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: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A police officer carries a casualty to safety  

Tunisia attack proves that we cannot stop terrorists carrying out operations against Britons in Muslim countries

Robert Verkaik
Alan Titchmarsh MP?  

Alan Titchmarsh MP? His independent manifesto gets my vote

Jane Merrick
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies