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Commentary: Jamaica's self-inflicted wound
Published on May 9, 2016 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Derrick Miller

Another Dark Cloud: On Sunday, May 1, 2016, in St Mary Parish, Jamaica the bodies of Harold Nichols, 53, and 48-year-old Randy Hentzel, two US missionaries, were found during what appeared to be a routine missionary mission to one of the nation's poor rural communities.

derrick_miller.jpg
Derrick Miller holds a BS degree in economics and finance, an MBA in global management and a MS in criminal justice leadership and management. He has worked in the US public safety and criminal justice field for over 14 years. He can be contacted at http://www.crijc.org/
Randy and Nichols loved their duties, and were well respected in the community. They were not strangers and have been doing missionary work in Jamaica for over a decade.

Today the nation is wondering what next and how did this happen?

According to the report, these men came from a “Pennsylvania-based Christian charity that seeks to provide medical care and spiritual comfort to the people of the Caribbean island nation."

Sadly, their premature deaths are not breaking news. Jamaica and several other islands have been plagued with ongoing crime and violence including other economic turmoil for decades.

These barbaric ideological killings threaten to erode the perception of other beautiful coastlines. Businesses and leaders are now quickly gauging the image impact, and the economic and emotional impact is causing many to rethink their travel plans.

Just like a drug addict, several pockets of Jamaica have a severe criminal mentality issues that she must work to overcome immediately. A few parts of that region could use a detox, but with limited resources, and an unwillingness to accept makes this path to rehabilitation more difficult.

This it is not a random act; many have been saying quietly about an increasingly uncomfortable feeling being viewed like a weak animal in a jungle where a few in disguise wait for an opportunity to attack their prey for their own survival.

How many locally self-made businesspersons have been targeted and killed this year alone not because of any criminal involvement, but a mindset by few who see success as part of the problem.

Looking for Hope: Political strife has annihilated many of the youths, and the leadership from the police commissioner, community leaders, to national security minister, has to begin to take additional steps on what has already been begun to eradicate this disease, and an impression that no one has the tools to tackle it adequately. As a result, these barbaric acts are hatched based on opportunity.

Several young people in the region are suffering from economic neglect. It is not an excuse, but being ignored; waiting on handouts has created more culpability not only to the locals daily, but also especially visitors who travel outside protected zones. Even if it is a humanitarian mission, those criminals do not differentiate.

Although hopelessness, lack of opportunity can breed crimes, these troubled individuals would be better served by seeking guidance on how to become successful, rather than practically using violence to satisfy an emotional and economic disconnect.

The headlines that have emerged on CNN and other media outlets seemed as a shock to viewers; however, for those looking in with close ties, or following the local news sporadically; it is not a farfetched headline.

Many locals have faced similar premature deaths and few answers after the cameras are off. These criminals are still roaming the streets, and if someone can identify some perpetrators, fear for one's own safety often results in silence.

That image thing: Although Jamaica is not alone seeing a high murder rate per capita, based on a recent United Nations report; however, it would be a mistake to draw a comparison to other nations. Comparison alone cannot cut crime; it should be a motivation.

Although few media outlets have spun the news in an attempt to change the negative image that it is not a reflection of the island in general. This statement is correct, but sadly, it might be too late to regain its boisterous image until fundamental changes can be implemented.

It is time for a massive march against crime to take back the island.

These crimes cannot be in street retaliation, carefully placed blames, or gun for a gun settlement or even a court sentence. A systematic problem can only be solved when leaders begin develop opportunities for a dying group of youths who remain stagnant.

They must form community involvement built on commitment and an acknowledgement that this increasing criminal mentality has to be addressed proactively or even capital punishment.

This recent killing is an image problem and confirms what many have feared and this beautiful mango fruit with a bright and beaming skin is rotting from its core. Poverty and the ever-widening gaps between the haves and the have-nots is one aspect of disparities and a moral compass that has no direction.

Reversing a barbaric mentality starts in the homes, and schools.

Today, despite graduation there are few opportunities. Furthermore, in a new global economy that requires excellent talent, many are not equipped. Therefore, graduation seems to be only based on age reached, and not an accomplishment to be competitive.

These two individuals dedicated their lives to helping others for decades. Today families are left to wonder why? The poor people also lost, as a decade of medical mission is cut short.

No one wins from a criminal act. Today the targeting of visitors is forcing several potential returning residents to look elsewhere for retirement. Furthermore, others who have returned are preparing to exit. Few will admit to this trend.

Leadership cannot continue to do photo-ops, believing that as long as there is an image of one love, things will solve itself.

Bob Marley’s image, Usain Bolt, and Shelly-Ann Fraser, or Shaggy and others in sports and entertainment superstars alone cannot save Jamaica if criminals continue to dominate the headlines. In fact, most these successful people’s permanent homes are outside of their native land.

No nation can survive if crime becomes an influence where criminals enrich themselves at the nation's expense. Furthermore, willingness by a few elected officials to squash laws because they were introduced by the other party therefore fails to compromise to fight these issues.

Who will gain: Given the recent report of a decline in the tourist industry, high debts, low manufacturing output, coupled with crime, one of its close neighbours, Cuba, is rising since new diplomatic relations with the US.

Having this headline does not help the cool and relaxing vibes this island sells.

As these missionaries’ deaths dominate global headlines, Cuba is showing an American cruise ship docked at its ports, looking to discover what has been missing for over 50 years.

A successful service-oriented economy is vital to maintain a good standard of living for individuals who work in that industry.

Despite the economic gap, they are connected and the impression of safety based on gated communities does not make it those problems over there. Crime anywhere is a safety problem everywhere

Looking Back: Today, many are longing for those days when one could rent a vehicle with a visitor licence plate, travel anywhere with frequent stops throughout entire country.

In addition, the only safety concerns parents and friends provided for on vacation were to be alert of the roads or a goat rushing from its banks or a few blind corners and an unheeding truck driver who believed since he has a bigger vehicle he had the right of way, but still gave you a smile.

Moving Forward: These criminals are now emboldened, deploying a new strategy of kidnapping, and demanding ransom, but the nation cannot yield and they must be eliminated.

Although many are saddening by this act, the majority looking on still hope that future breaking news will not give people second thoughts about a visit to the island. This can only be possible if everyone takes on the role of community policing, advocates, and mentors and gives back in some capacity.
 
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