Westmoreland and Politricks

Westmoreland Politics 
Dwayne Vaz  might very well win the central Westmoreland seat and not so much because of party colour but due to the change he represents. Some might scoff at the word “change” when the so-called “PNP country”  has some of the worst roads, little infrastructural development and few opportunities available to the youths. They say that Dwayne Vaz is only a new label on an old bottle but I know him personally, briefly yes but I believe he really wants to work. If he is a fraud then only time will tell. 
But do we have time? We are hoping he does not change and move to Kingston and we only get to see him every four years. We would love if we did not only see our political representatives and party elites solely when they have a “political agenda” in Westmoreland. A lot of people on social media accuse Westmoreland people of being backward, unintelligent and ‘inarticulate’ for consecutively reinstating the same party with little results each term. 
The ‘articulate minority’ contend that the People’s National Party treats their ‘loyals’ poorly but what has the Jamaica Labour Party done for Westmoreland?  

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and People's National Party candidate Dwayne Vaz - Source:
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and People’s National Party candidate Dwayne Vaz – Source:

I was a teenager when Russell Hammond ran for member of parliament for Western Westmoreland. He was representing the then National Democratic Movement lead by Former Prime Minister Bruce Golding. Mr. Hammond is a good man. I have never seen a political aspirant more deserving of a seat in Westmoreland than Russell Hammond. I will not forget what the adults said, “Hammond a Good boy but him inna the wrong colour, him deh pon the wrong team”. Every Morning I went to the meat shop, Mr Hammond would be in his establishment working, either at the cashier station or assisting with frozen meats alongside his workers. I admired that about him and he contributed to the community, supporting football tournaments and assisting poor people with back to school supplies. 
Hammond’s Patty Place was a Hallmark in Grange Hill and now Savanna-la-mar. Labourites everywhere believed that when Russell Hammond moved back to the Jamaica Labour Party with Bruce Golding that he would be elected to Parliament but he lost to Roger Clarke in the 2007 elections. The sentiments were the same. “Hammond a good bwoy, him just inna the wrong party”
Mr. Hammond gave up on representational politics. The Jamaica Labour Party rarely presents a consistent candidate and have failed to build any strong political impression on the people. It seems every election, it is a different candidate coming forward. The people sometimes say, “A who a run fe labourite?”.  “Who name so?” “We no know him so how him just run come so?”
“Just imagine if we had a labourite working consistently in the community, who everybody knew especially with this younger informed generation, then maybe we could see a paradigm shift in the political landscape. Instead each year, we see a different political representative, who nobody knows and has ever seen. If Marlene Malahoo Forte who is from my backyard or Russell Hammond, who anybody “Labourite or Socialist” could approach for a job or assistance were not given the support of their own people, then surely who could come and challenge that statusquo?”  A friend said to me recently. 
Some Labourites say that they feel maligned because they have been unable to effect sufficient impact or change to get a JLP seat in Westmoreland. They suffer regardless of who is in power because they live in “PNP” country. It should not be so for albeit Roger Clarke won the seat: the couple thousand Labourites who voted for Russell Hammond felt their votes did not count even though their party was in power. It is a recurring saying among young ‘Westmorelytes’ –  “It does not matter who inna power, we still a suffer”. 
This morning as I drove through the central Westmoreland, the light posts are decorated with pictures of Faye Jacobs, yellow and orange flags. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller recently contended that Dwayne Vaz said he needs help, he is quoted saying:  ”Look at the roads, Madam. Look how dem bad. Mi need help. Mi need serious help”
He knows the roads well. I know that from my experience working with him on a summer job at the Social Development Commission back in the days. He means business and the well meaning citizens of Westmoreland are praying that politics does not corrupt him. 
Westmoreland boasts beautiful beaches in Bluefields, Negril and Whitehouse  and yet is considered one of the five poorest parish in the country. It’s renowned as a farming area (particularly sugar cane production) but other than that and the hotels in Negril; Westmoreland has little to offer its ambitious denizens. Many after high school migrate to Kingston or Overseas to seek a better life. Few ever come back but for funerals and the occasional “pass through to see how the place a run”. They will say “same ole same ole. 
I wish Mrs. Faye Ried Jacobs and Mr. Dwayne Vaz the very best in their political endeavours. We are after all a team and whatever the outcome today, we are hoping our candidates will work cohesively as caretaker and member of parliament for the betterment of the constituency. Best of Luck!  

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Crystal Evans

Crystal Evans was born in Westmoreland Jamaica. She is the author of several books centered on her experiences growing up in rural Jamaica and the Jamaican cultural nucleus. She is a voracious reader.

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