Letters

CARICOM cannot solve Jamaica’s gang problem, so how will it solve Haiti’s?

Dear Editor,

First off, I would like to extend condolences to the families of the Haitians who perished in the tragic incident on Sunday. Psalm 30:5 says that weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

At times, I am left to wonder if the wealthy nations of the Western Hemisphere have conspired to see the oldest Black republic in the world fail.

Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis’ announcement that CARICOM has appointed him along with Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness to address Haiti’s gang problem gives me the impression that the troika has been sent on a fool’s errand.

I am not optimistic that any dialogue with the Haitian gangs will solve an issue that has been festering since 1804.

My pessimism is mainly based on Holness being a member of this CARICOM committee.

How can CARICOM attempt to solve the gang problem in Haiti when it cannot solve Jamaica’s well-publicized gang problem?

In 2019, Jamaica had a total of 389 gangs, 250 of which were active. Three of the more violent gangs are the Shower Posse, Klansman gang and the One Don gang.

Approximately 250 of these gangs operate in the Kingston and St. Andrew areas — right under the nose of the government. Jamaica’s House of Representatives is located in Kingston.

Reuters reported in February that the Holness government had hauled 33 gangsters before the Supreme Court in an effort to curtail the violence.

Jamaica has a controversial anti-gang legislation dubbed the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organizations) Act, which was reviewed by a Joint Select Committee of the House of Representatives in 2021.

The National Intelligence Bureau is an agency within the Jamaica Constabulory Force.

A Jamaican expatriate recently told me that many retired Jamaican police officers typically seek asylum in the US for fear of retaliation from violent gang members they had encountered in the course of carrying out their duties.

Jamaica recorded 1,463 homicides in 2021. In 2020, 1,323. Jamaican officials have estimated that 70 percent of the killings are gang related.

There have been consistent rumors that seedy elements within the People’s National Party (PNP) and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) had collaborated with violent dons within various constituencies and parishes across Jamaica.

These dons established political garrisons which were dangerous for known political rivals to step foot on.

In 1980, PNP Cabinet Minister Roy McGann was gunned down at a JLP rally in Kingston.

He had made the catastrophic mistake of going into enemy territory during the election season.

Eight hundred and forty-four murders were committed in 1980.

Holness is by no means the blame for Jamaica’s gang problem and its attendant astronomical high murder rates.

He has in the past called for the end of political garrisons. However, until Holness and the Jamaican authorities address the gang crisis in Jamaica, I don’t see what meaningful contribution he can offer to the Haitian people and their own gang crisis.

Kevin Evans

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