Is there a me-too moment for racial economic equity and justice in the Caribbean?

BY.R.D. MILLER

The unexpected call: Soon after George Floyd, an African American was killed during an encounter with members of the Minneapolis, Minnesota, police department; a global social consciousness emerged with immense demonstration some of which turned violent calling for broad reversal of laws and practices that many deemed socially and economically devastated local communities of color for decades.

Protesters gather Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Minneapolis

This global reckoning on race relations and deep nationalized discriminatory business practices have seen sea changes despite previous resistance. Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s Rice and Mrs Butterworth brand decided to change its logo from 130 years that many argued were a racial stereotype of blacks. The domino effect has also seen other businesses once benefited from discriminatory practices dated back to the slave ships have accepted symbolic gestures to confront its past.

A troubled History: Though the Caribbean islands received its hints from the international media and struck courage, it was a step in the precise direction. However, it is more complex than good feeling to eradicate 400-years of the colonial chain, laws and mental debris for equity that has been hitting these disadvantaged communities like a destructive hurricane recklessly causing administrative, economic, and social barriers to upward mobility.

Based on historians; the Caribbean islands fell under the ruling of a European nation; British, Dutch, and French. Additionally, Denmark, Portugal, and Sweden formerly occupied territories in the Caribbean.

An intricate dance for equity: The Caribbean tragic colonial history that has apprised us today, cannot be eradicated with a rope, stones, or fire as seen elsewhere pulling down historic generals or former slave owners statues; or call for the resignation of local managers who typically operate businesses in the region once benefited from these ships with tweets, high anger, and low action.

Economic and social transformation and as it sits now, me too moment is an uphill to climb for the region. Sadly, some leaders cannot even decide if or where to hold a protest, whom, what structure to move to steer this vessel for critical change.

Me-too is not resettlement, re-distribution of land to the poor owned by elected officials, or the top one percent of the rich, removal of colonial images from a local church window, lower interest rates on predatory loans, reduction in violent crimes or political alliance. Simply put, any reconciliation is not going to be based on skin color, it is how much pie one can keep for his social class.

Furthermore, if many of today’s buildings, contracts, ports, and manufacturing have long been sold to foreign investors, which will sit at the table me-too may not represent the downtrodden.

Though these islands remain a place to forget your overdue bills and any other issues merely temporarily, the reality is that; some share the identical point of origin, bear a resemblance to you, but until now have the bourgeoisie conscious colonial mentality. And conveniently will yield power, overlook poverty once able to slightly move their necks economically, and considered a success.

Essentially, several wealthy islanders who have obtained an academic opportunity can now pay their way into that upper crowd will feast, dance, have business dealings still struggles to address an institutionalized class and racial system.

Subsequently, where does the Caribbean start for social and economic justice for Afro-Caribbean and ethnic minorities? The lack of a protest does not mean that there is not one brewing internal each day.

The region’s shorelines forever roar with a dark cloud after Europeans decided that they wanted to establish their economy and Africa was the place they went and eagerly snatched people of colour, filled several ships without reservation.

And since innocent people of color did not have a personal reservation, stringent rules and penal laws were created that transcends into systematic institutional racism today.

Today’s global racial equity call is not like recent women’s me-too when they came forward and spoke up about their experience of improper and inappropriate widespread sexual advances, harassment, and rape by powerful men and action was quick.

Colonial occupation has established a legacy where only a new economic reconciliation path for all will establish the first step. Some argued perhaps eliminating several debts for may Caribbean islands, but a mental rehabilitation from slavery despite independence remains a drain.

The re-balancing question: The debt burden undoubtedly remains a national debate to develop a new economic road map, but can they all afford to protest earnestly for fundamental change; and how do you bite off the nervous hands that are merely sustaining you?

If the Caribbean me too solution is “possible reparation” or a unilateral economic package for better schools, education, adequate healthcare, infrastructure, and new manufacturing is an excellent approach.

But if local reports still highlighting ongoing corruption even mismanagement of COVID-19 funds, where not everyone can agree on if it is going to rain, or less corrupted in leading these islands; generates more questions on how to manage any potential reparation. I scarcely believe that this delicate topic will amount a self-governing gesture on paper like the independence doctrine.

And how does one support the casting of a new fishing net, when you have a judiciary system with holes on basic democracy and cultural tolerance for all? One must step back and rigorously evaluate that, “Out of Many One People.”

Recently the Jamaican Supreme Court ruled that a student could not attend classes if she didn’t cut her dreadlocks and the school did not infringe on the child’s constitutional rights. This ruling confirms that Rastafarianism, typically remains a social outcast based old colonial ideal, and this culture should only be practiced behind closed doors.

Bob Marley: From R.D. Library

Soul searching waves: Undoubtedly, the Caribbean continues to anxiously search for its soul, and if one’s hair was no longer acceptable in the local school, what next, Rasta only bathroom, bus, dining area, etc. The styling of one’s culture may explain the abundance of bleaching cream being bought in the region for acceptance by many.

The ruling describes a considerably complex broader story emerged recently of British insignia, a medal that is worn by the heads of state, the governor-general of Jamaica that depicted a Caucasian person on the neck of a black person. Though dehumanizing, how do you draw a balance if laws carries similar weight on its people.

History has gently told us, between 1788 and 1838 workhouses in Jamaica the most significant British West Indian colony was marginalized in conditions encountered by most of its population that impacted local industries, like finance and manufacturing.

The Caribbean may have passed its hostility tone since those cultural prohibitions of black settlement in some areas to interracial sex, part of the racial discrimination known as the “colour bar” that has severely constrained its unique culture and economic growth, but it still reverberates today globally.

Today, many dark-skinned experience steeper mobility, subsequently carries forward even in more recent free migration elsewhere.

The lasting impact: Slavery divided the region on different plantations that established a protectionist and competitive system subconsciously or not. Today, islanders (are) not from (the) sugar canes and coffee fields (and free) to travel between islands, but by all accounts, some continue to traditionally see other islands as you over there, and if some could erect a wall they would.

A notable example: since COVID-19 and its impact on sustainable tourism, it only exposes the Caribbean lack of collaboration as these island stances regarding which one has a firmer grip on the pandemic for the next terrorist dollar. Quite frankly, in my humble option, it will come down to who tells the truth on the number infected, fatality and actual cause, rather than who, essentially delivered it there.

Most importantly; an economic and collaborative me-too even for the ability to travel to other islands for accurate diagnosis and critical medical care rather than waiting eagerly for weeks for urgent surgery or test results will save numerous lives.

And if the arid region conveniently overlooks this pivotal moment for upward mobility and though I maybe sometimes critical of violent crime and local leadership, I am genuinely terrified they all are naturally wearing the official insignia, and me-too represent just a thought.

The Order of St. Michael and St. George

The color of governance in Jamaica: Choosing between a rock and a hard place`

BY R.D. MILLER

On September 3, 2020, the island of about three million people will decide to replace the locks or give back the keys and what party color they will hang for at least four more years as voters contemplate countless economic issues.

The election bag:

Economic pressure, unanswered promises, growing or shrinking economy, high or low unemployment, climate change, economic mobility, stagnation, who is less or more corrupted- high, low crime, how many murdered under what party, prosperity, poverty, a widening gap between the have vs. have-nots, high or reduced taxes.

Additionally, COVID-19 Pandemic, accountability of funds, old-new manifesto, but who is accurately counting depending on one’s political side. They will perceive these issues through the political glass, either half-full or empty.

Because of concern amid COVID-19, many voters and party officials questioned the timing, but prime minister Andrew Holness of the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) seized the moment observing favorable poll numbers called for an election hoping for another 4 years to extend and tackle the socio-economic and crime dents that has been inside these communities’ neglected paint shop for many years.

An earlier Nationwide radio poll noted that about 64% believe that the Holness administration is corrupted, but maybe better to manage corruption. This report is suggestive is that. it is better to have these foxes guard the hen-house. This election continues to be about had they, should have, could have, maybe, and perhaps, and the past.

Once the whistle of the election rang, the two leaders, the players immediately activated on a non-stop color media bliss taunting the progress or lack thereof. COVID-19 social distancing as it seems relegated to the back burner of a nation-wide political campaign.

Unfortunately, no matter the circumstances, justification, rationalization, or excuses, bad things invariably follow if the life of a country is put at risk for personal gain.

This election debates for changing the economic tires, refueling these communities, repairing broken parts to get one of these two drivers the winning flag may simply come down to what side telling the truth or to a greater degree better at covering up the truth as the island battle for its soul consistency looking good governance.

Jamaica’s local politics typically operate like a contact sport where only the fittest survive. After the political colorful game is over, the economic strain will continue with injured community players sidelined from lost jobs to navigating students who may face distance learning in rural areas without resources.

Maybe same cars; different colors?

Peoples National Party (PNP)
Jamaica Labour Party (JLP)

Whether Dr. Peter Phillips, the opposition leader of the (People National Party (PNP) agrees with the election call. It is a delicate balance asking locals who have been neglected to purchase another ticket regarding their economic future. Both vessels with an upgraded soundtrack arguing better days are ahead while accusing the other are in the same murky water.

