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Fire Fenton Fast

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I don’t know Fenton Ferguson personally. I have seen him at perhaps two social gatherings and he appears like an affable, decent, older man, not dissimilar to many of my own relatives. He apparently likes to dance and seemed polite in his dealings with people at the occasions where I observed him.

That’s all nice and good.

However, Minister Fenton Ferguson, as we have come to find out as Jamaican citizens, is an abject failure in his capacity as guardian and manager of the health of our nation. Ferguson has been tasked by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to administer and preside over a difficult and underfunded health ministry at a time when the IMF has mandated belt tightening which impacts all spending on social services. In fairness, not an easy task.  It would be a challenge to any able and competent individual. However, the absolute level of failure, mismanagement and incompetence shown by Ferguson in his handling of the portfolio puts the very survival of every single Jamaican residing in the island in jeopardy.

The audacity of his denial of the existence of a Chik V problem and the prior failure to adequately inform and prepare a public help policy to help to minimize the impact of what was internationally accepted as an inevitable occurrence, cost Jamaica hundreds of lives and billions of dollars. The actions of the ministry led to mistrust, confusion and total chaos as people sought out cures and explanations for a plague that swept the country.  The failure to inform the populace of necessary prevention protocols led to thousands of Jamaicans feeling close to death’s door and in some cases putting many through that door.

Fenton’s shining moment and penance  was his public wish that he too could catch the disease and experience the pain and suffering  felt by so many us

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/I-want-ChikV–says-health-minister

Utter neglect. Utter failure. Utter disgrace.

The huge list of major negative occurrences and issues occurring in our health sector during the tenure of Minister Ferguson has no precedent in modern Jamaican history. That may very well be a matter of bad luck and saltness for the minister. However, his handling of the various situations and the overall decline in the standard of health care are all him and his doing.

The inadequate administration and maintenance of hospitals, the buck stops with him.

The poor ordering and monitoring of supplies for the institutions in the sector, the buck stops with him.

The inability to ably inform and prepare the public for the issues surrounding the Riverton fires and mosquito   infestations, all him.

The failure to move on the critical  issues brought to the fore by Dr Alfred Dawes of the JMDA in May of this year and the subsequent deaths of innocent babies as a result these very same issues is a national disgrace. All Fenton.

The lack of accountability and the blatant hiding of the full results of the internal audit of the health sector has lead to a further loss in confidence and moral within the medical fraternity. All Fenton.

Late reaction and information regarding Hand, Foot and Mouth disease affecting many early childhood institutions islandwide, whose fault? Fenton Ferguson.

The truth is that a good, intelligent leader will seek qualified internal and external advice. A good, competent leader inspires confidence by his actions and statements. A good, sensible leader is forthright and true to the task at hand and leads from the front.

And most importantly, a good leader and true public servant will recognize when a task is greater that their abilities and competence. And though hard to accept, that leader must graciously remove themself from the position of the embarrassment and disgrace of absolute failure.

Fenton it seems  is not such a leader.

We as residents of Jamaica have absolutely no other choice. We have to act.

For the sake of the health and safety of all Jamaicans, old and young, Fenton and the cast of characters that have allowed the further deterioration of an already troubled system must go.

And they must go now.

Beautiful song sung by beautiful children.  The Jamaican National song was written by the Honorable V.S. Reid.

I never sung it much during my school days but fortunately it seems that  in later years it became much more  utilized. Powerful and poignant words that are an actual road map to the success as a nation which we seek.

This youtube link is incorrectly labeled Jamaican National Pledge. It is our National Song, our pledge is quite different.

 

Why do Jamaican men love fat women? And when I say fat women I simply mean women whose BMI(Body Mass Index) is outside of the upper proportions dictated by conventional western medicine. The variation and determination of  what is “fat” varies so much and is skewed by class, race and even in some cases even age group. But like many of our African brothers who still reside on the continent, a big strapting woman is also a  desired entity for many Jamaican men. Perhaps deep in our subconscious, big body women signify abundance, fertility and wealth.

