Saturday, March 13, 2010

Trouble in Paradise: A Picture called Death?

First magazine, the innovative, streetwise, fashion-conscious chronicle of 'modern life in Jamaica' is back in multimedia form this time. The video below in which photographer Biggy Bigz talks about his iconic photo "A Picture called Death' is making the rounds right now and is presented below for your viewing pleasure.

First People: Marlon 'Biggy Bigz' Reid from First on Vimeo.

March 24, 2008. La Roose, Port Henderson. Photos by Biggy Bigz.

The region's dysfunctionality so memorably captured in snapshot form by Marlon 'Biggy Bigz' Reid has caught the attention of the international media. The link between organized crime and Caribbean states is suddenly coming in for close scrutiny. Perhaps the local media is too paralysed by fear to produce such hard-hitting news stories but last week the conservative journal, Foreign Policy, carried an article on Trinidad and Tobago called Trouble in Paradise, labeling it the newest narcostate in the world'. The paragraph below is excerpted from that article:'

... unfortunately, the Port of Spain government helps stoke the drug trade and the gangs. The country's annual per capita GDP has risen from about $11,000 to $18,800 in the past decade due to strong exports of natural gas and steel. Still, unemployment remains high, and to create jobs, the government spends about $400 million per year on make-work projects. The bulk of this money is ultimately funneled to gang leaders, who administer "grants" and distribute "salaries." Indeed, corruption -- always a problem in the country -- is reaching new heights. According to several security analysts, a damning unofficial study carried out by the government in 2009 suggested that almost 90 percent of police officers were regularly involved in illegal activities. Those pursuits ranged from running and selling drugs, to colluding with gangs by renting out weapons to criminals, to performing extralegal killings.

Clovis, Jamaica Observer, March 11 2010
Meanwhile back home in Jamdown the country's recent equivocation over the extradition request from the United States regarding Christopher “Dudus” Coke has attracted the attention of the Economist magazine. In a Mar 11th 2010 article titled "Seeking Mr Coke" the Economist described "American anger at Jamaica’s slowness in handing over an alleged gang boss":

The American authorities have become frustrated at what they see as foot-dragging by Jamaica’s government over their request last August for the extradition of a man they say is the leader of an “international criminal organisation”.

A “Gang Threat Assessment Survey” conducted by the Jamaican government last year reckoned there were 268 criminal groups in Jamaica, earning cash from extortion, selling cannabis, transporting cocaine, contract killings, prostitution and international cybercrime. Many of them are merely small-time thugs. But the United States Justice Department has put Mr Coke on its “world’s most dangerous” list, accusing him of directing drug deals as far away as New York.

Mr Coke’s home patch is Tivoli Gardens, a tough inner-city garrison close to the waterfront. It is the core of the Kingston Western parliamentary seat, held since 2005 by the prime minister, Bruce Golding, and for 43 years before that by Eddie Seaga, his predecessor as leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

...The State Department’s annual narcotics report, published on March 1st, talks of a “dramatic change” from earlier co-operation on extradition. It says Mr Coke has “reported ties” to the ruling party and that the delay in extraditing him “highlights the potential depth of corruption in the government.” Although the report acknowledges that a police anti-graft squad has made progress in catching crooked policemen and officials, it says some gang bosses enjoy police and political protection.

Clovis, Jamaica Observer, March 2010
As long as this state of affairs continues dramatic scenes like the one captured by photographer Marlon Reid at the top of this post will soon become commonplace. We seem to be slowly but surely heading in the direction of places like Cali and Medellin in Colombia. How to extricate ourselves from such a fate is not at all clear. Ideas anyone?

7 comments:

Ruthibelle said...

Ah boy, another tough question that we all have opinions on but no answers for... *sigh*

Mr Coke's extradition, or non-extradition, has become a serious joke... as has the prime minister who refuses to take some sort of definitive action (unless his current position is indicative of the definite stance that he has taken, that we haven't yet recognised and he hasn't yet announced ... scary).

The fact that The Economist has now reported on Jamaica's sorry situation is evidence of how low we have sunk in terms of credibility and respectability in the international arena... what most people don't realise is that, similarly, Foreign policy's report on Trinidad is evidence of the widespread repercussions that our Prime Minister's decision will have on the region.

We cannot be fooled: this decision will not affect Jamaica alone.

Annie Paul said...

Ruthibelle! I had given up on you! Yes you're right. We're all in the same boat.

Annie Paul said...

Ruthibelle! I had given up on you! Yes you're right. We're all in the same boat.

alsattar said...

ackeelover chronicles is a infamous pig who doesnt care 4 me. he made me pay 4 his vile autograph, plays vile games he loves me & he will come to my home. i told da police but they cant help me. dis is da last straw i will put up with his abuse. go to hell peter williams apophis.

Anonymous said...

Hail Annie Paul, mi deh yah again.
Some are saying that Bruce 'Gelding' has shown balls in denying the extradition request of Dudus by the US government.

Unfortunately, Bruce's seems to be flashing all Jamaicans (for the wrong reason) and his tiny stance pales in comparison to Uncle Sam's massive case.

Gelding's stance on the issue is flaccid and really reveals how impotent he is politically. His political power seems to be built on a fragile majority in parliament and the reputation and actions of area leader Coke. If any of these situations change even in the slightest Bruce will never see Jamaica House again as PM.

Finally, “how come”(twins of twins/JPS) you haven't commented on the songs in defense of Dudus' innocence and virtue. Eg. "A which Dudus dem a talk?" (twins of twins) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dvggf9BZIEg

Peace and love, Stero

PS. Don't you find it ironic that a dancehall artiste named "BUSY SIGNAL" is the key promotional character for the current Digicel “gimme five” promotion. Next time they should consider using the group "Voice Mail". BUSY!

Annie Paul said...

I was awaiting your return Anonymous...and you haven' let me down. I note your comments on the Chief Serpent's predicament. Any weh him tun macca jook him.

You have obviously not been reading my blog regularly enough or you would have noticed that I commented on both Bunny Wailer's plea and the Twin of Twins spoof months ago in a post called The Extradition of Dudus and Good Cop, Bad Cop.

Anonymous said...

Aaaahhh, Annie I remember that piece. BTW...my friends told me that it is not Busy Signal on the Digicel advertisement just some guy that sounds like him. When I inquired who it was there was a pause...and then somebody said maybe its GARY.

Peace and love, Stero