Any party loses is more than likely, that leadership will take the entire crew into an iceberg. The tribal toxicity in these campaigns leaves little room for compromise, even if the messenger on the other side has a good plan.

The leader that will emerge, rebuilding will continue to be a challenge. COVID-19, economic stagnation, crime, poverty, and yes, COVID-19 Blame Game Is Going to Get Uglier as this pandemic in an election will ruthlessly be exploited at the cost of people’s lives.

Chinese coronavirus 2019-nCov under the microscope. 3d illustration

The pandemic also provides a cushion to deflect the direct economic decline that has seen several local businesses closed, massive layoff as the service industry took a direct hit from reduced vacations, which is a vital portion of the island’s GDP. But in all fairness, it has caused a global shutdown of the global economies, but it also exposed how fragile these shores were.

Today, likely voters are stuck between a rock and a complex place. It may be from COVID-19 fear, easy access to polling stations for seniors, or from abandoned hope and trust may stay home. Jamaica will rise and can do better, but whose less tainted, or carries a permanent stain to continue navigating these ostentatious waters, roads, and hills.

 However, this fight should be about the nation’s future, environmental issues, actual trade deficit, balance sheet, investments, especially for the youths, and other key economic indicators for Jamaica’s real economic stability that will benefit all.

Will everybody love and benefit from the finished piece?

Bob Marley

The reality is as it seems; one side blemished, other imperfect while the downtrodden constantly being squeezed from decades of promises, distrust, and inadequate management, lack of up upward mobility as many argued that only political leaders seem to be the exclusive ones getting ahead.

An incumbent has an upper hand, and people may stick to the putrefaction because weeding through political tribalism is difficult and where governmental power is seldom based on real accomplishments, but personal time served in a cabinet and popularity, resources to paint a better picture than the reality.

This showdown may not come down to who won the debates; or command of what the nation’s needs are. The sole question communities should be asking during this political showdown, are they better off today, or foresee a future for the next generation. However, this election may come down to one issue, “safety,” which is a public health problem.

What is certain, the party that wins, will need to have a majority because there is no room for compromise even if the messenger on the other side may have a good message. Furthermore, it is more than likely, the loosing leader will take his ship into an ice-berg with down the ballot candidates?

The missing color:

It seems, “Out of Many One People” get cast aside when voters are whipped into a desperate frenzy, pitting communities against each other for temporary feel-good while the youths, downtrodden, teachers, law enforcement, public safety victims of crime, small businesses, and a vanished more educated middle class inside the body shop hoping someone fixes their dents from years of neglect and bumps.

After all colorful battles, these political parties should operate like primary colors where leaders can combine both sides to produce an excellent portrait. Continuous political fighting only makes it difficult to govern and paint a picture for a more promising future.

Jamaica’s prosperity is not the best beat on the street though it has its cultural significance; it is a single unemployed mother, dad, sons, daughters, cousins, grandparents, uncle on the hill debating if they should dance because after the music stops, what next?

“The rhythms being played may change, but on same vinyl, one argued.

Many argue that politics there, and in other poverty-stricken and developing countries, is like some aspects of the Chinese investments. They come to extract the minerals, and other natural resources and return cheap goods. However, what will change, not much.

Often only the rich, well-connected, and the politicians will continue to get ahead. Many will claim patriotism from their gated community, and continue to influence the political system to protect their profit margin.

Voting should be for the future, and not for temporary jobs or an overnight financial handout. In the long run, what about tuition, school supplies for your child’s education because you can’t announce an election to be compensated.

In this early stage, the island has made some strides in maintaining the pandemic, but leaders must be honest with itself and open a genuine debate from managing COVID-19, Tests, Treatment, and Trace (TTT) that will be critical from the reported uptick.

Hoping for a new blend: 

One glowing new color based on local reports, more than a few women have entered this election on both sides, and whoever is successful must demand a seat at the prime minister’s decision table.

Few Pictures from 2020 campaigns: Photo Credit JLP & PNP.

Women are under-represented, not only in Jamaica, but several other poor and developing countries across key positions to make critical changes from elected offices, civil services, private sector, or academia, scholars have noticed.

This political election will not severely lessen COVID-19 the next day, reduce crime; create affordable education, violence against women, better medical care, lower unemployment, increase bed space, or new necessary equipment to safeguard lives.

I hope after these colorful events, all people can find a combination of colors to renovate the nation as the region continues navigating the rough tides. It will take more than party devotion for this beautiful island to see hope over fear, fact over fiction.

Jamaica is not perfect and remains a vibrant place with hope and possibilities, but people must seek change from the bottom up and not the other way around. Regardless of what color wins, the nation must deal with several ignored rusts that yarns for a new upward mobility pain for sustainable development; transforming the nation.

An election is like art; it should create wonderful memories. As this shore tries to pick an image for brighter days between this rock and a hard place regardless of who has the next paintbrush, they must stay hopeful until everyone can genuinely enjoy these recycled portraits, add their color for both the country and personal prosperity.


The elephant is still in the room: Women leaders in Caribbean and the silent struggle`

BY R.D. Miller

The foggy mirror that exposed the past:

The glass ceiling in the Caribbean may have had some fractures, but it is still undisturbed. This is a crucial moment when political communities are questioning who is best placed to take them out of violent crime, endemic poverty, and a new direction in the desperate hope of a better future.

These local political communities repeatedly are controlled by men, but women have been critical to their advancement, whether as an educator, nurse, police officer, or as a wife who keeps the family together.

Photo by Anete Lusina

In a recent report by Leta Hong Fincher for CNN, she noted that a “United Nations and Inter-Parliamentary Union report highlighted that 10 of 152 elected heads of state were women, and men made up 75 percent of parliamentarians, 73 percent of managerial decision-makers and 76 percent of the people in mainstream news media.”

Over the past few decades, a growing number of women have emerged from the shadows and sought higher positions, but many women have also failed. Despite these cracks in the ceiling, it has not favored an easy passage for others.

It is not their accomplishments that have been questioned or their commitment to public duty, but it may be “being a woman”.

From the archived of achievement:

Since the death of Eugenia Charles, the first woman to hold the post of Prime Minister of Dominica, on July 21, 1980–on June 14, 1995, there has been no other to date in Dominica. Today, the selection of leaders resembles a “beauty contest” and where their image is more important than skills or economic policies.

The Hon. Eugenia Charles: Prime minister of Dominica, July 21, 1980, – June 14, 1995,

The Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller: Prime minister of Jamaica; March 2006 – September 2007 and again January 2012 – March 2016

The Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar Prime Minister: Trinidad and Tobago, May 2010 – September 2015.

Except for the late Eugenia Charles, Portia Simpson, and Kamla Persad were defeated when they ran for re-election. It created more critical analyses of how they lost rather than their political accomplishments.

They were too tough, unable to connect to shifting demographics; something disconnected them from the working class, oppressed, but rarely spoke of hidden sexism, misogynist views, low voter turnout, and parliamentary control in which some representatives appeared not to recognize their power.

Prime Minister Mottley, twice-elected leader of the political opposition before his stunning victory in 2018, was one region’s brightest independent philosophers. She recently encouraged increased moral leadership and critical collaboration, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, to enhance the health systems across the region.

The Hon. Mia Amor Mottley: Prime Minister of Barbados

While not all women often agree on the same measures, particular political approach even values based on experience, the pressure for socio-economic equality, upward mobility, gender equity, many scholars noted that calls for creative collaboration to have a stronger representation in the Caribbean and elsewhere remains in the mirror.

The elephant in the room:

The incremental rise of populism never works in the Caribbean, especially today. It typically leads to what seems to be personal financial gains of the elected office. The legislative elections should undoubtedly focus on the next generation, rigorous debates in which the legitimate concerns and interests of voters are properly aligned with their economic future.

Recently, I studied a deliberation concerning Lisa Hanna, former World 1993 and MP (Jamaica) whose personal beauty attracts more recognition than her policies.

Reports have shown that Lisa Hanna has won her local elections regardless of the party power and several voters believe she may have a stronger chance to give Jamaican a simple distinction regarding the nation’s future.

Hon. Lisa Hanna: Member of Parliament-Jamaica

Will she ascend to lead the National People’s Party (PNP) of Dr. Peter Phillips, MP and Leader of the Opposition?

Will the Honorable Dr. Phillips, who holds the power, surrender to her or any other comrade after decades in government? This is still a crossroads as far as changing guards are concerned.

Mr. Phillip has been one of Jamaica’s finest legislators and experience contributed remarkably to the nation. However, some probable voters may consider it is time to cede power, as the demographics have shifted to a younger group.

But can he instantly remove the barriers that women often face in politics, from a decade of a stained mirror woven an old colonial and slavery mentality, where only a few get through, or can he use his skills and talents to capture the imagination of young voters to change course, or continue to steer this political ship into an iceberg?

The fact is, it seems, this party ship captain leadership will take if not everyone, a majority of the crew if it sinks based on the polls with them.

But with the COVID-19 pandemic, stagnated economic issues, and high employment, whoever is selected will need a strategy to reduce organized crime, violence attracts new investments that benefit all, and aggressively reduce the divide between the haves and have-nots.

Given the complexity of the global economy, the intellectual and physical capacity of a candidate to lead a country in pain is a genuine question. If Lisa Hanna became the commander of the party or elected the next prime minister, would the elephants leave the room for her administration?