Many men who have a preference for slimmer women have said that they have gone out of their way to “tackle a big ting properly” because,like Everest, it is just one of those challenges that you have to take on. The degree to which Jamaican men especially of our fathers’and grandfathers’ generation obsess over fat woman is very prominently displayed in all our music forms. Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae and Dancehall have all had big tunes glorifying and speaking about our fatty fixation. So, in this our 50th year I must tribute all the big body woman dem!

Here are my top 10 tunes in praise of fatty in no specific order.

There was a strain of reggae/Jamaican music that first came out in the early 70’s that myself and some of my  friends affectionately call Big Belly Brownman Rumbar Reggae.

When we were kids it was the type of reggae that would get good play on the radio as well as being very palatable for uptown social gatherings. It however really found its natural home in jukeboxes in the bars where copious quantities of rum were being consumed. It is the type of music that made some big seriousfaced gentlemen allow themselves  to do some little skanking. Something that they would never do to the more grassroots sounding reggae of the day.

It was a particular type of production that was bass heavy but with more chord changes than the hardcore dub reggae  sound that was running the 70’s. The horn arrangements were  more sophisticated and more dominant in the mix than the non-brownman reggae. As a child it seemed to me that the horns and bass facilitated for a kind of  dance move that was easy for non-dancers to do after a few Q’s of  White Rum. It was great music then, but age has actually given me a whole new appreciation of the humour, themes and overall production that went into these tracks.

So without futher ado, for Jamaica 50, here are my 10 favourite Big Belly Brownman Rumbar Reggae tracks in no special order. Please feel free to comment and let me know your favourites of the genre.

In 1972 Chris Blackwell had taken a gamble on an renegade rasta band out of Jamaica called The Wailers. Thus far it had paid off.  He had given band member Bob Marley  10,000 pounds and after a couple of months had gotten back master tapes of great material . When he heard it and did the math, he realized that unlike many of the typical Jamaican acts he had done business with prior, these men spent every penny on the material that they submitted to him.

He also realized  that they could potentially break out of the rut which typically befell reggae music in the UK.  Reggae was a singles market.  Successful acts and albums were a rarity. Popular singles could work well in the  Jamaican immigrant community and possibly crossover into some of the UK youth subcultures ie. Mods and Skinheads. The hit singles would move a decent number of 7inches and when grouped together they could move some compilation albums. The artists would do the UK chitlin circuit of sorts and make some decent money. However Blackwell saw that The Wailers, especially Bob, were possibly the fledgling genre’s best chance of becoming a real contender in the global music marketplace.

Blackwell put together a team to overdub and polish the album into a rock and roll grade classic. He recruited Muscle Shoals session guitarist Wayne Perkins, Robbie Shakespeare to replay bass on some tracks, Rabbit Bundrick on keyboards and organs and a slew of other musicians from Jamaica, the UK and USA. He A&Red the hell out of the project.

The original cover art for the first 20,000 albums was a Zippo lighter and done with the same attention to design as the big budget rock albums of the day. The album was called Catch A Fire.

He organized a UK tour that comprised mostly universities and smaller clubs. Everything was lining up the right way but the real kickoff for The Wailers, Blackwell and reggae music came perhaps because of  one appearance.  While in London in 1973, The Wailers were booked on The Old Grey Whistle Test. This BBC2  television music program was different from Top Of The Pops or any of the more chart based shows. It was a relatively new program but had the reputation of showcasing the real deal.  Grey Whistle was about artists doing  their work in a no-frills, intimate space. Devoid of pomp and theatrics this was where  you saw premier album oriented rock artists. Bob, Peter, Bunny and the rest of the Wailers performed two songs in their first ever UK television appearance. The rest is pretty much history.

In our 50th year, it would be good to look back at some of the methods, ethics, personalities and strategies that worked to turn us into musical powerhouse at one point. Perhaps there are a few lessons to be learnt.

Enjoy.

