Since Sunday May 23 citizens of Kingston, Jamaica neighborhood, Tivoli Gardens, have been waging a fierce struggle against U.S. attempts to extradite a man the governments of Jamaica and U.S. have labeled one of the “world’s most dangerous narcotics kingpins.”
Christopher “Dudus” Coke, 42, is native to this neighborhood which is well known for its level of poverty and violence. He is said to have had control of this area since 1990 amassing a “dictator” like control on the people, trafficking guns, ordering murders, and orchestrating a drug ring that reaches beyond the shores of Jamaica.
However, the people of this neighborhood have a different understanding. “Dudus” has taken on the role that government has forfeited. He has created jobs, paid for school fees, loaned money to the residents, provided financial assistance, sponsored community programs all in an effort to make the suffering of the people a little better.
Because of this understanding, the people, who the media have called “his gang,” have risen up bombing and torching several police stations and have been engaged in fierce gun battles with the Jamaican armed forces.
These disturbances have cast an unappealing eye onto the “One Love” island that has been a playground to benefactors of capitalism.
While tourists and investors enjoy the post colonial slave service of the Africans of Jamaica, held up in the million dollar hotels, Africans have been suffering as a result of the neocolonial corrupt government’s disregard for their well-being.
The African masses have had to fend for themselves, doing what they must to survive and as a result are being attacked by police armed with military style gear and weaponry. This is the Jamaica they don’t show you and one most people aren’t ready to see.
Jamaica, like many other islands of the Caribbean, is the victim of imperialist engines, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
Although Jamaica was granted independence from its colonial master Great Britain in 1962, most of its resources were still controlled by foreign entities. Unemployment doubled, illiteracy was high and 55 percent of land was controlled by private farmers.
In 1972, when People’s National Party (PNP) candidate, Michael Manley was elected Prime Minister, he went about forging new relationships with Cuba and introducing progressive socialist policies intended to promote national ownership and increase self-sufficiency.
Under Manley, Jamaica established minimum wage for all workers, free education at secondary and university level, idle lands were distributed to the peasants, control of pricing on staple products was introduced, paid maternity leave was institutionalized and the voting age was reduced to 18 years old.
These policies afforded Jamaica some breathing room between itself and foreign dominators. However, as a result of an increase in oil prices, Jamaica would soon be within grasp of the empire’s clutches, once again.
In 1974, Jamaica underwent a severe economic crisis when the price of oil rose from $12 to $75 per barrel. The IMF took advantage of the situation presenting a plan geared toward short term development by providing money to take care of some immediate needs of the economy.
The trade off was a “capitalistic model based on free trade…[which] was in fact designed to force Jamaica to turn from industries which it depended on for development.”
(http://www.mtholyoke.edu/~aehaynes/politicssite/INDEX.html; Haynes, Annabelle; “Michael Manley’s foresight on the role of the IMF in Jamaica”
Under the agreement, free zones were created (areas on Jamaican land that exempted from Jamaican law, taxation, custom duties on import and export and import licensing requirements) where foreign companies like Tommy Hilfiger and Brooks Brothers take full advantage of the lack of barriers.
Although these companies provide jobs to the jobless without needing to adhere to the minimum wage regulations of Jamaica, the people work for slave wages and have been replaced by imported Chinese workers that were brought to the island.
In addition to that, the government had to let down its trade restrictions, opening up its market to foreign imports. Many of these imports undercut the prices of national goods like bananas, potatoes, and dairy, destroying the internal economy.
Most farmers could not compete with foreign goods and as such their livelihood was irreversibly impacted.
Results of this can be seen upon a visit to any store on the island as the shelves are stocked with foreign goods.
Agriculture accounts for only 6 percent of the GDP, which is much lower than most developing countries.
Sugar is still a widely farmed crop, a remnant of the capitalist slave economy that is being exported at a cost set by the terms of this agreement.
To top it all off, the value of the Jamaican dollar was decreased and has never regained its market value; currently the exchange rate is US$1 to JMD$88.
Tourism brings in the most money which accounts for nearly 66 percent of the country’s GDP. School children are groomed to be happy smiling servants re-establishing a slave/master relationship to capitalist imperialism.
The economy of Jamaica is a result of this IMF agreement coupled with a spineless neocolonial government whose only interest is to appease its foreign masters, demonizing the population while distributing wealth to a small minority.
For years the impoverished neighborhoods of Jamaica have been war zones plagued with crime and corruption.
The people of these communities view the police as the enemy because they murder just as maliciously as the so called “criminals.”
In an economy where unemployment has risen and the government has abandoned the people for its own interest, it is no wonder that the Africans of Jamaica have turned to the means available to them to feed their families.
The problem does not originate from the people; instead the problem is the lack of good governance and capitalist greed, which created these objectionable conditions.
Under these current conditions, it is estimated that nearly 20,000 Africans emigrate from Jamaica to neighboring islands and the U.S. every year.
Left with no other alternative than to smile and take it, some would hope that the poor and destitute of the island should suffer in silence.
The people are revolting to protect their friend “Dudus” who has done more to improve their condition than the “officials” and in doing so are taking a stand against the U.S. and the Jamaican government.
This situation surrounding Christopher “Dudus” Cokes is one that we must all pay attention to. Why? Because it is indicative of a struggle that we must all make and make people aware of.
From this point on when you look at news from Jamaica ask yourself what has caused these conditions. The people are fed up and are illustrating the power of the masses.