Often policy in the Caribbean seems to operate as an apprentice in a local mechanic’s workshop. An opportunity to show his skills only when the supervisor has no choice, or can no longer steer, so we spread.

Unfortunately, holding on to power creates division, disconnect, and a stalemate of new ideas for advancement, and to create a pathway for the next women leaders.

Of course, some will push back with force to make it look like it’s a day in church, and I get it, they’re all politicians, and I’m not in the room. The parliamentary system throughout the region, for these potential women leaders to climb to the top, they must win the approval of the men in the system.

A delicate balance:

Leadership is again the skill to establish a feeling of steady and realize that being a passenger one can use the experience of a road traveled for years to offer better direction rather than trying to drive when one must make frequent stops to attend to personal needs.

Maybe term-limits should be considered where communities across the region must ask themselves; each election cycle with the same guards, are they feel safer regardless and have the new platform for economic prosperity on many fronts, jobs, education, access to good and affordable healthcare regardless of party affiliation, especially in poor and developing countries plagued with crime and economic stagnation.

Every vote has consequences, but losing an election does not mean ascending mobility for women in the Caribbean is lifeless. The appointment of more women to political office is essential; in particular, teenage girls to have a role model, better education, job opportunity, health, and security.

People genuinely believe, “democracy of the people, by the people, and for the people,” but it is an oligarchy system where elected leaders get to select who they figured out the community will recognize from an emotional connection on both sides to provide them with increased control on personal power disguised as working for the community.

To be more than just a number, it requires more mobilization through common threads, where more women support each other regardless of political sides because after the dust settles, its politics and action can be the key to student success or failure.

Photo by Christina Morillo

This is not a brutal censure from a political aim of view. Many elected representatives use appointed positions to state that they are inclusive. But purposeful exploitation also comes in all forms, even at the top, with political titles, because if they can only hear her opinion voice after the meeting.

The Mother’s Day tweets to your constituents are great, but an economic plan to lift these young women out of poverty and crime should support them, and others that may be trapped in a violent relationship.

Handing out few grocery bags is always good for the poor, but if followed by a camera for a 30-second video to tweet while asking the recipients to say thank you to the leaders, the exploitation of the borders. Of course, it offers a temporary solution and the following day, but the long-term viability remains murky.

Facing the reality head on.

The centrality of women’s issues will not change because of the elections. Access to crucial career pathways is critical, particularly for young women. To reduce these obstacles, leaders need to coach and encourage the next generation to lead. For young people in the region to emerge as the next leaders, they need to know there is hope.

This is not the time to go on an apology tour because if the official titles for many women in the region are “former,” because it cannot become a comfort zone. Very rear men apologize for their failure according to many studies.

According to Pew’s analysis, and an academic study noted that about 50 percent of women in the labor market today have an undergraduate degree matching the number of men educated at college. Sadly, these academic accomplishments still have barriers in developing leaders and business owners to design a model for the later generation.

The voice of young people in the region for them to emerge as the next leaders still need to know there is hope. This is not the time to go on an apology tour because if the official titles for many women in the region are “former,” because it cannot become a comfort zone. Very rear men apologize for their failure according to many studies.

I’m not an expert on women’s politics, and although more women have become politicians in the region, their male counterparts seem to remain in the shadows.

They must see the barriers or tenacious issues that women encounter as one of them and not as the women on the separate part of the house working together to change the barriers in poor communities.

I do not have an electoral vote, nor do I support anyone. A political candidate should not lose an election because he is a woman, and he should not lose because he is standing against a woman.

It is not a frantic call for men to resign from their elected positions. And just because you can’t see the elephant, or because one is charismatic, doesn’t mean he’s not there.

To reduce serious criminality, a COVID-19 strategy is needed in some Caribbean `islands.`

BY R.D. Miller

Part I- Finding the right balance

COVID-19 has triggered an economic crisis, with job losses, business closures, and restrictions. It also highlighted structural inequities in the medical system preparedness; access to affordable healthcare and the strength of many economies, especially in some poverty-stricken and developing countries.

Following the Coronavirus (COVID-19) spill onto the coast of the Caribbean Islands. It included similar waves of fear, uncertainty, and anxiety we have seen elsewhere. The news conferences and push for compliance by elected officials have reduced the risk of this communicable disease, including death rates to date based on local reports.

The pandemic also underscored the tension between political party leaders, local communities, the science to the best way to mitigate the potential spread and the safety of front-line staff.

Furthermore, what party was better prepared to handle the crisis without a vaccine on many socio-economic, and healthcare issues that cannot be washed away?

It equally served as the political basis for the next local election campaign. Each opposing side accused the other of the nation’s shortcomings from preparedness; economic loss, corruption, to bed space available, and other resources present to cope with the pandemic.

Fortunately, behind the cameras; the Personal Protective Equipment [PPE’s]; dedicated doctors, and nurses work faithfully to combat this lethal disease in these challenging conditions. And their approach seems to have made a huge impact in the initial stage with this virus.

Photo by Laura James on

But figuring out precisely how deadly the coronavirus will be, how many people are infected, and the exact number of deaths being reported remains a key question facing epidemiologists and local communities.

Like many other places, in which the tourist industry plays an essential role in the local economy, and a huge part of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Managing this pandemic effectively is critical, and it has created a delicate balance between local business operations, job losses, tourism, curfew, public safety, and long-term economic sustainability.

Part II The other public health crisis off the ventilator

While the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, there is another epidemic. This is an extra strain on are the criminal violence virus. It kept coming back for decades that equally needed a national daily conference like COVID-19 strategies. Several reports have shown an increase in multiple shootings, robberies, thefts, assaults, and murders and an increase in gang activities.

Photo by Faruk Tokluou011flu

These issues may demonstrate external influence such as drug trafficking, and illegal firearms being imported, but handling crime requires more collaboration to curtail criminal enterprises; and what are some of the internal driving factors.

And while local law enforcement cannot attribute the uptick in violence where deaths may surpass the pandemic numbers, it serves as another public health crisis behind the mask, awareness, curfews, and lock-downs, or political deflection.

The answers many of these communities will seek for years are, they may understand that the Coronavirus crime wave threatens the economy, but between economic downturns from the pandemic and the increases in crime rates, which one do you hold accountable, the virus or the leaders?

Although violence is ubiquitous; unfortunately, some regional media outlets in these communities often compare to minimize, and that is not a solution. It creates a message of moral equivalence that is deviating from local crime reality and other systematic issues.

At some point, if all the apples under the tree are rotten, you may now have to look at the tree.

According to police statistics from January 1–March 2020, 306 people were killed across Jamaica. What these numbers told us, if that average weekly murder rate continues; sadly, Jamaica seems to be on track to reach over 1, 200 deaths this year.

Between January and February 2020, reports show that Trinidad and Tobago recorded over 73 murders. If this trend continues, it may surpass 2019, 536 murders–the second-highest in Trinidad’s history for one year.

If this trend continues, it assumes an honorific title no civilized nation should be proud of in the region as the highest murder rate per 100, 000 local inhabitants. The other number often hidden, the death rate is also edging up from an average of 35.8 to now over 40.1 based on several crime analysis reports.

Though identifying where the specific crime might happen can be difficult, what are the social disadvantages and, economic barriers that make joining a gang more attractive for many youths- to even break social distancing rules?

A nation can curtail a pandemic through travel restrictions and other government programs, but it must begin to analyze troubled spots that led to ongoing crime.

Realistically it is not an overnight solution to sufficiently address neglect, re-victimization, school fights that can escalate, weapons accessibility, school dropouts, Juvenile delinquency, use of drugs or alcohol. Leading experts argued that if these issues are not handled early can escalate into more problems.

Leaders must know the warning signs: low self-esteem, mental health issues like depression, lack of parental guidance, anger, economic inequality, and social disadvantage to address these subjects. 

While these debates continue with each changing guard of the people’s house, horrific crimes have not waned. Today, it seems nowhere, or no one is safe from the pulpit to schools. It looks like criminals; gangs abducting students, murdering intellectuals, sports icons, youths, entrepreneurs; business owners, and cases surrounding domestic violence which is on the rise, according to local reports.

Part III- Violent crime does not discriminate like COVID-19 regardless of the political side in power

Experts also noted that English-speaking countries of the Caribbean, like Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, and parts of Latin America such as Honduras, Venezuela have high rates per 100,000 inhabitants. These rates are six times higher than those of the United States and 15 to 30 times higher than those of most European countries, according to several data on crime.

Studies have shown that on average about 40 percent of the Caribbean population identifies crime and security-related issues more severe facing their countries, further so than poverty or inequality. And while leaders debate, the emotional and physical effects linger, and sadly, there will be more victims.

In contrast, Bermuda, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, and other countries maintain lower rates. Of course, they are less populous, and although some remain under colonial rule and well-managed government, there are also reported smuggling of illicit drugs, and firearms, organized crime, and criminal gangs, but these islands have a much better handle on crime. Bermuda recorded its first murder in two years: five in 2018 and zero (0) murders in 2019.

Reports also show that crime costs countries in Latin America and the Caribbean approximately three percent of GDP on average, representing over US$350 billion in policing, private spending, violent victimization, and capital investments.

