Staying Alive: Does Jamaica have a version of Guantanamo Bay going in one of its prisons?

Is there a version of Guantanamo Bay going in one of Jamaica’s prisons? Recent events suggest as much…

Clovis, The Observer

I’d heard over the last few weeks that August Town’s Christopher Linton (Dog Paw), accused of being leader of the Dog Paw gang, was severely beaten more than once at the Horizon Adult Remand Centre where he has been held for the last few months. Apparently the area he and other supposedly high-risk inmates were being held is known as Security Post 11 and is modeled on Guantanamo Bay.

Security Post 11 is strictly under the control of the Jamaica Defence Force, not the Police, and reportedly no correctional officers or Police are allowed entry. Since Dog Paw was transferred there he has been systematically and brutally beaten. The beatings were so severe that Linton was worried about losing his life; memories of his older brother who had died in custody after police beat him up still being fresh in his mind.

Yesterday news broke that Linton wasn’t the only one being subjected to such vicious punishment by the soldiers. The Sunday Gleaner carried a cover story about Livity Coke, Dudus’s half brother, also in the same facility, being subjected to an even worse assault by soldiers who left him for dead at the feet of the prison doctor. Apparently Livity played dead until he was close enough to the doctor when he shouted to her “Mi no dead, mi no dead, mi no dead!” Perhaps he remembered the case of the man who played possum after being shot by the police some weeks ago…see my NOT dead on arrival! No Sir! I will not rest in peace! from a few weeks ago for details.

In fact four other ‘Dons’ were meted out similar treatment: Tesha Miller (leader of the Spanish Town-based Klansman gang), Joel Andem (Gideon Warriors), Christopher Linton (Dog Paw Gang),  Kevin Tyndale alias Richie Poo. So what’s going down at the Horizon Adult Remand Centre? Dr. Jephtha Ford who alerted the Gleaner about the near killing of Livity by JDF soldiers told Nationwide’s Cliff Hughes that he thought Security Post 11 at Horizon was a virtual Guantanamo Bay.

Tthe JDF responded to the Sunday Gleaner expose by putting forward the following explanation carried on RJR’s website:

JDF clears the air on ‘Livity’ beating

The Jamaica Defence Force, JDF, is moving to clear the air regarding an incident in which Leighton “Livity” Coke the brother of  former Tivoli Gardens strongman Christopher “Dudus” Coke was injured at the Horizon Adult Remand Centre.  It has issued a statement outlining the circumstances in which Mr. Coke had to be subdued at the maximum security facility which is manned by soldiers.

Mr. Coke, who is being held on charges of  illegal possession of  a firearm and shooting at members of  the security forces during the incursion into Tivoli Gardens in May 2010, reportedly sustained wounds to his head.  According to the JDF, in the days leading up to the February 21 incident, inmates at Horizon became boisterous and were resisting security procedures at the facility. The decision was made to temporarily remove them to another section to facilitate a clean-up.

As they were being prepared for relocation some of  the prisoners resisted, barricaded themselves in their cells and hurled expletives at the soldiers.  According to the JDF, the soldiers were able to restrain the protesters by using an appropriate level of  force and physically lifting them to their designated cells.

When the time came to move Mr. Coke he reportedly resisted and attempted to walk back to his cell. He was stopped by the soldiers and reportedly punched a JDF sergeant and lance corporal in their faces and wrestled a baton from another.  The statement says Mr. Coke wielded the baton at the soldiers. He was eventually restrained by other soldiers using batons following which it was discovered that he was bleeding. The soldiers who were involved in subduing Mr. Coke walked him to the prison’s medical facility where he was treated and subsequently sent to the University Hospital for precautionary x-rays.

Doctors at the hospital determined that his injuries were minor and he was taken back to the remand centre.  By that time the cleanup was completed and Mr. Coke was returned to his original cell. On the same day, preliminary investigations were conducted by the JDF’s Inspector-General’s Department and the matter reported to the Independent Commission of  Investigations, INDECOM.

The Gleaner had a few more details:

The JDF was yesterday forced to issue a media release after The Sunday Gleaner highlighted that Coke, the brother of confessed crime boss Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, was beaten by soldiers at the remand centre.

The JDF said Coke was among several inmates at the HARC who reportedly engaged in the throwing of water, food, faeces, and other refuse from their cell as a means of resistance to being held under special conditions at the facility.

