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Trouble in paradise

The Times (of London) has a sobering editorial today about the level of crime in the Caribbean, following the recent murder involving a married couple on their honeymoon in Antigua. Jamaica has already developed a fearesome reputation for violence – Kingston is a particularly unpleasant place – and the problem is spreading. In its history, the area has been touched by violence, stretching back before the dark stain of Western-imposed slavery, of course. The pirate gangs who raped and pillaged their way across the area were not lovable rogues with parrots on their shoulders but brutes.

Of course, when it comes to recent times, experiences vary. I went to Barbados with friends several years ago and had a wonderful time and was struck by how friendly people were. Barbados is a great place, although I am rather saddened that the youngsters are not as keen on cricket as they used to be, but perhaps that is inevitable as sporting fashions change.

The Times argues that some folk have blamed the problems on tourism as something that has widened the gap between rich and poor. This seems a bit of a strange argument. Surely, without tourism, the region – assuming there was no other source of wealth – would be even poorer, making for an ever more desperate situation that there is now. More pertinently, the editorial argues that a major cause of violence are drug gangs. The Caribbean is a crossing point for the drugs that are exported by gangs out of South America, such as Columbia, and then on to the US and elsewhere. At no point does the Times address the issue of whether the illegality of drugs might be fuelling the criminal gangster culture that is allied to it.

And there is something else to consider. Since Britain joined the-then EEC, now European Union, the old British connections to the trading interests of the UK’s former colonies have been weakened. Imports of sugar and other produce were placed at a competitive disadvantage because of Britain’s membership of the absurd Common Agricultural Policy.

Finally, one of the latest issues to rear its head is the ongoing attempt by Western governments, such as the US, to crack down on tax havens such as The Cayman Islands. If a left-leaning, high-taxing Democrat administration gets into power with Mr Obama in the White House, life for such havens could get much tougher, with attendant impact on their business activities.

12 comments to Trouble in paradise

  • A few years ago I caught myself thinking that ‘Dreadlock holiday’ by 10cc would be classified as racist in these PC times. But the lyrics are even more apposite today as they were 30 years ago.

    South Africa has the highest murder rate in the world (40k a year, out of a population of 40m, if memory serves).

    Now, what so Jamaica, SA and council estates in South London have in common ….. hmmm ….

  • @Mark

    I think it might be worthwhile you checking your figures and ranking, though you are right to the nearest order of magnitude (from the source I read, which gives 2007 figures).

    Best regards

  • llamas

    Well, yes – what did you expect?

    When you set out to attract large numbers of well-heeled people to places where liquor flows, and anything goes – then criminals will inevitably flock there.

    The US bank robber Willie Sutton was once asked why he robbed banks, to which he (apocryphally) replied ‘Because that’s where the money is.’ The same is true here. Criminals are more-or-less everywhere, but what attracts them, like sharks to chum, are easy marks with plenty to steal.

    It never ceases to amaze me that people (especially in the US) are shocked when they hear of some horrible crime in some supposed paradise (cf the Alabama cheerleader in Aruba, various deaths and disappearances on cruise ships, pickpocket gangs in Europe, and so forth). “But it’s like the Garden of Eden!’, they cry. But the Garden of Eden included a serpent.

    You could not pay me any money to go to these places, and that goes double for a ‘cruise’ ship, which consists of a captive herd of victims, plied with liquor and surrounded on all sides by a limitless evidence-disposal system. I am (frankly) surprised that one of the monster gin-palaces that cruise the Caribbean has not yet been the subject of a full-scale criminal takeover, and it may be only because the cruise lines have made a concerted effort to limit the amount of cash on their vessels.



  • Dave B

    I’ve dusty memories of a Bob Marley documentary that showed the Jamaican political parties of his day warring with one another through their associated gangs/militias.

