Jamaica’s solution to crime-lessons from Medellin,Columbia

No I am not an obeah man, the snake oil man nor the three card man. Just a Jamaican who don’t like all the murders and confusion in my country. A little perspective before I go into details about my little findings-which by the way is nothing new, even to Jamaica.

It is funny that in last years general election the main theme was education, in fact I remember reading the newspapers with surveys with most Jamaicans saying education was our most pressing issue. Crime was in the mix but was ranked surprisingly low.

No doubt that the current government did a great job framing the message making it THE important issue of the campaign last year. The then government who trump their “achievements” completely ignored the fact that after 18 years they presided over a massive crime problem that they were unable to control.

Now that we have gotten our free education and free healthcare the real problem is back raging its ugly head in our lives, raking havoc and mayhem in our lives. Gripping our throats with fear, pushing us further into the grilled fortress prison called home.

So the question is why crime weren’t a more dominant theme in last year’s election. The media and politicians grouped up and took us to a party’s party. They drugged us up with grandiose promises (manifestos) from both sides. What did you think all those pretty colors and catchy jingles were for?. They distracted us with theatrical commercials and stage gimmickry.

So it’s the night after, or should I say the year after and the reality is back at us again. It is crime that is Jamaica’s biggest problem. I too wanted change for my country but the last couple of weeks have clearly shown that there is no change is fighting crime. It’s a new government but same crime fighting strategies.

To say I am disappointed is an understatement. I am tired of hearing that they are calling out the military again.

They are having another big meeting again

Oh yes another crime plan, oh and yes more paper with recommendations from committees and experts.

Another speech, more outrage. More passing the blame on to everyone else except ourselves.

More shuffling of the bigger heads, more “if we don’t do something…….”

Then things will cool down for a while, then another tsunami of blood, bodies and stories of horror blanketing us again.

Last week for a while I was watching another upsurge in crime and I was wondering to myself who is in charge of Jamaica. I was really wondering. I was reading Gordon Swaby’s blog post “What is Priority for Jamaica, not oil, not food”. I could empathize with the sense of disappointment and hopelessness that we Jamaicans feel.

The call for hanging is our anger speaking, its our want for revenge. We want to fight back against the elusive monster that just can not be defeated. We are also frustrated, confused and most of all fearful that we, a friend or relative will become another foot note on the evening news, another statistic.

We are hurting, can you feel it?

I also feel that no one knows what to do about crime in Jamaica. Now I am absolutely certain. The government before and the new one are clueless. It’s sad when we lose everything, even hope. I am clinging to hope because it’s all that we have left. I think that most people have accepted the current mayhem as normal-we are crazy.

When we compare Jamaica to other countries with high crime rate Columbia is one such countries. I was reading a story on the Jamaica observer website where the president of the Inter-American Development bank who was speaking at a PSOJ economic forum urged Jamaica to focus on education and social development in order to stem the nation’s crime rate. At first glance I thought, another bureaucrat giving another speech until I read further into the story and did due justice with Google is researching the claims made by the banks President.

Mr. Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development bank was addressing the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica when he encouraged us to focus on social development and education to tackle crime. Surely this is not the first time we have heard this. It is similar to the saying” di yout dem want jobs”. What makes Mr. Luis Alberto Moreno sentiments carry weight is because he is speaking of a fact that has worked in his own country Columbia. He spoke of Columbia’s second largest city Medellin home to many drug lords and its most famous resident drug kingpin Pablo Escobar who was killed in 1993. Medellin once so-called City of Eternal Spring was turned into the City of Eternal Violence by drug lords, gangs and remnants of a civil war in Columbia. Just recently Medellin was considered one of the most dangerous places in the world. A city that was plagued by frequent kidnapping, bombings and multiple murders is today a success story about how social intervention, social development and investment in education can turn around a city once in ruins. Today Medellin is a much safer place attracting thousands of tourists per year.

