Leading article: Gang warfare and political failure

Share
Related Topics

It can hardly be considered an ideal outcome of US foreign policy. What is going on in Jamaica at the moment is not far off a civil war, with more than a thousand heavily armed troops and police storming the downtown stronghold of the warlord Christopher "Dudus" Coke. The violence has erupted as the result of an attempt to extradite Mr Coke, whom Washington says is one of the world's most dangerous drug lords, but whom local people regard as a Robin Hood figure who provides them with food, pays for their children to go to school and mediates in their disputes.

For almost a year the Jamaican government of prime minister Bruce Golding has refused to extradite him, fearing that exactly this kind of mayhem would ensue. But a few days ago Mr Golding caved in to pressure from the Obama administration to prove he is serious about combating the drugs trade.

Jamaica is the largest producer of marijuana in the region and a conduit for cocaine. US policy is to choke off the drugs at source. But repeatedly, in Colombia, Mexico and now Jamaica, its clampdowns have only further destabilised unstable countries in an unstable region. The Americans would be better trying to staunch their own domestic demand for these drugs.

Jamaica does need to address the powerful organised crime networks which dominate the island. The problem is that they are intimately related to the island's political parties, which created the gangs in the 1970s to rustle up votes. The gangsters have since diversified into drug trafficking but each remains closely tied to a political party. Mr Coke's gang is linked to the governing Labour Party. It has carved out its own fiefdom in West Kingston, which includes Trenchtown, part of the prime minister's own constituency.

Since the end of Michael Manley's experiment with democratic socialism in the 1970s, a deep corruption has grown around this gang/political party nexus. In a nation with a weak civil society, and no regulations on party financing, the links between politics and the gangs have intensified. As government divested itself of its responsibilities to its citizens, many were assumed by warlords like Dudus Coke. The way to remove them is not with inner-city military assaults but with a purging of the corrupt political system. Jamaica is not a failed state so much as failed government. But the way forward is through political reform, re-socialisation and re-education. US-backed violence on the streets is not the way to begin.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: how to spell BBQ and other linguistic irregularities

Guy Keleny
 

South Africa's race problem is less between black and white than between poor blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa

John Carlin
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own