Category: Jamaica

The forever colony of Jamaica

Over the past few years, many Jamaicans have been sounding the alarm about the possibility of us unwittingly becoming re-colonised. These persons, whose cries have reached a crescendo, warn us that the trading partner in question is a brute, a behemoth and has a growing list of nations in which it has seized strategic assets. We are warned by these same people that this trading partner must be watched closely as it has nefarious ways of gathering information. All in all, people have been very wary and sceptical as it relates to doing business with and deepening ties with the PRC for fear of re-colonisation, but their fears are unwarranted as this country remains a colony in chains.

A colony? But we got independence (at least formally) in 1962 so a colony belonging to who? We are a colony of the US, make no bones about it, one only must look at how our governments act in order to see that we are a colony of the empire to the north.

At first read, it looks a bit out there and over the top, but when one digs just a bit beneath the surface one sees very clearly that Jamaica is nothing more than a glorified Puerto Rico (if that). For it is true we have a PM, an FM a MOF and an MICT but it is also true that none of them takes any actions in the realm of foreign policy without the strict approval of the US even if it to our detriment.

One doesn’t have to look far or long to stumble upon these facts. Does anyone, for example, remember the fact that the Chinese were poised to take over the port some decade ago? Does anyone recall why the deal was cancelled at the 11th hour? I do, it was terminated because the US Secretary of State called, read the riot act and made it known that the US did not like it and that US national security trumped Jamaica’s financial well being (that was around the time of the global financial meltdown). Like the colony we are we accepted orders, and two twos a deal was made with a French company for less money.

The same colonised mentality seeps through when it comes to the symbiote scandal and how we have dealt with it. Now it is entirely possible that the head of the company in question may be guilty of breaking the law both at home and abroad, but the question is when has this ever stopped any Jamaican business or business person? Hand on heart, how many of us know or have heard stories of high-profile businessmen who have gotten their start (and start-up capital) from breaking the law both at home and abroad? Are morals really in play here when we all have heard tales of young entrepreneurs selling goods that they never had (see fraud) who have made it big and good?

I don’t think so, I honestly think it has more to do with the fact that this company gets its technology from the PRC and not the US or her allies. We get glimmers of this when we hear individuals show worry about Chinese spy technology. It is true that the Chinese spy through technology, but so does literally every big country. I don’t see people saying don’t do deals with Germany or the UK or Canada or even the US (with its NSA) even though they do the same thing and I didn’t see the US or the locals bawling about colonisation  putting up such a fight in the early ’00s when a person from Europe came to set up telecommunications shop.

This colonised mentality is so deep-rooted, and the rot has set in such a way that we don’t even pretend to be polite to those who have helped us and been our age-old friends or stand for principles we have long held (all while living with the realities of neo-colonialism). The two most blatant and repugnant ones are our actions regarding Palestine-Israel and our actions regarding Venezuela.

How else can one explain us, Jamaica essentially okaying the settler-colonial process which Israel has been doing? That is what the abstention vote in the UN was.  It was us saying we wash our hands of the issue and walk away (interesting since we are majority Christian and that is the holy land, shades of Pontius Pilate). How can that be squared with our long-held position on the colonial question, one which saw us align ourselves with the ANC, ZANU and ZAPU (all of which were listed terror organisations)? How does one square the peg of us, Jamaica, doing deals with a nation (Israel) whose express policy is apartheid and who has no second thoughts when it comes to murdering unarmed protesters? It can’t unless one accepts the fact that we but an appendage of a much larger empire.

Same with the treatment of Venezuela, a nation which we (during British colonialism) aided in its fight for independence, have been doing cultural exchanges with for some 50 years. We have just decided that we will not recognize their government as legitimate, in spite of the many elections (even the most recent one) where observers said it was ok. We decided to spit in the face of the nation which for over a decade has been giving us (and our regional brethren) preferential treatment when it comes to the volatile oil market. We have seen it fit to co-sign a call for a coup against a government whose only crime is to want to see its people empowered and educated (a fate which we befell mind you). One can only explain this (as well as the seizure of Venezuelan assets in Petro jam) by reasoning that the colonial master, the empire up north demanded it and we the humble colony readily delivered.

