David Cameron’s visit to Jamaica on Tuesday September 29, 2015 came right on the eve of a constitutionally due election season in 2016. However, the fact that his visit appears to be a political play by the ruling People’s National Party to score some points in the preliminary, this was not the headlines of our news. What sparked the interest of most Jamaicans was Cameron’s intention to grant 25 million pounds towards the construction of a new prison facility in Jamaica to transfer Jamaican prisoners currently in the UK prison system. Apparently, the situation in UK is that 1/3 of their prison system cumulatively is populated with Jamaicans, who were allowed to serve their sentences in the UK because Jamaica lacks the holding capacity to receive them. But what about the 300 million pounds that Mr Cameron is also giving us? not to mention the share of 9 billion pounds that we are to get from his investment in the Caribbean? He comes here with 300 million pounds (which will partly be used for infrastructural and social development) and 9 billion pounds, but all we seem to be focused on is the 25 million pounds to build the prison.
First of all, I think the Jamaicans that go to the UK and commit crimes should be our responsibility to penalize. To offer some perspective, why should a Jamaican be able to kill a British citizen, then benefit from the care of the UK’s prison system because we lack the capacity to receive them? Why should the taxes of the same British citizen murdered by a Jamaican be used to take care of him/her in THEIR prison? I think the proposal for a new prison will be mutually beneficial for both Jamaica and the UK as it bears the potential of offering some amount of economic relief to the UK’s economy with the saved tax payer pounds, while expanding our capacity to properly house our criminals. Furthermore, the UK and Jamaica has enjoyed a long standing partnership on Criminal Justice reform in both countries, and a new prison is only an indication of more value to come from this partnership. Our bad economy and inefficient educational system is predominantly OUR fault, and I don’t believe the UK ought to have seen this as priority over the prison. Remember that Cameron too has to be responsible with how he spends his citizens taxes, and they are entitled to a return on every investment he makes on their behalf.
It seems so convenient to me that NOW when Cameron DECIDES to visit is when WE (being the majority of Jamaicans) remember he “owes” us for slavery. Where were the protests, petitions, marches and blocked roads for Reparation before his visit was even contemplated? Our most notable demonstrations thus far have been for Vybz Kartel’s Freedom in 2014 and the Buggery Law in 2015; but nothing major for Reparation. Emancipation Day happened recently and I didn’t see the conversation heighten on Reparation; and even before that during Black History month in February, when we are most reminded about slavery, we were still nonchalant on the issue. Yes, I agree that Slavery happened, and yes it set us back socially and economically as a country; but I think the time has passed now for this to still be our focus. Jamaica wasn’t the only colonized country in the Caribbean, but for some reason we believe we are ENTITLED to billions of pounds and dollars from the Developed countries for this crime to our great great great great grandparents. I do, however, agree that Reparations should be offered to some degree, and this discussion ought to happen in a fair and constructive way. But when we are going to use it as a reason to almost extort money from these developed countries; there is where I step aside.
Why should the sons and daughters of the UK pay for the crimes committed by their forefathers?? And Why aren’t we putting the same pressure on Spain for enslaving our indigenous Tainos and then subsequently committing a mass murder of them all?? That part of our culture that has been lost almost absolutely, is there no price for that? And since we’re on the subject of countries “paying” for their crimes, Do you believe Jamaica should pay the USA for the murders committed by the Jamaican Shower Posse gang from 1980 to present? Or the American lives lost to the sniper gun of Jamaican Lee Boyd Malvo in the 2002 DC sniper massacre?? Food for thought my friends.