Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jamaica in Flames

According to BBC News, Jamaican authorities are trying to restore order in the capital city of Kingston after bloody clashes with forces loyal to drug lord Christopher "Dudus" Coke. Among the inhabitants of Kingston slums such as the Tivoli Gardens area, Coke is seen as a Robin Hood figure and defender of the people.

My Gut Reaction: When will we ever learn?

Analysis: This round of violence started when the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding, agreed to extradite Coke to the United States, where he is wanted on charges of running a drug trafficking network. As with Mexico, our attempts to enforce our draconian drug laws have spilled over into outright violence in another country. As the BBC reports, thirty-one people have died in Kingston.

What is it going to take for our government, and the American people in general, to realize that trying to legislate what people put in their bodies only leads to shattered lives? In the United States, this manifests itself in terms of a massive incarceration rate. In the third world, however, blood flows as governments seek to appease the American government and come across as allies in the War on Drugs.

To be fair, not all of the blame lies with the United States government. As Jamaican expatriate blogger The Field Negro points out, Dudus had amassed a great deal of support from the Jamaican government before the extradition order went out by renting out his gang, the Shower Posse, as political hired guns. The ruling party found the guns they used for political enforcement turned against them.

Nevertheless, the American government requested the extradition, and bears a certain level of responsibility for what has happened in Kingston.

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