According to the JDF, which supervises the facility, the decision was taken to temporarily move the inmates from their cells in order to clean up the area. The force said some inmates protested that the movement was taking place during time normally reserved for recreational activities.

Well, if what the JDF says is true, their security cameras would be able to corroborate some or all of this right? Dr. Jephtha Ford contradicts the JDF’s assessment of Livity’s injuries being ‘minor’. He describes them as life-threatening and has sent his medical report to the Prime Minister. In the Gleaner article he also accused the PNP government of being behind the beatings but this seems implausible when you take into account the beatings administered to Dog Paw, who is very much a PNP supporter.

Incidentally Horizon is the same prison that Vybz Kartel allegedly broke out of in that infamous instance of false news that went viral last November. The following is excerpted from an MTV article that came out at the time:

Kartel, real name Adidja Palmer, allegedly started a riot at the Horizon Adult Remand Centre, where he was being held whilst under investigation over his possible involvement in up to seven murders.

It is reported that Kartel and several other prisoners managed to take control of the prison shortly after 1am local time this morning (30/11/11), taking clothes and keys from guards before escaping in a prison maintenance pickup truck at approximately 1.45am.

One police officer is thought to have died of a heart attack during the escape with at least twelve others injured, including two who were shot with guns apparently smuggled into the prison ahead of the raid.

The Force Commissioner of Jamaica’s Criminal Investigations Branch apparently confirmed that Kartel, who has previously worked with the likes of Eminem, Jay-Z and Akon, is on the run and that he and the other escapees are now on the island’s most wanted list.

Countering this, the Jamaica Observer has now alleged that reports of Vybz’ escape were started as a joke by an anonymous blogger, and that Jamaican police have no knowledge of the incident.

According to the Observer, The Assistant Commissioner of Police, Les Green, said that the reports are false.

“I know nothing about that. If that had taken place I would would certainly have known,” he said.

Another unnamed police officer added, “It may be an attempt by his cronies to keep him in the news but they don’t need to spread rumours to do that because he will be in the news for quite some time.”

Concerned individuals may be interested to know that the so-called Horizon ‘Adult’ Remand Centre also houses children The entire setup begs investigation by the media. In the absence of the late Wilmot Perkins who will take up the challenge?

Of Dog Paw and Leah Tavares-Finson…

Dog Paw and Leah Tavares-Finson are expecting a baby this February. Leah is the offspring of wealth and privilege in Jamaica while Dog Paw is a notorious gang leader. A lengthy interview with Leah is included.

Leah Tavares-Finson Photo: Peter Dean Rickards

When the police finally found Dog Paw in a house at Elletson Flats, he had written, in full anticipation of being killed, a letter addressed to his Mother, his girlfriends, his children and his yet unborn child. That child, due in February, will be born ‘famous’ because her/his other parent will be Leah Tavares-Finson, the daughter of Senator Tom Tavares-Finson and Cindy Breakspeare, the former Miss World who was one of Bob Marley’s most favoured consorts. Bob Marley was the father of Leah’s step half brother (thanks for correction J!), Damian Marley. When her mother Cindy became pregnant for Marley it caused no end of scandal in staid 1970s Jamaica and abroad. A London newspaper carried photos of Cindy and the dreadlocked Bob under the headline “Beauty and the Beast.” In a strange twist her daughter’s pregnancy for an ‘outlaw’ is causing a similar scandal. I found the extraordinary conversation below on an online Dancehall Reggae forum. One marvels at the confidence with which jahblem offers his misinformation in this exchange generated by the fact that Leah T-F is pregnant for Dog Paw:


nuh Cindy Breakspeare dawta dat? and damian marley sister? look like she tek affa har madda, ghetto bwaay shi love…


no…they dont have kids together (tavares and cindy)…i would assume its tavares dawta before he hooked up wid cindy…i could be wrong…but when cindy got married to him they were both old and grey and had kids already from previous marriages.

LOL! Old and gray! Cindy married Tom when Damian was a toddler (she was probably in her early 30s), and went on to have Leah and Christian with Tavares-Finson.

Jamaica Observer, Clovis

Leah is a fascinating character. She may be following in the tradition of her father’s family (which has roots in the so-called garrison community of Tivoli Gardens) by going into politics. Will she herald a new kind of representational politics since she has personally breached not only the uptown/downtown divide but also the legit/illegit one by literally commingling with a Don? After all, Dons are also political representatives, only they are illegitimate ones, informal leaders whose constituencies straddle the world of organized crime and garrison politics. At any rate this young lady is one to watch, in my opinion.

