Moving Back to Jamaica

A blog about my Move Back to Jamaica after 20+ years of living in the US. Most of the articles focus on the period from 2005-2009 when the transition was new, and at it's most challenging.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Large Forces

 
I'm wondering to what extent we Jamaicans are mere subjects to large historical and geographic forces that are well beyond our control.
 
Force 1
We are ideally located between Colombia and the Golf of Mexico US states of  Florida/ Alabama/ Mississipi/ Louisiana/ Texas.
 
The US is perhaps the greatest consumer of illegal drugs and Colombia is one of the greatest suppliers.  As long as the North American appetite for illegal drugs remains, there will be armed thugs around the world attempting to supply that demand.
 
It is ironic that when US politicians talk about "reducing the flow of drugs across the border" they seem to be arguing that if only the flood were to stop, then their citizens would no longer pay a premium to get themselves high by incresingly strong narcotics.
 
The fact that today, over 90% of marijuana is grown in the US makes it obvious that cutting a source of supply only creates new sources, drives up prices or increases criminal behaviour when the demand has not been reduced.  This is how capitalism works, and it doesn't stop working because a country decides that the product is an immoral one.
 
Geographically, we are stuck between a voracious  North American appetite for narcotics, and the capitalist market forces that will forever seek to supply that demand.  In other words, we will always be a transshipment point, always fighting smugglers, and always be two steps behind an effort that we ultimately cannot win.
 
Force 2: A Slave Society
The Caribbean is the only place in the world where ex-slaves form a near-majority in countries they were forced to live in at the end of a gun.  
 
We didn't choose to be here. We didn't choose to work here after were brought.  We didn't choose to stay.  Many didn't choose to be alive as a result.
 
The predominant force in our socety was the most warped and twisted form of workplace relationship -- slavery.  Unfortunately, hundreds of years of slave-master relationships did not evaporate when the chains were removed.
 
Whatever force, for example, that kept almost a million slaves in Jamaica from rising up to kill less than 100 thousand whites during the days of slaves did not magically go away on emancipation day.
 
It had to remain in the minds of those who experienced it, and it had to continue in the workplace to some degree -- there being no other model of work that tied together employee and employer.
 
This historical force is continuing to inform our workplace relationships -- we have no choice -- it must.
 
*
 
These forces are but two of those that together shape our current Jamaican reality.  They are tremendous, and cannot be removed easily.  They may not be permanent, but they will both take tremendous effort to weaken.

P.S. This post was influenced by an article I read in the Jamaica Gleaner -- see below for an exceprt, and click on the headline to be taken to the entire article:

US role and the failing drug war
published: Sunday | September 30, 2007


Robert Buddan

 The United States has maintained that Jamaica must be kept on a watch list of major transit and illicit producer countries of narcotics because it has more than 5,000 hectares of land in ganja production. Jamaican authorities are angry because the report fails to reflect improved anti-narcotics activities and hurts Jamaica's reputation by placing it in the bad company of 20 countries around the world. The greater problem with the report is that it fails to recognise that the U.S.'s role in the drug war is a cause of failure, and the nature of the world system causes all countries to be losing this war.

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