 

 

On the afternoon of October 14 1983, the course of reggae music was changed in the most unfortunate way. While  in a car on Grants Pen Road with an 18yr old aspiring reggae artist called Delroy Jr. Reid seated beside him, one of the brightest talents and true prodigies in Jamaican music was gunned down and killed.

His name was Hugh Mundell.

Mundell was 21 years old when he died but left behind a legacy of at least 5 albums and numerous singles. He recorded as a singer under his given name and recorded many of his DJ style songs under the alias Jah Levi. He was born in 1962 into a firmly middle-class East Kingston family. His father was a  lawyer. At age 13, with the help of singer/musician Boris Gardner(who appears to have been a neighbour at some point) Mundell recorded his first song for producer Joe Gibbs. He was attending Ardenne High but was already firmly rooted in Rastafari, Pan Africanism,  Black Consciousness and non-violence. I can only assume that this unlikely progressive thought for a middle-class child was rooted in the availability of conscious literature and consistent exposure to news and issues in his household. I have never been able to speak to anyone close to Mundell to give me the full picture. Augustus Pablo was saddened when I brought up the topic and said we would speak another time. Pablo passed before we had the conversation. Jr Reid who was Mundell’s protege and in the car with him when he was slain is a friend of mine, but the subject still seems hard to broach. Whatever his inspiration, Ardenne student Hugh Mundell aka Jah Levi in 1978 at the age of 16 recorded what is arguably one of the greatest roots reggae albums ever made.

Africa Must Be Free By 1983 received a maximum 5 star rating from Rolling Stone Magazine. Mundell’s smooth wailing vocal innocence paired with Pablo’s supreme production plus a cast of  legendary musicians and engineers had created a classic.  The album is included in Tom Moon’s 1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die.  And yes. The album is that good. With its dub mixes of all the songs, Africa Must Be Free kept my meds firm through many dark and difficult situations. I humbly suggest that if you are a lover of good  music you give the album a listen. In this our 50th year,  Mundell would have been 50 years old and could have potentially evolved into our next Marley.

Gone but not forgotten. Hugh Mundell.

 

                                                                                

I am not a beer drinker. If and when I do drink beer, Heineken is my preferred choice. But I,  like many Jamaicans grew up with a sense of pride knowing that we had our own real proper beer. Red Stripe was one hundred percent Jamaican. As a brand it spoke to everything that was cool about Jamaica. Fun, family, music, the beauty of our land and the personality of our people.  The ads that were run on JBC TV in the 70s and early 80’s made indelible marks on the psyches of myself and probably the entire post independence generation of the time.

Years later when I lived abroad I would stock my apartment with Red Stripe because if I had visitors I knew I would lose my yardman stripes if I didn’t have one to offer. Red Stripe was the realest calling card for a cool dude from a cool culture. When you are  in Babylon,  holding on to the aspects of your culture that embody your Jamaicaness become much more important than when you are home. I wore more Clarks in farrin, spoke more patois and even started to drink Red Stripe now and again.

Not anymore though. Red Stripe is currently seen as a has been beverage in the local market that has moved to stronger alcoholic pleasures. That happens. Tastes change. Products age out and  hopefully are nurtured and tweaked back into relevance.  What really sucks though is how badly Red Stripe has been marketed locally over the last decade or so.   An iconic Jamaican brand has pretty much been made into a laughingstock locally with a series of shabby ad campaigns which peaked with the highly touted and quickly cancelled “Bear” campaign.

 

My bredren Sandor spoke about it pretty much in detail in fairly polite terms in his blog.

 

They really did it with those. Really really rass up di ting .  Hopefully at some point some level of intelligence will take over the  local marketing and redeem a great great Jamaican brand.  Ironically, the overseas marketing of Red Stripe continues to be cool, quirky and well received.  Non-Jamaicans proving yet again that they understand our products and assets better than we ourselves do.

 

But what I have  located, as a tribute to our 50th year of independence is a reel of Red Stripe ads. It’s very long and spans over 4 decades.  I am sure you will see some classic ads that tell the tale of our special Jamaican lifestyle and reflect on how really and truly, Life is just for Living. 

