We had better laugh at ourselves in this crucial moment, or we will face the risk that we’ll be alone in the world in not seeing the joke. I have been tweeting that the BBC is giving heavy rotation to a story that has been known to Jamaicans for some time. Maybe now that this story has gone global and we are universally being seen as a laughingstock with regard this matter on the world stage; perhaps a sense of shame will cause the Jamaica Calypso-Cop Constabulary Force to finally take action.
On July 17th, the story appeared that 500, I repeat:
FIVE HUNDRED (500)
truckloads of sand were stolen from a beach in Jamaica. And when I saw it, I had a series of caustically sarcastic remarks that I thought best kept to myself. I literally fell OFF my chair laughing at the zany, goonish, hijinks that is life in Joke-maica! So I struggled successfully not to blog about this one — I let Longbench take one for the team and managed to not even comment on her post.
I mean really – 500 truckloads of sand? Wow! I immediately started to conceive of comparable headlines that would appear next:
Convoy of 100 elephants eludes police for 8 hours in Kingston
Jamaica House stolen overnight: Only foundation left by crooks
and my favorite:
Parish of Portland Reported Missing: Cops Say Few Clues
I mean this is outrageous; in every definition of the word. And the reason I didn’t say anything about it is that what I would have said, is this:
- If your country cannot discover the thieves of 500 truckloads of sand, in less than 50 minutes of police work, then you’re a bona fide banana republic and your U.N. membership should be rescinded and that seat be given to the Republic of Cuervo Gold.
- Mark Shields should be fired! His work visa should be revoked, and he should be both deported and declared persona non-grata.
- When I wrote Weeping and A-wailing, a short story, I deliberately kept the number of stolen luxury cars low to remain plausible. If only I’d known what ‘plausible‘ means in Jamaica — I couldn’t make this up if I tried.
Harsh? I’m very serious about all of those points; which is exactly why I said nothing. I’m a proud Jamaican; I was wearing my Jamaican jacket, which is emblazoned with the words “Yard Man” even yesterday. Do I really need to be humiliated by this degree of incompetence and buffoonery? I may as well start declaring my allegiance to Zimbabwe if we are going to carry on like this ‘a yard.’ This is outrageous!
So the BBC story came to my attention via the radio broadcast — heard by hundreds of millions worldwide — but if you doubt we’re being mocked (and deservedly so) check out the story the BBC posted online.
The headline says it all – here comes the joke: Jamaica puzzled by theft of beach.
I’m reproducing the story in full below and assert fair usage rights available based on governing copyright statutes.
Jamaica puzzled by theft of beach
By Nick Davis
BBC News, Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Questions are being asked in Jamaica about a police investigation into the theft of hundreds of tons of sand from a beach on the island’s north coast.
It was discovered in July that 500 truck-loads had been removed outside a planned resort at Coral Spring beach.
Detectives say people in the tourism sector could be suspects, because a good beach is seen as a valuable asset to hotels on the Caribbean island.
But a lack of arrests made since July have led to criticism of the police.
The beach at Coral Springs, in Jamaica’s northern parish of Trelawny, was 400 metres (1,300ft) of white sand. The 0.5-hectare strand was to form part a resort complex costing US$108m, but the theft of its most important feature has led to its developers putting their plans on hold.
Illegal sand mining is a problem in Jamaica; the tradition of people building their own homes here means there is a huge demand for the construction material. However, the large volume and the type of sand taken made suspicion point towards the hotel industry.
The disappearance was deemed so important that the Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, also took an interest in the theft and ordered a report into how 500 truckloads of sand was stolen, transported and presumably sold.
Three months on, and with no arrests or charges in the case, the main opposition People’s National Party have suggested that some people now think there has been a cover up.
But the deputy commissioner for crime at the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Mark Shields, insisted this was not an open-and-shut case.
“It’s a very complex investigation because it involves so many aspects,” he told the BBC.
“You’ve got the receivers of the stolen sand, or what we believe to be the sand. The trucks themselves, the organisers and, of course, there is some suspicion that some police were in collusion with the movers of the sand.”
Police said they were carrying out forensic tests on beaches along the coast to see if any of it matches the stolen sand.
Source: Nick Davis, Correspondent, BBC News
Look at the entire story; the only other thing bolded outside the nutgraf near the top, is the subheadline ‘Complex investigation.’ Precisely what is so complex about this investigation, because I’ve read that the sand is not a type that is usable in construction? I’ve also read that the sand has been found at another beach on a tourism property since the theft? Is Shields telling us the police are unable to get intel from every point along the route from the Coral Springs theft point to the deposit point?
I love my country, but we have to raise our expectations if we wish to be able to hold our heads up in the world and be taken seriously. This story, this scandalous saga, is not the first time we’ve allowed ourselves to appear internationally like utter buffoons due to the incompetence of the our police. This is not the first cover-up that has been bundled and turned into a boondoggle. I mean — who really believes that Bob Woolmer died of natural causes and wasn’t murdered? Read about the crime scene and make that assertion again.
When you have one of the highest murder rates in entire world, it is not a high expectation to expect that you have infrastructure capable of competently performing a $@%@-ing autopsy. In fact, since so many more of your citizens are dying daily, people could fairly expect you to be better and more practiced at autopsies than others. Yet the lack of the ability to perform a competent autopsy is exactly what Jamaica demonstrated to the world during the Cricket World Cup. And now this?
I think we are incapable of introspection. Of seeing the laughingstock we must seem to others. Hence The Economist has to make fun of the muted response by the Jamaican business class after the death of Douglas Chambers; and only then will we scurry to doing the right thing like teenager-cockroaches under a sudden light. Speaking of which: Where is that case now? Have his murderers been arrested and charged? Or was the case swept under the rug like every new horror we undergo?
It is clear the police and political leadership in Jamaica are incapable of introspection. I was perusing the Observer recently and saw the most shocking story: Protest over stolen light.
Now most people will focus on the presumptuousness of protesting over a right to steal from others, and Clovis mocks that adroitly.
But when you come right down to it, the leaders and up-towners in Jamaican are crooks; poor people have eyes to see that fact. So why should poor people’s right to steal be infringed when no other group is similarly constrained? I have to agree with this protest, as perverse as it sounds.
What struck me though, what I thought was both hilarious and tragic beyond belief is this passage:
Earlier, NSWMA executive director Joan Gordon-Webley complained that the roadblock cost the state agency as its drivers, as well as persons contracted to clear solid waste, were on the road from yesterday morning.
“When they are not able to come in, that means there is going to be a backlog and backup on the road. And we still have to pay them,” said Gordon-Webley. “Can you imagine when that backlog starts to take effect out there? It’s a health hazard.”
Source: Jamaica Observer, Friday Oct. 17, 2007
So the facts are these: Gordon-Webley is standing at a landfill, a landfill to which people (including children) live too close. Further, that landfill is on fire; there are noxious fumes and smoke going up in the air over where infants will spend the night. And Gordon-Webley makes note of one fact — that these residents have blocked more garbage from coming in, and that blockage is a health hazard. Question for Joan: Joan, do you see any other health hazards while you’re standing there? Anything jump out at you: like the fact that there are too many people living too close to a burning fucking landfill?
Bona fide banana republic behavior.