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The Price of Freedom

“The quintessential flaw with freedom is that it capriciously facilitates both good and evil.”


Police wage war with criminal elements in Kingston, Jamaica

Drugs Lords are a dime a dozen. The bad boy from Jamaica who took the law into his own hands to form his own government under the auspices of the Jamaican government knew this all too well. However, before anyone can condemn Christopher Coke, one must understand that he is not very different from any other human being. His only crime is that he abused his freedom.

Jamaican Mafia 101 – History repeats itself

Christopher “Dudus” Coke, also known as “Little Wicked”, “President” and “Presi” was most likely inspired to become a drug lord after succinctly following in the steps of his father, Lester Lloyd Coke, fondly known as “Jim Brown”. Jim never lived to see his only boy follow in his footsteps to the letter. He was suspiciously silenced in his prison cell before he could be extradited to the US.

Lester “Jim Brown” Coke is the former head of the Shower Posse, a ruthless drug smuggling, gun-running gang that has laid roots all over the western hemisphere. When the US Government finally caught up to Coke, he was ferreted out from his stronghold in Tivoli Gardens by the security forces.

It’s interesting how history repeats itself.

The events that led to his capture were not very different from the recent outbreak of violence in hot pursuit of his son on May 23, 2010. Many Jamaican lives were snuffed out in the process, most of them gun toting young men (most of which were barely in their 20’s). They gave their lives to protect Coke.

What is interesting, is that when the United States first requested extradition of Coke Junior, there was much deliberation in the Jamaican Government as to whether they should capitulate to what they made seem a lot like bullying from the super power to the north. But this translucent facade would not last long.

Martyrdom for Robin Hood

Women protesting Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke’s pending extradition.

That’s when every Jamaican who has ever been denied a US visa came out in support of Coke. It was as if Chris Coke was their own personal Jesus Christ. Scores of overweight, toddler toting females took to the streets to vehemently protest their defiant refusal to surrender Coke – vowing even to die for him.

These women have defined their intrinsic self worth by Coke’s very existence. He sends their children to school, guarantees their security, puts food on their table, and pays all their bills. In return, they become his faithful drug mules, while their pre-teen daughters are surreptitiously matriculated into his harem. Their sons by contrast become his prospective lieutenants and enforcers.

It’s a vicious cycle that will keep them in poverty and complete psychological enslavement to Coke’s regime in perpetuity – but they can’t see that. In their minds, Coke is rendering a service to the poor that they feel the Government ignores. Now if only they knew how Coke’s empire was built in the first place.

Or maybe they do, and don’t care.

It is somewhat amusing then to hear these very same women calling into the radio stations in frantic terror when the Government that empowered their Robin Hood, suddenly turned around and betrayed them. The Shower Posse was certainly no match for the combined might of the local army and police. This is despite the fact that they were well prepared to battle with police.

The Shower Posse (so called for indiscriminately raining bullets down on their enemies) got a taste of its own medicine, when over 30 of their own were swiftly cut down by more lead poisoning traveling at the speed of sound than a Charles Bronson movie on steroids. Killing only a couple of the security force members only incited a renewed thrust by cops to wipe them all out for good.

That’s when an interesting thing happened.

Public Outcry

In the aftermath of the wanton and indiscriminate purging of Tivoli Gardens, the media, with a certain amount of contemptibly sardonic curiosity, quickly interviewed the surviving women if they would still gladly die for Coke. Not surprisingly, all their answers were conspicuously brief and filled with ire.

While there is evidence that may suggest that some of these people were forced to protest (as they claim to be forced to vote during elections and to defend Coke) their conspicuous enthusiasm during their protests (in which they marched well outside the community) seemed to contradict these claims.

What is even more perplexing is the public outcry that followed, after seeing the dead bodies pile up. You have to understand that Jamaica has a long history of women defending their criminal sons and boyfriends that were slain by police. Therefore while the extensive loss of life is regrettable, it was likely unavoidable – particularly when the Government gave very ample warning.

First the police reported that the residents were being held hostage by the criminal elements in Tivoli Gardens, that they couldn’t leave and that their cell phones were being taken away. Then the residents marched the streets protesting that the police and the media were lying about their freedom. However, after the cops roll in slay over 70 people, their tune changes.

An Improvised Explosive Device found in Tivoli Gardens, Kingston Jamaica. Image courtesy of On The Ground News.