I’m not sure why we are worried about supposed Chinese colonisation (something I which I don’t think will ever happen for a number of reasons).  We are firmly a US colony and have been since at least ’62 (with a brief interlude during 72-80) and the recent actions just highlight that to a gross and exaggerated extent. True, this government is acting with less shame than others, but all have been complicit (note it was the PNP MP who was at the head of the most recent anti-china political witch-hunt).What is this all about? I’m not a betting man, but I wager that when Petro jam is sold it goes to one of the colonial masters favoured companies and at a pittance (because there is no way in hell, they would allow China to bid for it).

We need to get out of this colonised mentality and realise things for what they are. The US, UK etc have no love for us and to make matters worse are not even interested in the slightest in leaving a positive lasting mark on this nation.  This is something I think we should have picked up on ever since the British gave us to the US during WW2 then buggered off quickly in 1962.

In the brief time we have done business with the PRC and with Venezuela post-Bolivarian Revolution we have seen actual real tangible results. We have roads, schools, medical centres, cheap oil and a massive uptick in regard to cultural exchanges. A base and crass question must then be asked, what have we received from the former? Guns, drugs, the propping up of inept leaders, the dismantling of a government and poverty brought on by crippling debt. I say again the persons who are worried about re-colonisation are barking up the wrong tree. Either that or what they actually mean (but might be afraid to say) is that it is better to be a colony and know where your food is than be independent and ask if it is bills or food.

I do not think like that and I don’t think the majority of us in Jamaica or the world for that matter think like that. What we need though is courage, courage to stand up and be counted, to stand up and say “I will take the high road even if it means taking a hit for it”.  Standing up for the downtrodden and nations whose independence is at risk, is in my opinion worth being in the empires bad books, will we finally act in an independent manner and accept that we will have to take the hits which come with it or will we continue in our status of a forever colony?

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The potentially sad case of Peter Phillips

Dr Peter Philips, Mr dependable, the man who has shone in every cabinet position he has held. Peter Phillips has always been a capable and dependable pair of hands in which a problem can be placed, he has in the past shown that he is more than flexible and able to think outside the box, this is one of the primary reasons why, after the debacle of the previous GE he was gifted, unopposed, the throne of PNP president. But Dr Phillips, the man who has risen to every political challenge and seen them off (even Portia in the long run, but more on that) is failing, and oh so badly and publicly in what is surely his final and greatest test.

For while it is true that Dr Phillips is a capable, safe, and flexible pair of hands, he was given the mantle of power as merely a stopgap. That is, his job was to steady the ship which is the SS PNP, put them back on course, and hand the baton over to the new guard. It is clear he has failed on all counts, and he fails because he is blinded by ambition, ambition for a post which he will not get, a post for which he is at least ten years too late for.

Dr Phillips has not been seeking to steady the ship and renew it both in terms of personnel and in terms of ideology, instead he, in order to stroke his ego is out campaigning as if anyone would want to see the PNP (note not Dr Phillips) back in power. He is so blinded by his ambition that he is willing to condemn his party to a fate worse than that of the JLP in the 90s.

Why is this? When Dr Phillips loses the next election there will be no hope for ridding the party of its rotten elements as they will assume power, and in that same way, the chance for ideological rejiggering will also be lost. The delegates in large part understood that Dr Phillips would/will lose the next election, but the chose him because he alone held the respect and sheer untouchableness that could allow him to jettison the personnel who continue to ensure that persons such as myself won’t even think of voting for them.

Peter Phillips rather, unfortunately, for both the PNP and the nation, is proving to not up to this task. Blinded by ambition which he most certainly will not attain he is condemning the PNP and more importantly the nation to a group of people (both in his party and in the current government) who seemingly have no issues in turning Jamaica back into the 1960s paradise (for those at the top) or Puerto Rico during operation bootstrap. Ideology and socialism/communism aside, his ego is damning the country to a future where the levels of inequality will make today’s truly look like prosperity and the good times.

Most people I know understand that with Andrew and the JLP tacking to the centre it is incumbent on the PNP to drift further left, certainly not in the mould of the Cuban Communist Party (the wounds within that party are still raw) but definitely along the lines of the Labour Party in the UK (a party which they have historically mimicked). Even that he won’t do, as it would mean shunting certain key party members, and in his mind at least, surely doom him at the next election (which he won’t win anyway as all the JLP have to do is say FINSAC and Trafigura).

