EL Salvador's President Nayib Bukele, in a recent speech at the United Nations, defended the harsh security measures that have reformed his country's crime environment, transforming the world's murder capital in record time.
He pointed out that had he listened to critics around the world, to include the United Nations, he would never have attempted the reforms. What this man has done has proved what most don't want to accept — that there is no solution that fits in with normal police practices when gang size, strength, and activity allow them to control or influence the political process and possess the power to control entire communities.
The fact that he has more than halved the murder rate in less than a year alone demonstrates that his solution was what was required. Yet the very same United Nations still criticises him. Let's discuss this. He has suspended the rights of criminals to have legal representation and has made it legal for them to be remanded indefinitely without being charged or carried before a court.
A total of 72,000 criminals were detained. Thousands of lives have been saved. Which is more important? Well, there is that possibility that innocent persons could be included within the numbers who have been detained. There is also that certainty that some of the persons who would have been killed if the measures had not been introduced would be innocent people.
So what would have been a greater injustice? It really comes down to this question: Is it more important that freedom is observed, or is it all about saving lives?
This is the choice. Many will say that you should reform communities, fight police and political corruption, and upgrade education.
They are all positive ambitions but they are long-term solutions and won't drastically reduce our homicide rate in even the medium term. If you want drastic change it will come at the cost of drastic measures.
Leadership is difficult. Our future depends on the approval of the international community in order to ensure that we have economic growth.
I get that. But El Salvador was drowning. Bukele saved them. Yet the United Nations and a slew of international human rights organisations have the temerity to still criticise him and his Government.
Jamaican leaders have always been forced to toe the line, whether they lead unions or governments.
Some were different.
Alexander Bustamante was imprisoned by the British for measures he took on behalf of the Jamaican workers in the 1940s. Michael Manley became a pariah when he made his choices in the 1970s.
This is Bukele's time to do what is "necessary" to save his country.
We have been drowning in drawn blood since the 1990s, and despite our recent successes we will bury well over 5,000 victims of crime over the next five years.
Many will be criminals but there will be some innocents in there as well. A brother, sister, mother or father who didn't do anything to contribute to his death will be murdered. Those innocent persons will die because we refuse to accept that there is no solution that works that is "normal", certainly not in a short time.
Being a small country that is non-compliant with international instructions is setting the platform for economic sanctions to be laid against you. Is this fair? Is this reasonable? American law enforcement has had a rough chapter with the traffic-stop shootings. The victims are disproportionately black when you compare them to the population of the United States.
Is anyone at the United Nations threatening sanctions against them? Britain's metropolitan police service was described as institutionally racist. I saw no one sanctioning them. South Africa for decades had an apartheid Government that subjugated and brutalised blacks. No one at the United Nations introduced sanctions before Jamaica got the ball rolling. What? No one told them?
So this sanction and punishment syndrome by the United Nations, large countries, and international human rights organisations is really for small countries who are dependent on assistance and collaboration to survive. Why? Is it because the United Nations and even local human rights organisations are evil? No, not at all.
It is because they believe there is another way. They are wrong.
We are only going to get drastic change like what El Salvador is doing when we do what they did — build a prison and then fill it. Will this be expensive? You are so correct. But so is our budget to fight crime and heal the wounded.
Our solutions and salvation lie in the Bukele model, which is in essence taking the rights away from criminals. We could use as an alternative the development of a massive part-time auxiliary to maintain peace by presence. That's the "McKay model". Some people like the Phillipines' Rodrigo Duterte model wherein you kill off the gangs. I don't, because you can't reverse a mistake made in an exercise like that.
Many say that Bukele has arrested innocent persons in this purge. I am sure there are isolated persons who may have been caught up in this crackdown, and there are mediums and channels to use to plead their case. That is why 7,000 of them have been released.
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