Uncle Sam comes calling

UNCLE Sam wants you. That is the catchphrase on a recruiting poster for the US Armed Forces. It’s being used flippantly round our town these days as it has become known that America still has interest in getting more of us to pay him a visit — not for vacation but to answer some serious questions. Dudus has accepted the invitation already. Now there are others whom Uncle would like to meet.

The current street theory is that since Dudus took up residence in one of America’s special “places of safety”, he might have joined a choir and is singing for his breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is widely believed that his lyrics will change the lives of many. Speculation is that politicians may be among them; now that would be the real “preckeh”. Inevitably, in the fullness of time, the truth will send somebody to prison instead of setting them free.

The word “extradition” has been moved to the forefront once again with the visit of Dr Arturo Valenzuela (not Venezuela, not vuvuzela). Dr V holds the title of US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, wherein we are included. He came into town, not to enjoy the mud at Sumfest or do the beach at Negril this hot weekend, but to issue a warning that we ain’t out of the woods yet. One celebrity fugitive is not enough.

There’s more to be done, more big fish to fry, so get the trans-fat sizzling. More extraditions must come and Mr V seems to have served notice that co-operation is anticipated. There’s no report of any allusion to Manatt and the rest, but you know what they say about the 800-pound gorilla. He likes to be in the room. So now the guessing game begins. If that outsize, unwelcome creature is still lurking, how will he be driven out? Whom will he offer a ride on the exclusive private jet heading non-stop from Kingston to Lockdown, with media notoriety at the end of the line?

The Discovery Channel has been showing a series about life in America’s prisons and it ain’t pretty. To be caged like an animal, 23 out of a 24-hour day is no shopping trip, no reason to seek a visa, particularly if one has been accustomed to living the high-end life in a multi-room mansion in salubrious JA.

Uncle Sam has awakened to the fact that many persons here live well – very well, in fact. It must be galling to America that while their people wrestle with unemployment and continuing economic strictures, there are persons down here thriving off the proceeds of crime initiated on their soil. So, joke done.

There must be some heavy sweating going on also at the thought that the Gucci loafers and the Valentino suits, the “keep the air-conditioning running” juggernaut SUVs, the houses with enough rooms to sleep a football team comfortably, might have to be exchanged for a cell smaller than the dog house. Imagine, no more Moet et Chandon!

The public, of course, is just dying to get the inside suss as to who could be modelling prison jumpsuits before long. It is tragic that we’re making international headlines not because of the creativity and industry of our people but because of the minority who play dirty games. Well – if it will free the rest of us, let the clean-up begin.

I’ve heard the question asked: Is Jamaica the only Caribbean nation being targeted by US law enforcement? What of other places? Reports say Mr Valenzuela called in at the Bahamas, and Trinidad & Tobago before gracing us with his presence. In the absence of hard evidence of what happens elsewhere, we are left to wonder if we’re “the baddest”. You have to admit that our drama is always more gripping, possessed of more dark layers and a constantly changing plot. Don’t be surprised then if Mr V is looking for more “guests” to come from here than the other territories.

SO THEN, on to other urgent matters – the business of who is the sinner and who is the saint in the termination of the State of Emergency. It has come to an end and the PNP is being accused of not caring enough about national security. The party stands one step away from being openly accused of supporting crime because their abstention vote brought the measure to an end. Not many seem interested in their reason for what they did.

“Today fi mi, tomorrow fi you.” Not so long ago, it was the government side which was being flagellated over the Dudus matter. Now, the Opposition is on the receiving end, being flayed for not supporting the State of Emergency. They stand accused of playing politics. What else could they play? Tenor sax?

In the current impasse, the PNP is seen as irresponsible, spiteful and much more. The party sees itself differently, insisting that it was acting on principle. Citizens’ rights could not have been suspended indefinitely, they say. The State of Emergency could not go on endlessly, the security forces have to get back to fighting crime the normal way.

They point to their offer of a 15-day compromise instead of the 30 days which the government wanted. This, they say, was not because they were against the measure but because they wanted to see proper documentation on what it had achieved and the plans for the future. So now, the war is on. Letter writers are flooding the media with support for their respective sides. The PNP is getting a thumping with the barely veiled allegations that it supports crime. Did the absence of military-police patrols in the street make possible a mass murder in Bog Walk? Or the callous slaying of a police officer and a young pastor – in separate incidents in the small parish of Hanover?

Would these have happened if the State of Emergency was in place? Could they have been prevented otherwise? We need to ask also what triggered the return to madness. Political points may be scored in arguments, but until we tame the insanity which lurks always below the surface, all of us will continue to be the losers.

It is of no less comfort that we seem prepared to behave ourselves only when there are draconian measures imposed on us, or some armed enforcer is standing by to make sure that we do the right thing. Who can live like that?

THE PEOPLE’S VOICE: The RJR Communications Group commissioned a poll of public response to recent national events, including the way political leaders are seen through people’s eyes. The poll by Boxhill and Associates was conducted July 17 to 21. Asked their opinion of how Mr Golding does his job as PM, 37.6 per cent approved, while 52.6 per cent disapproved. As to their view of how Mrs Simpson Miller is handling the role of Opposition Leader, 42.5 per cent approved, 45.1 per cent disapproved. Do the maths and tell me if either leader has anything to be complacent about.

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