The PNP, the party known across the Caribbean for moving with the times, is a lame duck. Peter Phillips, the man who, if we are honest, was supposed to pick up where Patterson left off (see a doer instead of simply a gifted politician) is a total disappointment, regardless of one’s political standings. For the JLP it surely sucks, because they will fall into the deadly slumber which affected the PNP (89-06) and it is happening already as there is no real opposition to test them. For the diehard comrades, it means a feeling of embarrassment and bewilderment as the once dominant force rapidly recedes and they become the butt of all jokes (who remembers JLP = Jamaica losing party circa late 90s?). And for those in the middle who support neither, we are left to watch as the opposition readily cedes elections and the all-important framing of the issues ‘contest’ to one select group of people.

Again, regardless of ideology, that scenario doesn’t end well, and we got but a mere taste of that in the 89-06 period. If you want corruption to remain entrenched, then we are on the right path. If you want no real answer to the crime problem, then full steam ahead. If you want the economic question and land question to remain just as puzzling as the Irish question, then we only need to keep doing what we are doing. What the PNP and Peter Phillips is doing is bigger than him and his party (which has almost no respect), their renewal was supposed to be a check on the JLPs grand vision which they have not been hesitant in laying out.

It is evident that he has thus far failed, and any further failure not only negatively affects the party but also the nation as we are left with no viable alternative and no voice (with power and influence) to act as a check on the government and even proffer alternatives. He still has time, but it is very limited. If Andrew is half as bright as he is made out to be, he will also know this and will be now pondering on when is the best time to call the early election and bury any opposition to his agenda. Go back to being Mr dependable, go back to Mr flexible and the realist, once you do this you will see that your place in history is not as the PM in waiting, but as the man who saved his party, gave it a renewed sense of purpose and creating a space for the next generation to chart a course which can compete with what the JLP has on offer.

Hopefully, he gets it and soon, it would be a sad end to the careers of one of Jamaica’s best politicians (in terms of portfolio, all including himself have failed at constituency representation). If he cant then he must be pushed, for the longer he stays and dithers is the longer the cancer has to set in and then it becomes all the more painful if not impossible to cure it.

Of hypocrites and political parties

People loathe politicians and for the most part, refuse to take part in any political process, proof of this can be seen in our last two elections (local government and parliamentary) with both having record low turnouts. Many reasons have been given for why the people are so turned off and almost all of the reasons given are correct. The people withdraw because they see corruption, they see liars, they see persons who talk about belt-tightening and yet live the high life and they see people who know the answers, speak the answers but refuse to implement them.

More than anything though, the people are turned off because the politicians in this land are nothing but hypocrites who constantly seek to put point scoring and party cred above nation building. The most perfect example I think would the recent utterances from Sen Samuda, a member of the young generation which is supposed to rescue us from the politics of the bad old days. He recently made pronouncements that politicians have been hugging up criminals (colour me shocked) and that at the appropriate time they will be exposed.

Lovely words and a policy the people can get behind, but he then goes on to lose everyone by exposing his true agenda by saying that he is solely talking about the opposition and that they must clean up their house. This man and that statement typify why Jamaicans do not take the political process or politicians seriously. Has he forgotten about the criminal friend of his Government MP who was just killed? Did it slip his mind that that majority of the cabinet (PM included) were leading government officials during the Dudus saga?

No, rather than forgetting about his party’s sordid past (and tainted present) he chooses to point his righteous anger towards the equally sordid and tainted opposition as if the people in the country genuinely believe that if one of the two corrupted parties is cleaned up then the nation will prosper. Sen Samuda is a hypocrite, his words have exposed him as such. He is no nation builder, he is simply a man after the trappings of power and in order to maintain his current status (and elevate it) he must act in the same manner as politicians before him, in the same manner, these young politicians said made them sick and ashamed.

We all know that politicians hug up criminals, we have eyes, ears and a modicum of common sense, his statements are neither new, ground-breaking or even the first-time statements to that effect have been made. The public knows that politicians are in criminals back pockets and the public also know that whenever they hear a politician talking about the link between politics and crime, they always know that the person speaking means the other. That the other must change and that the other is the worst thing on earth.

