Political parties must pull together to attack the crime problem

Dear Editor,

In a Don Anderson poll published in August this year the public stated that Jamaica's biggest failure since Independence is the inability to control crime and violence.

This was in variance with, and seems to be closer to the truth, former Prime Minister Bruce Golding's suggestion that the overall inadequacy in education is our greatest failure. But, in all fairness, if the political clout and momentum that had gone into winning elections at just about all costs had instead gone into developing education, then, in addition to an improved educational system, the initiation and establishment of garrison communities, the main catalysts and facilitators of hard crime, may not have happened.

As a precursor to that Don Anderson poll, one month earlier in July, it was stated that 45,000 murders had been committed since Independence, which rounds off to an average of 750 per year.

It has been reported that up to September 7 of this year 1,055 people had been killed, giving a daily average of 4.22 murders per day, which, if the rate continues, will result in 1,540 for the year.

In 1962 Jamaica was one of the most peaceful countries in the world. Forty-three years later, in 2005, it was the most murderous, and it has remained in the top 10 murderous countries since then. At the moment Jamaica is in position number two, with 57 murders per 100,000 population.

This could not have happened unless the development of crime was facilitated from the top.

The political enclaves, created and nurtured by both parties, have given rise to and fed the development of crime in the country. We have in our crime situation the legacy of the political fraternity developed over the years.

Golding has correctly stated that divisive political parties have damaged the Independence project, and it is true to say that the epitome of divisive politics rests in the garrison constituencies and what has been contained in them, emerged from them, and developed out of them.

This in no way demeans the intrinsic value of residents in these communities who, given the right opportunities, nurturing, support, and encouragement, have produced citizens that match our finest. And, even without these aids in place, there are individuals from these communities who have shone as bright as or brighter than the best of us as we know it.

But what it means is that the exploitation, misguidance, and literal abuse that have been practised and encouraged to fester there have made it extraordinarily difficult for human development to reach upwards for the best.

At this point the current political community needs to transcend the legacy left by the earlier political fraternity, stop trying to defend the indefensible, but rather analyse the current situation and its causes, move beyond it, and together find and implement the solution. And the only way that it appears this will begin to happen is if the two political parties combine their efforts to solve it together. This is an absolutely necessary condition. This is where the solution must start, and if this collaboration continues and persists, then it should be possible to obtain the solution. The political party that happens to be in power will not, by itself, be able to address the situation successfully.

It is time for the leaders of the two major parties to realise that serious dialogue is essential if they are interested in addressing crime. Of course, that is assuming that they are really interested in addressing crime.

Our current crime situation is a national catastrophe. Whatever inter-party cooperation exists needs to transcend any aspect of superficiality that contains a readiness to undermine the opposing party once the chance arises.

We need to hold on to the fact that no matter how bad the crime scene is, and it is really bad, it is still not irredeemable, and it is up to the two parties to leave their legacies for the future. What will it be?

David Abrikian


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