I cheered with them at the Summer Olympics; I cried with them over the last weekend and my heart continues to burn with them today over the unfathomable killing of eight year old Imani Green.
The high command of Jamaica’s police force said Imani was “mercilessly slaughtered in front of family members in a hail of bullets as gangsters sought to exact revenge on their rivals”.
Who de hell would spray gun shots in a shop where an eight year old is sitting on a stool? Who the hell can live with their conscience after gunning down an innocent child? And who de hell would think about tourism before this child is buried?
Mind you I am saying this approach is restricted to any one Caribbean nationality. A dead body will be warm and Caribbean people will be shivering over the effect of that murder on tourism. I am not denying the importance of the industry to our economies nor that having a safe country where visitors know they can roam freely and safely isn’t excellent for marketing our countries, but it smacks of insensitivity when money comes before man.
Today, a young chef was gunned down outside an upscale restaurant in Barbados’ main tourism belt and check out Facebook chatters: “Not good for tourism. Tourists will go home and talk; tourists will read it one the internet.”
Let’s stop thinking about tourists, for a minute and think about ourselves. Let’s talk about making our country secure for ourselves. In our region, we have a high level of domestic violence, is it important because the crime statistics has an effect on tourism? Shouldn’t be!
Brothers, uncles, fathers, friends and strangers raped children, boys and girls; they become mothers at an early age; contract sexually transmitted diseases; are psychologically scarred for life and some transformed into anti-social human beings. We speak little of this; we don’t call emergency meetings and bombard the relevant government minister with questions about what he or he is doing. Nah, it isn’t about tourism.
It seems only the statistics matter. We get riled up about the total figure not the growing column under the domestic violence or sexual abuse columns. Why? Maybe because tourist importing countries are likely to use the aggregate as reason to issue travel advisories against us.
Get real people; we need not only to talk about sexual abuse and domestic violence, every community need to be engaged in a project that will affect change. Making our communities better for us will make us better citizens and better hosts.
We need to start talking about improving the quality of crime prevention and detective work, through the region. Let’s use Trinidad and Tobago, where the detection rate for murder has doubled to reach 12 per cent. This seems praiseworthy by the triniad Express newspaper says: “… this still means that only about one in nine murderers is ever arrested, with fewer than that being convicted. Nor can the police even claim that this improvement is due to better detective work, since it may well be that the “detection” is explained solely by an increase in domestic murders, which had gone up during the three months of the 2011 State of Emergency.”
We also need to start talking about gun use. The United States has been forced into serious action about access to guns after another mass murder. Most Caribbean countries have strict gun control laws that stipulates that licences are required by the public to buy weapons so our problem relates to illegal guns on the street. Therefore let’s talk about how guns are getting into the hands of every “Tom, Dick and Martha’ and why they are so attractive to people.
We like mimicking the United States. Choose a worthwhile mimic this time, for example, President Obama’s approach to research on gun violence. Note the following:
Obama hopes to be able to gather more information on gun violence and misuse of firearms, and use that data to inform the work of law enforcement. He also wants to restart research, which has been long blocked by the National Rifle Association, on how video games, the media, and violence affect violent gun crimes.
And may I add for us in the region, how these things affect sexual abuse and domestic violence. The Caribbean Community countries cooperate among themselves of crime prevention efforts. Let join each other in carrying out meaningful research projects and ensuring effective and prompt implementation of recommendations at the community level.
I want to cheer with Jamaicans, Antiguans, Trinidadians, Barbadians and all Caribbean Community nationals in applauding ourselves for making our countries better for us. Tourists are welcomed to enjoy it afterwards. Let’s put ourselves first.
Criminals Getting Away with Murder (Trinidad Express)