Jamaica is known as an island of paradise for many individuals around the world. The culture is rich with its long white sandy beaches, crystal clear blue water as far as the eyes can see, palm trees blowing in the crisp breeze, Duns River falls, and the birth place of reggae music. Often times when the illusion of perfection is removed from a situation, clarity is identified. In reality, to the vast majority of its natives, Jamaica is a country plagued with corruption and an unprecedented wave of violent crimes (Kovaleski, 1999).
It is of my opinion that the increased and continual violence that occurs is a direct result of political corruption and poverty.
Political corruption in Jamaica is the exploitation of the impoverished population by the people in power for private gains. For example, political leaders make promises during election periods in order to gain votes. A few of the many promises made include new schools for the different communities, better housing, construction projects for roads and potholes, and employment opportunities.
When promises were not delivered, many individuals would retaliate. Vivid memories are recalled from the numerous occasions when my sister’s and I could not attend school or work. Certain colors were forbidden as they represented political connotations. The roads were barricaded with debris, burning cars, and gangsters patrolling the streets with their ak-47. I would sometimes ask myself, why? These men believed they were fighting for a better way life for their families and children.
The roots of crime in Jamaica spread beyond the political corruption. My 26 years of living on the island leads me to recognize poverty as another primary cause of violence. I have witnessed many people from impoverished neighborhoods steal and commit crimes in order to survive on a daily basis. In their minds it is not a question about right or wrong but a matter of survival by any means necessary, due to fact that work is scarce and wages don’t reflect the cost of living. Furthermore, with no education and desperation looming, the only option left for many is a life of crime and gang activities (Wiggins, 2005).
Youngsters who grew up in middle class neighborhoods were considered to be very fortunate. Nevertheless, holding the status of middle-class did not shield my family or me from the daily violence that plagues the streets of Jamaica. A member of my family was a victim of gun violence when he was robbed of his valuables; a scenario that repeats itself over and over each day. Such robbery is just a depiction of what it takes for some to survive in this “land of paradise.”
On one perspective, my life has been staidly impacted as a result of the criminal activities in Jamaica. As a new resident of Georgia, stereotypical attachments have been placed on my character. I have had to work harder and smarter to achieve the level of success I have gained. On the other hand, my experiences have had a positive influence on the way I think and attach problems.
The illusion of paradise for the island of Jamaica, on the contrary, is viewed as a reality for most individuals who are not natives. Tourists, for example, more often than not enjoy the island’s luxuries without participating in its political or economic systems. Visitors only experience the island created by the hoteliers; hence their ignorance or unfamiliarity with the severe crime rates.
If you ever come to Jamaica or any tourist resort, be aware of the surroundings. It is important to note that civil unrest can show up at any time and you need to be ready. Crime in fact is everywhere; however in poverty prone countries, theft, murder, kidnapping, or the any means necessary to survive attitude are heightened. Although fear is not the objective, individuals must have an understanding of the realities of a nation. “The disillusionment is the process of the removal of an illusion from the human mind.” When ignorance is removed, the feeling of empowerment evolves. Hence the old adage, “knowledge is key.”