Suddenly, it’s the cops who are the bad guys and none of the 70 odd men that were slain were gunmen. This is despite the fact that over a dozen of gang leaders and members have since turned themselves over to police after the operation, and over 8,000 rounds, over two dozen weapons and even some improvised explosive devices (a la Iraq / Afghanistan) were found afterwards.

Remember, this is happening in Kingston, Jamaica – not some place like Baghdad, Iraq. Thus the outcry over the slaughter is a function of two things:

1. Emotional compromise

Most Jamaicans (particularly those living in these impoverished communities) have no idea what war is like. Very few folks follow the political upheavals happening around the world. Fewer still are aware of the horrors of urban warfare. It is therefore not altogether inexplicable that this bloodshed would cause them to forget that the men being killed were hard boiled criminals.

It’s easy to feel sorry for a slain terrorist when you’ve never been on the business end of his handiwork. Thus, these tears fail to evoke an emotional response from most Jamaicans outside of these communities – particularly hard working business owners who’ve had to capitulate to extortion rackets.

The feint of heart however, are easily frightened by violence resembling the fist of an angry god. It doesn’t matter that those being slain are criminals.

2. Plain old Hypocrisy

It is easy for me to sit here in the comfort of my home, write about how the US Army is killing civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s another thing altogether to walk in their shoes and experience the mayhem called the “fog of war” first hand where you’re getting shot at, and you’re trying to only kill bad guys. Most of the people criticizing the Jamaican security forces are equally just as naive.

Urban warfare is many thousands of times more difficult than war in an open field (or even a forest). It doesn’t matter what country you’re in. The level of difficulty is exacerbated by the lattice of concrete structures, which provide plenty of hiding places for both criminals and civilians alike. I dare any of their critics to fill their shoes and do a better job of spotting bad guys in that chaos.

Jamaica’s Garrison Politics

Editorial Cartoon: Police Dismantle Political Garrisons across Jamaica while politicians look on helplessly. © Copyright 2010 - The Jamaica Observer.

There is however, only one justifiable public outcry in all of this: The garrison politics needs to come to an end in Jamaica. For decades, everyone in Jamaica was aware of the political parties’ dirty secret: They were pretty much in league with organized criminal elements in society. Take Coke for example:

Coke is a known criminal. He is a murderer, extortionist, drug and illegal arms smuggler and yet, a generous philanthropist. He literally steals from the rich and gives to the poor. However, the rich (or just basically those who’ve decided to get educated) don’t appreciate Robbing Hoods. Pun intended.

Therefore when the United States issued a warrant for the extradition of Coke, it was strange how the Jamaican Government took a nine month period to decide on whether or not to hand him over to the US Authorities. Why would this be such a hard decision for the Jamaican Government? The truth is simple:

Jamaica is divided into 14 parishes. Each is subdivided into administrative constituencies, each represented by a Member of Parliament – much in the same way each state’s congressional district is represented by a Senator in the US House of Congress. The constituency in which Tivoli resides, is being represented by Prime Minister Bruce Golding. Now you see how this adds up.

The impoverished community of Tivoli Gardens is recognized as a political garrison. This is because the reach of the law is blocked by the power that Coke wields – power assigned to him by the Machiavellian politics of the government. Each major political party has similar communities across Jamaica.

The Crime Minister

Prime Minister, Bruce Golding (center) contemplates his next move.

Appropriately, this is why Mr. Golding is now being mockingly referred to as the “Crime Minister” – a pun on his official title. The garrison community of  Tivoli is a safe haven for the Shower Posse – a gang that has long been associated with Golding who is the Member of Parliament for that particular constituency.

I know what you’re thinking: You’re probably thinking that Bruce Golding would therefore be committing political suicide by handing over Coke to the US Authorities. After all, the government’s first order of business is to protect its citizens, right? Furthermore, this garrison did guarantee him the election.

What you probably don’t see is the fact that Mr. Golding, well aware of Coke’s reputation, showed far too much trepidation about deciding on whether or not to extradite him. Why would a government leader show such great trepidation about extraditing a known criminal? What could really be so hard to decide?

That alone gives a great deal of credibility to ABC’s report, linking Mr. Golding to the criminal elements in Tivoli Gardens. Mr. Golding is the head of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party – whose previous leader, the charismatic Edward Seaga has certainly made no mystery about his affiliation with Coke’s father, Lester.

Coincidentally, it is not surprising that Lester was suspiciously silenced, just days before his extradition to the United States on the exact same charges his son now faces. Many believe that Lester held incriminating evidence that would implicate the JLP leader at the time as a Machiavellian Jamaican mob affiliate. That would make it easy for the US to declare Jamaica a rogue state.

