Every day when I listen to the radio and television news… it feels as though I am listening to accounts from Jamaica.
I remember about ten years ago, a friend of mine was contemplating a potential contract that would have had him doing significant work in Jamaica. He would have had to interface with residents in some of Jamaica’s poorest neighborhoods. He was seriously considering it because of the “nice pay per day” that he was going to receive for a six month contract.
He asked his wife. She objected. He asked his kids… they objected. He asked his mom and dad. They objected. He still persevered and was about to go… a man has to do what a man has to do. Well… he almost had a family mutiny on his hands.
He finally decided that he would not go. Since then he has been to Iraq and Somalia. Recently, he had another opportunity to go to Jamaica to do similar work for an international agency. He again decided not to go!
Where is this guy from? His wife is Jamaican. His parents are Jamaican. His oldest son is Jamaican. He…. is Jamaican – from Negril! Has he been back to Jamaica… Yes… he did the tourist thing – he went to the North Coast where all the hotels are… with a brief… hurried trip to his home town.
He talks about the high levels of senseless crimes in his country… where apparently no one feels safe. He talks about the criminals who have no respect for law and order. He talks about the fact that people who live there everyday feel a sense of being bombarded and imprisoned in “dem own yard”.
He talks about the fact that ordinary citizens of good conscience are now carrying various types of weapons… to defend themselves.
He talks about the fact that many women don’t feel safe. He says that, according to family members who are still there, neighborhoods seem like war zones…
He says that children are growing up with this sense of being traumatized on a daily basis… rapes, gunfire, stabbings, armed robberies, political violence, murders…
As he talks and I listen… I begin to get goose bumps… This sounds like Antigua (not yet Barbuda).
My mind begins to drift… How did Antigua get like Jamaica? I remember growing up in Perry Bay… Tinning Village to be exact… We had our doors and windows open and only closed them for rain – or the mosquitoes… or the awful smell from Tom’s ‘night soil’ carts!
Now… it doesn’t matter where you live… you close your windows and doors, and not only lock them… but put on padlocks and turn on the alarm.
Probably the fastest growing business in Antigua is the security business.
How did we get this way?
There is only one answer… All those things were imported from Jamaica and elsewhere.
All of this is a direct result of the myopic, treacherous and criminal policy of the former ALP government who were tricked by the Guyanese idea to import voters into Antigua to boost their diminishing support among Antiguans.
This is also a direct result of the weak kneed, snail-paced, and indecisive policy of the current UPP Government who for political reasons are afraid – have been afraid to develop a firm policy towards immigration.
It is a mistake that the UPP Government will pay dearly for.
Both Governments… the former and the current are responsible for the wave of endemic violence that we are now seeing and the fear that has embraced our beautiful island – where supposedly - “the beach is just the beginning…“ (Of what? But that’s another story!)
Now the violence has reached our beaches and impacting our one-industry economy!
I know that some will make the argument that some of the perpetrators of these criminal acts are our own Antiguan people. I agree.
Just like many of our Antiguan brothers and sisters have adopted the nefarious, ghetto, ‘xyznklitzvt’ behaviors, songs, mindset, attitudes, dress and other sub-cultural artifacts from Jamaica (and Guyana)… A small set of Antiguans have also adopted the criminal sub-culture and criminal psychological mindsets from these countries.
I also know that some of you will make the argument that some Antiguans have brought back their criminal lifestyles from the United States. The trouble with that argument is that we don’t have any statistics on how many of those people have been deported by to Antigua.
What we do know… is that with the massive tidal wave of Jamaicans and Guyanese (and others) who have come to Antigua… have come Tom, Dick & Dirty Harry – and many of them from the criminal underbelly of those countries.
What do we do now?
Our immigration policy needs to be fixed right now. Every crime… every robbery… every rape… every murder… I lay squarely on the doorstep of the politicians… past and present.
Every delay in fixing the immigration policy… every delay in ensuring that every person in Antigua is properly documented (nationals and foreigners)… every hesitation to do the right thing… for whatever reason… every delay adds to the number of crimes… the number of rapes…
UPP – do the right thing! Fix the immigration policy now. Re-election or not! Antiguans are living in fear. Our women live in fear. Many don’t sleep well. Our children are hurting… the violence and the negative foreign live styles are impacting them too!
UPP – Fix immigration now. Stop being afraid of the foreign vote! Good people – nationals and foreigners will not only understand – they will agree. The foreigners among us are subjected to the same violence and crimes and rapes as Antiguans are. They are suffering too!
Mr. Spencer – leadership is about courage. It is about doing the right thing! Close those immigration loopholes now! Then set about documenting every breathing person in Antigua!
I am placing this crime spree, violence debacle, and the waves of rapes right on the doorstep of both leaders… both parties…
Who else can we hold accountable?
Who else can fix this problem?