Month: January 2016

CARICOM, still failing Haiti

This January marked five years since the tragic earthquake that hit Haiti, this year also marks one for the transition of power through a general election. Unfortunately the rubble is still there and elections have been postponed.

Where has CARICOM been, and why are they so quiet on the Haiti issue? For years Jamaica and the wider CARICOM nations have led the fight for Haiti, but as a recent editorial stated, we seem to have grown weary of Haiti and what seems to be there constant troubles.

But sitting back and washing of hands will do nothing, on the contrary, we will actually feel it even more. Haiti is awash with guns, and many criminal enterprises operate out of Haiti.

As Jamaica knows only too well, Haitian gangsters are more than willing to exchange there guns for our ganja, and now meat. This is one by product of letting Haiti slip into lawlessness. It is clear that the U.N. is too far removed to do anything, while America bungles things up as per usual when it comes to Haiti.

CARICOM nations, with our shared culture and history, should be taking the lead. We have everything to gain from a stable prosperous Haiti and we pay dearly if they fail. With that kind of vested interests we can’t afford to be backseat drivers, we must take action to secure Haiti.

This may mean boots on the ground to take over from the U.N. this may mean high level summits to hash out a future palpable to all sides. We need to act fast, things could easily slip into something far worse than what we are currently seeing.

In short, if CARICOM is to have any shred of relevance in the twenty first century, if they truly believe in regionalism and unity the Caribbean nations will act. Claiming fatigue or a lack of funds is a cop out of the highest proportion, we will be watching to see if they practice what they preach, or if they will let Haiti rot.

2016 madness

2016, yes folks and elections are in the air. We have seen the budget increased (rather opportunisticly, but not there fault) and the opposition howl. We see bushing and road works in full swing on top of relentless internet advertising and car canvassing.

But what have we gotten, where is the return on our almost fifty four year old investment? Both parties are guilty of squandering our nation’s future through corruption, mismanagement or partisan interests. Why should they receive my vote?

We started off as a model nation, all be it with high levels of inequality. The JLP perpetuated this and in came the PNP in 72, but instead of uniting behind common causes they both went tribal and that led to the madness of the 80’s.

Flash forward to the 90’s where after a decade where we had more money than sense, our financial institutions collapsed. Again instead of being practical they went in for the spoils of war and left our economy on it’s knees.

After eighteen years of PNP rule the JLP came back in office. Instead of keeping election promises we were led up the pathway. Instead of fixing our wrecked economy Mr Shaw stated boldly that the world recession would not affect us, in short we were flattened again.

After more nefarious activities the PNP was voted in, promising jobs, growth and uplifting the people. Well here we are election time again and we are in the same position that we started out with, being promised the same thing.

We need to move away from these two parties. We need to engage more in politics, write to M.P.’s and councilors, we need to vote and peacefully protest againts these two gangs that call themselves parties. If not then I really fear that we will end up where Haiti is, and I believe nobody wants that.

A Federal West Indies

It has been over fifty years since Jamaica and Trinidad gained (or were given depending on how you view history) independence, and almost sixty that we abandoned the federation. Things have not been rosy since, after some time of growth we all as individuals came to the realisation that we are just too small.

In a world that is looking to unite in some way, see the European Union or what Russia and China are doing in central Asia, it makes one wonder what our leaders are thinking when they aim for going it alone. In a world that is uniting we are fast drifting apart and being left behind, to the common man it is scary so what does the politician think?

We as a region have oil, gold, diamonds, bauxite, natural gas and prime agricultural land. We as a region speak many languages and are close to both Europe and America. We are smack in the middle of an important shipping lane and plane destination.

That is just off the top of my head, we have so much more to offer and yet our leaders continue to keep us apart. Individually we are torn apart by special interests, the U.S., China etc all have deep tentacles in us and strive to keep us divided. Divided it is clear we are poor, but if we could unite and combine our resources we could be the envy of the region.

What we need is a new federation. Now I will not hide the fact that I am a CARICOM baby and federation grandbaby, but this is not about sentiments. United we could produce our own aluminium and build cars. From a strictly business and regional viewpoint federalism seems only practical.

Many worry about the loss of power that the state would suffer, I say what of it? We are under the jackboot of austerity in this region when we go it alone. We are mired in corruption when we go it alone. Separately Jamaica and Trinidad have massive corruption, skyrocketing murder rates and imploding economies, did we really bargain for this when we got independence? Instead of the prosperous future we got poverty, while cliques rule the roost. Special interests groups and foreign players have us fighting each other.

We have the ability to unite, we have the potential to exploit our resources to our collective advantage if we pool together. We have the potential to become the world leader in exotic sugar, coffee, tobacco and rum, all self sustained and for our benefit.