Now fast forward 18 years.

The caption on this TV screen, while unplanned, sums up Jamaicans’ feeling about their leader. Photo courtesy of On The Ground News.

There appears to be wiretapping data that was handed over to the US authorities by a whistle blowing Jamaican constable implicating Mr. Golding as an accomplice of Coke. The damning evidence consists of audio from the wiretap that apparently captures Mr. Golding having a conversation with Coke.

This would explain (as many claim) the wanton and indiscriminate bloodshed by the security forces as they blasted through the previously untouchable Tivoli Gardens with extreme prejudice in their bitter search for Coke. If Coke manages to get to US Authorities, it would spell the end of the JLP’s rule.

As such, Coke knows that they have no intention of just having him arrested and extradited. He knows that if he is captured by the authorities, he will be killed. The Government is too deep in this mire to risk permanently damaging their relationship with the US Government. Their former henchman must die.

The authorities didn’t have the power to touch these criminals – not until now. Now that this mini-genocide has taken place, everyone, including those who’ve always known that the Government is directly responsible for the existence of these communities, is crying out for their utter and complete dismantlement.

I suspect however, that this Machiavellian tactic of empowering criminals to win elections, only to dispose of them when they become a problem, will become the final undoing of the Jamaican Government. Neither party is blameless in this regard. It’s just that the JLP’s closet was opened first.

The Price of Freedom

The cops are taking no chances. Everyone gets searched.

I commented among my colleagues recently, that perhaps Jamaica was given independence from their colonial masters a bit too soon. Of course, I was met with irate disdain, much of which claimed that I was ignorant. But alas, my colleagues are in need of an education in the essence of human nature.

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. The quintessential problem with freedom is that it capriciously facilitates both good and evil. Given these two undeniable facts, it is not hard to see why freedom should not be liberally granted without first carefully considering the implications of facilitating it.

Interestingly enough, this was the position of many of the slave owners of the South during the American Civil war – well, at least the more educated of the lot. We saw how Haiti turned out after it liberated itself from colonial rule without a proper transfer of knowledge – hence its descent into utter chaos.

Other Caribbean nations by comparison did far better. This is largely because there was a transfer of knowledge from their colonial masters facilitated by an incubation period under colonial rule. In some Caribbean states, the transfer was more effectual than others. As such, you will see varying degrees of stability across the Caribbean, succinctly correlating with their independence.

Remember that when the Europeans found Africans, they were still living in the same kinds of fiercely tribal communities in Africa like that of Tivoli Gardens in Jamaica. The Europeans went through a very similar period in their history and eventually, have evolved to a higher level of consciousness in today’s world.

When Europeans first took slaves from Africa, they disrupted the process of their natural cognitive evolution. Therefore liberating them came at a very high price: The slaves had to be educated so that they wouldn’t repeat the same mistakes that Europeans did during a darker age in their documented history.

The Garrison community problem in Jamaica and it’s inextricable link to its Government is a function of this very same function of tribalism. Jamaica hasn’t quite yet learned how to stop thinking using the same ideologies from ancestral Africa and that is undermining the effectiveness of its governance.

Part of the reason is that Jamaica’s liberation from British rule in 1962 came with a price that the Brits failed to consider. The transfer of knowledge that would have effected a complete annihilation of tribalism in Jamaica’s culture, was not successfully executed before they were given their political freedom.

Cricket games moved to Trinidad

Editorial Cartoon: Cricket games previously scheduled for Kingston, Jamaica had to be moved to Trinidad due to the violence. © Copyright 2010 - The Jamaica Observer.

One might ask: So why is it that countries like Barbados, Trinidad, Antigua and The Bahamas don’t have a similar problem? The answer is simply because of scale. Jamaica is the largest English speaking Caribbean territory. It is easier to teach a few hundred thousand people how to behave, versus a few million. Simply put; the larger the classroom, the longer the required education time.

If we should try to plot a curve of population increase versus social stability, Jamaica’s graph would look like a ‘J’. This is because the country is still in the developmental phase due to the rate of increase of its population over time versus the rate of implementation of sustainable national social development.

Because the population had much more room to increase, the social education initiatives had to play catch up for a much longer period than other countries.

The other English speaking Caribbean territories have a much smaller population and so their graph looks more like an S-curve, showing a leveling off where they have already attained a relative degree of social stability. This is because social education caught up quickly as the population had much smaller physical room to expand – thus achieving social stability far sooner.

