-day run out of Miami," said Tatham.Boutique cruises, he says, usually attract high-end spenders with a lot of leisure time. Such cruises tend to last 14 to 18 days, and sometimes longer on world cruises. So to get a ship of that size to come here on a weekly basis is almost impossible.
"They tend not to do that because they can't compete with the mega lines on a weekly basis," said Tatham.The port executive did not rule out the dredging of the harbour, but questioned its value for Port Antonio.
When people ask why we don't dredge to allow bigger ships in, I ask: 'Is that really what you want in a place like Port Antonio? Do you want to see 3,000 cruise passengers dumped into a town this size?" said Tatham. "This is a very high end product; it's not built for mega lines, it's catering to a different market."
Both Tatham and Louis say marketing the marina will take time. "You're in a business that's really in its infancy... it takes a while to get the word around," said Louis.
Added Tatham, borrowing a line from a movie: "People thought if you build it, they will come; but no, it doesn't work that way. You have to go out there and market it, you have to talk about it, get the word out." The Clipper Race and the renaming of the marina, they hope, will become big selling points."If you ask the average person in the United States, they know Ocho Rios, they know Negril, they know Montego Bay, but not Port Antonio," said Louis.
"I think the renaming will give that flamboyance, that branding. It almost brings the intrigue, makes someone want to ask, 'Errol Flynn?' 'Port Antonio? Where is that?' Its that pizzazz, that sort of swashbuckling, Caribbean sort of feeling."
Tempering the optimism is the reality that in many ways, Port Antonio is not ready for large-scale tourism. Although the marina and cruise ship facilities are said to be world class, much of Portland isn't - especially the roads.To ignore the infrastructure needs, suggested Louis, would be an act of folly, even though the tourists have been coming.
"The biggest complaint we get is that its very hard to get in and out of Port Antonio at the moment," said the marina's manager."It's an hour and 30 minutes flying from Miami to Kingston, but its two and a half hours - if you drive the easiest way, when its not raining, to get here." Though, internationally, infrastructure developments are used to spur investments, Tatham is hoping it will work the other way around for Port Antonio.
The Port Authority VP says he expects infrastructure improvements will come over time, spurred by the marina and its contribution.
As more ships and yachts come in, he theorises, business opportunities will rise, and pressure will be brought to bear on getting the tourism infrastructure up and functioning."I'd like to see about 52 cruise calls a year - about one a week," said Tatham.
"But that will take years, and it will take encouraging. Again, there's work to be done in the town, on the attractions, but that will only serve to accelerate that."Louis also claims the marina could have a catalytic effect on the seaside Portland capital.
"It's not a white elephant; that I can assure you. It brings the boats in... the tourists in, whether its by boat or people from Kingston who just come to enjoy the beauty of the marina," he said."Without it, we'd be going nowhere. If you ask anyone here, things are moving forward."
Isaac Bernard of the Moore Town Maroons blows the abeng during Quao Day at Charles Town Maroon village, Portland on Friday, June 23.
IF THE enthusiasm of the young Maroon children who participated in the Quao Day celebrations at the Asufu Yard, Charles Town, Portland, last Friday is anything to go on, those who believe that our indigenous culture is threatened, can relax.
The youth of both Charles Town and its fellow Maroon village of Maroon Town showed their pride in their history and culture in their dance and drama presentations. The Charles Town Maroon dancers, comprising both young and old members, danced traditional dances with ease, seam-lessly interchanging partners, regard-less of age.
Pride of place, however went to the Maroon Town dance group of eight to 12-year-old boys and girls who re-enacted in dance and drama, the vanquishing of British soldiers by national hero Nanny and fellow warriors.
These activities were part of Quao Day celebrations, which marked the 267th anniversary of the signing of the peace treaty between the British and the Charles Town Maroons. Friday also marked the launch of Unique Jamaica's Jerk Trail at Charles Town. Accompong in St. Elizabeth, Walker's Wood in St. Ann and Boston in Portland are the other centres of the jerk trail.