The hidden victims

While following the COVID-19 rule, a 75-year-old grandmother held back tears after Ahkeem Lindsay, a 22-year-old man shot to death on March 26, 2020. She spoke of her frustration at the continuing violence, according to the Jamaican Gleaner.

Photo Credit: Jamaica Gleaner

Her story reverberates with other victims, and the data shows that a cycle of violence repeats itself. Often a quick media clip is published as empathy, but only gives the impression of concern, while victims in these communities have barely to no follow-up support. Besides, many of these crimes go on unsolved.

Today, more high-powered weapons are being displayed on social media only seen in war zones. And though the local authorities have seized few; there may be gloomier days if these criminals continue roaming these streets.

They are too many reports of innocent people embarking on their daily lives, hard-working business owners contributing to the local economy, but their success seems to place them at high risk for these criminals.

Society must get back to taking care of each other, and that is how a nation reduces the feeling like it is on trial after each crisis

Regrettably, when you have reports of weapons found in barrels and those containers that are normally used to import food and other supplies; it seems the nation is being prepared for a civil war, or gangs creating more mayhem on the already criminal enterprise.

Further, for everyone one barrel of weapons or illegal drugs found, how many already passed through these ports.

Maybe it is time to conduct a thorough background investigation on who are the employees in these critical public service jobs because they too play a pivotal role in the nation‘s safety and security.

Many experts cautioned that these trends support that you may have a failed state or edging closer.

Part IVThe judiciary role-separate but equal:

Today, it seems the court now must play a more active role. The American Bar Association said it best, The Role of Judges. “What does a judge do? Maybe it’s best to start with what he or she doesn’t do.”

A judge is not a law enforcement officer, and while they interpret the law, I believe to enact and enforce those laws better suited for the lawmaking body, other public servants, and the community in general.

Even though the court’s pivotal role continues as it always has been – to use sentencing policy to cut violence and enhance public safety. However, given today’s noticeable uptick in violence, the death penalty debate seems to emerge every few years.

Though it is ultimately cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment, many argued, some say it may deter these criminalities, that has diminished the tranquility of the nation.

Amnesty international opposed the death penalty and many countries have stopped such punishment for capital crimes.

If Jamaica and other high crime islands or any other regional areas still practice death by hanging, will it alter an offender’s behavior?

While debating Just Deserts, an Eye for an Eye, or Incapacitation. However, leaders must get to the root of the socio-economic decay because the tough penalty alone is not a solution. No modern nation can lock itself out of violence?

Even Though a term of confinement and sanctions may deter the offender and other individuals from committing acts of violence and increase general safety. Many of these poor and developing nations lack a Re-entry strategies.

The sequence of violence being reported, these islands have the data. Therefore, it is not total gloom or despair, but it needs a bold approach, and not we are going to because that is not a strategy nor minimization is a solution.

Throughout this essay, I’ve pointed to several key areas I believe are fundamental in addressing these issues. However, I have not shied away from the realism on the ground. Nevertheless, addressing criminality demands a forceful balanced approach.

The nature of a crime seems to capture more attention while the root of criminality diminished in these community debates. Sure, no nation cannot forecast criminal behavior for several reasons, but the reactionary application is not a long-term solution.

Furthermore, whether arming business owners or handing over more guns to citizens offers a solution. Most times, criminals target legal gun owners for their weapons, and some may be behind these new crimes.

If these communities feel that crime and other economic issues are being overlooked, or quick and rigid application serves as a public relations purpose, any strategies tend to have more questions than answers.

Walking a tight rope

Caught in the middle are those local dedicated law enforcement officers who must consistently wear multiple hats; key mediator, advisor, diversity coordinator, and youth advocate; group leaders; psychologists, and local volunteers.

They are overwhelmed, outgunned, and seem to lack the resources to minimize violence while consistently explaining the thin line between perceptions of the community and reality.

Officers must serve communities along a close political line. They are often exposed to imminent danger, overexerted hostility, and possibly underpaid.

The crucial role for officers of these communities is like discovering a COVID-19 vaccine as organized criminals who may suffer from mental illness, frustration, or feel untouchable due to political connections will not hesitate in inflect fear.

They will take anyone’s life in their path like the virus because they do not feel bound by the laws, and rules that have been established in a society.

Some are using this unprecedented period of unease, anxiety, uncertainty, and stress to unleash chaos on local communities. Unfortunately, a few will stand up for some of those accused of horrific criminal acts, camouflage, or refuse to provide valuable information to make local law enforcement more effective.

They cannot continue blaming law enforcement if they refuse to speak when they have critical information. These communities may have mass serial murderers on the local streets if they do not deal with these crimes with the support of the community.

Many are being told not to call the police believing that they will not show up to help. Some strains between law enforcement in these communities and what they are facing today are self-inflicted and others routed in a history of systematic distrust going back to colonial rule,

There are similar stores that are often under the radar, like Haiti. A CNN report mentioned a rising tension in February 2020; Armed Forces desolate country’s National Police headquarters, leaving one wounded, and a soldier dead in Port-au-Prince. Other published reports observed millions threatened by hunger in 2020 because of a spiraling economic and political crisis ten years after their terrible disaster that could cause more civil unrest.

Though we should hope for the best, this political turmoil and economic decay, the nation of Haiti may at boiling to tip over and inflame innocent people in its path

Photo Credit-Globe Post

Part VThe criminogenic risk and needs:

Social disadvantages not only in Jamaica but impoverished youths in poor and developing countries who feel abandoned from their economy with insufficient support to establish a solid ground to a positive direction, misconduct, and disorder become more attractive.

These ongoing barbaric headlines will not stop and require a holistic approach, like tackling this pandemic for a healthier future. It can no longer (us) compare to (them). The COVID-19 coverage, rules, and strategies have been good to date, but horrific crimes need more than “we’re aggressive on crime”, but do they ordinarily identify these criminals?

Often, these individuals have overlooked criminogenic risk factors that include anti-social cognition. They routinely exhibit risk factors like anti-social and personality behavior. They are angry, have inadequate education, and low job skills or training, employment, suffer from illegal substance abuse mental health issues. sadly, many are also victims of crime and need counseling.

Many spoke of the frustration with their leaders in the face of expectations, only to be stuck in a similar place after each election cycle. And though the economic and psychological implications of COVID-19 are still being assessed, there are more reports of domestic violence cases and robberies. Experts noted many people are now at home with little or no support and are unemployed, and may have had previous issues.

Today, it seems high powered weapons have replaced discussion to minimize minor conflicts. And with the lack of resources for resolution, disagreements degenerate into brutal personal aggression and killings. Many troubled individuals frequently have limited adaptive abilities and are quick to commit crimes against anyone, including family members in any conflict, through vigilante justice.

Crime reduction does not always achieve its goals form of imprisonment. Many incarcerated offenders struggle after the reintegration process with stigmatization, inhuman treatment, and the lack of resources to turn their lives. Using a general classification of all convicted offenders, whether inside or outside the prison walls, also creates tension and isolation.

Often many individuals who were deported lack resources to reintegrate, and yes, some are missed-classified and blamed for a crime even when innocent to deflect.

Studies have shown that modernized institutions and policies aimed at transforming offenders once they return to society have low rates of recidivism. Bordelais Correctional Institution in St. Lucia is an institution and others that I have visited and talked about minimizing community risk. They have an excellent re-entry program in a modernized facility.

The recruitment of good staff is as vital as the assessment and treatment of mental health, substance abuse, psycho-sexual evaluation, vocational training, and more investment in social workers. These interventions targeting criminal behavior towards community re-integration will create a fundamental change to address the causes of this problem.

Though it is not an easy task, fighting crime is more than an election talking point. To eradicate these pockets of criminals and build public trust, they need an all-hands-on-deck approach.

Public safety risk requires a multi-faceted approach ranging from rehabilitation, counselors, social workers, mentors, community advocates, and investment in these communities with the participation of law enforcement agencies to entertainers.

The correction institution, legislation, and judicial system including politicians where often the silence is deafening must speak beyond the elected or elite bubble; and address it as a public health issue.

Part VI-The social intelligence struggle

Every electoral cycle is like a revolving door in most of the region. Economic inequalities, rampant poverty, reported corruption that breeds hopelessness continues. Leaders on both sides blame each other, and this creates stagnation in critical crime-fighting and economic policies. At what point does good governance come into play once an election is over?

While many victims search for answers, rarely find both political sides call for the disruption of these criminal gangs in outlying parishes and counties. In achieving a common conviction, joint statements send a persuasive message to these criminals that the nation will not tolerate the chaos and mayhem.

Community and constituency leaders need to work together to condemn these barbaric ideas that target police; reduce robberies, murders, and kidnapping. They must accept the reality to eradicate these pockets of criminals and build back social trust regardless of socioeconomic status.

Many will claim patriotism from their gated community, locally or from abroad while they continue to influence the political system only to protect their profit margin while violence and systematic issues rage on.

The silent generation can no longer close their eyes hoping these atrocities will go away. Governance seems to have come down to a delicate balance between fear and holding on to the ballot box.

