The following is my response to Mr. Ian Boyne’s article titled “Tivoli enquiry just drama?” which was published in the Gleaner on December 14, 2014.
Mr. Boyne’s assertion that “The mashing down of Tivoli Gardens garrison is an objective public good”, is casual and thoughtless. One is not required to think deeply to see that the monuments of ideas upon which Tivoli stands will never be destroyed by the summary demolition of property and people by a rampaging army.
Ideas, viewed literally, are unlike blocks and steel. Bullets and bombs cannot as easily reduce ideas to rubble. Consider the resurgence of violence in Tivoli as rival gangs attempt to fill the gaps left vacant by Christopher Coke’s absence. Mr. Boyne is wrong in stating that “The people in Tivoli are today freer”. For how can they be in their move from tyrannical rule to tyrannical rule? Has he not heard of Tivoli’s Next Generation Gang, which is controlled by young members of Coke’s family?
This is the discussion he circumvents, the one that demands a clinical dissection of our history. The one that may compel some of his great heroes to stand ‘trial’. For even before the Shower Posse began unleashing their terror on Tivoli, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) led by Seaga, then an unquestionably more sinister force, had created a political stronghold for the purpose of securing votes, buttressed by the party’s offerings of guns, contracts and kickbacks to dons.
When Mr. Boyne writes that he is “…one hundred per cent behind the Jamaican State’s taking back that part of Jamaica that had for decades been captured by criminal forces” – what exactly does he mean? His contention is paradoxical.
For how can he be at such ease in lauding the State’s actions, given the State’s complicity in the creation and abetment of Tivoli, compounded by Mr. Golding’s almost yearlong and very muscular defense of Coke’s ‘sovereignty’? This argument is neither intellectually nuanced nor rigorous, standards to which Mr. Boyne unflinchingly subjects his critics.
The oft-quoted National Committee on Political Tribalism report (1997) states that in garrison communities “…organised political gangs with high powered M-16 and AK-47 assault rifles and sub-machine guns control clearly defined political boundaries and territories where political protection insulates them from the reach of the security forces.” This is information with which Mr. Boyne is well acquainted.
Yet he arrived at this shockingly unnuanced conclusion: “What happened in Tivoli in May 2010 was a war between criminal forces and the security forces.” Placed before a fair jury on account of this statement, he’d likely be indicted for one of two transgressions: intellectual dishonesty or appalling shortsightedness.
Mr. Boyne does not seem to possess the elementary decency required to provoke him to offer anything more than cursory criticisms of the roles of Mr. Seaga, Mr. Golding, and other ‘establishment’ architects, in Tivoli’s creation, ‘garrisonisation’ and desolation. On the contrary, he is almost hysterical in the petals of praise he showers on them. A quick search of the Gleaner archives will expose strong evidence of this.
Except for a few, members of Jamaica’s intelligentsia have got Tivoli’s post-conflict-reconstruction efforts wrong. Quite frankly, many do not care about the whole affair, save for the protection of their own interests. Convener of the Tivoli Committee Lloyd D’Aguilar gets it. The 2010 ‘incursion’, at its core, Mr. Boyne, was about five decades of political violence and corruption!
The country deserves to hear the truth about what happened in 2010, but equally we are ready for honest debates and answers to broader questions, such as: “How did we get here (the whole story)?” “Who should take responsibility, and in what form?” “How do we reconcile and lay the columns for a new and just Jamaica?”
Juleus Ghunta is a social activist.
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