Editorial

The brutality in the honesty of UN officer Gonzalo Ramos

Friday, July 07, 2017

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If some Jamaicans could have their way, they would declare United Nations safety and security officer, Mr Gonzalo Ramos persona non grata for his very clumsy public comments on crime in Jamaica.

Truth be told, in giving advice to overseas participants at a regional waste management meeting at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston on Tuesday, Mr Ramos did not say anything that we don't know as Jamaicans.

Where he seemed to have gone wrong was in the brutality of his honesty and the manner in which he threw ugly facts in the faces of his hosts, Jamaicans. It was a case of not what you do, but how you do it.

Mr Ramos cautioned the visiting participants not to venture outside the boundaries of the conference location or their hotels, informing them that that there had been significant increase in violent crimes in Jamaica over the past four years.

“Restrict your travels/movement from this building to your hotel, and don't be tempted to go to other places that you're not sure of. Try to walk always with a colleague; try not to wear any valuables; avoid travelling alone, especially after business hours,” Mr Ramos warned.

He advised the conference participants to always take private transportation when travelling between the conference centre and their hotels, and to beware of beggars because, while “most of them are friendly and are just trying to make a buck, some of them work with criminal gangs”.

“…Our hosts are aware of this, and I'm sure the conference will end (early) enough to give you time to get back to your hotels during daylight hours... During the day we don't expect you to experience any trouble. The Jamaican people are very hospitable, very friendly, and very respectful; so as long as you don't cross those boundaries you will be okay... As long as you're here in the compound, you're okay.”

He might have got away with it if he had stopped there. But Mr Ramos seemed bent on giving the visitors the 'full hundred' under the guise of providing a routine briefing that is done at “all UN meetings anywhere in the world”.

Continuing, he informed the group about Jamaica's murder toll, the country's movement from sixth most violent country in the world to fourth, and the number of criminal gangs in operation based on data released by the constabulary force two weeks ago.

The UN officer named three garrison communities in Kingston which they should avoid and reported that the police had been asked to do mobile patrols in the vicinity of the conference centre.

He rubbed it in further by issuing medical and hazard advice, warning about dengue, chikungunya, Zika virus, H1N1, and the hurricane season in his address to participants from across the Caribbean, Japan, Brazil, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and the US.

The UN has always prided itself on its strict use of diplomacy and tact in dealing with member countries. This clearly was not a concern of the hapless Mr Ramos. We are not clear about his motive.

Information on health hazards is something that visitors should have dealt with before arriving and Jamaicans can hardly take the blame for the fact that the tropical hurricane season falls between June and November.

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