If you look at the dates on which each Caribbean country was granted independence, and compare their population size, you will note interestingly, that Jamaica was the first English speaking territory to gain independence – and features the least social stability with one of the highest murder rates in the world. The other much smaller territories gained independence much later.

…ergo, Jamaica’s unique problem.

Jamaica is paying the ultimate price for its premature freedom. As it is a much larger territory, it would have required a much longer incubation period. Jamaica is at a stage in its development where it’s population growth is outpacing the rate at which it can be socially reformed. This is the root of its crime problem. Jamaica will eventually get there – long after everyone else.

Now I’m pretty sure that many Jamaicans will fire back saying that what I’ve written here is treasonous at best. I’m not surprised, since patriotism is an emotional response – and emotional responses have a remarkable talent for obfuscating the obvious. I can’t blame them. Love is not designed to identify problems. It’s designed to overlook them. Perhaps they love Jamaica too much.


Kingston, Jamaica – under siege. Photo courtesy of On the Ground News

Interestingly enough, a part of the Jamaican national anthem declares “Jamaica, land we love” . So I had to ask in a forum of discussion: “Is this really the Jamaica land you loved?”. Despite the white sandy beaches, and the relaxing tourist friendly vistas on the North Coast that remain untouched in this political upheaval, the question still remains. Kingston was under siege!

I think Jamaicans need to develop the courage to admit that this is not the Jamaica land they loved. It is impossible to love land that is stained in blood, easily beset by thugs and hoodlums, governed by Machiavellian white collar criminals who manipulate their ignorance in the attainment of great power.

Jamaica needs to evolve in consciousness to the same stage where their former Colonial masters now sit, where they can have a political disagreement without pulling weapons on each other, or without forming political tribes armed by the government to battle it out in the streets when an election comes around. Apparently Jamaica was liberated from the classroom too soon.

There is still much to learn.

Until the country’s leaders can understand that freedom is equally as gratifying as it is dangerous, they will need to be re-educated in the price of freedom. No criminal should be granted freedom from the law in exchange for anything. They should not be free to conduct business with the Government or be free to police themselves or to create their own autonomous independent state.

The Government should be the only legitimate sovereignty in a nation. That power should never be shared with anyone outside of that structure for any reason. The instant a government gives any entity the freedom to believe that it has this kind of leverage, then the government’s sovereignty is automatically compromised – including the freedom of everyone else choosing to live there.

Freedom is neither intrinsically good nor evil. The United States’ freedom of speech is a hypocrisy, since saying the wrong thing can invite the attention of law enforcement. Their freedom of religion is equally hypocritical, since some religions mandate the suppression of all other forms of belief. Could that work?

Absolutely not.

That is why where there is freedom, there is also chaos. That is why the price of freedom warrants eternal vigilance. That is why the government monitors chatter in the search for terrorists. That is why the Patriot Act was passed to surreptitiously deny freedoms at a whim with extreme prejudice. This is all because very existence of freedom automatically facilitates the abuse thereof.

Society doesn’t function because we are free. It functions because we are not free. The intrinsic essence of freedom is such that society must be subjectively enslaved where the people who choose to live in it always think they have a choice – even at the subconscious level, when in truth, they actually do not.

Those who choose to abuse their freedom automatically deny the freedom of others and therefore forfeit their own. That is the mistake of Christopher Coke, his supporters and every Jamaican politician who has abused their freedom of power to surreptitiously malign the balance of freedom in the interest of political gain. They must be eliminated from society with extreme prejudice.

The moment a society begins to think that it is free is the moment that marks the beginning of its end. What Jamaicans seem to have long forgotten, (hence this most recent unrest), is that the Price of Freedom is only payable in blood.

Editorial Cartoon: A member of Jamaica's Security Forces replaces the embattled Tivoli Garden's flag with Jamaica's flag as they triumph over the criminal element.

Editorial Cartoon © Copyright 2010 – The Jamaica Observer
[Send corrections, suggestions etc. to: accordingtoxen [at] gmail [dot] com]
  1. June 10, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    Alamanach:If it were simply a manner of learning the right things, then peace would come as soon as people had the right piece of magical information.

    If that were true, then everyone would have behaved the very first time they heard it and things like this would never have happened anywhere in the world. You assume that people respond uniformly to intelligent ideas. If we were all created equal, that just might be the case. But this incident proves just the very opposite, doesn’t it?

