to the US extradition request for Mr. Christoper "Dudus" Coke, most knew that it would not happen smoothly, and feared that violence would erupt to stop it happening. But, few of us can imagine a situation where the security and law enforcement agents of a government of a country are being kept at bay by a group of its citizens, and the country is not in a state of civil war. But, maybe that is what is going on.
Ordinary people ask for credibility and accountability from elected officials, and from decision makers at all levels. When this is not forthcoming, as is often the case, people quickly revert to their view based on having seen this happen all too often: they take it that most people in positions of power are self-seeking, without little real concern for average citizens.
I am glad to admit that I am one of the bewildered people in terms of seeing how the stand-off in Kingston will end. What seems clear is that many aspects of an orderly society are being put to a serious test. What is also clear is that one feature of a failed state is playing itself out. For too long, Jamaican government agencies have not been to whom many citizens turned for their welfare: their goods came from those who were known to be criminals but who lived and operated in their midst and provided for them. Government was not reaching them, in terms of messages or in terms of actions. So why, given a choice, should the government get favour? That is one of the plain dilemmas that Jamaica has to address.
The immediate outcome from the state of emergency in Kingston and St. Andrews and the actions to try to extradite Mr. Coke will have an obviously impact of how Jamaica goes forward, but it may raise again how Jamaica is perceived and dealt with by both its Caricom and north American neighbours. Its one thing when citizens lose faith, trust and belief in their elected officials, but it's something very different if those losses are felt by other national governments.
A few months ago, Jamaica was riding the crest of a wave as it secured a new financial support package from the IMF to help it deal with a crippling set of longstanding economic woes. Now, it stands crestfallen as one of its other longstanding woes--a rampant tolerance for crime--shows that its head is considerably bigger.