Take for example the Chinese intervention in the region. Right now they deal with us individually so we are left to fight each other for the scraps that make up the individual payments. As a united federation, we would be in a better position to bargain for more money and a greater say in how our resources are extracted.

As a united entity we could ensure that the infrastructure that the Chinese build in the region is complimentary to each other. With that we can ensure for harmonious interface between the nation’s of the region and also will help with regional trade.

The only way this will get done is through the people. Unfortunately our leaders for the most part don’t care and are willfully selling us out to foreign interests, assured of favours returned upon leaving there government post. The people must unite, for our environment as the Chinese and others ravage our nations, unite for our economies as it is clear that individually and as separate entities we flounder in international markets.

Until we unite we will always be at the mercy of others. We are not big individually, but united we take up a good chunk and are decently populated. Unite before it’s too late.

The problem with the police

Kudos Dr Carl on the reduction thus far in murders, and long may it continue, though one feels we have been here before. We have had ‘declines’ in the murder rate to the point that we pray for a rate of about 600, that won’t happen without some serious introspection by the JCF.

The problem isn’t only the police, but they could be doing better. Take for example witness protection, it is no shock to us that in Jamaica witness and informants are deemed as bad and ‘fi dead’. Why then do the police not push for more money and resources for the protection program? Instead of complaining about lack of funds they should be insisting, nay demanding more resources or threaten industrial action.

Underfunding however is not the only issue, the clear up rate for all crimes in general is atrocious and that can only be put down to training. What goes on in training school where an officer fails to follow up on leads? Or can’t process evidence properly? Or even coerce a witness because you have reached a dead end?

We need better training for our cops short and simple. With better training they can learn to compose themselves in public, how to think on there feet and how to engage the community so that they no longer fear police.

The government has also been found wanting, having only recently dealing with DNA and pleas. These need to be done to aide the force as they seek to tackle crime. Legislation and funding are key if we are to tackle crime.

Finally and most importantly is community policing. Almost half our murders result from domestic disputes, boyfriends killing lovers or a quarrel at the bar. Until we better police our communities and have better dispute resolution instilled in us we will forever be haunted by the specter of violence.

Please Dr Carl, keep up the good work but don’t rest on your laurels. Push for more legislation, root out the corrupt cops and get the guns, but remember until cops are trained better nothing will be resolved.

Why Andrew is terrible

Andrew Holness came to power in 2011 when the nation was on it’s knees and mired in scandal. The JLP was seen as a bastion of incompetence and in his rush to stamp his authority lost the general election.

That however is not what makes Andrew a bad leader, no, it is the fact that like his predecessor he is spineless and bends with the breeze. He will never be taken seriously by serious political observers because he stands for nothing.

Take for example his stance on the IMF. When P.M. and while on the campaign, he said that Jamaica would be getting some bitter medicine, that the IMF that his party invited would require strict measures and tightened belts. He lost the election, the PNP did well following the IMF rules. Andrew railed up saying that the IMF he invited was ruining the nation, his finance minister shot off his mouth saying that he would never sanction that.

Now here we are election time and he says, both of them actually, that they would gladly work within the rules of the IMF. Scandalous, shameful pandering and a lack of conviction.

Let us take Andrew’s stance on malpractice. Does anyone remember JDIP? That fiasco blew up under his management, he was faced with an issue push veteran Mike Henry, or ask him to go. He says he did the high thing and forced him to resign. Mike says otherwise. Silence on the matter. Now post election we see Mike back in the same portfolio… Andrew, you say you pushed him yet he is back? Do you take us for idiots?

Then we come to the rub of the green, while Bruce was in office Andrew was leader of government business. Now why is that important? Are we forgetting mannat? Dudus? Tivoli? Are we to believe that the leader of government business and Bruce’s chosen successor didn’t know anything?

That is a stretch, maybe he just isn’t trusted, but why would we want a man tainted as that running the country? He wants to divest the state from all aspects, read the gleaner, he wishes to sell nwc and the shares in profit making jps.

He is not a new politician but an old one with young skin. He is a snake and will say anything for power. Watch this campaign as he will promise you the moon, but I say look at his constituency, a mini garrison, a slum, ask yourself, is that who you want leading you?

The Left

For nearly thirty years the left in this country have been silenced. Stifled out the left, from democratic socialists to hardline communists, have been allowed to rot, many intellectuals never to be heard of again.

This vacuum in intellectual thought seeped into politics. Now the WPJ is dead while the PNP has abandoned all forms of socialism, the political ground has shifted to the right in this nation to the detriment of the middle and lower class.

This shift to just business oriented politics has taken a heavy toll, with the middle class almost eviscerated, while poverty has skyrocketed to almost twenty percent officially. The left needs to wake up. We must unite as a cohesive bloc to stem the flow of the right.