TRISHA Maureen Badasee, a 32 year-old customs officer has been charged with breaches of the Customs Regulations and Firearms Acts, the Constabulary Communication Network (CCN) reported yesterday. Badasse, of 4 West, Greater Portmore, St Catherine, is facing charges of attempting to obtain, conspiracy to deceive the Jamaica Customs, conspiracy to illegally import firearms, conspiracy to illegally import ammunition, conspiracy to contravene the Firearms Act and conspiracy to import prohibited goods.
The CCN said that on Friday, May 12, 2006 an operation was carried out at Kingston Wharves, during which a Colt rifle and more than 600 assorted rounds of ammunition were allegedly seized.
Investigations led to the arrest of 24 year-old Kevash Dwight Samuels on Wednesday May 24 and the subsequent arrest of Badasee. They were remanded in custody when they appeared in the Corporate Area Criminal Court Monday and are scheduled to reappear in court on Monday, July 10.
THE BILL Johnson-Gleaner polls said that crime is the biggest concern of Jamaicans. The recent conference of the Jamaica Diaspora confirms that this is true of Jamaicans overseas as well. Seventy-two per cent of Jamaicans at home identified crime and violence as their greatest worry. Jamaicans will feel it to be timely, therefore, that Senior Superintendent Reneto Adams has been reinstated to active duty. So popular a figure is Adams that many Jamaicans have said that the spectacular rise in crime since 2004 is due mainly to the fact that he had been taken off duty that year.
The data is instructive. In the 2003, 1,200 were murdered. This rose to 1,445 in 2004 and 1,650 at the end of 2005.
Anxiety for Adams' return was strong enough to be raised with Minister of National Security, Peter Phillips, at one of his presidential campaign meetings. Since his acquittal, the matter drew the attention of the Public Defender who wanted to know why Adams had not been allowed to return to work.
The official reason for the rise in murders over the past two years has been that Operation Kingfish's success against the cocaine trade had driven criminals to more desperate measures, and its decapitation of gang leaderships had created internal gang feuds. The unofficial explanation though is that because Reneto Adams was taken out of service, killers got much bolder and their extortion rackets flowered. It is even possible that Operation Kingfish and the National Crime Plan have been succeeding because they have adopted Adams' own methods that include community policing and stronger intelligence, albeit with belated international help. The reduction of the murder rate has been averaging over 20 per cent a month since the start of the year, a sign of this success.
Maybe that rate of reduction can get even better. The best way that Jamaicans can welcome back Reneto Adams is to use his direct lines (978-3371 and 404-4384) as he has asked. Since public trust in the police is vital, public cooperation is crucial and the public has the best intelligence on criminals in the communities, Mr. Adams is probably in the best place police intelligence to be effective.
Intelligence work is now a priority in crime fighting in Jamaica, which makes his work front-line duty. We must not equate the front-line with being on the streets. Mr. Adams is now a part of the 'brains' of policing. The public should flood SSP Adams with information and he in turn must make sure that he has the staff and channels through which to make that information operationally effective. If he does not get the support he needs, he should say so and let the public back him. Jamaica's Public Defender, who brought pressure to ensure Adams' return to service, must now see to it that there is no discriminatory treatment by countries denying him a visa. After all, this undermines his right to travel, collect and share intelligence with police forces in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. It is acknowledged as government policy that intelligence sharing is a central part of the fight against international crime.
ADAMS AND JAMAICAN POLICING
Just before its critics managed to get the Crime Management Unit disbanded, a Stone poll showed that 68 per cent of Jamaicans supported it. When Adams was in charge of Spanish Town the criminals kept quiet. Since 2004, they have turned the town upside down. When Eastern Kingston gangs had established control of the strategic route to the Norman Manley Airport, it was Adams who was called in to make passage safe.
