“If I have to pay a political price for it, I am going to uphold a position that constitutional rights do not begin at Liguanea.” That’s the location of the United States Embassy in Jamaica. Strong words by Prime Minister Bruce Golding regarding the extradition issue of Christopher “Dudus” Coke and the safeguarding of his/our constitutional rights and Jamaica’s sovereignty.

As a keen listener of the Michael Manley and Trevor Monroe and Edward Seaga 1970s and 80s era of what I thought of as promoting patriotic five flights a day mountain top radical revolutionary socialist anti imperialist rhetoric, I listened to the responses of Dr Peter Phillips and Peter Bunting of the opposition Peoples’ National Party(PNP) and wondered, was that Mr Bruce Golding of the PNP and Phillips and Bunting from the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

Today in 2010 what has happened to the anti imperialist, pro socialist and progressive forces of the PNP and former members of the then Workers Party of Jamaica? Have they all become Labourites?

Golding has become a masterful political act who is setting a reactionary ideological trap that has caught some members of the PNP already, seen now by many, particularly among the all important grassroots electorate, as the patriot or bad man who is now not afraid (fraidy fraidy) and has developed the guts to stand up for Jamaicans against the great America.

Seeing him as grandstanding is normal in a country where self-interest and partisan politics frequently takes precedence over everything from economics to national security.

If we put the politics, our various prejudices and hearsay aside, Golding is on the right track. Not because the United States “say so” it is so. If there is a flouting of Jamaican law and the current extradition treaty allows Jamaican law and the people’s constitutional rights are trampled, that should be re negotiated then made public to ensure transparency mutual respect, inspire public confidence in the government and ensure a level playing field.

This may have some fallout that could affect all of us and we should prepare to take a beating. Those who can recall the 1970s to 80s with visa withdrawals, drastically reduced non-immigrant visa quotas, reduction of aid, travel advisories for having seen the light. Well, according to the Wailers, “now you see the light you gonna stand up for your rights, get up stand up, stand up for your rights”.

Only time will tell whether what is good for the goose will be good for the gander where the constitutional rights of all Jamaicans – uptown, downtown, inner-city or countryman – will be respected and stoutly defended at the highest level. The quicker this impasse is resolved the better it will be for all of us and the involvement of the courts of the land at some point to give authenticity is not a bad idea.

Michael Spence
Micspen2@hotmail.com
PO Box 630
Liguanea, Kingston