Posted by: fullandbye | May 28, 2010

Kingston Burning

Cross posted with my blogger blog
A political situation that has been slowly stewing here in Jamaica for almost a year completely exploded last week and has in the past few days made headlines around the world.

If you read no further, know that I am safe. Peace Corps always stresses that volunteer safety is their number one priority. While I have sometimes doubted the wisdom of specific safety policies (helmets while driving a donkey cart? Really?) The past few days have definitely ossified my faith in Peace Corps having their act together when situations get legitimately dicey.

And dicey they are indeed. News can gotten anywhere. For back story, the best journal article summarizing the situation (as of last week, before things got “hot”) is this article here. Very comprehensive. Good reading too.

This story was published before the violence began. Since then there has been fighting between government security (military and constabulary force) and the private militia armed and paid by organized crime figures. Most of the major news outlets are on this story so information should be easy to come by.

Like most conflicts that make world press, this one is concentrated in a a few cities. There is a visceral tension in people’s mood even in this bucolic outpost. But really, were it not for the media it would be hard to notice anything amiss throughout most of the country. Port Antonio remains peaceful, laid back, and pleasant. Moore Town remains quiet, beautiful, and friendly. When it comes down to it, farmers in the Rio Grande Valley (farmers everywhere, presumably) have other things to worry about.

I am not worried for myself at all. I am worried for my friends in the JDF.
My move from Port Royal could not have come at a more fortuitous time. When I was still in Port Royal, anytime I went to Kingston I had to travel right through the part of Kingston that is now the heart of this conflict. I met some wonderful and engaging people; taxi drivers, market ladies, hawkers, domino players, and buskers. I worry for these people too.

Updates as they come. Several people around the world–in Ghana, Israel, Seattle, Italy etc. have contacted me to ask about my safety. I am profoundly touched by the concern. It means a lot. I hope I have put your minds at ease. Anyone with further questions about me or about this situation is, of course, welcome to contact me privately off-list.

Tuesday will be the one-year anniversary of my shipping out from Seattle. The image from that 737 of Mt. Index and Lake Serene as we passed over the Cascades remains as clear in my mind as though it were yesterday. In a sense, it feels like yesterday.



  1. What’s your Blogger site address?

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