It appears that some leaders aren’t courageous and willing to tick off these criminals. They are walking a tight rope pushing back to peddle a delightful story while the systematic issues continue.

Personal responsibility can no longer be captured in a few tweets for likes, selective amnesia, and a false sense of empathy when one dies from a heinous crime. This conveys an impression as if politicians are the only shrewdest people in those communities who control the headlines to minimize the reality on the ground. And when responsible media call out the failures by leaders, they too are attacked.

Part VIICan the island pride still hold?

Despite these gloomy clouds, it is not a total tragedy on these banks; [Jamaica] and other islands’ economies will rebound, and the residents are still resilient. There are reports of modernization and recovery projects, like modern highways and technological upgrades.

Some government programs will help in the long run, but the widening gap between the rich and the poor has been stagnant for decades and maybe the cause of several issues that need to be addressed.

In many of these high-crime islands, pride is still an asset, but also a handicap when critical data present a fundamental problem that few divert elsewhere. Although COVID-19 has required several people to remain in their homes, many homes had already been mentally quarantined before the pandemic in gated communities, where security is a constant reminder from steel bars mounted on some homes.

Photo by Asad Photo Maldives

Today, there are still ex-pats and off-springs who are however looking to land safely. The advantage and disadvantages; many do not have a political side or agenda, left, right, conservative, or liberal but bound by heritage, roots, culture, or authentic love.

Many likewise are affected by COVID-19, but equality if criminals are creating a sense of unsafe feelings only when society beats this crime virus, people can gain back a sense of security like mitigating COVOD-19 with the vaccine and other safety measures.

You cannot give up because if these criminals win, there go these beautiful islands and other places.

Stay safe!

Did COVID-19 trigger a re-balancing of our society?

By R.D. Miller

Shortly after COVID-19 emerged out of China, other places like Spain locked down its nation of 46 million people; while other nations scramble to impose restrictions. The domino effect has also reached many Caribbean shores. Based on the report to date; the virus has infected more than 597,252 people worldwide and killed over 27,000 and still counting.

Before COVID-19 surfaced globally, conflicts seem everywhere; from racial, economic-divide over wages and the widen gap-between the haves and have-nots; environmental, housing price skyrocketing, political corruption, gentrification debate, gun-violence, violence against women, student loans, missing students, border crossings. These events seem to have become the daily norm, and some of us have become immune; or turned away.

In some parts of the world, geopolitical issues caused a massive exodus of people fleeing their land due to safety reasons, freedom from discrimination, poverty, and polarization. Subconsciously, many of us looking in are destitute, helpless and for some the only issue for that day maybe the length of the grass, late online delivery; the number of likes on social media, or how I look today.

To be clear many of us are products of our environment by birth or migration. This is not an indictment on success and freedom and despite the stability, it can change rapidly.

Since COVID-19 emerged, the price of oil has dropped and the global financial market crashed. Major airlines are cutting back as much as 40 percent of operations, stores have reduced hours and financial experts are predicting a global recession.

This new normal has affected everyone. I also find myself the last few days explaining to a few people along the shopping aisle that the only difference in some store brand, after being asked about an item in my cart; because items they are accustomed to buying were no longer on the shelves.

When society becomes more isolated from greed, violence, and social decay: it is inevitable that these things will occur. It seems that this is simply a re-balancing of our society, and while some impose their power on others, this virus only shows us how powerless we all are. Communities once overlooked or few never knew existed, not only are these cultural hubs carry daily supplies tucked inside a strip mall, they are vital to the community where many purchase familiar food items from their native land.

These markets are also a place that serves as a social connection hub. These global markets are like any major chain, but carries a wide range of Caribbean, African and Asian and Latin products.

Late Friday evening, I was getting prepared to stack up two-weeks of supplies as suggested by the experts. Shortly after I  pulled into an international store parking space; someone I have never seen  on this block in over 15 years of shopping at this location, pulled beside me.  He did  not look like the typical customers who navigates these  isles, or this expensive vehicle seen on this side of town.

“Maybe, this person owns the mall,” I thought. From the initial hello, that led to; “have you been here before?”

“Yes, “this is where I shop for many years,” I replied.

“I heard that the sore has lots of disinfection stuff here because it is nowhere else.”

“They have plenty of items, and a hidden treasure in the community, and lots of fresh fruits and vegetable,” I replied.

“Have a good one,” he said. “You too” I replied.

We went in together. I pointed him to the detergent area and disappeared into a separate aisle. This is one of many stories since the outbreak people have discoveries new shopping areas that were overlooked. Will it change the way we interact with each other, even over cleaning products, a roll of toilet paper? I remain hopeful.

As supplies became less, tempters escalated and reported fights some argued, stemming from greed over items such as toilet paper. Few fights made it to social media for a good laugh, but it also shows that regardless of social class, basic needs for survival is universal; but equally important, new bonds are formed in the shopping aisles over COVID-19.

While experts recommend social distance for our safety, it has brought people in a strange way across all strata in life. It has taken on a new psychological assessment, structured in baseline epidemiological analysis from identifying risk factors to how, and where we get the supplies we need for survival.

Yes, COVID-19 dynamics and intervention effectiveness remain unknown and have created confusion, concerns, minimization, blame such as during the height of the Aids-HIV epidemic and other outbreaks. It has exposed how prepared these nations were after selling a false sense of security, but when the reality strikes, it developed to – do what we say, but with little or no resources to implement these suggestions.

Curtailing a challenging widespread disease, society will examine politicians and organizations. Each attempt at the decision process to have better medical systems in place, to well-trained staff is pivotal to mitigate these issues.

Although this remains an un-explainable axis; expert analysis proved to be vital in reducing the spread of this disease. On the other hand, few attach their ideology to believe that it is their issue and not us.

Sadly, without deep analysis both qualitative and quantitative data on many fronts, places like the Caribbean islands, poor and developing countries, the dynamics on preparedness are suspicious, distrust woven from colonialism, inequality, racism, violence, and poverty where fear takes over fact, panic will set in as local governments try to put out the best to ease frustration.

Yes! In some countries, the sub-conscious political campaign has been over COVID-19. Even an idea of an opposition party can become a blame game; which some argued results in more press conferences than bed spaces to help victims are placed ahead of the political game.

Sure, there is fear because of what experts reported where it started in China. You find these establishments especially restaurants, suffered from the lack of customers, as some believed that these people just arrived at their location from China.

I have also seen many new social media accounts created. It has helped people to stay connected and educated across race, culture, and socio-economic status.

In previous epidemics, one group was identified and immediately isolated, now COVID-19 rips; it is no longer them over there, that group, color,  class, race, or location. Today, it may be the person who owns the mall where you buy your groceries, or the one sitting in the board room on a policy meeting.

As COVID-19 trudges on like the once colonial quest taking everything in its path and forced society to adapt, such as; the Galápagos turtles, where one has a longer neck because its survival depends on eating from trees, and the other has a shorter neck as its survival depends on the grass it grazes.

In the end, medical experts will have the data to determine both innate and adaptive immunity, but for now; we are all turtles, and at some point, we must come out for survival because everyone needs to live in a society free from disease; violence, intolerance and with the possibility for prosperity. Leaders should be ready to serve their people to meet these changes.

Could COVID-19 trigger a bigger ‘Brain Drain’ of Caribbean nurses?

BY. R.D. Miller

A delicate balance

After this unprecedented COVID-19 health crisis, what will be the job satisfaction rate of these facilities, healthcare systems, and nurses scorecards across the Caribbean?

Each year, hundreds of young people receive nurses’ degrees and critical medical assistant training throughout the Caribbean. Health services studies have shown that between 21 and 33 percent of medical systems have foreign-educated nurses, and that number has been increasing each year.

This new potential wave of “Brain Drain’ from COVID-19 is not for the lack of political gratitude, or photo-ops, or alliance with one party, but values medical experts contend critically in keeping them on the sand.

It is an intrinsic value that surrounding one’s opportunity to grow within an organization and the extrinsic value; pay and job security according to experts.

It seems a few of these islands could use an updated Occupation Health and Safety laws. The lack of such regulation I believe undermines protection; ethics in medicine and the integration between the relations with their patients.

The role of a nurse is equally important as a good doctor, a police officer, a teacher, or a safe community. Their presence often allows families to head back to work, or get time off from staying overnight on a hard chair waiting for an answer from a doctor.

A nation’s workforce remains a key factor in its ability to innovate and compete in a global economy. Retaining a nation’s long-term health and socio-economic stability represents its ability to develop leaders and produce action-oriented people with valuable skills. You can only accomplish that with incentives to keep your people on the ground.

These first responders are not there to test politics, they are eyes and ears of doctors, the ventilator power source, from preparing a clean bed to escorting a sick person, even ones with mental health issues while providing comfort to families during times of need.

The decision to stay

Well-sought-after working visas have become a one-way ticket out for many that can lead to permanent residency as demand will increase from countries like US, Canada, the UK; and other nations affected by COVID-19. These nurses will be like stockpiles gowns, masks and ventilators should there be another pandemic.

But keeping nurses prepared is bigger than an economic package from trillions of stimulus dollars passed by government globally. It cannot replace these professionals and thousands of lives lost on the front line.

