All over Jamaica people are talking about the President and the Prime Minister. One of them was elected by the people of Jamaica, the other is the De Facto leader of one of Kingston’s most notorious neighborhoods.
Christopher “Dudus” Coke is not an elected official, yet he is known as the President. He presides over Tivoli Gardens, an enclave in Jamaica known as a garrison. To some he is a community leader, to others he is gangster. Unfortunately for Dudus, the US government believes he is a gangster and has extradited him to the US on guns and drug trafficking charges.
Despite the close relationship between the US and Jamaica, Jamaican Prime Minister, Bruce Golding has refused to extradite Coke to the US. Golding claims that the US illegally wire tapped Coke.
Still it is doubtful that that is the reason that Golding is refusing to extradite Coke. Golding represents the Jamaican Labour Party, which Coke and his Garrison of Tivoli Gardens strongly support.
The connection between politics and gangsters in Jamaica is hardly a new one. Dudus’s father, Lester Coke, also known as Jim Brown was not only JLP leader and Prime Minister, Edward Seaga’s bodyguard and representative in Tivoli Gardens, but also the leader of the notorious Jamaican Shower Posse.
The opposition, People’s National Party, has also been connected too several notorious gangsters and have their own Garrison communities in which they receive extensive support.
In Jamaica “Dons,” named after mafia leaders, control garrison communities. They previously served as liaisons between the political parties and the communities they lived in. Originally the Dons would give out jobs and housing to political supporters in their district. As the 80s came, Dons realized they could make more money facilitating cocaine to the US from Colombia and the Shower and Spangler posses became international drug trafficking organizations, complete with all the violence and money that cocaine brings.
A great deal of Golding’s support comes from the Tivoli Gardens neighborhood, where Dudus is both worshipped and feared. Dudus regularly puts on parties and sporting events for his community. Dudus also receives construction contracts for the government, which brings jobs into the community. Dudus in not unlike John Gotti, a hero in his own community and people but a threat to the police and other communities.
Dudus also receives a good deal of government contracts through his company Incomparable Enterprise Limited.
Jamaica is hardly the only country where politics and criminality meet. Panamanian President, Manuel Noriega, was heavily involved in the cocaine trade and the brother of Afghan President, Karzai is a heroin dealer and warlord.
While in Jamaica, I heard rumors that several top level officials, including Prime Minister, Bruce Golding were going to be indicted. Also there were reports several members of the JLP had paid a lot of money to a lobbyist in order to handle the Dudus matter in the US.
The Dudus matter has put a longstanding Jamaican secret out in the open. The connections between Dons and politicians and the power that the Dons have in Jamaica is well known in Jamaica but rarely spoken about in the international media.
Criminals and corrupt politicians have gone hand in hand since the beginning of civilization. Often times, the USA has taken advantage of this situation. During the 80’s the CIA used drug dealers to help fund the Contras who were waging a civil war in Nicaragua. Cecil Connor, a member of the Shower Posse along with Dudus’s father Lester “Jim Brown” Coke, claimed that he was trained by the CIA to fight for the JLP against their political rivals the PNP. In Gary Webb’s book, “The Dark Alliance,” he claims that the CIA was also shipping guns to JLP thugs, predecessors to Dudus’s Presidential Clique.
While the US has indicted Dudus for gun trafficking, the Jamaican Prime minister has blamed the USA for the many guns that enter Jamaica and are used in gang warfare.
The US has every right to extradite Dudus. While some may say he is good, righteous person who takes care of his community, he is widely known as a criminal and the US has sufficient evidence to extradite him. Still Dudus can be extradited to the US for gun trafficking, shouldn’t Jamaica be able to extradite CIA agents who brought guns into Jamaica in the 70s and 80s?
Still if Dudus is extradited and convicted, another Don will take his place, most likely after a violent conflict. If The US was really serious about stopping gun and drug trafficking in Jamaica, it should consider changing its gun laws and its policies on drugs.
In Jamaica and other poor countries, drugs are often one of the biggest sources of income. This often makes criminals more powerful than politicians, which leads to gangsters like Dudus holding enormous power in their own countries. In order to stop Dons and gangsters from getting into power the world community must find ways to make sure that Third World economies are not dependent on drugs and that US made guns are not illegally shipped into the hands of criminals.