Much of Adams' own strategies have now been adopted. Adams is a fervent believer in community policing. He has offered criminals support if they took to the ways of the Bible but made it clear that he could not guarantee their safety if they did not. Yet, he has been demonised as a violent psychopath. Adams was also trained at the Management Institute of National Development in intelligence work. He was one of the early pioneers of both community policing and intelligence analysis. But his detractors promote the idea that he is a violent, trigger-happy killer and nothing more.
Now governments, police organisations and NGOs all accept community policing and intelligence analysis as vital for building peace in communities and gathering the facts on those that disturb this peace. Even during his suspension, Adams used his time to do a study course on intelligence work. The truth is that everything Adams believes in has now become the central planks of policing in Jamaica and around the world.
JAMAICANS FOR INJUSTICE
A whole array of governments and private organisations like Jamaicans for Justice, Amnesty International, the Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights, Families Against State Terrorism, and the Farquarson Institute for Public Affairs have amassed more resources to convict Mr. Adams than any other individual in Jamaica's history. Something must be very wrong when criminals and human rights groups join in this common mission.
Adams had, at one count, said there had been 69 plots against his life by criminals and that as much as $21 million had been offered for his death. Failing that, others have sought to destroy his reputation and his career. His enemies will not even allow the court to change the perception that Adams is a killer.
The private sector says the first task of government is to protect the society. This is exactly what Adams believes and has been saying for years. Yet, the private sector stood by and allowed the CMU to be undermined. Adams believes that by disbanding the CMU, gunmen were sent the message that they could operate without fear, and they have. By the end of 2005, Jamaica had become the murder capital of the world.
Adams estimated that the same private sector was paying $400 million a year in extortion money. This money is used to buy guns and feed the extortion frenzy of criminals causing them to expand their gangs across greater parts of Jamaican territory. At the same time, the private sector has turned a blind eye to the real estate, legal services, car dealerships, hardware and lumber, and banking and financial systems, through which criminals readily launder their blood money.
We welcome the success of Operation Kingfish, international cooperation in intelligence, and community policing. The police, communities and NGOs must be congratulated for the significant declines in murder since the start of the year. Special successes in Grants Pen and Eastern Kingston are heartening. The burden of policing and successes in crime-fighting cannot be ascribed to one individual. However, SSP Adams has much to offer and Jamaicans want him to be allowed to do his job.
Adams' reinstatement at an intelligence desk might be a compromise to take him off the streets and appease the human rights groups while keeping him in the force to satisfy the public. But, policing cannot be compromised. It is up to SSP Adams to make his work in intelligence count. He can probably make his greatest impact there.
But, the force will still need policemen on the streets who are fearless and vigilant enough to win the respect of Jamaican communities. Can it find more people like Reneto Adams?
Robert Buddan is a lecturer in the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies. You can send your comments to Robert.Buddan@uwimona.edu.jm
SOLDIERS from B Company of the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Regiment (1 R IRISH) have undertaken a community project at Spice Grove Basic School in Fairy Hill, Portland.
Under the project, which was funded through a grant from the British High Commission, large areas of the school and its grounds were refurbished and restored.
Note: The "British High Commission" is what the U.K. has instead of an embassy when its being represented in a fellow Commonwealth country. The dining area was extended, a new kitchen fitted and extensive re-wiring and re-plumbing work completed. The soldiers also repainted the school's interior as well as external areas.
A team has worked at the school every day since the soldiers arrived in Port Antonio to that ensure the project was completed on time.
The 1 R IRISH contingent has been based at Tichfield Camp, Port Antonio, for a month, as part of Exercise Red Stripe, a reciprocal training programme with the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).
Part V from the forthcoming book which chronicles the lives and experiences of Jamaicans in the diaspora, Jamaica, Hands Across The Atlantic, by Elaine Baur and Paul Thompson. The book will be published by Ian Randle Publishers in June 2006. www.ianrandlepublishers.com
FOR THE great majority of migrants their original dream was to do well enough to make a successful return in later life to Jamaica.