Mr Samuda (and his ilk) can continue to make his stupid hypocritical statements, and they can watch as the people both retreat further from politics and eventually away from the two hypocritical criminal parties. The people don’t ask for much, simply honesty (as all else flows from that in the end) and taking them seriously. To stand up and (rightly) condemn one party for the same thing your party is also doing is neither honest nor is it taking the people seriously, it tells us you think we are a bunch of rubes and that you are more than happy for a 48% turnout in a GE.

Every garrison in this country was founded by and remains politically aligned to one of the two major parties. Both parties at events such as conference or leadership meetings have in their entourage known criminals (drugs, guns, sex trafficking, money laundering) and both parties even after the dust settled from the Dudus fiasco still accept donations from the criminal underground.

Nothing serious will come from this, no change will be made and that is already evident in the way the argument has been framed. Either we acknowledge that both parties are rotten to the core and must be dealt with, or we leave it as is and let the corrupt dogs lie. Either we totally clean up the political system and re-think our blind allegiance to the PNP/JLP or we accept it for what it is and work around it. There is no point in destroying one corrupt political party and leaving an equally corrupt one in existence, especially in a country like Jamaica where new parties (even with big names and oodles of cash) haven’t even made a dent. That scenario does not end well, that scenario ends with a kleptocracy (see Ukraine) and social upheaval and nobody in their right mind should be pushing it.

Both parties with their as you were attitudes should be ashamed of themselves, and the young politicians in whom so much hope has been entrusted (if only because there is no one else) must be called out. Infrastructure is meaningless if the land is stalked by corruption and crime, a booming economy means little if profits are syphoned off and people are left to suffer. To pin criminality on simply one party is something that will not work (that is, solve our problems) and will simply result in the status-quo remaining as both parties begin to hurl accusations and draw up the ramparts. In the end, it just becomes another 9-day wonder soon to be forgotten as both parties continue on their merry way.

Those statements and that mindset is a mirror reflection of the same warped mindset which afflicts may Jamaican citizens. This mindset which has us believe that if we clean up the act of others then our bad actions won’t matter must end. The belief that it is the other who has the major issues in need of fixing, or that my crimes are smaller in comparison must be put to an end. The hypocritical politicians understand that it must change on a societal level and such preach that (even though they themselves don’t change), they are then surprised when the people don’t change (and why should they if their leaders don’t).

When an aeroplane or a boat experiences issues, regulations state secure yourself before attempting a rescue. It sounds selfish until one understands that a drowned person can’t save a drowning person, just as a person passed out due to lack of oxygen can’t save the person about to pass out. The PNP won’t change because the equally bad JLP wants it to or threatens to expose it and vice versa. They will only change, and the nation will only be saved, when the JLP and PNP individually acknowledge their links and other issues publicly and deal with them. Until that day, we continue to live like persons in a doomed vessel, vainly trying to save the other before we even have the life vest on thus dooming us all.

We need to get to grips with our history

Jamaica is a land rich in history and yet its people have no knowledge of it. This total lack of knowledge of both distant and more recent history has led to many in this nation to run around spewing partisan talking points and barefaced lies whilst at the same time lamenting the fact that the nation seems to stuck in a sick loop. This lack of historical knowledge has also led many a Jamaican who ostensibly wants change to follow and ultimately believe some backwards things which upon closer examination are revealed to be lies crafted to hold both the individual and the nation back.

There are many historical lies we hold dear as a nation, some of them so strange you get cramps after doing the mental gymnastics keeping up. Some of the best lies we love to believe are; the nation was a crime-free paradise before the madness of the 70s, that the CIA never laid a hand on Jamaica and that the guns simply came in because of our naughty politicians, that there wasn’t a real growing communist presence in Jamaica, and of course that Mr Jones in a bout of sleepwalking fell off a multi-storey building (through the closed plate glass) coincidentally during the conference to fill the then-vacant premiership.

These historical lies we tell ourselves and perpetuate through traditional history only does harm to the country as we seek to extricate ourselves from the chaos we find ourselves in. These lies have caused us to believe that the starting point for our madness is the 70s when in fact any true historical analysis will tell us that our problems stem back to 1838 and that we are living with much the same problems. These lies we tell ourselves have caused many to believe that the answer to our current violent epidemic is the SOE and mass state violence against criminals, but any true historical analysis will tell us that it was precisely those measures used in the 70s (to nip the mass violence in the bud) led to a mass proliferation of violence and death.

