Yardedge has posted an assessment by Diana Thorburn on the complex situation in West Kingston, Jamaica over the last week, when armed forces entered Tivoli Gardens (on Monday, Labor Day). Here are excerpts, listing the variables leading up to the events, with a link to the full post below:
Jamaica has a long-standing problem, 30 years in the making, of well-armed criminal gangs and networks, most of them who make huge amounts of money in the international drug trade. Most, if not all of these gangs have affiliations of some sort to the two major political parties, though it would not be correct to say that they are controlled by the political parties (at least not anymore).
The U.S. last year issued a warrant for the arrest of one Christopher “Dudus” Coke, who they say is one of the most dangerous and powerful drug lords in the world. For a number of reasons (I’m trying to keep this simple—why the government didn’t comply with the extradition request is a whole issue unto itself) the Jamaican government did not extradite him right away, bringing immense US pressure on Jamaica that manifested in a number of ways, and which ultimately brought a near unanimous public voice here in Jamaica pressuring the government to hand Dudus over to the U.S.
Dudus’s home base is a small area of downtown Kingston called Tivoli Gardens, the creation and political base of former Prime Minister Edward Seaga. [. . .] Tivoli Gardens has long been considered a “state within a state”.
One week ago, bowing to public and U.S. pressure, Prime Minister Golding announced that he had given instructions for the extradition to proceed. What this means is that a local warrant was issued for Dudus’ arrest. Dudus had the option of turning himself in (which is what usually happens when an extradition request is processed) and if he failed to do that, he would be sought by the security forces and arrested. (I might mention here that Dudus has a strong case against being extradited, because of breaches by the U.S. of the extradition treaty, which was part of the reason the government didn’t extradite him in the first place.) [. . .] The current violence, comprising attacks on police stations, and gun battles between gun men and state security forces, is a result of the marshalling, ostensibly by Dudus, of other criminal gangs, to challenge the state’s attempt to arrest him.
Communities like Tivoli constitute an ongoing challenge to the ability of the state to assert its authority and maintain law and order in the country. And that challenge has been, and continues to be, the most formidable obstacle to the country’s economic and social development.