Not all of Jamaica’s rich or wealthy people fled during the Manley Years,, of course some of them were aligned to the PNP, they understood that there was money to be made even in the unfriendly business environment of that era.
They braved the danger while they held on tight to their US Visas and green cards. The die was however cast, Jamaica was now a (tropical Serengeti) where the strong survived, and the weak gets eaten.
Fast forward and we saw crime trend down under Edward Seaga, now this is where the paradox lies. Many will point to the fact that Seaga maintained the so-called mother of all (garrisons) Tivoli Gardens. Tivoli Gardens was is the community that was the center of Seaga’s West Kingston constituency. Many argue that any reduction of crime under Seaga was despite him rather than because of him. As someone who started out in law enforcement during the Seaga Administration I have a more nuanced view of the matter.
Edward Seaga former Prime Minister of Jamaica.
The defining characteristic that will , and has influenced opinions exponentially against Seaga is the perception that he maintained Tivoli Gardens as a sort of fiefdom that was hands off for the country’s security forces. As I said before my views are as nuanced as the facts allowed .
Seaga did allow Tivoli Gardens to be a fiefdom, he did favor elements of the criminal underworld, he did interfere in law enforcement as it related to that community. Seaga defied conventional wisdom when he stood at the funeral of Lester Lloyd Coke a know criminal and an architect of the infamous shower posse. Coke was no saint Seaga knew it, he delivered the votes, kept the community in line and handled the affairs of the community day-to-day. Seaga also knew that Coke was a criminal wanted by the Americans, he knew he was a drug-dealer who had more serious allegations levelled against him. Yet Seaga stood at the funeral of Coke and stated emphatically that he was a community leader whom the people loved. When that statement is dissected Coke may have been a community leader of sort, he may have been loved/feared. Even if those statements were indeed true he was still a criminal.
On the day Edward Seaga made those statements about Coke I lost any modicum of respect I may have had for him.
However on the other side of the issue he changed the paradigm as it related to crime and the way the issue was approached under the Manley administration. Criminals were not being removed from police stations, cops were not being out gunned and there were major efforts to lower crimes, based on efforts his administration devoted to the fight against crime. Unfortunately Seaga did not see his baby (sic) Tivoli Gardens being part of that wider need to control crime. In some ways he may have been blinded by his decades-long nurturing of that community, as a model to what urban communities may accomplish.
Like a doting parent Seaga felt that because he loved his child everyone should feel the same way. He lost sight of the importance of discipline in that child’s life.
To this day Seaga believes that his baby Tivoli gardens is a perfect child which needed no discipline.