Read more about Leah in the interview below which first appeared in the Style Observer. Her interlocutor was photographer/writer Peter Dean Rickards, of Afflicted Yard fame. The ‘Presi’ referred to in the early part of the interview is Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, reputed to be Leah’s godfather. Her father Tom Tavares-Finson was Dudus’s lawyer. Dudus has since been extradited to the United States on gun and drug-running charges. The “early morning ‘situation’ at a house in Kintyre” referred to is when she was taken into custody from Dog Paw’s house some months ago. Happy reading!

Leah Tavares Finson is no wild child

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Leah Tavares-Finson is the daughter of Senator Tom Tavares-Finson and a former Miss World, Cindy Breakspeare. Her brother Damian Marley is pretty famous too, having copped a few Grammy Awards; so why has she been raising eyebrows recently? For starters, there was the brief MYSPACE message requesting that “Presi” be left alone, followed by an earlymorning ‘situation’ at a house in Kintyre. Leah is adamant, however, that she’s no “wild child”.

SO: Why did you post the message on MYSPACE to leave “Presi” alone?

For those of us who can accept reality, “Presi” is somewhat of a hero and a legend. He has been able to do for West Kingston what so many politicians can only dream of accomplishing. I’m not in a position to debate the means he used to accomplish what he has accomplished, but when all is said and done, he managed to pull off quite a job.

I think I fully understood at the time when I first posted “leave Presi alone” the grave and disastrous repercussions that the nation would face. We have lost more than 80 lives and even if they were not all innocent, I do not accept the term “casualties of war” as a reasonable excuse. I think our country should be deeply saddened by this absolutely unnecessary loss of mainly innocent lives. I know my heart is certainly broken; so you see, in the end it is not really about “Presi” but about the people of West Kingston. They now have to piece their lives back together, overcoming pain, loss and memories of brutality. They must do so without the indisputably strong leadership that they’ve had for so long. I only hope that our political system can provide them with the social programmes, the support and the guidance they need to replace what has been destroyed. REALITY!

SO: Tell us about Leah. Her likes, dislikes, what makes her smile and what makes her sad.

LTF: I’m not a very exciting or excited person despite what people may think. You know there is this idea out there that I am some wild card, but that’s not really true… I love being home. I’m very laidback. I love food, eating out and cooking. Yes, I can cook; my mother taught me well.

I love mango sorbet!

My little sister, Capri, makes me smile. She is quite something; so much smarter than I was at her age. I’m just so amazed when I watch her.

What makes me sad? Seeing a country with so much potential being exploited and abused. The lack of education amongst our people and the lack of opportunities on a whole are depressing.

Sometimes when I feel like I can’t do anything to help my own country (because every aspect of our society is so corrupt), I am sad.

SO: Who (artiste) does Leah listen to?

LTF: Gaza! Vybz Kartel is my artiste. I love my brother’s music, but I suppose where that is concerned most would say I’m biased. Alicia Keys, John Mayer, Aidonia, Busy Signal and Black Ryno. I don’t care who doesn’t talk to whom, respect is due once the talent exists.

SO: Who impresses Leah?

LTF: My brother Damian does. I think he is brilliant. I admire his focus and when I listen to his music I often think: ‘Wow, how did he come up with that?’ He is great.

I think anyone with a very business-savvy head and that drive to fight for what they want in life, regardless of what other people may think and say, impresses me.

SO: And Leah’s take on love?

LTF: Love is good. How could it not be?

As human beings our existence would be doomed if we didn’t have love for one another. We need people with bigger hearts. Love has no boundaries and no colour, and it should be unconditional.

SO: Who does Leah love?

LTF: My family, although it does not 100 per cent include my immediate family; it is not limited to and doesn’t only mean people who have the same ancestral background as I do. I love the people who have loved me unconditionally and have been a constant source of support and strength. They know themselves. The one I smile and laugh with and share my “dramas” with.

SO: What’s the last book Leah has read?

LTF: A schoolbook entitled Words that Ring Through Time. It’s an amazing collection of speeches by various historical figures.

SO: Leah on her mum Cindy Breakspeare and on her dad Senator Tom Tavares-Finson…

My parents are the two most amazing people I know. They are so different from each other but so similar at the same time. It’s pretty fascinating. Despite what anyone has to say, they’ve done a tremendous job raising Damian, Christian and myself, and nobody could ever dispute that. Both Damian and Christian are so wellmannered, so bright, so focused. They are just two well-rounded individuals. And I think they are a reflection of the kind of people my parents are.

