Mark Wignall | Fighting back and winning » EntornoInteligente

Mark Wignall | Fighting back and winning

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Entornointeligente.com / Between 1976 and 1980, too high a percentage of our politicians exploited the social and economic vulnerabilities of some of the poorest among us.

Preaching the politics of division they ran roughshod in the garrisons and supplied thugs with arms and ammunition to guarantee the vote and to cow down those who they saw as marauders only because they supported the ‘other party’.

The trauma visited on children who did their homework flat on the floor beside the bed is still felt by some in the adult population trapped in those zones of exclusion by the downsides of the shifting fortunes of life.

Still we seemingly got through and moved on.

In 1988, packing sustained winds of 180 miles per hour, Hurricane Gilbert ravaged Jamaica. Eddie Seaga, who was then prime minister, took a flight in a helicopter after and described the damage as that akin to the aftermath of a nuclear explosion.

It was terrible for many, but we recovered and moved on with our lives.

In the mid-1990s, many of those who dared to run businesses which some thought only a select minority could operate were brought to their knees by a crippling interest rate policy. The days of Financial Sector Adjustment Company Limited (FINSAC) drove some to commit suicide. The nation saw it, conveniently set it aside and we moved on.

The economy took a big hit with the global recession of late 2007 to 2010. Policy and procedures carried out by the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) government at that time over the extradition of a crime lord, Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, to the United States gave the nation more than a big scare. We booted Bruce Golding and his hapless JLP, brushed ourselves off and moved on with our lives.

A common feature of the times from the late 1970s to now has been the steady increase in our high murder rate of over 1,000 per year to the point that a decrease of 20 the next following is celebrated like a monumental achievement by crime-fighters.

It could be that it is that strong urge at mental self-preservation that has allowed us to see the high murder rate in Jamaica as more of a feature than an embarrassing blot on our small island. We have rolled with the punches throughout those times, preened ourselves and moved on with our lives.

And then, in 2020 entered COVID-19. It showed up in late 2019 in Wuhan in China, the most populous country in this round globe called Earth when some ‘strange’ flu-like symptoms showed up there.

IS THERE TRIUMPH AHEAD? Short of armed global conflict, that is, World War 3, there is nothing that we could imagined that would be worse than what COVID-19 has unleashed on us. Global conflict would mean not just a cap on international trade but entire points of entry like airports and docks would have been shut down.

In such a scenario, vulnerable countries like Jamaica would probably see stockbrokers who would normally earn a million dollars per week retreating to backyard farms to survive on a few thousand per week. The majority of those who were perennially lumped into the voiceless and powerless would be faced with severe nutritional deficiencies. Hunger would be a major threat.

But we were visited by a pandemic and, with a vaccine likely to fully penetrate into the Jamaican psyche and be accepted and delivered by mid to late 2021, another window of hope is opened.

It is unwise to discuss recovery possibilities in the Jamaican situation without factoring in the political realities. Of the two political parties in Jamaica, that is, the JLP and the People’s National Party (PNP), one, the JLP, is alive and runs the government. The other is the opposition PNP, desperately trying to find its way back from its dances with wolves and backbiters.

The ruling JLP seems unable to do wrong even when its moves on predatory policy like the Dry Harbour Mountains look plainly nasty, desperate and filled with questions where the answers could hinge on being simply embarrassing.

It was never ever determined that one could separate the health of the nation from the economic devastation caused by COVID-19. That was an impossibility. Twin brothers can walk on both sides of the road but in most other matters they are closely connected. The JLP administration knows this. The opposition PNP knows it.

PRICESMART WINS The huge PriceSmart complex on Red Hills Road seems to be totally untroubled by the criminality which seems to be a main feature of business places operating there.

The police have intervened in the traffic clog that PriceSmart has created and the cooperation seems to be working as signs and actual live policemen have become involved. Power really talks. The traffic is moving again as those Jamaicans with money to burn shopped their way though Christmas and thumbed their noses at COVID-19.

But here is the thing. Small businesses on that thoroughfare can coexist with the huge PriceSmart but at a different level. And that level has as its main support the likelihood that cars will have parking areas suited to facilitate a housewife stopping by to purchase a pound of onions and half a pound of tomatoes.

That the police can intervene on behalf of PriceSmart in real support of increasing traffic flow along Red Hills Road is good. But the question is, how did the congestion come about? It came about because of the huge number of cars with patrons supporting the membership club.

“What about we?” shouted a long-time street vendor last Sunday as the police were on touch-and-go intervention. No place was left for cars to stop by these vendors as one-way sudden designations were created for PriceSmart.

Traffic was just passing them by.

The Christmas celebrations have come and not entirely gone because we have the New Year’s opening of our arms, love and hope for a better time.

We have been through it all. We will beat this again.

– Mark Wignall is a political and public-affairs analyst. Email feedback to [email protected] and [email protected] .

LINK ORIGINAL: Jamaica Gleaner

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