This is not to say that we need no rightwing thought, but we need the left to act as a counter balance. The remaining leftwing intellectuals must start putting on symposiums again, the UWI, UTECH and community colleges must be awash with pamphlets from the left.

Let them know what we stand for, what we don’t stand for and what we will do. Let us form political parties but not as we did in the past, we need an umbrella organization that crosses all the spectrum of the left. Jamaica I strongly believe is a economically liberal nation with social conservatism.

I know we all on the left dream of Jamaica becoming socially liberal, but that wont happen overnight. Social democrats, communists, socialists and anarchists need to unite immediately to form a front or this nation will become what Haiti is. Let us not allow that, let us build something for tomorrow.

The need for a ganja industry

We’ve decriminalized weed, after decades of promotion by the Rasta community and hopeful papers by the medical community we have decriminalized it… better late than never. But as we trod this path I see not only where the majority of Jamaicans are getting shafted, but even the government in the long run will lose out.

We have started with the medical ganja and we have written legislation to protect it, but what about the farmer? The farmer has to go through the laborious process of getting the license, of which there are a limited amount, at great expense and is eventually told no. The foreign investors however have the capital, have the time and have the links to smooth through these deals

This is not a swipe at foreign companies, but rather a call for our local industrialists to band together and call for a change to this legislation. If we fully legalize ganja we can then not only export on a large scale but we can also massage and grow an industry.

Everyone knows about hemp, the fact that not only rope but paper and cloth can be made from it is lost on some, but surely not our government with it’s department’s and scientists. We need a united manufacturing policy with solar power and hemp at the helm, then we can simultaneously hit our underemployment and export deficit situation.

Legal ganja could also be a boon for the tourist industry. It is no secret that many a tourist comes to Jamaica for some sensi on the side, instead of criminalizing these people and the dealers we should be embracing them. Blanket legalization and the setting up of weed sale zones in the craft market would not only allow for regulation, but also bumper profits from the inevitable ganja tax.

Ganja has the potential to save the small farmer while putting Jamaica back on the map agriculturaly. If we play our cards right we could have both tourism and medicine under lock and key, but that requires forward thinking that we are not seeing.

Hopefully we will wise up, not allow foreign powers to influence our domestic affairs. We as a nation need a backbone and ganja my friends is the perfect place to start, let’s lobby for a more liberalized ganja industry.

Campaign finance

They did it, not unexpectedly they raised the campaign finance limit to J$15 million per candidate, the ecj has again bent to the whims of the madmen in Gordon House.

Again this is not surprising as both main parties have voices in the commission. The ecj is a fraud, this simply means that more money can be thrown out to buy more of the poor and unsuspecting voters. What we need is less not more money in politics, we need equal airtime for all parties not just the ones that can buy it.

This country is going to hell and the monied class see it, so they are now slowly urging change. But not in the core areas, they still support the same useless parties while scorning vibrant new ones.

We see where they manage to find money from donors, yet some of these donors refuse to pay tax and neither part dares to touch them. What is needed is less money in politics as this clearly leaves politicians at the beck and call of those same donors.

If hypothetical John doe donates to a prospective mp a large sum, the donor has the leverage when it comes to contracts being awarded or loans or, or, the possibilities for corruption are endless and in Jamaica it is a reality.

We need not only fair airtime but also fair financing. I strongly believe that campaign finance should be state funded, that would immediately wipe away the corruption. Parties with over one hundred members would be able to get financial aid for the election. If you can’t campaign and win on a limited budget then your message probably wasn’t hitting home.

This country needs a change, we are already for the rich and we are fast becoming Haiti, the poorest in the region. Don’t let this be a nine day wonder, let us make noise till it changes.

Chickens coming home to roost

Former mayor shot and Eddie’s security shot. The PNP eats itself while the JLP simmers like a pot with it’s lid on. Elections are in the air yes, but something else, something palatable.

People are pissed and they are slowly realizing that neither party will provide the change they yearn for. In the 70’s all politicians abandoned the middle class for the poorest, for the votes they gave them guns and with those guns the garrison was born.

A little later the poor realized that the parties did not love them but were instead using them, so they in turn used them even more (for the little things such as school fees) but now we see that’s not enough now… the tail wags the dog. We now see them pushing forward candidates, the nerve of these persons.

As both parties deal with legal issues brought by former candidates, or are busy imploding because a constituency is up in arms, they would best remember that while uplifting the poor should be at the fore of any party, this can’t be at the expense of the middle class they aspire to join.

Remember that while revolutions and elections are won by the masses, countries are financed by the middle class and function because of them.

The poor want a change and they know they are doomed whichever party wins as they will be beholden to the IMF. They are clamouring from now to ensure that spoils are divided before the battle has been fought, hopefully this will spell the end of the two party dictatorship.