My mother is a fighter, strong with a back as broad as the continent of Africa. I admire her ability to improvise and manoeuvre through any situation. My dad has a great sense of humour and he is affectionate and adores his kids. He is a great lawyer and is really what a politician should be all about. Both of them have taught me so much. Things that I am confident in the long run will prove to be my greatest assets and characteristics.

SO: Is Leah the voice of Jamaica’s uptown ‘white and restless’?

LTF: Absolutely not!

The correct definition of restless is to be worried and uneasy, and although that does define a part of my personality I don’t at all think it defines all uptown ‘whites’. I am the voice of people who care and people who want to help, and whether that means white, black, orange, uptown, downtown, or round town, it nuh matter. The quicker we put this uptown/downtown division behind us is the better off we will all be as a nation.

SO: Leah rocks… what’s Leah’s style?

LTF: Does she? I don’t think I rock at all! Anybody who knows me well knows that I am not a fashionista. I wear what is comfortable and practical for my lifestyle, and anything other than that you would have to ask my mother about because she is the one who dresses me when I look half decent.

SO: What’s next for Leah?

LTF: Finishing up school. I’m getting a degree in Political Science, after that…I really haven’t decided. My family business here in Jamaica, DC Tavares & Finson Realty Ltd is one of my options. It’s currently run by my uncle William whom I admire a lot and would love to work with! Maybe politics… we will see.

Dog Paw/Dog-Heart

Most wanted fugitive from justice in Jamaica, gang leader Dog Paw, and his family were the inspiration for Diana McCaulay’s 2010 novel Dog-Heart.

The cliche that truth is stranger than fiction is true. It turns out that one of the main characters in Diana McCaulay’s 2010 novel Dog-Heart was inspired by none other than Christopher ‘Dog Paw’ Linton, who was taken into custody by the security forces on January 24th after topping the most wanted list of the police for several months. Day before yesterday Jamaica Defence helicopters hovered in the air for hours during the operation that netted Linton. After the first hour their incessant buzzing receded to the background like a dull but persistent headache. The University of the West Indies, where i’m based is right next door to Elletson Flats where Dog Paw was eventually found and arrested. We are squarely in the middle of the Dog Paw Gang’s turf which covered Kintyre, Papine, August Town and its environs.

I knew that the novel which i got to read in manuscript form way back in 2006 had been inspired by several street youth that McCaulay, an environmental activist, had tried to rehabilitate in the 1990s. She had written about that experience in her Gleaner columns, detailing her despair when the young boys she had tried to send to school eventually reverted to the streets. There are several co-incidences: the names Dog-Heart and Dog Paw for instance; also one of the illegal operations Dog Paw has been accused of is sand-mining. In the novel sand-mining is what sustains the young boys.

Diana McCaulay

In March 2010 on the eve of the Kingston launch of Dog-Heart I had interviewed Diana on my blog:

AP: How were you able to get into the head of an impoverished street youth? I know you had tried in the nineties, when you wrote a Gleaner column, to help one or two such youth? Is this novel inspired by those attempts? And did you have any success with the boys you tried to rescue from the street?

DM: In a sense, Dog-heart was inspired by my relationship with a family of boys and their mother in the 1990s, my attempts to help, but the events and people in Dog-heart are entirely fictional – nothing in Dog-heart really happened and the people are quite different from that family. But during that period I did observe many aspects of their lives and realized how difficult their circumstances were. It was humbling – people of my class tend to dismiss people like Dexter and his mother, Arleen, as, I don’t know, wasters, wut’less, stupid. But what I saw was something different – I saw people, children, trying their best to survive situations that I was sure would have defeated me. So I started thinking about it, imagining what it would really be like. Dog-Heart also had its genesis in a writer’s workshop at Good Hope, back in 2003 – we were asked to write a short piece from the point of view of someone of a different age, class, race, background and sex – and I wrote what became chapter two of Dog-Heart. I sent it as a short story called Car Park Boy to Caribbean Writer, they published it, and I decided the seeds of a novel were in there. So I kept working on it.

As for the boys I did try to help, that’s a fairly sad story, one I am not sure I am ready to talk about, because it is their story to tell too. I often wonder about what THEY thought at the time. I lost track of the family when I went to study in Seattle in 2000 – but when I came back to Jamaica in 2002, I learned from one of the boys’ teachers that the eldest boy had been killed by the police in a prison riot. And funnily enough, recently a friend encountered the youngest boy – who is now a man – and we are to get together – hasn’t happened yet.

