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Tivoli Gardens: Out of bad let good come

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If the security forces can consolidate their clean-up of the criminals among us — and they must — it will usher in a new Jamaica. Perhaps even the Jamaica that all decent, law-abiding Jamaicans have long yearned for and had begun to give up hope of ever achieving — a place where we would all prefer to live, work and raise our families in peace, love and prosperity.

In this context, the question is already being asked whether the current prime minister, Mr Bruce Golding, is suitable to lead this new Jamaica. In other words, is he the leader to take us into the Promised Land?

We have not been shy in taking a strong position — some have accused us of being strident — on the abysmally poor handling of the Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke/Manatt (pictured), Phelps & Phillips affair by Mr Golding. From the moment that he declared he was prepared to pay the political price for his defence of Mr Coke, we urged him to put the matter into the hands of the local courts.

We foresaw that no good could come of a prime minister usurping the role of the court, in favour of, not a national hero, but a man the United States wanted on charges of trafficking in drugs and guns. Admittedly, we could not have foreseen the depth of the tragedy that was to follow so soon after.

But we are at June 2, 2010 and the future beckons. As a nation, we have to engage in deep introspection, honest debate and a willingness to face the hard and painful truths that will emerge about who was responsible for getting us where we are and how to go forward from here.

Some well-intentioned persons have called for a truth and reconciliation mechanism not unlike that established by Mr Nelson Mandela in South Africa after the overthrow of Apartheid. We don’t oppose the idea, but our instinct is that it would take more than our people are prepared to give to get that going at this point.

We suggest, once again, that the best forum for unearthing these truths is in a Commission of Enquiry, which does not have to depend on hard-to-get forensic evidence, but allows for primary actors to give enlightening first-hand accounts and anecdotal evidence of atrocities that can provide leads for future legal action.

We further suggest that as we analyse Mr Golding’s role in this entire debacle, we view it in the broad context of not just what took place but also the opportunity it has provided for a new beginning.

In this regard, we continue to be disappointed by Mr Edward Seaga’s tirade against Mr Golding, Mr Joseph Matalon and Bishop Herro Blair, which appears to be blaming everyone but himself for what has taken place in Tivoli Gardens. It does seem at this juncture that Mr Seaga’s vast experience as member of parliament for West Kingston for 43 years cannot be relied on for objectivity. What a pity.

Yet, as unfortunate as the events of the last 10 months and especially these past two weeks have been, we can argue that had they not occurred, we might not have been given this ‘god-sent’ opportunity to remake the Jamaican nation.

Mr Golding can atone for errors made by grasping with both hands the opportunity to craft a new legacy — that of bringing crime in Jamaica to within tolerable levels. He must be unwavering and resolute in his pursuit of the criminals.

In that context, Jamaica may yet forgive him.


Any opinions or viewpoints that are published herein are directly from the contributing author and does  not necessarily represent the philosophy or viewpoints of Latin America Bureau.