 

 

 

Presidential Protocols

So Christopher “Dudus” Coke, past student of Ardenne High, Don of Western Kingston has been sentenced to the maximum term of 23 years.

The President will not be in the residence at any point in the near future. West Kingston and eventually the greater Jamaica will come to terms with what this absence will mean and the benefits and negatives that will become apparent over time.

The fact that I said that negatives may exist will rub some people the wrong way. Please feel free to be so rubbed. Unless you have some understanding of the complex dynamics of Jamaican Culture, Politics, Economics and Society in this our 50th year it is pointless for me to try and explain.

Perhaps some of the nuances of power, peace, war and money are best explained by Christopher Coke himself. The balancing act that exists a society that is built on a constant battle between warring factions fighting for scarce benefits and spoils is best told and explained by those who live it.

This is a wiretap of Dudus from around late 2006. He is speaking about Cowboy one of his top soldiers who has been accused of perpetrating criminal acts in the vicinity of Coronation Market. Dudus discusses the cost of war, the heaviness of the crown, ghetto justice and why he  spared Cowboy’s life.

Four years later, Cowboy was one of the three new witness that gave testimony against Coke that possibly resulted in his receiving the maximum sentence.

Mattathais Schwartz, who I have interviewed in my previous posts got access to this phone evidence which was available in the NY Southern District Court.

If you understand Jamaican patois and know Jamaican street culture this is probably one of the most interesting pieces of audio you may hear. Download it here.

HERE IS THE CONTINUATION OF THE INTERVIEW WITH MATTATHIAS SCHWARTZ

Was it easy to get information about the existence of the US military plane from the American govt.? What was the actual process?

I filed requests with several agencies in the U.S. government under the Freedom of Information Act. Confirmation of the plane came through the Department of Homeland Security. A copy of what they sent me can be read on my website here:

http://www.mattathiasschwartz.com/download-the-dhs-tivoli-gardens-foia-document-here/

So at no time was there hesitance on the part of the US govt to provide the information?

There was a great deal of hesitance. Many people and institutions declined to answer questions that I posed to them.

 

Is there any way to get the actual footage recorded by the plane into the public domain? Are you interested in pursuing the story further?

Yes and yes. I want to make the footage public and I am pursuing this goal through multiple channels. The footage is an invaluable piece of evidence in determining what took place in May 2010 and who exactly was responsible for so many civilian deaths.

Do you think that there may have been more US involvement than that which has been formally recognized?

I wouldn’t want to speculate—what I try to do is amass as much evidence as possible and then talk about what the evidence shows. Right now there is no evidence that has been made public suggesting that the U.S. had “boots on the ground” during the Tivoli operation. Most of what we do know is in three paragraphs from my story, below. I should also say, however, that the U.S. and Jamaican governments both have a great deal of nonpublic material and evidence about the operation, and that I am a long ways from being convinced that the U.S. did not have a more direct involvement in the operation than has been disclosed up to now.

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The State Department and the D.E.A. have also officially acknowledged that the plane assisted the Jamaican government during the Tivoli operation. The P-3 Orion, they said, in a statement given to me this fall, passed information “to U.S. law-enforcement officers stationed at the Embassy, who provided that information to Jamaican authorities.” The statement said that U.S. law-enforcement officers had not made “operational decisions” during the incursion, and emphasized Jamaican responsibility. “The video material was not viewed in the Embassy,” a State Department spokesperson said. “It was viewed at a tactical-operations center, and I don’t have the location of that.” When asked whether there were U.S. officials at the tactical-operations center, the spokesperson said, “I don’t know. I can’t clarify that for you.” A D.E.A. spokesperson said, “We were absolutely not involved on the ground in any of the operations.”