What COVID-19 discovered is how unprepared even wealthy industrialized nations with high-ranked medical facilities were and imagine economically struggling islands. The stories reverberate from the lack of supplies, long hours, burnout, the emotional labor of watching people dying, and helpless when all their professional training taught them how to keep people alive.

Photo by Laura James

Today, a new analysis of caregiving widely observed in hospitals; the difficulties in balancing work and family responsibilities and emotions during this pandemic, now under the microscope.

Sure, government policies provided monetary relief, supplies, helped the financial markets, create economic activities from business closures, and unemployment, but experts noted that imported nurses have had a major impact on patients’ health, care systems economic and social development.

After COVID-19 took over the Caribbean shores; most leaders have held off the potential high tide through awareness, thus keeping their numbers low to-date, but that remains an open question.

Collaboration, as experts noted, promised by the Caribbean Single Market and Economy remains emblematic as the global hunt for talent continues. It looks more of a competition for equipment; fighting like modern-day pirates as supply and demand became a political sport.

The Caribbean Cooperation in healthcare will be critical in ensuring that not only members of the CARICOM States have better medical attention, but ensuring especially poor areas receive adequate treatment. In addition, addressing current  medical system that has outgrown its aging population

Traveling to some islands and especially rural areas, reaching a medical facility can take a long period unlike better-managed islands with and more access, but pay at the time of service will become more difficult for poor patients.

Haiti

Looking for an upgrade:

Protecting vital medical workers from now on will not be about competency, or how many press conferences held, but ensuring that nurses have a better standard to keep potential turnover low. There must be a relationship between job satisfaction and organizational commitment among these region health care systems.

Before COVID-19, concerns regarding upgraded technology, supplies and other equipment to save lives, even newborn vibrate through these wards. Some facilities the claim jeopardize both nurses’ and patients’ lives by putting them at a higher risk of an infectious disease.

Several health care professionals argued that COVID-19 gaps and facilities operating like an experimental drug with little accountability, while pundits’ praise leaders for their interest overlooking the systematic failures on many fronts to create changes.

Individuals who speak out especially about COVID-19 experience under strenuous and poor employment conditions, appeared to be silenced shortly after. This diminishes accountability, more susceptible to errors, reduce best practices, and more risks.

Photo by RF._.studio on

The reality:

The next flight out by these nurses is not a result of leadership style, gender equality, abandonment of their nationality or the lack of education; several have enormous student loans, safety concerns from high crimes, reports of underpaid with a little support system to ease emotional scars.

One nurse talked about vacations are being missed from the fear of losing employment, and that could reset the current salary after years of solid service. Her plans are an economic opportunity for a better work-life balance, (spouses, parents, children) hoping prepared system and organizational management as her role remains the same.

Although global movements may be restricted, a country like Cuban has supplied doctors and nurses with many other diseases and pandemic areas. Regardless of their political system or who received payment for their services, wherever they land, lives are being saved, as caregivers are becoming of great importance globally.

Over the next decades, the aging population will increase both hospitals and home-based care, according to healthcare professionals and scholars, and nurses will become more critical to meet the demands..

These nations will have to plug these gaps, and their medical system upward-mobility will diminish with migrated talents. Studies have shown some nurses make good salaries, but this profession should command excellent salaries, such as one in math, finance, science, or a career in petroleum, according to business reports..

Developing countries and some dominant Caribbean islands such as Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana, Belize, and other Latin Caribbean nations, where prolonged economic symptoms have crippled major public medical facilities for decades, have much to lose.

The complexity of care

Although there are excellent doctors in the region in private facilities, there were reports that several practices closed because they too lack the proper resource, collaboration to conduct tests locally, and further educate their patients.

Many nurses will remain along these warm and beautiful shores avoiding brutal winters, but the region must also develop incentives for others to come back who have left to study medicine in countries like Germany, Cuba, the US, and other places.

There are reports of few modernization throughout the region, but cannot have trust in the system if some leaders seem to have a “pre-existing condition” that is a defensive and basic question asked about numbers of people tested for COVID-19 muted, but stimulus check being handed out are published, while dissenting views seen as antagonistic.

Caregivers’ experience imported, or local should not be polarized or exploited through politics. They are beyond a quick stop by a local shop, pave a road a week before an election; hand out a few dollars, then sell a false sense of community only to be missing until the next election cycle must stop.

As some of these Caribbean nurses evaluate and test their next passage, you may see one on a bus or subway heading to the next shift; as the economic strength of a nation depends on how healthy that society is.


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Protecting the future of Caribbean women from violence: Chinese Community Policing, maybe?

By R.D. Miller

Her Story/Their Story

At the beginning of January 2020, I registered with a few electronic news media from the Caribbean region, and within a few days according to my online feed reports about six murdered women, including others who have disappeared. Today I highlighted a few from an increasing list of victims and ceased counting. From Trinidad and Tobago, Jezelle Phillips, Gabriella Dunbarry, and Pollyan Chunlesingh.

From Jamaica, Neville Sinclair sought to escape a toxic relationship, Shantel in McMaster in a supermarket shot dead by her lover, Suzanne Easy, killed by the defense force Corporal Doran McKenzie who later took his life.

And from Guyana, Somattie Keosoram, Naiee Singh Naiee, 31, an ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer, and Sharon Burnett, 56 a shopkeeper.

Though several males have lost their lives to violence around a similar time. Many of these cases are unrelated to an intimate relationship, but studies have shown, on average; less than ten percent of men are killed by their female partners, while males kill over 80 percent of females.

Photo by cottonbro

Violence in general, especially domestic is a public health issue along many of these shores.

Studies have shown that on average about 40 percent of the Caribbean population identifies crime and security-related issues more severe facing their countries, further so than poverty or inequality. And while leaders debate, the psychological effects continue.

Does it matter if you are a teacher, student, wife, mother, aunt, or sister if the murder rates and violent crimes especially against women are high?

The chance of being kidnapped, robbed, raped, or murdered is also high. Unfortunately, before you finish reading this article, there will be other victims.

24-year-old, Shantel Whyte in a domestic relationship that went bad gunned down his love inside the store he managed. Many local reports noted that she was well-loved, energetic, and had a bright future. Accountability is also key to getting the community to become more engaged. Social media alone cannot replace good governance. Authorities habitually lack the resources, especially in rural areas, where technical skills to solve challenging crimes could use an upgrade.

Shaitel Whyte-24

Today, weapons have replaced discussion to minimize minor conflicts. And with the lack of resources for resolution, disagreements easily degenerate into brutal personal aggression and killings. Often, these perpetrators have overlooked criminogenic risks factors that include anti-social cognitions and behavior. (Domestic Violence-Podcast)

The silence is deafening

Often selective amnesia kicks in and it can no longer be a strategy. Minimization represents not a plan, tweets do not conjure fundamental support, nor frequent comparison to another country offers a solution.

Furthermore, a sudden visit to a victim’s home is good, but without resources or a quick policy that lacks getting to the root of the problem, women’s concerns at the table and the community included is not a long-term solution.

Though violence is ubiquitous, and there are many reports of mentally deranged or racist individuals with easy access to high-powered weapons killing or targeting innocent victims. However, the reported one or two-per-day killings on these shores are adding up regardless of location.

It seems that the same record plays over and over, we are going to look for solutions and where local concerns voices seem to be drowned out. Additionally, these atrocities must be solved thereby, capturing potential serial killers off local streets and communities.

How many women before these latest victims have gone missing, abused, or murdered, and those stories remain unsolved?

Far too often a consistent trend,” the police investigation is ongoing, while vulnerable victims families search for sufficient answers. When does the “next button stops along these shores, and many other places?

I wondered are the Caribbean women threaten with gradual extinction not by shark attacks, or aging but by the hands of their domestic partners. How many youthful lives have been cut short? Your next school teacher, police officer, doctor, social worker, or even prime minister. It looks like these perpetrators have taken out life insurance policies and to cash in many resorts to violence.

Photo by Anete Lusina

Even more problematic than the re-victimization attitude by some, as if they had it coming.

Often in our society, conversations on these cases begin with the interrogation of the victim.

“She could have run out of the situation .”

What caused her to be abused?….. Why didn’t she leave?

But no one ever asked him in jail, at school, church, or in the community; Why he targeted her?

Often many victims, and even who are tasked to help may deflect or minimize. We recognize the traditionalists, the “silent generation, “as experts noted, are individuals of an era raised to be seen and not heard.

A victim is killed by a spouse, ex-spouse, or some dating partner every 14 hours. And every 20 minutes an intimate partner abuse someone. Domestic violence accounted for about 19 percent of the total burden of healthcare for women age 15-44 according to experts and the center for domestic violence.

Every year, millions of women are emotionally, physically, sexually, or economically abused or killed by someone they recognize and love, a husband or a partner. These domestic and family violence cases are more than politicians arriving at a gruesome crime scene, captured a few pictures with a victim then posting on social media with little or no resources to follow.

Photo by RODNAE Productions

This issue is beyond a few tweets with a distorted sense of empathy. They should be galvanizing more and demand change and official accountability because “we are going to, “does not prevent fractures, third-degree burns, lacerations, disfiguring scars, and finally death in many cases.

On many Caribbean islands, and other places, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America; domestic violence remains taboo in some cultures. It has an extensive history of masculine chauvinistic (macho) status.