Dick Woodward thought his family, who came to London in the 1950s, were typical in originally hoping to return within three years, and for long after living in a state of readiness to travel back, with 'grips under their beds'. And indeed still among our interviewees, despite the passage of time over half still cherish this dream, and these would-be returnees come from right across the occupational spectrum. However, among the older migrants, especially those with modest resources, many have come eventually to accept that they will live out their lives in the countries where they are now settled.
David McNeep, retired London railwayman, cited the proverb, "Where the tree falls, it lies there." Conversely, among the younger migrants there were many who felt that it was too early for them to return, although "if I could afford it tomorrow, I would. "Robert Lynn, New York highway maintenance man, does plan to return, "but not now. We have to make a foundation here first. Basically, like my own home, and then go down there and build a nice house." It was important for a migrant to be able to return with pride, so that paradoxically, the worse their situation the harder it became for them to return. Stella Wadham had some very rough years in New York after her husband left her, earning so little as a caregiver that after paying for the rent and sending money to Jamaica for her daughter she had not enough to eat. She would stand and cry in the shower: "I cried, cried until I had no voice." She only survived because her Jamaican landlady insisted on giving her free meals. Why didn't Stella return to Jamaica? "It's this pride thing I couldn't pack up and go back home, that would be admitting that I'd failed."
STANDARD OF LIVING
There was also a minority who had decisively rejected any thought of return, principally for two reasons. The first was that they were too put off by the lower standard of living in Jamaica than they had become used to in have to change 360 degrees." The second was their fear of violence.
"Jamaica was a very very good country that you could go any part of the country, and nobody interfere with you, nobody trouble you," remembered David McNeep. "When we was growing in Jamaica, you could leave your house open and gone a bush, gone do anything." Many older migrants regret the passing of 'the old-fashioned Jamaica' they knew as children.
Now, fanned by the press, rumours are constantly circulated of returnees who have been robbed or murdered, even on the way from the airport.
For some would-be returnees, the answer is to be pragmatic, to avoid provocative displays of wealth. For others, fear has put return out of the question: as Arnold Houghton, Canadian accountant, remarked," don't want to be living in Jamaica behind some barbed wire fence, six guard dogs."
However, rumours and fear have been so stimulated that even some well-educated migrants have developed fantasy views of current life in Jamaica. Thus a health professional in England asserted that in Jamaica today "everybody lives in a prison, locked gates, burglar alarms, bad dogs in the garden." This is not remotely true even of Kingston, let alone the smaller towns and countryside. Hence other migrants are arguing for a more balanced view. "I want people to understand that Jamaica's not all about guns and violence and drugs," says Belle Dickens, a writer who has recently returned from New York. "There's a side of Jamaica that's warm, that's friendly, where people can sleep with their door open, where people can walk late at night."
Of our Jamaican migrants, 12 have returned to Jamaica for substantial periods, and six of them are still living on the island. All of them, whether they stayed or not, were positive about their decision to come back. "I love it. I wouldn't trade it!"
Nevertheless, for half of them the return proved only temporary. Not surprisingly, most of the reasons for not staying on are similar to those for migrating in the first place. Although all those who were of working age found suitable jobs with little difficulty, one reason for not staying on was economic: "It's very hard to make an honest living in Jamaica." Of the others who have left, one man came back to Britain to give his children better educational opportunities; and another as a way of splitting up with his wife. "My wife and I just couldn't see eye to eye," and he could see that the children were taking sides," So I said, "Well if that's the case, I'll go. If you don't want to live that way, you get out of it. That's what I did." The main difference with younger initial migrants is that some older returnees are forced back because they need the free health care to which they are entitled in Britain.
