Thursday, May 27, 2010

Gonsalves on Jamaica

Situation was allowed to fester — Gonsalves

Thursday, May 27, 2010

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (CMC) — Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says the current breakdown in law and order in Jamaica is proof enough that "undemocratic power" must not be allowed to hold territorial sway.

The Vincentian leader, who is also his country's National Security Minister, said Tuesday that he was disturbed by the growing unrest in the partner Caribbean Community (Caricom) member state that has reportedly claimed more than 40 lives since Sunday.

Angry clashes between security forces and gun-touting civilians have been sparked by efforts to execute a warrant for the arrest Tivoli Gardens strongman Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, who is wanted by US authorities.

Gonsalves, who is due to visit Jamaica for an upcoming lecture, said he was currently reconsidering his travel plans since the situation in the country has been allowed to get out of hand.

"I always make this point. Keeping law and order doesn't give you any vote because when you're maintaining law and order there is always somebody who wants to criticise you," he said.

But, Gonsalves who is presently campaigning for a general election, went on to warn that "not having law and order will lose you plenty votes."

"More than that, (it) would make it difficult for you to enjoy any of your rights: your natural right to life and the protection or your person and the whole range of civil rights, including the right to property, the right to speak, to associate," he said, while pointing out that the State "has a legitimate monopoly on physical coercion".

He also said based on what's now happening in Jamaica, the lesson for his country is that you cannot give criminals "undemocratic power to hold territorial sway over any part of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

"Even decent people are peeved, but now all Vincentians can see the consequence of allowing this sort of thing to fester since the open warfare by ordinary citizens against the police and military was not taking place in Mexico or Columbia -- as often seen on television -- but rather, it was happening in Jamaica to the extent that the West Indies Cricket Board is wondering whether it would hold a one day international there next month," Gonsalves said.