The lies we tell ourselves allow us to believe that mere economic liberalism will see us succeed, but the past (namely the 80s) shows us that direct route to poverty. When will those in control realise that regardless of what one thinks of the historical actions or actors, unless and until the whole truth is told then we are literally condemning ourselves to a future of self-harm and repeating destructive behaviours of the past? We need to realise that by lying to ourselves we are actually hurting ourselves in ways we can’t begin to fathom.

If we get the truth we can then actually start finding solutions which will actually work rather than acting as a band-aid on a six-inch wound. Why is it for example, that we have such a high rate of squatting and persons without land titles? Is it simply because people are lazy or that politicians in a cynical ploy were only looking votes? Those are the lies we tell ourselves about that situation and as such the remedies we employ constantly fail in spectacular fashion. If we accept the truth that the squatters and title less are the descendants of emancipated landless slaves, then solutions become more realistic. They become even more realistic with the historical truth because persons in the past offered solutions (such as Bogle and Gordon during the Morant Bay massacre).

If we go in with the lie that one side is simply dirty communists not able to control the purse strings while the other merely represents the plantocracy and industrial elites then, of course, the nation is going to suffer as the lie takes root. If the truth is told, that in fact post-independence the capitalists wanted to borrow and spend hard but were reined in by the dastardly spendthrift reds. The lie we tell ourselves is that the two parties, if only they got along, could bring the country through the rough times as they house our best and brightest. But if we get the whole unfiltered truth, we find that but for a brief period (and we all know that period) the two parties have been working hand in hand to both enrich themselves and destroy the nation’s fabric.

Persons in power don’t want to hear these truths even though they are the first ones to holler and cry out for change. Persons without power know the truth as it is passed down through the ancient art of storytelling and reasoning with the elders. They know the history we have been taught is garbage and they more than many know the truth (even if it is fragmented), unfortunately, they don’t hold the power and as such we find ourselves doing the 60s all over again (booming economy and lots of poor people in crap jobs) and possibly reaping the same consequences.

Bob Marley said it best, ‘tell the children the truth’, and it remains the case. We need to tell the truth about our history, and not only so the ‘common man’ can better understand it but in order to hold people accountable and stop the metaphorical haemorrhaging taking place in the nation. The best doctor in the world with all the latest machines and medicines will kill the patient if no accurate patient history is given and it is the same thing with countries and their national histories. Everybody and every nation has their sacred cows and icons but the second one starts lying about past events or why past events took place then there is no way to realistically fix the problem. Germany believed the lie that the war could have been won but for the dastardly Jews, and that lie in no small part led to the extermination of countless of millions, it is a lie which if not told and propagated would have made life hard for the Nazis as it relates to assuming power. History is power, it in many ways shapes the future, until we get to grips with our long, storied and yes, dark history (especially post-independence) not one thing will change and like blind moles, we will continue to aimlessly try and claw our way to progress.

Leave the oil in the ground

Jamaica has struck oil, black gold, after many years of speculation and guessing it was confirmed earlier in the year that Jamaica does indeed have oil deposits which may be feasible enough to exploit. Normally this would be greeted by cheers of joy and delirium as we in this country continue to suffer under the yoke of exorbitant fuel costs and this oil could hypothetically be used to ease the burden on the budget. This would also be cause for celebration as the oil industry is both labour intensive, specialised and offers big bucks and would, therefore, lead to greater employment and higher incomes.

Normally this would be good news, 40 years ago this would have been excellent news unfortunately in the 21st century this news is useless and the idea of exploiting these deposits is masochistic and insane. The idea of extracting, refining and exporting of oil from Jamaica in this day and age is in my opinion and should be the opinion of the majority, not a good one when the pros and cons are weighed up especially since we see the cons so clearly.

The side of the pros is simple and easy to understand, jobs and money. This would be a windfall to the Jamaican economy and could transform us as it relates to shipping (fitting in neatly with the logistics hub). It is easy to be swayed by the promises of riches and persons showing you the current value of a barrel of oil (coupled with data that oil prices will go high and remain high) but to do that is to ignore the side of the cons which is longer and more impactful on the country.

