ALLEGATIONS AND COUNTER ALLEGATIONS
The saga in which five Jamaican Nationals were arrested by United States Coast Guard for well over a month in 2017 and did not allow them to contact their family members who thought they were dead should concern all Jamaicans.
The incident was remarkable enough to prompt the American Civil Liberties Union to file a lawsuit on behalf of four of the men in the state of Florida.
In the video above, the men recounted their ordeal and stuck to the narrative that they were innocent fishermen whose engine died and their boat drifted offshore.
The men spoke at length about the treatment they received at the hands of US Coast guard authorities and the subsequent guilty plea they took in order to be allowed to return to Jamaica to see their families after doing time in an American prison.
At the same time, the US Authorities have insisted that the men were marijuana smugglers. They claimed they recovered a specific amount of marijuana,( 613 pounds) to be exact. They also claimed that they found seven 20-gallon fuel drums and two 55-gallon fuel drums. According to the reporting in the (local Observer), the Affidavit filed in the Southern District Court of Florida, did not elaborate whether the drums contained fuel or not.
As such, it is difficult to reconcile the significance of the mentioning of the fuel drums in the Affidavit(outside of simple accounting of course). Most significant to the American prosecutor’s case I thought, was the fact that they said they found no fishing gear to back up the claim of the Jamaicans that they were indeed fishermen.
Having watched the video twice I thought to myself that the men could actually be both fishermen and drug smugglers, as there is no mutual exclusivity between the two.
I also thought about fishing gear from the start. If they had fishing gear on board and indicated to the American Coast guard, that they were actually fishermen, it still would not mean that they are not drug dealers if they had drugs on board their vessel, or had been seen tossing the cargo overboard.
Having fishing gear on board would mean nothing in that situation, if drugs were found.
On the other hand, the men said that the US Coast guard destroyed their boat, which indicated to me that there was something untoward going on.
I know that American authorities have gone over and above what is required when they deal with people of color. I know American Police have been known to frame people for crimes they have not committed.
Nevertheless, I found it strange that the US Coast Guard would destroy a boat and incarcerate innocent fishermen who have merely drifted off course.
The US Coast guard has been a force for good in helping stranded fishermen and others stranded at sea, regardless of their nationality, so if they are lying about this, to my mind it would be an anomaly.
DRUGS FOR GUNS AND AMMUNITION
Since we do not know what occurred out there on the high seas, we are left to speculate and opine based on what the two sides alleged.
At the same time, we are fully aware that Jamaica is awash in guns and ammunition, much of which the local police tells us comes in through the drugs for guns trade.
We make no determination whether these men were drug dealers or not. What we do know is that the [US Coast Guard] has been instrumental in apprehending untold shipments of drugs before they enter the United States, and in the process, have also destroyed numerous small shipping vessels used to transport the drugs.
We do not know who to believe in the scenario as is alleged by the two competing interests. Sufficing to say it would be helpful if the Americans had video documented the event, so that their claims could have had more validity as far as their affidavit reveals.
TREATMENT OF DETAINEES
Which brings us to the question of how the men were allegedly treated. We have heard the men tell their stories of how inhumanely they were treated by American authorities after they were taken into custody.
Again, this writer has no information outside that which has been reported to bolster the claim of the defendants in this matter, or to substantiate the allegations of the charging authorities, neither will the many who will have varying opinions on this case.
However, from my perspective, the fact that the ACLU has filed a suit in court on behalf of the men, indicates to me, that there is some evidence that they were treated inhumanely or outside of what they were entitled to as detainees of the US Government.
Under all circumstances,( including wars), according to the Geneva Convention prisoners are to be treated with respect dignity and care.
These men weren’t prisoners of war even, at best they were suspects in a criminal case. Under what authority did the US Coast Guard keep them chained on deck their boat under the elements for a month if true?
How is that even defensible? Even if they were murderers, that treatment is outside the norms of decency and normal civilized conduct. The Americans would be screaming blue murder if their [white] nationals were treated that way by another country.In fact they would be prepared to go to war over it.
Would they have liked it if their drug dealers were arrested by Jamaican authorities and treated that way?
If true, the Commanding officer and everyone involved who treated those men with such barbarity and such indifference should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
However, the families of these men should not hold their breath for accountability from America.
At the helm of the Federal Bureaucracy sits a despotic tyrant who rips babies from their parents puts them in cages, and in many cases some have died. He does not respect the laws of his own country, neither does he respect large sections of the American population which are non white.
It follows, therefore, that the treatment allegedly meted out to these black Jamaicans, (regardless of whether they committed a crime or not), was dastardly and inherently barbaric, but not out of the norms of what is expected under a tyrant like the one which is in charge today.
This incident must be held up to the world so that it may see what is happening to people as a result of a despotic régime which has zero respect for established national or international norms.
The harm being done to people far extends outside the shores of America and it must be held up so the world may see for itself, what tyranny cloaked under a façade of Democracy looks like.
Mike Beckles is a former Jamaican police corporal, business owner, avid researcher, and blogger. He is also a black achiever honoree, and publisher of the blog chatt-a-box.com. You may subscribe to his blogs free of charge.