But parts of the D.H.S. report appear to contradict that assertion. The plane was assigned “at the request of and in support of the Drug Enforcement Administration (D.E.A.) Kingston Country Office,” the report reads. “Surveillance support is needed to increase officer safety.” Later, spokespeople from the State Department and the D.H.S. said that this referred solely to Jamaican officers. Major General Stewart Saunders, who led the Jamaican Army during the attack on Tivoli, retired shortly afterward, and declined repeated requests for comment, as did Prime Minister Golding. Numerous other officials at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, the D.E.A., the Justice Department, and the State Department declined to comment, saying that they had to wait until Witter’s report was completed or until Coke was sentenced.

It is clear that the U.S. played a major role in tracking Coke before the operation. “We were constantly involved in the investigation,” Bill Sorukas, the chief of the International Investigations Branch of the U.S. Marshals Service, said. “We provided information and intelligence on Coke and associates he was with.” He noted that the U.S. collaborates closely with the Jamaica Fugitive Apprehension Team, a special unit of the police, and that the “investigation was worked jointly” by the D.E.A. and the police. A senior Jamaican parliamentarian added that the U.S. government had provided satellite images of Tivoli in response to a 2008 request from Jamaican law-enforcement officials who said they needed help tracking Coke.

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What did you think when the former Minister of Security Dwight Nelson denied the existence and involvement of the US military aircraft?

 I thought that he was being less than honest with the Jamaican people.

The coincidence of the article being published within 4 weeks of Jamaica’s general election led some to believe that the timing was deliberate. Conspiracy theorists here have said that the US govt. wanted to punish the JLP and ensure their loss in the election. How do you respond to this?

It is a coincidence. The U.S. government has no control over the New Yorker’s publication schedule. That is not how the media works, at least not in the U.S.

The issue of credibility on the whole became a major reason for the JLP’s loss. The denial of the US plane which we all saw was one of several nails in their coffin. How do you feel being the person who basically put a spotlight on this particular lie?

It is indeed interesting that the U.S. can fly a plane over Jamaica, a plane that millions of people saw, a plane that was photographed by the chief photographer at the Gleaner, and that the Jamaican government can continue deny its existence months later.

Has there ever been to your knowledge the equivalent incident in your country’s entire history? If not, what comes closest?

History never repeats itself exactly but here are some (very) rough and debatable analogs that come to mind: The attack on David Koresh’s compound in Waco, Texas, 1993. The bombing of the MOVE compound in Philadelphia, 1985. The 1967 Detroit riot and 1965 Watts riots.

What would you like to see happen now? What is in your 1st world media eyes appropriate closure? With West Kingston, the state, the victims, the criminals, law enforcement, Jamaican society?

We need to know what happened. All evidence must be released. This includes videos, ballistics, autopsies, and records kept by the U.S. government, the Jamaican government, and the security forces. If it appears that the law was broken during the attack on Tivoli Gardens, and, based on the evidence in my story, I am convinced that it was, the guilty must be brought to justice.

I did this piece to hopefully remind people in Jamaica that two years after the Tivoli Incursion there has been no release of any of the information related to any of the questionable killings which took place. None. 

I ask one thing. Please email or call any of the contacts listed below and ask them to pressure the Jamaican government to seek answers. Included is the phone number for the Office of the Public Defender in Jamaica. His name is Earl Witter. He is the person who has been given the mandate to investigate the questionable killings. For the international contacts you can refer them to the article in the New Yorker and this blog post.

Jamaicans For Justice—- http://www.jamaicansforjustice.org/

Amnesty International http://www.amnesty.org/en/contact

Office of Public Defender 876-922-7089

National Integrity Action Ltd —–http://niajamaica.org/contact-us/

Human Rights Watch attn José Miguel Vivanco, Americas Director http://www.hrw.org/en/contact-us

European Union in Jamaica http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/jamaica/about_us/contacts/index_en.htm

The events leading up and subsequent to the May 24, 2010 Tivoli incursion taught me many things about Jamaicans and Jamaica. Some of them were sad confirmations of things that I had long suspected but would never have dared to verbalize in good company.

