Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Quick Follow-Up

Not to push my luck, but I thought it was interesting that ever since my last post on crime, there have been several newspaper articles expressing the same frustration I am. Even local bloggers are speaking up. About time.

The latest article was written by the opposing political party leader. What I can't figure out is, why didn't all this come out before the last election? You know, before the allegedly corrupt Labour leader won again? I mean, I'm pretty sure some people might have been swayed by the existence of an off-shore account (this one in the U.S.) that funneled $76M over 10 years to the party. I won't repeat the whole article, but you can link to it above. Here is a paragraph though that I thought was interesting simply because it was kind of making my point (I bolded our shared frustration).

"Now the Associated Press and MSNBC among other news outlets are reporting that St. Kitts and St. Vincent have been singled out as being particularly vulnerable to drug trafficking – and the violence and other social pathologies that go with it – because of government corruption. How unsurprising that Prime Minister Douglas and his pal Prime Minister Ralph Gonzalves are the two leaders most implicated. These are the same people that spew a lot of nonsense about people giving the country a bad name when we talk about crime. Yet, the situation in our country is such that the international press does not need PAM for information. This most recent report came out of a meeting that the US Defense Secretary Robert Gates had with regional leaders last month. When the Economist wrote the article Sun, Sand and Murder in 2008 it did not quote a single local source. Neither did Business News Europe need to rely on any local sources. When the US State Department warned investors against coming hear because this Labour government has a habit of taking private land without compensation and gave five examples, it did not need PAM for that. The investigations and concern of the US government about our government and the murder stats are quite enough."

I tried to find the sources it was quoting and link to them, but didn't fare too well (BTW, I always do this when some wild accusation is made about anyone/anything - I go directly to the source, or as close as I can get to it; I wish more people would do the same - it would put Fox "News" out of business or, at the very least, dampen down the drama most "journalists" feed off of/invent these days). The ones in The Economist and Business News Europe need a subscription to view, so didn't get them. All I could find were references to the AP/MSNBC article, but not the articles themselves. I did stumble across this pretty good news site that interestingly pointed out that the AP quote that was attributing a comment to the U.S. State department may have padded their dialog a bit (nor could I find Gates saying anything specific about St. Kitts). The U.S. State Dept. does express its concern about St. Kitts being vulnerable to drug trafficking. While I did find the U.S. State Department's concern's about private lands being confiscated without compensation, it didn't actually list the 5 examples. If I were a real journalist, I'd dig deeper, but this will have to do for you blog readers.

It's not like this debate is new. While I was trying to find the MSNBC/AP reference, I ran across this one from 12 years ago. There were many more references to the U.S. targeting drug traffickers on the island throughout the 2000s. The islands have always been a haven for ne'er-do-wells from the days of pirates. Hopefully, their days are numbered though.

Things are certainly heating up. While our one pal heading the St. Kitts police force didn't want to get bogged down by statistics, it seems that those outside the country are and are using them to create unflattering assessments of the island. Wake up and do something! Why does it seem like no matter where you live, the people of the nation (and even some outsiders) care more about their homeland than the people supposedly representing them?

Most recently, customs found over 500 rounds of machine-gun ammunition in their own warehouse patiently waiting for pickup in a barrel that had been sitting there for over a month (discovered by a K9 unit no less - glad to hear they have K9 units). I guess we should be happy it was found, but how did such a large amount of ammo get so easily shipped from the U.S. to the Caribbean? And, I hate to point this out, but where are the machine guns the ammo was intended for? All they've found so far are hand guns. Scary.

I'm pretty sure that the government is going to have to start answering for some of this behavior and ineptitude pretty soon; particularly because they did open the doors to foreign investors - and therefore, more scrutiny. They want to play with the big boys, they better smarten up. For Pete's sake, out of 30 Caribbean nations, we're the 9th smallest by population. Surely the good guys can get the upper-hand here. The minister might have access to a $76M slush fund? Let's see if he'll use it for the greater good and turn the tables on those he might have gotten it from. With legitimate developers and businesses coming on-island, bad behavior is self-defeating - set an example for the current generation trying to define themselves in this "new" economy.

On a completely different note: Here was an odd thing I tripped over in my research - did you know that the U.S. actually courted St. Kitts as an alternative to the Vieques bombing range after the Puerto Ricans kicked them out? That certainly would have changed a few dynamics. I think the right decision was made there.