73 Civilians killed in Jamaica. Big deal! So what?

The deaths of 73 civilians matter so little that the government of Jamaica can’t be bothered to ask for surveillance footage from the US DEA P 3 Orion which should show what took place on May 24, 2010 in Tivoli Gardens

To my astonishment the Jamaica Observer carried an editorial on Sunday  titled “There was a spy plane over Tivoli, so what?”  This was astonishing to me because in my last post I had commented saying that the Minister of Security’s reaction to questions about the spy plane he said he knew nothing about seemed to be a nonchalant shrug. “In fact he acted as if it really wasn’t his business or ours (!) An unidentified flying object in our airspace? Pshaw! So he didn’t know about it, so what?

Now here was one of the nation’s leading newspapers shamelessly saying exactly the same thing. Not only that: highlighted on the Letters page was an inane one titled “What’s the big deal about the surveillance plane?”

“Dear Editor,

Ok, so it has been confirmed that a US plane provided surveillance assistance during the 2010 Tivoli Gardens operations. I don’t understand the controversy and what’s the big deal if they were invited to assist to strengthen the army’s tactics and strategy?”

The big deal dear thick-skulled letter writer and Observer editors is that 73 people were killed under unexplained circumstances during that Tivoli Gardens operation. This spy plane has video footage of what happened on the ground during that operation which ought to be central to any investigation into the massacre of 73 civilians by government forces only one of whom was killed in the battle for Tivoli.

So no one is faulting the government for asking or accepting assistance from the US government. As the Sunday Gleaner’s editorial eloquently said:

“…the decline in crime in Jamaica, in particular homicides, since Coke’s departure and the degrading of his network suggest that America’s insistence on his extradition, and whatever help they may have given to effect it – the memorandum included – were the best aid package by a foreign government to Jamaica in recent times.”

The question is why then Minister of Information Daryl Vaz denied this so vigorously immediately after the Tivoli incursion and why Minister of Security Dwight Nelson continued to do so until a few days ago.

And the really burning question is why the government shows so little interest in acquiring the video footage shot by the P-3 Orion. Are we to assume that the residents of Tivoli matter as little to this Prime Minister as they did to the previous one?

If this is a strategy by the Jamaica Observer to come to the rescue of its favourite political party it should think again because in its haste to diminish the import of the spy plane what it seems to be saying is that the massacre of 73 civilians in Tivoli in May 2010 was insignificant.  Big deal! So what?