What if the JLP had won? – Observer from Jamaica
I recently wrote an article titled “Election 1980: What If the PNP Had Won.” This article was specific to our crime and gang crisis and aimed to analyze whether our country would be better or worse when it comes to the aforementioned gang crisis.
The 1980 general election was chosen, because of its relevance, as the one that ended the six-year civil war.
The 2011 general election took place at the end of another period of unrest. It took place shortly after the famous Joint Security Operation in Tivoli Gardens, Jamaica’s bloodiest clash between state and citizens since the Morant Bay Rebellion in 1865. It happened after a month-long standoff with a gang that controlled aspects of Jamaican life. This operation put an end to his infallibility.
It could have been the beginning of the end of garrisons and gang domination of most of our downtown areas. This does not happen. Gangs continue to control downtown areas and squatter settlements in most ghettos in Kingston and St. Catherine. They have a political identity, even if they are no longer politically controlled.
So the question is: would it have been different if the JLP had won the 2011 general election?
Well, if they keep dismantling the zones like they did in Tivoli Gardens, then maybe.
However, that’s a big “if”.
They had time after the initial battle when they defeated “Fort Tivoli”. However, they did not go in that direction. In fact, they took an entirely different trajectory and created the INDECOM Act – barely a milestone indicative of a country about to wage war on the most brutal and institutionalized street gangs in the Western Hemisphere.
However, let’s assume for a moment that they intend to finish the job they started. It would take resources applied to many areas to include Arnett Gardens and Tawes Pen, to name a few.
They probably wouldn’t stand up to the police so there wouldn’t be a fight, unlike Tivoli where the fight was motivated by the extradition warrant for their don.
They would need occupation troops, which the country simply does not have and does not have, so they would have been at a terrible disadvantage.
Human rights groups also reportedly objected to the possibility of more carnage, but they could have been ignored. However, this could and would have led to eventual international condemnation.
The opposition, which would have been the National People’s Party of course (if we consider that as a change of winner), would also have opposed the campaign. Why? Because they like gangs controlling our poor? No not at all. Rather, because that is what opposition members do.
So here is our crisis. I can say categorically that this election of 2011, like that of 1980, would not differentiate us when it comes to ending gang rule. Why? Well, largely because of logistics and the fact that we’re poor and a free democracy – one or both of which would have to change for us to defeat this enemy.
However, as confident as I am that any government in power, regardless of political party, wants to see an end to the nonsense our parents started in the 1970s and that we return to being a Caribbean country that respects life, it is as certain as I am that no opposition party wants the gangs to be defeated. Why? Let me explain.
The brass ring, the Holy Grail, is the party that defeats the gang crisis and brings us back to civilization. Neither party wants to see the other do it. The parties know that the party that achieves this feat could rule for decades.
What matters most to a political party is winning. Everything else is secondary.
This is why the two-party system is a failure wherever it is used. This is because it depends on adversity.
How many times have you heard an opposition party complimenting a decision made by an incumbent government? Never. So how can you trust a system like this?
Everything should start with putting the country first, then the political party.
Until we stop putting party before country, all we do is performance to divide and confuse, with the aim of misleading the public.
Winning is too important – and unless that changes, our current crisis will forever be our future.
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