JLP, PNP can of worms

Tackling garrisons is parties' job — Chuck

Observer staff reporter

Friday, October 13, 2017

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THE perennial call for the dismantling of political garrisons was frontally addressed yesterday by Justice Minister Delroy Chuck who said that it is the political parties, and not the Government, that should tackle the problem.

Minister Chuck, who was addressing the Rotary Club of Kingston at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, said that the dismantling of these zones of political exclusion was one of 10 recommendations coming out of the Tivoli Commission of Enquiry. However, he said that the Government had no response as to how it can be done.

“One of the areas, however, which no response will be made to the recommendation, is the whole question of tackling the garrisons,” the minister said.

“When we examined it... the question is: Is that something that a Government can deal with, or is this to be dealt with by the country at large, starting perhaps with the Parliament?

“I need not tell you that the garrison phenomenon, as the commission found, is a blight on our democracy and our country. And the real question is, how do you dismantle it? Because the commission urged that, unless you do, the likelihood of those communities developing will be really slim,” Chuck further noted.

He added that the commission made several proposals as to how to dismantle the garrisons, but when the proposals were examined he was not certain that they would be successful in addressing the problem.

At the same time, Minister Chuck reasoned that there should be public discussion on the matter and contended that he feels it should be the responsibility political parties to fix the communities.

“I have no doubt that when we look at the garrisons we will have to take it back to Parliament, and that is what the intention is, for discussion to take place in the society. But eventually when we respond on the recommendations of the Tivoli Commission of Enquiry we intend to say that this is a matter that has to be dealt with by political parties, and how do we get a third party or others or a Vale Royal discussion so that we can start to dismantle, degarrisonise areas within our societies because we must show that these communities must have outstanding leaders leading the charge and not the dons and thugs leading the charge,” he said.

Garrison communities are those where votes are cast, by will or force, heavily in favour of either of the island's two major political parties.

Yesterday, Chuck argued that garrisons, poverty, and deterioration of communities can be stemmed, but economics must be at the forefront of what is being done, instead of political decisions affecting residents of these communities.

“A lot of time needs to be spent on how we develop the country, because it seems to me we have to face the reality that we are not doing well in serving the people of Jamaica. What I see, in terms of how people are living, if we continue like this then Jamaica will not be regarded as a First World country in 2030, as we want. And it is quite clear to me that it is economics that will help [the inner city communities] to develop rather than political actions,” he said.

“Somewhere along the line we have to find ways and means to have these communities become entrepreneurial centres, where the young men, dons, and so on can be transformed into businessmen rather than gangsters,” Chuck argued.

In the meantime, he said the West Kingston Commission Compensation Committee has submitted its report to him, which he has since submitted to Cabinet, and hopefully by early November it will be laid in Parliament and will be the precursor to the Government addressing all the recommendations, including an apology which is expected to be made in November by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

The commission of enquiry was established after the May 2010 security forces operation in Tivoli Gardens to arrest Christopher “Dudus” Coke who was wanted by the American Government for gun and drug offences.

In the days just before the operation, criminals loyal to Coke shot dead two policemen and burnt two police stations. They also barricaded Tivoli Gardens, Coke's stronghold, with explosives and residents ignored repeated requests from law enforcers to dismantle the blockades and leave the community.

When the operation started police and soldiers were met with heavy gunfire which eventually resulted in the deaths of more than 70 people, including a soldier.

Coke fled the community during the firefight but was eventually captured a few weeks later and extradited to the United States where he was tried and sentenced to 23 years in prison for racketeering.




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