    Alamanach:Rather than knowledge, my view is that cultural values are what make the difference.

    Jamaica shares much of its cultural heritage with the rest of the English speaking Caribbean – largely because the offspring of free slaves that now populate these islands were mostly taken from the same spot in Africa. So all these islands have the same folklore, the same holidays, the same festivals, very similar dialects, the same type of music, and a myriad of other cultural elements that was unique to West Africa.

    Yet, the issues in the other Caribbean nations are nowhere near as bad as Jamaica’s. Trinidad comes close – but not quite.

    If I may borrow an over used term, Jamaica represents a “perfect storm” where population size, poverty and education are at just the right levels such that these kinds of things occur. There are other African nations where exactly the same problem exists – Kenya immediately comes to mind.

    Political Garrison communities are not new to Jamaica. It’s an idea that was taken with the slaves from Africa – just like the other cultural elements. However, as Jamaica is the single largest contiguous Caribbean nation with a mostly post slavery population, it has become the only Caribbean nation with enough room to let both the good and bad flourish.

    Alamanach:A state that had absolutely no freedom would fail just as surely as one that was in every way absolutely free.

    Well that’s just the point isn’t it? There can’t be absolute freedom. But peoplecan thrive under the premise of freedom so long as they think they’re free when they’re not. That’s why the law exists.

  2. June 9, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    “One might ask: So why is it that countries like Barbados, Trinidad, Antigua and The Bahamas don’t have a similar problem? The answer is simply because of scale. Jamaica is the largest English speaking Caribbean territory. It is easier to teach a few hundred thousand people how to behave, versus a few million. Simply put; the larger the classroom, the longer the required education time.”

    I don’t think that’s quite it. If it were simply a manner of learning the right things, then peace would come as soon as people had the right piece of magical information. Also, who taught the people of the first civilization how to behave? Rather than knowledge, my view is that cultural values are what make the difference.

    “Society doesn’t function because we are free. It functions because we are not free. The intrinsic essence of freedom is such that society must be subjectively enslaved where the people who choose to live in it always think they have a choice – even at the subconscious level, when in truth, they actually do not.”

    You make it sound like it is all-or-nothing. A state that had absolutely no freedom would fail just as surely as one that was in every way absolutely free. Neither extreme is workable. Men naturally have some freedom, and this has to be recognized, and men must voluntarily give up some (but not all) of that freedom if there is to be a society.

  3. LoneWolf
    June 7, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Hmmm. So you are in support of the draconian crime bill that the government wants to pass? The problem is that we have major problems in regulating and controlling the police force as it currently stands. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want any law which can wantonly infringe on my freedoms and safety, ESPECIALLY in a state with such a calloused and corrupt police force.

    Next Point. Don’t you think the JDF was a bit messy in how they dealt with the house to house aspect of the assault? It is alleged that men were dragged from their homes and executed. I don’t have a problem with with them shooting down gunmen like flies, hey, they can even shoot down men who have dropped their weapons and are running for cover. They can even shoot down known gun men who were playing all innocent. I just have a problem with JDF soldiers who have had limited interaction with criminals on the ground, being able to just execute people like that. I’m sure you have heard plausible stories of innocent men being ripped from family homes and shot. What’s your take on that?

    • June 7, 2010 at 8:25 pm


      The same people who claimed that 110 bodies lay dead in the streets are the same people who claim that men were dragged from their homes and executed. You should not be so easily moved by hyperbole. Desperate people will say anything to discredit a purge – especially when those who steal from the rich to feed them are being put to death.

      Have you ever heard of an expression called “The Fog of War“? I’m sure you have. Differentiating between innocents and combatants (particularly when the combatants strive to hide among them) is difficult. In any war, it is inescapable that there will be collateral damage. From what evidence I’ve seen however, much of it appears to be hyperbole.

      It was no less messy (or imprecise) than any other war.

      LoneWolf:Hmmm. So you are in support of the draconian crime bill that the government wants to pass?

      To not support it is to implicitly support anarchy. No civilized nation on earth doesn’t have a law of some kind that empowers the government to wield absolute power indiscriminately. To not have such a law in place is to put the collective freedoms of all its citizens at stake. While I agree that great power is usually followed by great irresponsibility, please remember that power is a double bladed axe. I would rather the axe cut on the down stroke than on the way up – if you take my meaning.

  4. rosie
    June 1, 2010 at 9:37 am

    interesting opinion

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