It should not be news to anyone that the globe is heating up at alarming rates, nor should it be news that human activity is a key reason for this. Most people understand and accept that the use of oil and other fossil fuels exacerbates this global warming and as such countries have come together to try and combat this, one such way being the elimination of the use of fossil fuels. Why then would we even entertain the thought of bringing up this substance? Are we not signatories to these deals? Are we not impacted by this global warming phenomenon and therefore can go about our merry business?

This is a country which experiences droughts on a yearly basis, droughts which seem to be both longer and hotter. This is a nation which experiences storms in seasons when we never used to have them and storms when in season are more frequent and stronger. Both of these affect the nation and the economy in so many negative ways, ways oil couldn’t solve but would, in fact, be the perpetrator.

Leaving aside the impact on the climate, let us look at the impacts on the environment and the fact that everywhere oil companies have prospected and extracted has seen environmental degradation. Parts of Nigeria have been turned into virtual wastelands as oil spills happen and inept clean-up processes fail to catch all the sludge. The Gulf of Mexico and the fishermen there are still feeling the effects of the oil rig which blew out as fish stocks remain low and the underwater fauna struggles to recover from the damage. Parts of the Amazon have been totally destroyed as the search for and extraction of oil continues in that part of the world (and we haven’t even talked about the health impacts).

This is not even mentioning the facts that oil prospecting and drilling has the real potential to turn this already corrupt country into the poster boy of that dreadful art (see the oil curse). Further proof of the insanity of even thinking of this can be found in the new-fangled ways they have of extracting oil. Fracking, as is practised in parts of the US has led to the poisoning of water tables, sickness in the communities surrounding the operations and ecological damage. On top of this fracking also causes earthquakes, some minor and some major but always in the high dozens per year.

We need energy, but we don’t need it at all costs and we don’t need this type specifically, so why are we not having more of a national debate on the issue? Why have we not had serious debates about changing laws to make it easier for solar panels in houses? Why have we not had serious debates about hydro-electricity (we are after all the land of wood and water)? Why have we not looked seriously into bio-waste energy and energy derived from plants (corn or sugar)? Why are we so insistent on utilising this product which will only bring harm to us in the long run (even if we personally don’t use the oil), a harm which the little benefits will not be able to cover?

There should be no debate, the oil should stay in the ground and we should start thinking about alternative energy sources to power our country. We don’t need the drama, both short term and long term which comes along with oil, we need to focus on fixing our environment which has been damaged and preparing for the future impacts of climate change.

The fact is the exploiting of this oil will be a retrograde step especially as nations have set concrete deadlines on the elimination of gasoline. We should not think about it, pretend it is not there and actively seek alternative energy sources, to use this deadly asset will only come back to haunt us in the not too distant future.

Don’t blame China, blame local governments for the perceived bad deals

Jamaica has had a long history with colonialism and economic exploitation, be it slavery and the British or the neo-colonialism imposed by the US, Jamaica has had a horrid experience when dealing with outside powers. With that in mind, recently over the past decade, we have been hearing an ever-increasing warning that the Chinese who have been heavily investing in this country may have sinister motives and that we are blindly walking into a debt trap and neo-colonialism as seen in the late 1800s to early 1900s.

These seemingly paranoid persons have some sound arguments and in many ways are correct to sound the warning bell. The Chinese after all, do have deals in which part of the payment they receive is a parcel of prime land, and it is also true that in some cases where the host country can no longer manage the venture that the Chinese step in and legally seize the asset (be they ports or hydro-electric plants). The Chinese also as is readily evident have no problem making deals which are clearly one-sided or on the shady side but I think that these persons (who are doing a service by keeping us vigilant of a possible debt trap) are missing something which differentiates the Chinese and their practices from those of say the British in Argentina or the US in Central America.

The key thing here is that though the Chinese may negotiate one-sided deals if the chance arises, they will also re-negotiate said one-sided deal if the other nation so wishes. A matter of fact, most projects which are done by the Chinese are not borne out of the Chinese imagination but are simply funded and built by them. Example, the Chinese did not think up the proposed highway between Harbour View and Portland, but they are funding it and building it. If the highway is unprofitable or ends up being a white elephant that’s not on China, that is in fact on our local planners who would be responsible for China getting even more of our land as is the case in Sri Lanka.