Many still view street harassment as normal and few will admit that is a critical problem. Habitually this behavior escalates into unwanted touching, assault, kidnapping, and death.

Unfortunately, many victims remain in the shadows after being re-victimized, humiliated, blamed, and given little support, even for the offenders.

The upward socioeconomic mobility of women and other victims may have become a threat to some males because; she is now independent, confident, more educated, and that severely threatens traditional thinking where gender role defined and she was better suited or relegated to the kitchen.

This violence seems to be on a trajectory like in other places where ethnic, cultural, and religious cleansing from geopolitical conflicts. Human rights reports have shown, the vulnerability of women being targeted, and if they do not comply with orders many, are molested, brutalized, or killed.
 

The cycle, disconnect, and long-term impact

Swiftly accusing the victims is minimization, and the argument that those men kill from mistrust, terrible judgment, and she should stop talking back to how much they spent on her needs to be debunked.

She should run, but where is she going to hide in a system that has holes, that should protect their vulnerability. It is always what she must have done, and not what should have happened.

Many children who live in homes where there is domestic violence equally suffer abuse or neglect at a higher rate. This violence develops a pattern of psychological and overcoming this traumatic experience suffers long-term critical consequences in which some also become abusers.

Over three million children witness domestic violence in their homes every year. Some grew up falsely believing that if because concerned mum stayed it was ok. However, the lack of effective responses; resources, and often accountability by local law enforcement and judiciary; coupled with inadequate training for first-line responders to handle these violent cases, the cycle continues for helpless victims.

Often these victims’ stories are sometimes politicized, deflected, or little condemnation by elected officials to not disturb the tourist ships from docking, to keep hotels at capacity, or simply put, they likewise are indirect victims of the impact or fear to speak up.

Leaders must invest more resources in Community Policing, treatment programs, victim services, and youth organizations to identify these troubled individuals, job training, and rehabilitation to prompt a mental shift on how they mitigate conflicts.

These local systems must be able to identify the criminal symptoms with psycho-sexual assessments before you can deploy a vaccine.

The uptick in violence, especially against women, needs critical examination as to the cause supported by policies to offer more protection and support. Despite laws and women’s rights movements in the region dated back to the 1950s like in The Bahamas, led by Dr. Doris Johnson. However, several of these laws are outdated and may need to be amended to meet today’s concerns

More dialog is important, and not just when one is murdered. It cannot solve the familiarity of what happened at home stays at home with a call to a dear pastor, or few likes on social media while they seldom hold perpetrators accountable.

Very often, it is a 48-hour news cycle, guilt, social media bliss, and promises as if governance can be accomplished in a few characters. Some of your leaders should go back and read their social media promises and what will be arranged, with little or no support to follow-up for the victims.

Confronting violence against women is making sure that their community remains a great place to live, work and play with the ability to provide resources to underprivileged victims, food, and personal care items, and a safe place to tell their story without being revictimized.

Poverty, inequality, stigma, and polarization make critical resources difficult to offer family or personal counseling. Intervention would allow treatment, victim services: mediation or shelters. Throughout many Latin American and Caribbean communities, according to the experts, access to these services would change course.

Sadly, experts noted that some group interventions stay in the shadow, lacks proper staffing, closed shortly afterward, and the convicted offenders frequently require the cooperation of law enforcement to make sure they attend treatment programs.

Victims continue using the health care system more than others do, and for several years after.

Today, it seems some elected leaders suffer from selective amnesia regarding violence; robberies to ongoing missing students. They are often caught up in the complexity between policing, politics, and the community.

Vigilantly justice on top does not develop thriving communities. It only shows a deeper systematic issue in the communities and people must speak up to reduce violence. “See something wrong, say something.””


Maybe an alternative to reduce this senseless violence.

Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, China stabilized over 60 million in one weakened to quarantine this infectious virus according to published reports. What if local law enforcement pursued a similar approach to address family and violent women?

China’s increasing presence globally studies and publications in recent years have shown making new inroads into the Caribbean islands and Africa. They have experienced a cultural explosion of Chinese companies and other recent investments.

These private investments reported offering a path to better economic growth and safety.

I reluctantly began hypothesizing given the Chinese influence on these shores. I entertain some deep thoughts and looked into this trend, and after calling a few experts and friends. They may offer a more robust public safety strategy to safeguard their investments.

If they should the Chinese takeover, high crime islands public safety operations, it may prevent more women from domestic violence killings and other criminal issues?

It will not become a structure of governing that is called a “police state” that only works in a Totalitarian system where the government exercise power through the police. This only leads to more citizen suspicion and anger toward law enforcement. And a delicate walk surrounding these nations’ politics and the constitution.

This idea is less than likely because reports have shown China has human rights issues like forcing Mandarin, as it has done the Uyghurs, an ethnic minority. But importing another approach to addressing these public health issues may work since they already invested and own key areas of these shores. This intrusion may upgrade technology and training.

This controversial practice according to scholars “who are their friends and all the enemies.”If these were to happen, violent criminals would face harsh restrictions of movements, and that alone is what many victims face in these toxic relationships.

These victims need your voice.

Violence against women continues to mask in the shadows in these communities. These victims deserve your support, and an action plan, after she gathers the courage to come forward.

There is a struggle, especially in the higher crime islands, to differentiate ideology from policies to combat this malevolent that is getting worse. Even if it decreases the number of cases of children who have gone missing or later found dead, it may be worth consideration.

Each year from Reggae Fests, Soca and Carnivals took over these nations, but beneath the costumes and rhythms; one loves vibes; someone is hurting from irrational decisions by perpetrators, and maybe these events should be placed on hold to highlight this epidemic.

The system needs to develop better assessments and interventions, mental health, and substance abuse. Often social media only focus on dense areas of crimes while rural areas have gone unnoticed. Speaking about domestic violence, build up confidence for the next generation of awareness. We can no longer accuse it of culture, where the objectification of women remains normal.

I anxiously hope more helpless victims will receive critically extra support from other women and organizations when they come forward without fear of the economic impact.

Violence against women must stay a critical priority not only in an election cycle. This issue will not stop throughout the world as many domestic partners will continue brutally abuse and kill regardless of the calendar day.

Photo by cottonbro

The effect of students’ loan debt on the Caribbean shores

BY R.D. MILLER

The announcement

Several countries around the world sometimes introduce rules and regulations are linked to another nation. Some may not fit all backgrounds of various cultures and traditions. Many developed countries share basic principles on commonly agreed-upon approaches to similar problems. For instance, the fight against drugs, crime, and environmental issues..

Although some variation may not have worked as intended, a recent proposal on February 8, 2020, according to reports, Robert Nesta Morgan, parliamentary secretary in the office of the Jamaica prime minister, announced that an incentive plan was in place or being developed to provide students an opportunity to have their debts forgiven for public service work. It is one of the best imported policy seen in a while to arrive on these shores.

Potential impact

In a previous opinion “The Brain Drain of the Caribbean Nurses,” highlighted concerns in the medical field, surrounding lack of resources, patients’ lives, staff safety, job protection, wages, and failure by leaders.  Consequently, many experienced-well-trained nurses abandon the region once they received their nursing degree to work elsewhere, but overall student loan debt was one of the major driving forces.

A few times my telephone rang from friends I have encountered while in the region, which informed me they have migrated with their family. And when I asked, “why that side of town?” the response, “my wife is working as a nurse. It is remote, one major department store that carries everything, I miss home, but it will relief her financial burden.”

Their story is one of many across the Caribbean region of residence leaving to Canada, England, the US, and even other Caribbean islands. This student loan proposal should be implemented and be adopted by other poverty-stricken and developing countries who may not at present provide this incentive.

Maybe it is beyond politics

Regardless of the political party, student loans support many people to attend college, graduate and attain a degree for a more promising long-term future and overall the nation’s economic stability.

Though the proposal marks a step in the right direction and; it is not clear on the last details how it will be funded, and that cannot be captured in a few tweets. But like other nations who take part in this program, there are requirements and commitment for individuals to be involved.

The expectation in the long-run is that it benefits all, and not an election talking point, seen elsewhere to generate votes-based on this platform. There were prior reports of free healthcare leading up to the past elections whereas it seems many are still waiting on bed space, and the result of the free test, but this program may provide a firm ground. After the announcement, social media responded in high numbers.

Many students on these shores will benefit from loan burdens and may change an appetite waiting to leave if an opportunity presents itself to migrate. However, it requires a genuine debate, accountability, and implementation beyond likes on social media.

Student loan debt burden reality

Evidence shows that student debt jeopardizes the financial wealth of many households and the economy in the long-run not only in the Caribbean, but in other countries.

This debt burden has also contributed to the Black-White wealth gap across the wealth distribution. Other studies have shown that about two in five households now owe student debts loans and that number is increasing.

A person with about $45,000-53,000 in educational debt can lead to a lifetime wealth loss of around $215,000. This also affects one’s retirement, long-term saving, and lower home equity according to academic experts.

Student debt has surpassed $1 trillion in the US and the delinquency rate increased to over 50 percent. These studies also showed the suicide rate in the United States rose to the highest levels in more than a decade. I do not know if most of these suicides are 100 percent related, but others noted the negative impact for individuals between ages 20 and 31.

