• Today
    September 27

  • 12:43 PM

Making of Tivoil

Horace Campbell,

Added 27 June 2010


The arrest of Christopher “Dudus” Coke in a road block in Jamaica on Tuesday  opens the possibility to once and for all reveal the full extent of corruption in the politics of Jamaica and the Caribbean by the rulers, in collaboration with the intelligence, commercial and banking infrastructures of the United States. From the streets of West Kingston to the hills of Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, to Guyana and down to Brazil, gunmen (called warlords) allied and integrated into the international banking system, had taken over communities and acted as do-gooders when the neo-liberal forces downgraded local government services.From the garrison community of Tivoli Gardens, Coke was hailed as a force more powerful than politicians. Such was the power of Coke (called the “Pres” by his supporters and the media).Many were not surprised than that from August 2009 to May 2010, the Jamaican government hired a United States law firm to lobby against Coke’s extradition. The United States government intensified pressure against the Jamaican middle classes, threatening them with the withdrawal of their visas.This pressure and public opinion forced the government of Jamaica to issue a warrant for the arrest of Coke on May 17. After the warrant was issued, the military and police forces entered the garrison stronghold of Coke to capture him. By the time the shooting stopped, 73 people in Tivoli, three members of the occupation forces and accountant Keith Clarke had been killed and large numbers injured.Coke was in hiding because he feared ending up like his father, Jim Brown, who had been the don of Tivoli and had died mysteriously in a fire in his prison cell while he was incarcerated in Jamaica awaiting extradition to the United States. Although the western media have spun this story to exclude the United States intelligence agencies as well as Israeli mobsters, the tales of Coke reveal the reality that peace and reconstruction in the Caribbean is inseparable from demilitarisation and exposure of the United States banking and intelligence services.The arrest of Coke in Kingston has reopened the issues of the use of thugs and gunmen to intimidate the poor in the Caribbean. Coke had inherited a criminal infrastructure from his father (also known as Jim Brown) that had been organised by politicians to coerce and intimidate the working poor. Political enforcersAt the height of his power, Coke had taken over the community of Tivoli Gardens in West Kingston and was from a long line of political enforcers with names such as Claudie “Jack” Massop, Bya Mitchell and Jim Brown. These enforcers had been active in the community of Tivoli Gardens, established as a base for counter revolutionary violence.By 1959, Edward Seaga, a socialist-turned-politician had exploded onto the political scene in Jamaica speaking for the “have-nots”. With the victory of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in the elections for independence in 1962, Seaga emerged as a powerful minister and established Tivoli in 1965 as a base for the JLP. The establishment of Tivoli was not an accidentAs one facet of the redevelopment of downtown Kingston and “urban renewal”, Tivoli was created to counter the positive and radicalise influence of the Rastafari community that had its biggest base in an area then called Back o’ Wall. The sociology of oppression was backed up by bricks, mortars and guns and Tivoli was built on the destruction of Rastafari communities. The Rastafari had understood the importance of the establishment of this community against them and in the early 70s, Bob Marley had made the reggae song on this community called, Concrete Jungle.Those who supported the People’s National Party were bulldozed out of the area and drifted to the eastern part of Kingston where they established communities with names such as Dunkirk. Political rivalry that had been conducted with knives, barbs, sticks and stones was now dominated by men armed with guns. Michael Manley was swept into power in Jamaica in the elections of 1972. Tivoli became notorious during the 70s as a stronghold for gunpersons loyal to the JLP and in response to this form of housing complex, Manley built his own housing complex for his supporters.The emergence of these competing housing schemes in the urban areas was reinforced by a system of contracts where the political henchmen were given government contracts for construction and other work schemes.These communities were called garrison communities in Jamaica. Instead of denouncing and critiquing the manipulation of the oppressed, sociologists called the gangster political love fest – patronage and clientism. Innocent sounding academic phrases such as “the disbursement of the discretionary favours of government” concealed a more deadly relationship between the poor and the government.Horace G. Campbell, born in Jamaica, is Professor of African American studies and political science at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York.


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