Help from the diaspora

JAMAICA has been exporting labor since the construction of the Panama Canal in the early 1900s.

Since then, through immigration, we have provided a steady flow of labor to UK, USA and Canada. The United Nations lists 1,400,000 people born in Jamaica as living abroad. Then there is, of course, the second generation which has another million, so we’re down to about 2.5 million.

This group of people living and working overseas literally floats the Jamaican economy with the amount of money that goes into our country, usually to help families. Because there is little or no contribution from Jamaica, the injection of these funds into the economy has a major fiscal effect.

When compared to tourism, another major source of income, the injection of capital needed to generate income from tourism is important, as is the support of government services.

In addition, there are the many organizations formed by these Jamaicans abroad to provide assistance at other levels, from hospital equipment to schools. It is strange that we did not really see the benefit until the liberalization of the US dollar which allowed the explosion of remittances. We used to complain about the brain drain phenomenon and other related issues.

Despite the incredibly positive impact of this group, there is a dark and tiny subculture among them that has perhaps the greatest impact on crime in Jamaica. You see, part of the export of Jamaicans through immigration includes the export of Jamaican criminals. Sometimes they are low end and pass as green card holders; and other times it is high level gangsters who travel by illegal means.

The end result is that every gang in Jamaica has a criminal overseas who sends guns illegally or sends money to buy guns.

It is the backbone of the Jamaican gang structure.

Gangs, of course, also fund their businesses through extortion, lottery scams, and thefts.

This is important, especially in Spanish Town, as the money to be made from Asian taxi drivers, vendors, and businesses who all pay “tithe” is enormous. I often wonder, on the basis of the crisis, whether draconian laws such as huge penalties for anyone who actually collects extortion should not be introduced. Believe me, a few 30-year sentences for true collectors will downplay candidates for the job and cause a few people to turn state evidence.

This money pays for weapons, weapons that are still imported.

We can break our backs trying to get them back but we are basically plowing the sea. As we get one they send 10. We can stop a few in the ports, but it is one. island with a vibrant fishing industry. It must be fought at the source.

This purge must involve the diaspora as part of the struggle. It will also have to involve the foreign police forces who do not do enough to fight against this illegal activity in their jurisdiction but whose sentence is however insufficient.

We have seen how the narcotics introduced there are treated. Well, treat the weapons that come to us the same!

The diaspora, through its security working group, has been asking for a place at the table for some time. Well, this is where we need you. Work with the legal agencies around you and do your part to destroy those of you who are destroying us.

The Americans learned long ago in their battle against the Colombian drug cartels to fight the exporters at the source of the flow. This is how they brought down Pablo Escobar and the other major cocaine exporters to the United States.

So first, enact a law prohibiting taking steps to export weapons or ammunition to Jamaica that allows us to extradite offenders to Jamaica to serve real sentences in “our” prisons.

Let them consider being kept like an animal in misery in our prisons, not a first world facility like what the US, UK and Canada are proposing.

Second, instruct the Jamaican Diaspora Crime Prevention and Safety Response Task Force to work closely with the specific foreign agencies that oversee guns in the United States.

Formalize the process. Don’t just tell them “Please do it”.

Make a formal agreement with the foreign government and develop a plan.

Create targets, protocols and strategies. Don’t hide either.

Jamaican criminals abroad should know that it is the decent Jamaican living abroad who is their enemy.

Bring them the fight like the warrior you wanted to be. But your battlefield is here, not here. Because this is where your country needs you the most.

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