Greece, while it was going through the depths of its economic trauma, sold many state assets (including ports) to foreigners, Chinese included. After SYRIZA swept to office their finance minister had a look at the contracts and realised that they were one-sided, and in a major way. After informing the Chinese counterparts that the deal was a no-go China re-negotiated the deal. Think about that, rather than sitting on a legal contract which gave them an unfair advantage in a key economic zone (economic imperialism) the Chinese chose to re-negotiate the deal to something more favourable to Greece.

That does not strike me as the kind of behaviour a budding empire would display, rather it would seem to be the kind of behaviour a businessman displays. You have something to sell, they want to buy it, let’s do a deal and if you don’t like it re-negotiate, that is a pattern seen in many countries where the Chinese have done business. The Chinese have renegotiated with Greece, Malaysia, Venezuela, Argentina, South Africa and literally dozens more nations, so if they are willing to renegotiate these deals and shy away from economic imperialism what really is the problem?

There are two problems so far as I can see and both are rather disappointing when one really thinks about it. The first is that China, the PRC, governed by the party which gave us Mao and Deng is more than happy to do deals which are blatantly one-sided and at times engage in shady deals. This is disappointing because I would expect China to behave better as many nations and persons look to it as a beacon of third-world rags to riches and revolution and this behaviour tarnishes that reputation. The second factor which is most disappointing (if it does indeed pan out) is that our government or any for that matter wouldn’t attempt to re-negotiate these deals especially in light of the other nations who have.

The problem on the Chinese side is both out of our hands and being dealt with by the Chinese authorities (see the heightened and extended crackdown taking place now), what we need to do on our side, the side of the person taking the money, good, service or infrastructure is to ensure that the deals are made in a transparent way void of pork belly, and actively push to renegotiate deals which are potentially more harmful than beneficial. If we go about making deals in that manner, then it would be extremely difficult to end up in unfair deals or fearful of the debt trap while also enjoying much needed foreign infrastructure investment.

With the MOF recently coming out and stating that the debt owed to the Chinese should be repaid within a decade one can only hope that the GOJ continues to strike balanced deals with what can thus far be called a most reliable partner. This news, while it should be welcomed by those who have consistently warned against the debt trap should not be the end of it. They should remain vigilant, continue to warn against the very real dangers of the debt trap and ask for transparency with ALL contracts and deals done with foreign governments and companies and demand renegotiations of the deals when/if they are found to be to our detriment.

So make the deals where we have to and ensure vigilance, that’s all we can and should be doing. Haranguing the Chinese for looking out for their own is pointless and condemning our government without demanding renegotiations is fruitless. Let’s aim for that as we seek to finally upgrade the country in ways it hasn’t been for some time.

JAMAICA NOT IMMUNE FROM THE FAR RIGHT

The past few years have seen a massive surge in support for far-right, crypto-fascist politicians and parties. Election results from India to The Philippines, from Germany to Italy and most notably the USA in 2016 have elevated candidates with reprehensible ideologies to the highest offices in their respective lands.

This trend has continued in Brazil as the Hitler-praising Bolsonaro resoundingly won the recent second round of elections in that nation. Such results have naturally caused many to ponder seriously what is going on in the world that could cause so many people to act in such a reactionary way, and locally the question on some persons’ lips is, could such a politician succeed here?

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IF WE MUST PRIVATISE…

Privatisation is a phrase which is not alien to Jamaicans, a phrase which seems to constantly sit on the tongues of our elected officials, especially ministers. It is an activity which has a deep history in this nation as JPS, Kingston Wharf, the airports, the sugar industry or even the transport sector can attest to. It is a word which is heavily loaded emotionally as it naturally means that the State loses control of an asset and one feels a serious dent in pride when a nation is forced to sell off its assets, especially prized ones. Now, I am no fan of privatisation. If things were my way the State would own outright or have a controlling stake in all major sectors (finance, mining, agriculture, transportation, telecommunications) but the economic realities of Jamaica are such that what I wish remains just that. Loss-making assets and assets which are bulky with their overheads and maintenance need to be shed at this point in time so that the ship which is the Jamaican state can be righted. I understand that fact and can grudgingly acquiesce to that dreaded action, but where I draw the line is when these entities are sold off solely to foreign companies…

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Hypersexualisation and rape, two different issues which must be tackled separately

The recent rape and murder of a fourteen (14) year-old girl in Kingston has again sparked heated discussion in Jamaica and the diaspora about what can only be called our epidemic of sexual violence. The actions against the minor have elicited the same outcries as others before, we have everyone condemning the perpetrator(s), demanding better protection for our children and reinstatement of the death penalty. Unfortunately, what has also been brought to the discussion table is the supposed issue of how the child may have been dressed and the provocative outfits worn by the current generation and how they (unwittingly) invite this kind of assault.

