|The author, Mr. O. Dave Allen, is a freelance writer and community development advocate as well as a political commentator.|
These horrific murders and their aftermath expose the insidious under belly of the endemic violence that permeates this prosperous constituency with its murderous tentacles that are inching their way to disturb this once peaceful, pristine and luxurious Lagoons; the opulent gated community of Freeport and its trophy properties and luxury resorts, to undermine the economic prospects of the fastest growth corridor in the Caribbean region.
This also exposes the nexus between the criminal underground, the political operative and the death squad.
The late Cleopatra, daughter of the well-known, highly-respect JLP political activist and king maker of West Central St. James. Our prayers and thoughts go out to her bereaved family and friends. Her daughter’s untimely and brutal death will not go down well.
Marlene Malahoo Forte, the Member of Parliament’s office was immediately relocated from its Catherine Hall location upon the slaying of Cleopatra and her client amidst discorded utterances that the M.P. is unhappy with the present state of affairs and the government’s response.
In July 2016, as Jamaica’s Attorney General, Marlene Malahoo Forte, declared that some “fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed to Jamaicans may have to be abrogated, abridged, or infringed”. Despite her bold utterance, murders have increased in the constituency under her watch at a staggering pace.
It is quite interesting that whilst all this is happening, it is rumoured that the sitting Member of Parliament is eyeing the post of Chief Justice of Jamaica. It is evident that the Member of Parliament is seeking a way out of this miserable situation, overwhelmed by vicious acts of barbarism that she did not bargain for, she is now seeking a socially acceptable way out that would have capped her life’s ambitions to be on top of her game.
Of note, the controversial Omar Lewis, 41 years old, of Canterbury in Montego Bay was shot and killed on Wednesday, October 25, in the vicinity of “Keisha’s shop at Catherine Hall in his vehicle, while waiting to get his nails done” It is rumoured that his demised is linked to Cleopatra’s murder.
Never was this more evident that we are all in the line of fire, than the brazen daylight double murder on Howard Cooke Bouvard, on Thursday, December 28. Just yards away from the Freeport Police Station it demonstrates the resolve of the gunmen and their willingness to undermine the security of the city.
Aaron Taylor 42 of Catherine Hall and Kerry Fairclough of Bogue Heights were shot and killed as the motor vehicle in which they were travelling was about to filter into Catherine Hall. The murder at high noon caused a heavy pile-up of traffic on the busy thorough-fare. It crippled commercial activities in the Fairview and Freeport Port Shopping area. The chaos impacted on the movement of tourists going to and from Negril as well as those visitors in the Freeport area.
The orgy of blood continued when nineteen-year-old Akeem Taylor, one of the two men shot and killed by police at his Albion, Montego Bay home Friday morning. Akeem is the son of Aaron Taylor, one of the two men slain by unknown assailants along Howard Cooke Boulevard on Thursday.
The young Taylor was said to be wanted in connection with the brutal gun slaying of 52-year-old airport worker Dawnette Shettleworth and 41-year-old nail technician Cleopatra Fletcher in Catherine Hall, Montego Bay two months ago.
Every well thinking Jamaican should want to support the Andrew Holness initiative to clear high risk communities of gangs and guns, to build those communities and to hold them through the Zone of Special Operation. But alas, ZOSO has failed miserably to achieve its objectives. Worst yet, for political reasons, the administration refuses to accept that it is a failed project.
The reasonable course of action should have been an earlier and objective assessment through an established bipartisan committee modelled on the Electoral Advisory Committee or that of the EPOC, to review and to make the necessary recommendations that would carry the process forward.
Minister Bartlett is living in his own little bubble, a fantasy world separated from the rest of us by a thin layer of his own imagination. When the Member of Parliament speaks of making 2017 a “dream year” for Jamaica's tourism sector” it is hard to believe that he shares the same space as us mortals who must face the daily chorus and mayhem as we do.
Of notable mention, the minister presides over a tourist resort that is rated as the 6 most violent in the world, and that the parish that he represents has the highest murder rate in the nation. Yet, the Minister speaks glowingly that we've annexed all sorts of new horizons and frontiers; “we're going to make four million visitors this year and we're going to earn in the region of US$3 billion,” in what will be a truly historic moment for our tourism sector.
And yet his contribution towards the elephant in the room, Mr Bartlett wants the free press to suppress news about crime in the hope of bolstering tourism by keeping these facts off the front pages of newspapers or the top of newscasts in electronic media. Minister Bartlett is so anxious to embrace with enthusiasm the successes of the industry while he takes no responsibility for unfortunate occurrences in the parish.
Recent events have shown where the firewall built by the Minister of Tourism and industry players to protect the industry from its own internal contradictions is breached. These contradictions were brought home forcefully by the Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Taleb Rifai, who urged Caribbean tourism stakeholders to stop promoting modern-day plantations called exclusive resorts at the first-ever global tourism conference on job creation and inclusive growth, held recently in Montego Bay and hosted by Minister Bartlett.
Mr. Rifai’s recommendations may well be a solution to our intractable crime problem, caused by the deformed economic architecture as he reminds us in his presentation; the opportunities in tourism, he stated, should carry the end result of inclusive economic growth, more and better, jobs, the distribution of wealth, shared prosperity and respect for each other.
Over $150 Million was invested to host this conference in propping up the minister as a global player, no doubt in pursuant of UNWTO Secretary General post in the future. How else could you explain spending $150 Million Dollars to host a conference with less than 300 hundred visiting guests, wrapping miles of palm trees with bales of cloth in a country that cannot fund its medical services, pay its teachers nor adequately pay its police.
We can't let our visitors live in bubbles, that is not acceptable anymore," Rifai told the gathering, emphasising that it was not the model that the UNTWO was looking for. Neither should the Minister.
- Countries: Jamaica