Mr. Luis Alberto Moreno mention this at the PSOJ economic forum:

“…You had children employed by the drug cartels who lay down their arms and got into orchestras and played classical music, where at the same time they were given access to micro-finance, where their neighbourhoods were improved because the government decided together with people in the communities,”

“The reality is what happens to test scores, what happens to parents, what happens to businesses, as they do not put all the pressures on building higher quality education and demanding more of the teachers and they themselves are part of the teaching process, so it’s not surprising that you see in our region when you look at test score over 50 per cent of our children are qualified to read as good as they should,”

This city was able to cut murders from 125 per 1000 persons to 30 per 1000 persons by focusing on improving education from early childhood to the tertiary level. Today Medellin is flourishing with lower unemployments, raising income brought on by a strong economy, they are attracting fortune 500 companies who just a couple years ago shun the city. Medellin has built an impressive metrocab system that connects poor hillside communities with the center of the city. They invest in parks,libraries,universities and community renewal projects.

Below are a few links to the most interesting reading of a great story that must be told especially to Jamaicans.

Good Times in Medellin– Newsweek

Medellin Buries Escobar’s Ghost With Streets Paved for Bankers– Bloomberg

Good Times in Medellin, Colombia– Blog (blogrolled)

The headlines in Medellin are looking up for the people of Medellin while today in Jamaica, especially Kingston the headline is “Murders Jump past 700 mark” after yet another bloody weekend. The contrasts are striking yet so similar.

I am not saying that what will work for Medellin will necessary work for Jamaica, but it’s definitely worth trying. There are priceless value in a sense of renewal, pride and education. We have heard of attempts to adopt a similar approach as Medellin from NGO’s in the Grants Pen area but we need a broader fuller national push. If you ask me I think Social development coupled with education should be our number one priority. So much of our problems are ailment from social decay.

Pictures from Medellin

They built deluxe new schools, flooded the neighborhood with social workers and microcredit specialists, and commissioned a prominent architect to design a gleaming library and community center. They started construction on a mass-transit system of gondola cars that reach into Medellín’s most dire slums—giving the poor access to the economic and civic life of the city’s more prosperous center.

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~ by RB on June 9, 2008.

10 Responses to “Jamaica’s solution to crime-lessons from Medellin,Columbia”

  1. Excellent post Dutty Bwoy.Extremely instructive with respect to the extant crime situation in Jamaica today. RESPECT!!

  2. ESTEBAN, glad you find the post interesting. I really just hope that we realize that crime has to be fought with sticks and carrots. Giving the police all the equipment and technology to fight crime will not have the sustainable impact as social intervention projects will have.

  3. There is a solution to crime. The solution is in the people’s hands and not the government. Support from the government is essential but is not cenntral to the solution.

    I am a nearly 30 year vetren of law enforcement and working on a Masters Degree in Sociology and I would like very much to contribute to the solution. I am an American whoes mother-in-law is Jamaican and wife who is Oviously of Jamaican desent.

    This is a great article but like so many others dosn’t go to the solution. I may have the solution.

  4. I wish I had a contact for you for the government. But if you send me an email at kingstonstateofmind@gmail.com I would be happy to post on this humble blog your great ideas.

    Thank you

  5. […] Luis Alberto Moreno gives Jamaica more solutions to crime On June 9th, 2008 I wrote this post Jamaica’s solution to crime-lessons from Medellin,Columbia […]

  6. Great city that Medellín as your photos present it. I never imagined it would be so nice.
    The cable car system is interesting. I am planning to travel to Colombia next year and will certainly try flying over the favelas!

  7. […] little over two years ago-June 9, 2008 to be exact, I did this post “Jamaica’s solution to crime-lessons from Medellin,Columbia” drawing attention to how the once war torn city of Medellin, Columbia was able to pull back from […]

  8. […] Jamaica’s solution to crime-lessons from Medellin,Columbia […]

  9. Kingston,Jamaica is alright im use to all the crimes there cause i was born there on September15,1993 and Bob Marley was my cousin and i love reggae singer MAVADO and SERANI there my favorite now im in wack ass USA i’ll be back in KINGSTON’JAMAICA :SATURDAY I LOVE ALL MY DREAD HEADED JAMAICANS AND ALL MY CLUB DANCEN JAMAICAN GIRLS LOVEEEEEE YOU !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. aight Roneisha feeling you love for Jamaica LOL

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