One of the things I confirmed was that a significant number of our populace have goals that extend only to eating their next meal. Regardless of the extent of systematic  abuse meted out to them or their loved ones, the lure of an immediate meal, hustle or even a promise of  “soon come” is often enough to keep them loyal and hoping.

I also confirmed that the social, political and class divides that Edward Seaga and many others spoke of over four decades ago are as pronounced and perhaps even more rigid than they have ever been, regardless of the superficial proclamations of “Out of Many One People” which has become a meaningless mantra.

I saw how misguided political agendas by both parties caused potentially great Jamaican statesmen to become liars, in some cases to become spies and informers for imperialist powers and others  complicit in ignoring the murder of innocent civilians. All in the name of politriks.

But honestly speaking, the most important thing I learnt was the extent to which the value of a Jamaican life is determined by how far above or below HWT one resides.

Just over 70 persons were officially acknowledged to have been killed in West Kingston during the operations to capture Christopher Coke by the security forces. I have heard from numerous sources, some of whom I have very strong belief in their integrity, that the actual dead may have numbered closer to 120. And to this day, almost 2 years later, not one iota of justice, recompense, reconciliation and even respect has been shown to the bereaved.

The understanding or acceptance by Jamaican society is that all these casualties were simply combatants hell-bent on the protection of their don and got their just deserves.

That is not the truth.

I am not going to fabricate fairy tales that every person killed was a churchgoing choirboy who was brutally murdered by evil security forces. The law enforcement officials came under severe fire and whatever means that they deemed appropriate to save their own lives and accomplish their mission, I as a law-abiding well-meaning Jamaican was in complete support.

The real problem is that they did not stop there. The truth is that many innocents were executed. Handcart men, vendors, mechanics, just regular working men who looked like they could be in some way connected to the Presidential System were put onto the ground and shot in their heads. Jamaican men were dragged from their homes and killed. Without charge, trial or jury…..they were shot like dogs.

Some were dumped in shallow graves in May Pen Cemetery and there are people claiming that others were burnt in furnaces over the old Public Works grounds.

The real dilemma is that no one cares. The mistake of the Jamaican populace is their largely held belief that everyone who lives in such an area, who did not leave, was a supporter of Coke and therefore deserving of death.  The real tragedy is the popular sentiment that ghetto Jamaican lives are cheap and plentiful.  Their deaths really amount to nothing but a relief to society, as we, the legitimate and proper bearers of the title “Jamaican citizen”, have merely gotten rid of a current or a potential criminal.

So when the TVJ news poll during the week of May 24 asked viewers “Should Tivoli residents be allowed to bury their dead?” it all became perfectly clear to me. No one can or will ever have to give me permission to bury my dog. I live uptown, I have my tings, mi have mi rights or so I would like to believe like Keith Clarke probably did.

But those 2 legged dogs in Tivoli need to get approval from us before they are allowed to bury the other two-legged dogs that we have killed. Michael Sharpe read that poll on TVJ and was seeking the public’s answers with a perfectly straight face. What we as a society fail to recognize is that the same knife that stick sheep will stick goat. When any human life within a country is undervalued, it undervalues all lives in that country. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. When anyone of us can be killed by the state without accountability, then all bets are off.  Regardless of what side of Half Way Tree one resides.

So herein lies the purpose of this blog post—- There was one article in the media which stood out and somewhat humanized the overall situation and the loss of life which took place in the Tivoli incursion.

It was not done by our local media. It was a piece in The New Yorker Magazine by a young white non-Jamaican male by the name of Mattathias Schwartz. He did the story that every Jamaican journalist should have been interested in doing. He did the piece that spoke to many of the issues that us as a society should have been concerned about subsequent to the incursion. Sadly we were too busy asking whether or not the dogs should have been allowed to bury their dead.

Here is a two part interview that I did with Matt. I simply wanted to find out a bit more about the opinions of the outsider who probably has done the single definitive piece on the Tivoli Incursion of 2010.


Had you ever been to Jamaica before? If so, what were your impressions?