Crunching the numbers before you apply

Understanding student loans is extremely important, like financial literacy. It informs individuals to avoid the predatory lending trap, unsolicited credit cards to investment strategies. Tracking re-payments to ensure forgiven on time as other programs elsewhere have been sued for denial after eligibility. But I will leave that to the local experts to continue more awareness.

Going forward school officials should be responsible and encourage students to maximize all options from scholarships, grants, and aids before taking out loans; and career counseling suitable to gain employment after graduation.

Understanding fine prints to reduce potentail problems

Household size, marital status, income levels, and work status can influence these loans; therefore, differentiating traditional loan repayments to this income base will drive that will be important. Students should recognize how the symmetry will work between traditional banks and government loans, but for now, it is a key step forward if created for the correct reason.

Example: Minister of foreign affairs and foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, twitted think this is a great idea worth exploring! 50 percent or 100 percent, 5 years or 10 years; Police with forensic and cyber capacities, Nurses critical care, Teachers (esp STEM)–is this something that would be part of the bi-national commission to discuss? Or examined separately.”

I believe her conversation was extremely significant and does not alter the fact that they also use these loans for tuition, books and supplies, and ongoing expenses. It does not define one hope that this new loan forgiveness as to one’s degree, but an incentive to attract the best and the brightest and keep them. It is like a private corporation giving you a bonus stock option upfront or a reward for your work.

This application should not create other social stratification what jobs are more important to be considered. Attracting and keeping the right workforce will be an economic win-win for the nation. The common denominator should be civic service.

Tyrone, who makes certain that your water is clean and that trash picked up, or Susie, who processes your property tax daily; or Nadine, who attended school to study agriculture; and still paying off those loans, but became unemployed when her factory closed, but she always enjoyed cooking, and currently prepares your child in school lunch at the primary school. They are in addition government workers.

Your commitment

These loan incentives were first developed by officials to compete with the private sector to attract and retain the brightest. It is more than likely that your civil service career will not make one extremely wealthy, as these public service positions often like being a law enforcement officer that is put in a position of authority.

They must dedicate one, physical and mentally fit where pride and sense of duty dictate success or failure. It is a career that helps to maintain a quality standard of living and has a smooth retirement package (hopefully).

Finally, before you pick that academic institution to build your dream career, this is a candid conversation potential student should discuss with their families because far too often, retired parents left to carry the burden just wanting to perceive their children get a chance at being successful, and one should not eliminate a good idea even if you have an ideological difference with the messenger.

For one, there has been a massive increase in government spending globally, but looking in, I hope this one is beyond twitter and an incentive only for votes because these students will benefit tremendously.

Killing the living for the dead

BY R.D. MILLER

Deadman walking; gone too soon

It takes an extraordinary person to become a funeral director. Whether it be the preparation of the deceased, supporting friends and families to express their last respect, at a church, a funeral parlor, community center, or school during these trying times, this responsibility rests in their hands.

Thirty-nine-year-old Funeral Director Wayne Nash, a local business owner down, his weapon stolen in December 2019, in a quiet community in Manchester, Jamaica; leaving his community questioning why people who devoted their lives to caring for the dead are being targeted.

After he was gunned down, his licensed firearm was stolen, according to local report. But irrespective of his weapon being taken, they scorched his business vehicle. They were reports of another funeral home burned down in the area while start-ups remain on high alert.

Unfortunately, there will be more cases like this to come from this barbaric mentality where people need to mobilize and demand answers, but like several other issues on these shores, silence from fear and protection of personal interest while its moral compass continues to deteriorate.

After Nash’s untimely death, few maintained it is not random. But quietly, many believed that fighting over drugs, scamming, and gang affiliation where criminal activities typically fight over turf has now expanded to the funeral home business.

Decades ago, few people own a firearm on these shores. Usually, a local business owner, security, and law enforcement officers. Today, a grocery worker, taxi driver, and food stand vendors are armed. Carrying a weapon has become the norm more than job security, economic development, career plan, or youth deterrence programs.

The other silent victims

Violence is not a result of what side is in power, as several expatriates’ concern that if even the man who handles the dead is not safe, why come? And if the only people returning are the dead, why invest?”

Jane expressed she is going back to the UK to enjoy her retirement because people’s lives have reduced to numbers. She felt like she is living in a jungle, kill or be killed.

Delroy Walker, 63, stabbed to death in Rio Nuevo Resort in May 2018, and Charlie and Gayle Anderson, 74 and 71, killed on June 22, 2018, in Hope Bay according to the Sun news. There have been over 1,600 murders since 2017 in Jamaica. Though they do not link these deaths, and they were returning residence, it goes to the broader public safety issues in the region.

Recently a local grocery store manager gunned down his lover in a domestic relationship that went bad inside the store he managed. Accountability is also key to getting the community to become more engaged. Social media alone cannot replace good governance.

Authorities habitually lack the resources, especially in rural areas, where technical skills to solve challenging crimes could use an upgrade.

24-year-old Shantel Whyte (Domestic Violence-Victim)

The reality that cannot be ignored

The World Bank and the UN have consistently ranked Jamaica and other countries such as Trinidad and Tobago in the top ten nations having the world’s highest homicide rate. This past decade, in Jamaica from 2010 to 2020, has seen a slight reduction in murders to 12,698 from 13,418 according to Jamaica Information Service. It is a reduction in the right direction, but I am not sure if it a trend to celebrate at this time.

Photo by Renato Danyi

This past decade, in Jamaica from 2010 to 2020, has seen a slight reduction in murders to 12,698 from 13,418 according to Jamaica Information Service. It is a reduction in the right direction, but I am not sure if it a trend to celebrate at this time.

There is a major concern that still hangs over a history of unresolved cases, from missing children, rape, robberies, and killings, these communities have already seen many cases moved to the ‘cold file’, or the “we are working on it until forgotten.”

The conjugated history of misgiving between the police and its people often led to apprehension from coming forward and speaking up. But the community ought not to blame law enforcement alone if they have information and remain silent.

Measures to control this crime epidemic have forced leaders to an uncomfortable space issuing licensed weapons to citizens as a deterrence at an alarming rate, in which some argue that individual safety is important, but what may work for other countries might not be suitable for this region.

There is a criminogenic risk that must be addressed rather than looking for an opportunity to blame it all on illegal imports of weapons. Changing a psychological deficit where community youth programs interlace with a comprehensive crime control strategy is critical.

Despite a few community initiatives making a difference in some high-crime areas, leaders talked about the lack of funding. Others are competing where titles appear to be important than delivering much-needed change.

And when it is being celebrated that no one has died in 24 hours during the New Year, 2020, it shows liberation from mental anguish, where it affects the psychological and physical well-being of individuals often seen in an active war zone from hopelessness.

The business of death

Regardless of these homicide numbers, it is still a social-democratic and capitalistic society, and these entrepreneurs capitalized on an opportunity from the death rates with modern medical science that made it easier to revamp an old business model.

The death business mentality now seems like taking out life insurance on a family member, or poverty-stricken person, and observe them suffer knowing that there will be financial rewards upon this person’s death.

History told us that about 4000BC the first embalming of the deaths occurred in Egypt. Funeral business came along the way for centuries from cost to preservation. The medical specialty advancement has made the preservation of the deceased much easier.

The funeral business is lucrative where an average package could cost anywhere from USD 2,000.00 to $5,000 on these shores.

Photo by Jeswin Thomas

Once a monopoly where only the middle and upper class could afford a decent funeral package, they must now compete with a no-name brand that can deliver the same service for much less. The older establishment is now competing with a taxi driver or a police officer who has entered this lucrative business as a side hustle where a corpse can be kept in one’s anywhere.

Today they can house a body in one of the major funeral homes, but there is a sub-group responsible for preparation at another location and burial. Even using taxis to carry the dead today not frowned upon where the tradition was a hearse draped with flowers playing sad songs.

Even well-established churches with dedicated burial grounds where if you are baptized there and have attended once in your 75 years, you may able to get a free burial spot, but those no longer exist.

Even active members now must pay for internment, but in their defense, historically church membership has declined, as the youth who should have carried on the tradition are far less into religion as most studies have shown. The few structures are left needing considerable repairs, and the funeral has now become a business to fill those gaps.

These new undertakers operate like Amazon, as one location maybe next door to your new condominium, while a startup can deliver a casket in 24 hours, the pallbearers, mourners, live band, and pastor in one package. These uncertainties setting up a death contract in these overcast businesses to honor one’s wish after death today seems unwise.

Sadly, a dream home in a prime multi-million residential community can be converted into a funeral home, and some without recourse must leave, start yours, or merged into that business. It reaches a theme where you now have two funeral homes next to each other. Possibly some argue that kickbacks and corruptions by officials ignore zoning laws that resulted in funeral homes popping up like cafes.

Time for a new paradigm shift

The educational system is more critical today to teach respect for the rule of law, psychological shift, and empowerment, especially for women that will shape the future, reintroduce integrity, security and invigorate these communities plagued by violence.

Conceivably the generation will take on the mantle of the next morticians without fear of being killed and even provide a free funeral for the one who may have been left by the roadside with a good sendoff.

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