Jamaica: Dudus, Security & Seaga

In the Tivoli Gardens area of Jamaica's capital city – home turf of alleged drug lord Michael Christopher “Dudus” Coke and epicentre of the unrest that has gripped the Caribbean nation for the past several days – the loyalties are clear, at least from those who care to be vocal about them. @KyleMacpherson tweets:

People scream “freedom!” and “no bruce” [Golding, Jamaica's Prime Minister] #tivoli

Residents of Tivoli and neighbouring Denham Town got a taste of freedom yesterday as state security forces allowed them to move about in their communities more easily than they have been able to since the state of emergency was implemented. As for the second part of their request, Prime Minister Bruce Golding seems to want to have as little to do with them as they with him. Tensions appear to be easing around ground zero: both local and international journalists have been allowed access, although the Jamaica Observer reported that the visit yielded little new information.

But the same security forces that allowed them access are themselves the target of growing concern. Blogger Chez Hsia writes:

An article in the NY Times yesterday reported 73 dead and 500 detained in Tivoli, and only 6 guns found by security forces. 6 guns. 6. After 3 days of scouring the neighborhood, restricting access to the media, the security forces weren’t even able to rustle up enough seized weapons to make it look like a justifiable incursion, even during a State of Emergency. Instead, it looks like a massacre, a slaughter. And there are indications that the numbers of dead will rise further – some are estimating as high as 150. Folks in Tivoli are talking about bodies being buried in nearby May Pen cemetery, without having been accounted for by the government, let alone family and friends.

Twitter users have also been commenting, against the backdrop of Amnesty International's call for “a thorough investigation into the deaths of dozens of people in. . . Kingston during a security operation to arrest an alleged drug dealer,” and this video, posted on YouTube by news daily The Jamaica Gleaner, which highlights the voices of Tivoli Gardens residents, some of whom claim that atrocities have taken place.

@roleli says:

in 2001 when the residents accused the police of shooting indiscriminately people did not beleive until the saw the television footage..

@marxshields counters:

I get idea that if it's not negative news re security forces it's either false, biased or worthy of derision. Just remember how we got here.

They are far from perfect. I continually acknowledge that but without them we'd be in a place called hell on earth. So much to put right.

@roleli eventually sends out a message of support to the security forces:

Security forces keep strong and do the right thing Remember “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”

As of late yesterday, the civilian death toll stood at 73:

Latest toll: 73 civilians dead, 26 civilians injured. 3 (2 JCF, 1JDF)security personnel dead, “dozens” injured. #Tivoli #Jamaica

Some Tweeple felt that under the circumstances, perhaps the state of emergency should be extended to other parishes. @ArnoldKer asks:

While our attention was focused on West Kgn, gunmen killed approx 21 persons in Spanish Town. Where is the outcry????

Still, most Jamaicans agreed that the situation unfolding in one of the city's most legendary garrisons is merely a symptom of a wider malaise:

Amen RT @xyoni: Tivoli is a symptom, not the cause, of what is wrong with us. Let us look within to ensure a better Jamaica tomorrow.

This hope for a better tomorrow may have been on the mind of former Prime Minister Edward Seaga as he gave an exclusive interview last night; Jamaicans were very interested in his perspective on the situation; comments on Twitter were coming fast and furious:

Anyone see the preview, With Seaga getting choked up and begging DUDUS to give himself up ? watch TVJ 9:30 tonight

Seaga throwing Bruce under the bus…scratch that, under a convoy of 18 wheelers

I never thought I'd hear Seaga speak of Bruce Golding in that light… Do I smell vengeance? #interesting

RT @owillis: @ChrysalisCEO isnt this also probably a little payback for NDM? « I didn't get that impression; he seemed genuine. Passionate.

Oh Seaga, Seaga, Seaga

No sah! Interview of the decade! Tears and all! #seaga

Thanks Mr.Seaga for calling a spade a spade,I totally agree with you , the atrocities of TG has to be laid squarely at the feet of the PM.

Will there be a part 2? I guess thats wen Mr. Seaga will admit his role in the process. TG did not become wat it is overnight.

To those asking for an overview of the Edward Seaga interview; he was passionate re Tivoli Gardens; emotional…(Cont)#Seaga wants to give to his family, what he never gave to them during his public life — his time (teared up); but said, he had to speak out#seaga also said the entire extradition, and #stateofemergency was botched; “The buck stops with the leader”. Bruce is the leader.

All this has led citizen media to ask another pressing question: Where is Dudus? Jamaica Salt speculates:

Well the man had nine months to think about what he should do and where he should go when the Americans come for him. So there must have been a lot of planning before the day finally arrived.

Reports that he has been negotiating a handover directly to the US authorities are very interesting and show how scared he must be that the same fate that befell his father may also happen to him. This also indicates that he might be feeling scared about what Golding’s govt and the police want to do with him – certainly there must be a lot of anger directed towards him right now.

Some people think he’s moving around Kingston, others that he’s in South America (given his reported contacts there), but I reckon his forthcoming surrender is imminent.

Questions were also being asked on Twitter:

I can't. RT @andremumbles: @ChrysalisCEO Can anyone confirm if he's being caught?

Someone asked a very pertinent question: “Why there is no reward for info leading to the arrest of Dudus?” (RT @marlonperry) #jamaica

The answers continue to be elusive; as Chez Hsia suggests:

I’ve heard rumors of an underground tunnel system in Tivoli, some hypothesizing that all the gunmen ran away once the fighting began. But where, then, were the caches of weapons amassed by this fearsome drug smuggler? Where is the rumored Grizzly Big Boar 50 caliber sniper rifle that had the police quaking in their boots? Hard to believe that they could be hidden so well so as not to be found by untold numbers of soldiers, looking hard.

As a plot twist, it’s brilliant: could it possibly be that Dudus deliberately removed the guns from Tivoli, creating a PR nightmare for the government? If so, the human toll is staggering and sad. And it suggests that he alone is outwitting the government, a shrewd tactician, who will not easily be found.

Thumbnail image – screengrab from video posted on YouTube by JamaicaGleaner

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