Yesterday, I learnt that the elusive Dog Paw was one of the boys Diana had tried to rescue. I assumed that he was the model for Dexter, the protagonist of Dog-Heart, but i was wrong. His older brother Jeffrey, since brutally murdered, was the inspiration for Dexter. It is Marlon, Dexter’s younger brother in the novel who was modeled off Christopher Linton. Marlon is a lovely young boy, brimming with hope and wonder and trust, not unlike the child who became Dog Paw and who was eight years old when Diana entered his family’s life. Please read on for my interview with Diana today about the Dog Paw she knew and Dog-Heart, her novel.

DM: Hi Annie, I will try and answer your questions, but I want to tell you a few things before I start.  First, obviously I have known Christopher Linton was one of Jamaica’s most wanted men since just after Dog-Heart came out in March 2010.  I have never talked publicly about it, though, for various reasons — mostly respect for his privacy and that of his family, and not wanting to use a tragic story for opportunistic book publicity.  So when people have asked me about this– Jamaica is a small place, after all — I have answered truthfully, I really didn’t want to lie about it, but have also asked them not to discuss it in public.  I’ve decided to talk about it now because I have seen such horrible comments about Christopher on websites, Facebook, and heard them in conversation – things like, the police shoulda kill him, him is worse than a dawg and the like.  I’ve decided to speak because I knew this young man, Christopher Linton –- Damien was his pet name -– from he was about eight until he was nearly fifteen or so and he was a sweet, very intelligent little boy with great potential and he was failed in every way by our society.

We need to stop pretending that such men are merely irredeemably evil and are simply to be exterminated.  We need to understand what made the boy Christopher Linton become the man he is.  I want to state clearly that I am appalled by the crimes he is accused of, and if he is guilty and convicted, he should be incarcerated.  I want to say that like most Jamaicans, I am deeply concerned about the levels of crime in our society, I am as afraid as the next person especially as I get older, and I  do not want to face a young man with a gun who is prepared to take my life without thought, but also, I want to challenge us as a people to examine the reasons for, the genesis of a young man like Christopher, one of our own sons, now effectively facing the fact that his life is over at 24, even as he and others must deal with his probable or certain role in ending the lives of some of his fellow Jamaicans.   It is all an unspeakable tragedy.

AP: You’ve said that the protagonist in your first novel Dog-Heart was loosely modelled on Christopher ‘Dog Paw ‘Linton whom you had tried to rescue from the streets in the 90s when he was an adolescent. When did you find out that the young boy you knew had become a wanted gang leader and was none other than the Dog Paw the police have been searching for since last May?

DM: No, Dexter – the protagonist in Dog-Heart – was not modelled on Christopher Linton.  What I have said is that I was involved in the education of four boys from the August Town area, beginning in the early 1990s and ending in roughly 2002.  One of them – the second oldest – was Christopher Linton.  His elder brother, Jeffrey Jones, was beaten to death while in prison during a prison riot in roughly 2002 or 3.  None of the characters in Dog-Heart are the real people – I guess the best way I can put it is that the actual experience of becoming involved with these four boys started me thinking about the whole situation I was witnessing, experiencing, living through and I sat down to write a novel inspired by these real events.  But the people in Dog-Heart, the events that occur in the book, I sat at my computer and made them up.   As soon as Christopher’s name was mentioned in the newspapers, I knew who he was – I can’t remember how long ago that was, but probably more than a year.

AP: You’ve emphasized that  “the events and people in Dog-heart are entirely fictional – nothing in Dog-heart really happened and the people are quite different from that family” but are there any similarities between them? For instance Dexter, the central character in your novel who grows into the gangster Matrix is portrayed as someone who is loving, sensitive and bright but who ultimately cannot overcome the internecine circumstances of the life he was born into. People have commented on the fact that Dog Paw comes across as well-educated and well-spoken. Did he actually graduate from school? What school did you send him to?