These few returnees are part of a much wider migratory current which is changing the face of Jamaica. It is having a crucial impact on the Jamaican economy too, for the pensions and other incomes of returnees are now second only to tourism in their contribution to the island's foreign currency earnings. The pioneers of return migration have principally been English, who constitute ten of our twelve returnees. This is partly because the English Jamaicans migrated earlier and so are closer to retirement age, but also because those who bought their own houses can now cash in on a very substantial capital appreciation. And while some Jamaicans have returned from England to Florida, for them this is a much less easy compromise alternative than it is for Jamaicans in New York. So it is above all the English Jamaicans who are changing the face of Jamaica with their new houses.
You can find clusters of these new houses right around the Jamaican coastline, and they also climb up to the cooler heights of the central spine around Mandeville and Spaldings: walking the side roads there, their grey concrete frames thrust up through the bright green foliage like a regatta of dinghy sails in the Caribbean sea. When you look more closely, quite often they are unfinished, great three-storey frames with yawning unfilled gaps, sometimes half-abandoned with trees taking over the structures, somebody's abandoned gothic dream. More often with time they are finished, painted sparkling white, doors and windows filled with elaborately twisted metal grilles, and rooms inside big enough for a complete family reunion.
These houses are the fruit of years of struggle, first of all in Britain or America, but then in Jamaica too. It is very difficult to get a house built satisfactorily at a distance, so that it often takes months of visits stretched grey concrete frames thrust up through the bright green foliage like a regatta of dinghy sails in the Caribbean sea. When you look more closely, quite often they are unfinished, great three-storey frames with yawning unfilled gaps, sometimes half-abandoned with trees taking over the structures, somebody's abandoned gothic dream. More often with time they are finished, painted sparkling white, doors and windows filled with elaborately twisted metal grilles, and rooms inside big enough for a complete family reunion. These houses are the fruit of years of struggle, first of all in Britain or America, but then in Jamaica too. It is very difficult to get a house built satisfactorily at a distance, so that it often takes months of visits stretched over several years before it is completed. When we met Esau Blackett, a tailor from northern England who also runs a wedding car business, he had a load of drainpipes for his house, sticking out of the car windows. He comes out for a month twice a year to push the building on, meanwhile, letting both floors which he has finished, keeping only one room for himself.
PLOT OF LAND
Winnie Busfield, a nursing assistant also from the north, used to come to Jamaica once in every two years to visit her mother, and in the early 1990s, with the help of a niece, she found a plot of land for a house close to the sea, part of a cluster of returnees' houses. Three years later the house was partly built: "We finish the downstairs, the lower part of the house, and my husband came out to help look after my mother." Her mother died before Winnie could follow. For another six years she kept working in the hospital, but raised substantially more cash by selling her house there and renting a flat, "because the children now grown and they taking their own paths and working in London." Once her house was sold, she sent out her furniture: "Well, things came out from England shipment of all our house, household goods, furniture and things." But the upper part of the house was still little more than a shell, and it was a good ten years before it was completed. Finally Winnie and her husband could relax in their very spacious house, with guest rooms for their children and a glimpse of the sea down the valley.
VMIJPP at Rule 308, in honor of Independence Day, has posted a nice essay on freedom and liberty. Money quote(s): "(T)he difference between liberty and freedom. He points out that the terms are not interchangeable; they are two different conditions. Liberty is a political condition, freedom is a physical condition." "One of the greatest things we can say about Liberty is that it isn’t an –ism. Liberty requires no creed, has no silly little red book, professes no tenets, encourages no class warfare, and issues no manifestos. Liberty is the condition where a free citizen goes about his business as he sees fit, under his own abilities and in pursuit of his own goals. Liberty is just normal life." "(G)et out of Maryland; it's pretty socialist too." & "Liberty is what I want, and it is what I’ll fight for."
Dear Editor, I am a strong supporter of the diaspora movement because our Jamaicans abroad can do a lot for us.
This movement would be in jeopardy, however, if Jamaica's relationship with the United States continues to deteriorate, for the USA is the main home of our migrant population. As our friendship with Venezuela grows and as hostility against Uncle Sam increases, I envision Jamaicans being sent home by the planeload. Can Venezuela's Hugo Chavez give these people jobs?
