Golding and Lightbourne
A.E. Hueman, Contributor
Currently, Jamaica is in danger of becoming something of an international pariah. We were recently downgraded economically by both Bear Stearns and Moody's and also downgraded morally by Transparency International, but these are mere niceties in face of the thing that is threatening to demote us to the status of banana republic or rogue state.
This of course is the face-off between the Jamaican Government and the United States (US) in the matter of the extradition of Christopher 'Dudus' Coke. The media are treating the matter gingerly, but already, two companies have received threats from his fans. The public seems to have adopted the attitude that the prime minister (PM) is between a rock and a hard place and is sitting back to watch. The circumstances deserve more attention.
Our seemingly unflappable PM is actually on a slippery slope teetering on the edge of an International Monetary Fund rejection and simultaneously trying to find a foothold as he walks barefoot along the razor's edge between antagonising the US and infuriating his volatile constituents, plus night and day wondering where he is going to find the next few billions to pay the nurses, or the teachers, or the police. And he is handling this ticking time bomb with all the aplomb of a pope - or someone who has O.D'd heavily on tranquillisers. The man is an enigma wrapped in a mystery. One has to applaud his phenomenal cool, but who can understand it?
Whatever one's opinion about the delay on the request to extradite Coke (and other unnamed prominent persons) to face drug and gun charges, any intelligent person must be aware of the gravity of the situation and the impact that the displeasure of the US will have and indeed may already be having on Jamaica's viability. Keep Coke, and we get the big stick from the leader of the free world; hand him over, and we may be able to repair some of the damage to our image and some access to meaningful economic assistance. It is not only the right thing to do, but the only sensible course to take.
Thus, it does appear that Bruce Golding and Dorothy Lightbourne would be best advised that for the good of this country they stop the legal titivating and filibustering and just hand over the multifaceted Mr Coke aka 'Dudus', 'Prezi' or 'The President'.
In Jamaica, Dudus is described as a businessman, show promoter, area leader and don; but in the US, the State Department is alleging that he is an illegal gun trader and a purveyor of dangerous and illegal drugs.
Of course, handing Coke over to the US authority will be unpleasant and possibly have some perilous consequences for residents, for Golding, and by extension, for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
Risking civil unrest
Residents may suffer civil unrest, Golding may lose support in his constituency and could even lose his seat in the next election. Trouble is likely if Coke is indeed as popular, powerful and dangerous in this JLP garrison as he is made out to be. But is this really the case? Is it fear or love that controls his supporters? There may well be a large number of well-thinking residents who would prefer to live outside the shadow of a don.
If, as predicted, the removal of Dudus does cause riot and mayhem in Tivoli, it will be the job of the police (hopefully without the help of Reneto Adams) and the army to quell it. Are the prevalent rumours of plans for protests and insurrection and of Tivoli bristling with high-powered weapons true, or just greatly exaggerated? If they are true, is that not another good reason to send in the troops?
No two ways about it: the Dudus dilemma does present an enormous challenge to Golding, and by extension, to the JLP, and more important, to all Jamaica. Perhaps Golding sees the stand-off as a no-win situation in which he is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't comply with international law and surrender the don to the US justice system. If Tivoli's response to the extradition is riot and mayhem and Golding has to send in the troops and invoke the Suppression of Crimes Act or call a State of Emergency just before the start of the tourist season, that's another blow to the economy and a double whammy to the economy and the JLP government.
On the other hand, this massive challenge does come with a huge and enticing opportunity, an opportunity which, if intelligently and energetically used, can rid our island of a curse and transform Golding himself into a genuine National Hero.
Simply put, by cutting Dudus loose, Golding has a God-give opportunity to strike a crippling blow (hopefully the first of many such) against the corrupt gangland culture of the dons, which has taken over our many garrison constituencies, infiltrated mainstream politics, and is now threatening to get a stranglehold on both politics and society in Jamaica, land we love. Which politician would not rather become a National Hero than play second fiddle to a garrison don?
"There is a tide in the affairs of men
That taken at the flood leads on to fortune
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat
And we must take the current when it
Or lose our ventures."
- William Shakespeare
Dear prime minister of Jamaica, we look to you to decide the better option.
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November 29, 2009