Kingston has had a long history starting in 1692 when the Port Royal earthquake hit and the undeveloped land across the water started looking attractive enough to traumatised and shaken up Port Royal residents who then made the move to King's Town. Kingston itself was shaken by a few earthquakes, the most memorable being the one in 1907 which lasted approximately 20 seconds and killed tens of thousands of people. In 1944 the large black population, descendants from slaves, finally received the right to vote and the People's National Party (PNP) won the elections beating out the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). The PNP and the JLP are still in existence and are the two parties which dominate the political landscape in Jamaica. Through our development both parties have made mistakes. Politics and violence became deeply enmeshed in the 1970s when it is said that politicians, in seeking to ensure votes, provided arms to thugs in the society to intimidate voters. In return the thugs were provided with funding. Entire neighbourhoods became loyal to one party. When the thugs discovered the drugs trade, they no longer needed to rely on politicians for funds. The political ties remained but neighbourhoods became loyal the thugs who could provide them with benefits, such as security, that the state could only provide badly. When in 2009 the United States (US) sent the extradition request for alleged drug dealer and community leader Christopher "Dudus" Coke who is based in an area that is affiliated with the Jamaica Labour Party, the Prime Minister, who is also the leader of the JLP, faced a difficult task. The violence, which ultimately saw over 70 persons killed, was the clash between the security forces who were attempting to find Coke and men paid by Mr. Coke to prevent his being taken in.
Ultimately, Jamaica will heal. The worst seems to be over and rebuilding must take place. Jamaica is a poor nation but it has always had a robust democracy. The fact is that this flare up was an important step in our development and will determine how we proceed. We will continue to ask ourselves what do we want of our politicians? How do we break the ties between criminals and our elected leaders? How do we implement proper social measures in our society to nurture the enormous potential of our young people? I think that the recent scare will set our faces even more determinedly towards working towards the best for our nation. Also, it is from difficulties such as these that Jamaica gets such a rich cultural expression. If Bob Marley didn't have "So Much Things to Say" he could never have recorded that song. If there wasn't the tough inner city experience, then "No Woman Nuh Cry" could never have been written. The country of course, as always, stands with arms wide open to welcome visitors who are interested in seeing our landscape and learning about our culture. I invite you to come and see our people and the art, dance, music, and theatre that all our troubles have inspired us to create.