Bruce Golding is right, we must not antagonise the US government. The critics may say we are pandering to America, but I say it's better to be a puppet for Uncle Sam than to be sent to the junk heap of history arm in arm with Chavez.
Thank God for America! We owe it to the thousands of our friends and families over there to keep close to good ol' Uncle Sam.
Lemuel Calhoun at Hillbilly White Trash has an interesting take on the Mexican presidential election and some possible repercussions. Money quote(s): "This could lead to a Mexican civil war. On the down side, from the American perspective, this could drive a large number of refugees north. We will need to do more than send a few hundred unarmed National Guardsmen to the border to keep them out of the US. Of course the President and his allies in the open borders movement will use the "humanitarian" argument that we need to let in a few million more illiterate peasants (and fast track them to citizenship). Conservatives will need to be ready to apply titanic pressure on their congresscreatures to keep this from happening." "I have no problem with sending food and medical supplies, even entire field hospitals to locations just across the border, along with regular Army or Marines to protect them, but under no circumstances should any Mexican be allowed to set one foot north of the border. It will be nearly impossible to get rid of them if they are allowed into the country." "On the positive side for the US a Mexican civil war will likely consume large numbers of Mexicans who will therefore become unable to head north of the border."
Dear Editor, The USA provides over 70 per cent of our tourism market, jobs for thousands of desperate parents and a better life for many of us.
An American visa opens doors of opportunity. The jobs provided through the shipment of bauxite, and the help offered through USAID are crucial and irreplaceable.
And being the main superpower, doesn't the United States of America deserve our greatest respect and gratitude? Chavez of Venezuela is an openly declared enemy of the US.
Why then should we strengthen ties with Venezuela when we know that the USA does not tolerate her allies establishing such links?
Opposition leader Bruce Golding is dead right. We cannot jeopardise our relationship with the USA over a few barrels of oil. What's more, the relationship has given us so much, dating as far back as the building of the Panama Canal.
Jamaica has suffered from much short-sightedness. Let us not add to it the travesty of broken ties with the United States of America.
ITS practice is more linked to Rastafarianism, but polygamy is an entrenched practice in Jamaica found largely, but not exclusively, in secluded religious communes, away from the prying eyes of the law. The headquarters of the Islamic Council of Jamaica, Camp Road, Kingston. Five members of the faith currently have polygamous households, says Imam Shab, a Jamaican Muslim who has two wives. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)
The practice is defined in reference to multiple wives, never multiple husbands, under religious tenets that are patriarchal in focus.
Imam Shab of the Islamic Council of Jamaica says there are at least five polygamous families within the Jamaican Muslim community, four of them headed by Jamaican men."I am married to two women," Shab, a Jamaican, told the Sunday Observer, saying he married his wives three years apart.
Jamaican law, which is influenced largely by Christian values, criminalises bigamy and polygamy, but practitioners of multiple marriages tend to get around the legal ban by marrying under religious law.
Quoting from the Islamic holy book, the Koran, Shab indicated that his faith promotes multiple marriages, but only where the man can afford financial support of his wives."Marry two or three or four, but if you think you cannot do justice to all, then marry only one," he quoted.
"For this is better for you, if you only but knew."The Sunday Observer, also tried on different occasions, to speak with other men in mainstream society said to have polygamous relationships, but the interview requests were turned down or went unacknowledged.
Divorce attorney at Livingston, Alexander & Levy Susan Risden-Foster says that for a marriage to be recognised by the state it "must be performed by a Justice of the Peace or a marriage officer."
She said too that, if an individual who is already wed, marries another without first being divorced, then, he or she commits bigamy. A cultural studies specialist at the University of the West Indies, posits however that the quest for multiple relationships was natural.
"Humans are not by nature monogamous," says academic Orville Thomas.
He supported his claim by alluding to rampant infidelity within Jamaican society, saying the phenomenon was perhaps linked to the island's slave past, where black men were used as studs for breeding, traversing various plantations in their lifetime.