DM: When I say that the entire system failed Christopher, one example of that is the education system.  When I met him when he was about eight, he was completely illiterate – and he was in school – but he could not recognize or spell simple three letter words.  After just under four years in a good prep school – St. Hugh’s – he passed his G-SAT for Jamaica College. So yes, he graduated from St. Hugh’s.   As I said before, he was a very bright boy, I am sure he is an intelligent man.  He floundered at Jamaica College – he was in a very small remedial class at St. Hugh’s and at JC, he was suddenly in a class of 40-plus.  Within a year or so, he was asked to leave as he had not met the minimum academic standard.  The school also reported he wasn’t attending regularly, wasn’t doing his assignments.   We got him into another secondary school, but within less than a year, his grades were so bad that the sponsors I had found were unwilling to continue to fund his education.  I should say that initially myself and my then boyfriend funded the education of the four boys, but when I left my private sector job to work at an environmental NGO, I had to find other help and for many years, the education of the boys was paid for by overseas Jamaicans and local business people.  So think about it, at just over fourteen or maybe fifteen, Christopher was out of school, with no prospects, no programme to learn a trade or anything – and then, his brother was killed – beaten to death – while in police custody.  I imagine the rage and pain he must have been in – his entire family must have been in – and I am sure this event had something to do with the path his life then took.

AP: Linton has claimed in an Observer interview that he knows nothing of the charges the police want to lay against him. Do you think he’s being framed? He is very young—only 24—to be such a dangerous gang leader. Have you talked to him at all since your novel came out? Do you know if he’s read it? Have you been in touch with the rest of his family?

DM: I have no idea if he’s being framed or if he committed the crimes he is accused of.  He IS very young.  I haven’t talked to him, no.  When I went to Seattle in 2000 I lost track of him and his family.  When I came back, I learned of Jeffrey’s death, contacted Jamaicans for Justice, who had spoken to his mother, saw one of the teachers at St. Hugh’s who had been very involved with all four boys, and she told me that Christopher was no longer living at home and was in a gang.  It was then that I started to think about the whole experience, question my own opinions, my own prescriptions that education is the answer, and eventually those thoughts became Dog-Heart.

AP: Linton has made an impression in interviews of someone who is very intelligent, articulate and educated. Did you see hints of this in him when you first met and is that what made you want to try and help him out of the ghetto?

DM: I didn’t meet Christopher first.  It was really his brother, Jeffrey, who impressed me, and it was he we set out to help. To this day, I couldn’t tell you why he touched me in the way he did, compared to the many other children I have encountered in similar circumstances.   I met Christopher and his brothers subsequently – and we then realized that we could not single out one child in the family for help, but had to make sure they all got the same assistance.  I can only say again that Christopher was a sweet little boy with great potential who I remember and think about with fondness and I find the situation now unbearably sad, both for him and if he is guilty, for those he hurt or killed.

AP: I hope that finally Dog-Heart will get the attention it deserves. It is in effect the first document that seriously explores the conditions that influence the formation of characters such as Dog Paw; actually another novel that also does this is For Nothing at All by Garfield Ellis but of course it does so differently. You have tried so hard to change the environment that we all inhabit, in more ways than one, not merely as an environmental activist but by drawing attention to the systemic handicaps children such as Dexter suffer, are you at all frustrated by the lack of real change? What do you think it will take to produce an environment in which children are not exposed to such callousness and cruelty?

DM: Well, I’m not talking about this because of Dog-Heart.  I’m talking about this, because I want to say, look, I knew this man when he was a child, this man who is easy to hate, easy to demonize, but he did not come out of the womb like that, that he was a child who never had enough, ever, not one day of his life.  Yes, I’m very frustrated by the lack of real change in Jamaica, by the weakness and lack of integrity in our leadership, by the lack of thought we Jamaicans ourselves bring to these problems, by the level of national discourse, by the way as Mutty has always said, we trivialize our politics, it’s all a big party to us.  I don’t know what it will take to bring about real change – where this particular issue is concerned, I have no expertise, I’m just a witness, a storyteller.

AP: The title of your novel doesn’t necessarily refer to the protagonist Dexter, or does it? I got the impression it more fit his friend ‘Lasco’ who seemed irredeemably ‘bad’. So were you referring to a metaphorical ‘Dog-heart’, a system that turns young children into dog-hearted killers? as an aside i wonder why or how the term ‘dog-heart’ came into being, are dogs really like that?

DM: Dog-Heart doesn’t refer to any particular person in the novel.  It’s a reference to dog-heartedness, that quality that we Jamaicans talk about, recognize and react to with such revulsion.  So yes, the title is more of a metaphorical frame for the subject of the novel.  I don’t actually believe in dog-heartedness.  I have no idea how the term came about – a linguist would have to investigate – and I think the heart of a dog is generally a big warm kind heart – unless, just like people, the dog is mistreated.

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