Unfortunately, as disgusting as it is, that talking point is a very prevalent one when discussing sexual assault/abuse, especially when involving children. It is a common touchstone, oftentimes reaching the heights of victim blaming, but it has no bearing in any sexual assault case and most especially one involving a child as the two are totally separate issues and should be talked about as such.

Rape and sexual abuse/assault are illegal actions, punishable offences which carry prison sentences, a child dressing in a belly-skin and batty-rider is a parenting matter, a woman wearing a see-through crop top is a dress matter. The last two have nothing to do with the first, one is a crime and the other is a societal matter regarding hypersexualisation; The two, though they may intersect, are totally separate matters.

There is no justification or excuse for rape and sexual assault/abuse regardless of the victim’s sobriety level, location during the act, or style of dress. There is no understanding, or another side when it comes to these matters, especially when a minor is involved and making such excuses and using such talking points is as I say is a form of victim blaming.

Let us not view the two as the same coin only different sides as they are not and if we tackle them as such then this madness will continue. The rape culture we have in this country (and don’t let anyone tell you we don’t have one) is based on many things. How our young men are raised, how they are raised to view women, how they are raised to deal with rejection and many more things. What it is not caused by is a teenager ‘acting sexily’ or a woman wearing a revealing outfit, the fault, blame and cause lie squarely at the feet of those who commit acts of sexual violence.

If we are to deal with this epidemic of rape and sexual abuse, then we must address how we raise our young men. We must teach them that no means no (even if it is during a passionate consensual embrace), we must teach them that just because a woman says no to you does not diminish you as a man. We must teach them that just because a woman dresses in revealing clothes or acts provocatively does not mean it’s a green light for sex. Until those issues and others like it are dealt with we will always be experiencing this trauma.

The issues surrounding the hyper-sexualisation of children and that of broader society, that is the dress norms of the day, fall strictly in the realm of the personal and the immediate family. How a person dresses, be they man, woman or child is not the business of society at large (baring the excesses such as public nudity), rather it is an issue to be dealt with within the confines of that person’s home. These personal choices have absolutely no bearing on if a person is sexually abused and should never be used as ways to reason away, make sense or justify what is a one-sided crime.

For heaven’s sake, if the moral police have an issue with the way people (and by people, I mean women) dress then they should start petition groups and try to get laws enacted (good luck on that front). But to even think of conflating how a person, let alone a child dresses and why they have been abused is a disgusting red herring and must be called out.

If how a person dresses ‘invites’ sexual abuse if that is really the line which we are taking, then why are we not warning our men who wear saggy pants and also those who wear close fitting pants that they are potential victims of our imagined homosexual predators? We don’t do that because it is a stupid argument of victim blaming, coupled with the fact that we dislike gays whom we perceive to be molesters and rapists in the waiting. That is more proof that we don’t respect our women and have a serious problem when one thinks of rape and sexual abuse (if its gay then kill the abuser but if it is hetero you make excuses). It must stop and we all must recognise and accept that sexual abuse and rape are crimes and only the criminal can be blamed regardless of the victim’s age, how they were dressing or their sexuality and until we get that simple basic premise then this sick culture will only continue and become even more warped.

EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION OF TOURISM PROFITS

Jamaica is a land with many riches and quite a few rich people. However, the country remains desperately poor. It is a land where the biggest net earner is probably the illegal drugs and black market trade followed by remittances, then tourism. We are a people who are, in short, dependent on the grace of others for our food.

This is made all the clearer when one gets to understand that the vast majority of the major hotels, which are the major money, see their profits going abroad as the majority stakeholders have no real ties to Jamaica (infrastructure excluded of course).

That is not a good place for any nation to find itself. It simply cannot continue as such without a massive breakdown, which would result in a state of living which we cannot even begin to fathom. Something has to give!…

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