Though Christian principles abhor unfaithfulness, either in the form of adultery or fornication, there is a cultural acceptance in Jamaica of men having several girlfriends, even if married.
So entrenched is it that former prime minister PJ Patterson got caught in a political gaffe, when, from a political platform, he boasted that his government, through its economic policies, had facilitated 'more man having nuff gal' than ever before.
Beckford said some traces of polygamous practice may be found within the Rastafari movement, but was unsure to what extent.
Just last month, one of Bob Marley's daughters, Sharon Marley, reluctantly acknowledged growing up in a polygamous home in an interview published May 15 in all woman, a weekly publication of the Daily Observer, and suggested that her brothers had adopted the lifestyle.
Beckford said such practices within the Rastafari movement would not be considered illegalsince, they marry "in their community, and by western standards, that union cannot be a legal marriage."
At the Ethiopia Africa Black International Congress Church of Salvation, more popularly known as 'Bobo Hill' in Nine Miles, Bull Bay, St Andrew, none of the brethren have multiple wives, but only because times are hard, economically.
Rastafarian priest Shimron told the Sunday Observer, on a visit to the camp, that while he and his councillors do not disapprove of those Rastafarians who follow the 'Solomonic Order' - the practice of polygamy based on the example set by King Solomon in the Bible - there were no polygamists at the camp, because resources were limited.
"To how hell (the world) a run yah now, from you find one you fi cling to her, and you and her mus' try build life," said Shimron."We done homeless, so with more youths and plenty women it ago harder . that kind of life would bring back more provocation," he said.
Shab, meanwhile, said though he has two marriages, only the first is approved by the Registrar General of Jamaica. The other, he says, is only recognised under Sharia or Islamic law.
"As far as the law is concerned, it is not allowed but in Islam, we have what is known as a Nikah, an Islamic marriage," he said."Both of them have to be done by way of an Islamic marriage ceremony, but the framework of the Jamaican legal system is only allowed to document the first." Despite this, the Imam maintains that both women must still be treated equally, referring to time and resources he shares between them.
Both his wives are Jamaican Muslims, he said. Shab admitted, however, that despite the rule of equality, there is a possibility that the man's own biases may intervene, resulting in his favouring one wife over others.
"There is no preferential treatment for the wives . the only thing, which is beyond man's control, is that he might have a greater affection for one because she has certain qualities that charm him," he said, adding that the way polygamy is practised is dependent on the culture of the country.
In certain countries, he said, the first wife is consulted before another wife is chosen and, it is upon her approval that the man can marry again.
The Imam also maintains that polygamy is simply an alternative to the western family structure and should only be conducted under the guidance of the holy laws.
TRAFFICKING IN persons is modern-day slavery, involving victims who are forced, defrauded or coerced into labour or sexual exploitation. Annually, about 600,000 to 800,000 people, mostly women and children, are trafficked within their own countries.
People are snared into trafficking by many means. In some cases, physical force is used. In other cases, false promises are made regarding job opportunities or marriages in foreign countries to entrap victims.
What impact does human trafficking have on the world?
Human trafficking is a multi-dimensional threat. It deprives people of their human rights and freedoms, it is a global health risk, and it fuels the growth of organised crime.
Human trafficking has a devastating impact on individual victims, who often suffer physical and emotional abuse, rape, threats against self and family, passport theft, and even death.
What do the tiers of the Trafficking in Persons Report mean?
TIER 1: Countries that fully comply with the act's minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking
TIER 2: Countries that do not fully comply with the minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves in compliance.
TIER TWO WATCH LIST: Countries on Tier 2 requiring special scrutiny because of a high or significantly increasing number of victims and failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking in persons.
TIER THREE: Countries that neither satisfy the minimum standards nor demonstrate a significant effort to come into compliance. Countries in this tier are subject to potential non-humanitarian and non-trade sanctions.