It’s one of the things that’s slipped by on this blog, but there’s quite a drug war situation in Jamaica right now.
Nina, from Drugs, Law and Conflict was there recently and has a good report on the situation: State of emergency in Jamaica: new place, same story
Basically, what you have is a big shot named Christopher “Dudus” Coke, who could very well be a drug trafficker, but also certainly is much more:
Dudus is a well-known businessman with a consulting firm that receives numerous state contracts. West Kingston residents are rising up (some allegedly under pressure) to defend the man who goes by â€œPresidentâ€ and provides services for locals, including food, money for school and dispute resolution.
Now the U.S. wants to step in and extradite Dudus. The Jamaican justice and police system is known to be corrupt and could not possibly handle putting someone like Dudus on trial, yet the idea of the U.S. stepping in with its drug war and taking away one of their own doesn’t sit well with Jamaicans. And the government of Jamaica is torn between it’s love of U.S. money and its connections to Dudas.
An explosive situation.
Peter Moskos at Cop in the Hood has also been following the story, and notes that when government breaks down and is unable to provide basic services for poor people, or protect them from basics like being raped, the drug lord becomes their government, providing handouts… and rules.
As one of the women behind the dons says (see if you can at least get the gist of what she’s saying through the Jamaican dialect):
Inna this area we feel safe, because man from outside and even dem whey live ya cyaan come in and rape we…. If any rape a gwaan, a when we go out a road and man try a thing. Up ya so nuh come een like a place like over Seaview [Gardens] where them don’t have no don in charge and everybody do as them like. Up ya so we have a one man who run things and when anybody bruk the rules, we report him and the boss deal wid him.
Well, the Prime Minister finally issued a warrant for Mr. Coke’s arrest last week, and now the violence comes.
At least 26 people were said to be dead after a third day of violence in Kingston, Jamaica, as security forces assaulted the slum stronghold of armed groups believed to be defending accused Jamaican drug lord Christopher “Dudus” Coke. […]
Shooting, looting and attacks on Jamaican police soon followed. On Sunday, the government declared a state of emergency. […]
“Security forces are under extreme pressure now,” said Mark Shields, the island’s former deputy police commissioner, who now runs a private security firm. “We have urban war going on.” A spokesman for Jamaica’s police department declined to comment on Tuesday’s events.
Later reports have casualties up to 60 or higher.
His heavily armed henchmen outgunned the cops and turned the capital city into a war zone, with terrified civilians trapped in their homes and the innocent falling in crossfire. […]
Even Kingston Public Hospital “has come under tremendous fire,” with patients forced to lie on the floor under their beds for safety, said Health Minister Rudyard Spencer. […]
Kingston students taking important regional exams had to do it with bullets whizzing by outside, because education officials refused to excuse them.
“We are doing the best we can to reassure the students. We have provided them with lunch,” said Education Minister Andrew Holness.
The drug war. Everything it touches…