I traveled to Jamaica as a tourist. Then I met someone in Kingston who told me about aspects of the Tivoli/Coke story that hadn’t made it into U.S. media, and I got started reporting. To some extent, Jamaica reminds me of Philadelphia—corrupt politics, insufficient housing, lots of murder, lots of exploitation by an entrenched power elite. Jamaica is what you would get if you put Philadelphia on an island in the Caribbean and left it alone for twenty or thirty years.

 How long were you here while doing the Tivoli story?

Eleven weeks, spread out over three trips.

What were your impressions of Tivoli as a community? What were some of the more memorable moments and characters?

 There are lots of “eyes on the street” to borrow Jane Jacobs’s term for informal public surveillance. If you come in from outside of the community, you need to be prepared to explain yourself and your reasons for being there to residents. “Unity” is a word that you hear a lot when Tivoli talks about itself, and it is true that the community has a great deal of spirit and unity and identity as a neighborhood. Tivoli is very closely knit.

What was your impression of Dudus’ role in the community?

It is hard for me to say with certainty. I wasn’t actually present in the community during the time that he was in charge so what I know comes from documentary sources and interviews with people who were there—police and residents. Among residents, there is a lot of love for Dudus and a lot of fear as well and sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between the two.

You must have heard an abundance of stories in your research that you eventually culled down for piece, did you get the impression people in West Kingston lied a lot?

Jamaica is a small country—about 2.7 million people the Internet tells me. So when you are looking into an event with as much impact as the Coke extradition and the Tivoli Gardens incursion, it is hard to find someone in Jamaica—let alone West Kingston—who doesn’t have a direct connection to the event. And when you or someone close to you is involved in an event, that makes it harder to give an honest, complete account when some reporter who just met starts asking you questions.

What was the most surprising/shocking discovery you made during your research?

I would meet an individual who claimed that they had never had any involvement or relationship with Dudus or his father. Then I would later learn, from another source, that they had a rather close relationship with one or the other. Or I would meet an individual who would claim that they had a relationship in the distant past that was now over. Then I would turn up a piece of evidence that the relationship was far more current than they had let on.

The first part of my answer to this question does not apply to the dead of May 2010, however. I remain convinced that Radcliffe Freeman, Andre Smith, and dozens of others who died during the incursion were innocent noncombatants killed in cold blood by the Jamaican security forces during the incursion. I have published a great deal of evidence to this effect, evidence that was vetted with great care by myself and the magazine’s factcheckers. I challenge anyone in the Jamaican government or elsewhere to produce evidence to the contrary.

Were you surprised that no Jamaican media had really done a comprehensive piece on the Tivoli Incursion?

No, I was not surprised.

Why weren’t you surprised?

Well, let me modify that slightly. Some of the Gleaner’s coverage—bothprint and video—immediately after the assault on Tivoli was very good.And the Observer has at least two columnists who have worked hard tokeep questions surrounding the civilian casualties in the publicconversation. When you ask why there was no comprehensiveinvestigative piece in the Jamaican media, and why I was notsurprised, it’s difficult for me to say exactly. I do think that thereany many excellent and honest journalists in Jamaica, and that they covered this story as well as they could, given the resources that they had.

Have you been approached by any human rights organizations, charities, judicial organizations about your piece?

I came into contact with some organizations like these, such asAmnesty International and Jamaicans for Justice, during the reporting process.

Did you actually speak to any Jamaican politicians?

I assume you mean during the process of reporting the story … if so,the answer is yes, I spoke with numerous Jamaican MPs as well as other politicians and government officials.

What were the US impressions to your article? What did your editor think? Was it a popular story?

I wish that there had been more outrage in the U.S. regarding the story, particularly given the fact that a U.S. citizen was killed and the U.S. government assisted with the operation. The U.S. public certainly wouldn’t stand for something like this occurring in a U.S. city. I am frankly surprised how easily the Jamaican public appears to have written off the killing of dozens of Jamaican citizens by their own security forces.

Here is part 2 of the interview


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