  • john

    The violence in Jamaica is a direct result of tribalism and political encouragement. The two competing parties JLP and PNP set up garrisons which became breeding grounds for violent crime. It doesn’t help any that it is not a capitalist society, and, that it is in the vested interest of political parties to keep the “crisis” going.

    Jamaican in exile

  • RAB

    Bob Marley missed being killed by inches in an attack on his House/Compound.
    Peter Tosh, his original guitarist, was blown away in a robbery at his.

    If they have no respect for their local heroes
    What fuckin chance do white rich tourists stand?

    This is an attitude problem, not an economic one.

    I was in Kalkan, a little but popular resort with the well heeled in Turkey a few years ago.
    Over dinner my fellow British diner told me that he had gone to the beach with his brand new state of the art digital camera. Had a lovely time and got a taxi back into town.

    Well he left his camera in the back of the cab and thought that was the end of it.

    Not so.
    The taxi driver had spent the rest of the day tracking down the careless owner (taking no fares and obviously at considerable expense to himself)
    and handed it back.
    He had about 6 months wages free in his hands, yet he did that! (the Owner gave him a whacking reward for his trouble mind, but that’s not why he did it.)

    He figured that if shit happens to your main source of income, pretty soon, you and everybody else in your neighbourhood has no income.

    Attitude. Not Economics.

  • RAB

    I think I should have said

    Attitude AND Economics.

  • dc

    I sailed the Caribbean and visited a number of islands, both former UK and present EU (French).
    Our experience was that if it was former British islands have had a rough time of it. White skin asks for aggressive begging and sometimes extortion. (Gimme five bucks to make sure your stuff doesn’t go away)

    The French islands had an established welfare system and regular touristry. Not so much begging.

    Bequia, the next island south from St Vincent, was the only place where the locals and the tourists got along famously.

    Not so in St Vincent, itself. I watched a nice young man run 50 yards up a street calling out to me. He rapidly approached and I told my wife to stand back, there would probably be a fight! But the young man approached. Stopped, held out his hand and formally said, “Welcome to St Vincent’s, have a good day”. I shook his hand warily and asked him what he really wanted. He replied, “a dollar”.

    I gave him his dollar, since I felt it was a small price to pay to not have my arse kicked.

    “Glad to meet you, but why are you acting this way”? I asked.

    “The Prime Minister says we have to welcome all of the white tourists, so they will give us money on the island”, he matter of factly said.

    After the shake downs in St Vincent, St Lucia, Jamaica and Domica, we decided that we will only visit French and Dutch islands.

    Cant really blame the locals.

  • RAB

    Hmm, so you are saying that if the “British” islands had handed out generous welfare cheques for doing fuck all,
    just like we do at home, they wouldn’t rob an murder, not only us, but each other?

    The British islands gained their independence long ago.
    So it’s entirely up to them to organise their societies and economics now.

    Are you saying that the French and Dutch islands are still colonies? . I know one or two are ,but living on the EU tit too?Not just old Colonial Largesse?
    We had to sever our links with the Commonwealth to join the EEC. It seems the French and Dutch skipped that bit!

    As to welfareism.
    I invite you to the Bear and Rugged Staff,
    a pub on the Southmead estate in Bristol, that is almost totally on the dole.
    A bear and Rugged staff is the bare minimum you need to keep close to hand, if you want to survive an evenings drinking in there.

  • Paul

    There are stlll British islands in the Caribbean: Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands. What are these like in relation to the United Kingdom? Do these islands display as many on-the-ground ties as the French possessions?

  • Hugo

    I am reminded of a Libertarian Alliance publication:
    Tina Terry, How Gun Control ‘Worked’ in Jamaica, 1998, 2pp. ISBN: 1 85637 482 3

  • tdh

    In St. Thomas, I made the mistake of using the yellow pages to look up companies that could find stuff underwater. They were all too busy to help find a dropped piece of jewelry — but, strangely, several boats with divers appeared in the area shortly thereafter.

    They deserve the evils that the vile drug hunts have brought down upon them, the islands of the damned.