Sand in our faces

July 18, 2008

Letter to the Editor sent July 18, 2008

NB. The Gleaner did publish the letter albeit edited. Unnu nuh see seh di dyam editor people dem change the pronoun referring to God from “she” to “he”?! Is there any gender justice in this world? [one big kiss-teeth]

Sand in our faces

Regarding the sand mining in Coral Springs, Trelawny: Ol’ time people seh tief from tief god laugh. Most assuredly, God is probably in tears, as she bears witness to the offspring of an unholy matrimony between developers and construction companies, sanctioned by privatization ideology, and officiated by the national government. For the past two decades, both parties have ruthlessly acquired, exploited and overdeveloped the physical landscape, mining the beaches, polluting the ground waters and the ocean, running our already overburdened infrastructure into the ground, creating both substandard and exclusive developments, and contributing little to the standard of living of the people on whose backs such “development” occurs: ours.

These entities have worked well together and will continue to do so, thanks to the enthusiastic support of our Prime Minister, and the stewardship of Karl Samuda, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, whose personal and political interests are one and the same. I assume that we should be impressed by the stellar list of local millionaires involved and feel a measure of sympathy for them. Alas, Felicitas Ltd. is feeling anything but happy right now. I feel a tremendous sense of loss, but not for these actors.

Despite the flurry of activity of the high-level investigative team composed of geologists, police investigators, and other environmental specialists, the irony of this situation is not lost on most of us.
Whether the sands of Coral Springs was stolen by a construction company or appropriated by privateers for their own exclusionary means, the result is the same as it has been for years now: once again, sand has been kicked in the faces of the majority of Jamaican people who have been rendered virtually powerless to stop these folks from taking the land from beneath our feet.

P.S. A letter published in the Jamaica Observer (Sunday edition) points out, ever so politely and mathematically, that there is more than one way to approach the issue. Of course, all the focus is on finding the culprits, not addressing any the larger issues I raised in my letter. Maybe one can lead to the other, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

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8 Responses to “Sand in our faces”

  1. ESTEBAN AGOSTO REID Says:

    Bwoy, this sand thing is extremely puzzling and perplexing.I still have problems wrapping my mind around it,irrespective of your explanations and analytical attempts at elucidation.I guess the reason for this,is that I may be looking at this issue from a somewhat simple or elementary perspective.Meaning,how can five hundred trucks of sand be removed from a beach,and nobody or no one is cognizant as to who, or which entity savagely pillaged, plundered and denuded this beach?Indeed,this is an immense or major operation that cannot be carried out with a certain level or degree of unobtrusiveness or stealthiness.Come on,this is a highly conspicuous and noticeable operation, whether done in the dead of night or broad daylight involving massive noisy and obstreperous trucks and other equipments.Consequently,I am at a loss and totally confounded as to the ignorance of authorities,i.e.,law enforcement at the local and national levels as to which organization or entity raped this beach.And,also,the supposedly lack of knowledge on the part of community residents.Certainly,an operation of this magnitude cannot go un-noticed in Jamaica.Jamaicans are just too fast,nosey,inquisitive,interfering,curious,meddlesome and sususu to not know what is happening,or what transpired at this beach which is now an environmental disaster.Undoubtedly,I will be following this “Tief di beach” issue extremely closely, and hopefully, the culprits/plunderers when caught,or if caught,the full weight or brunt of the law will be brought to bear on the individuals,entities,or organizations involved, irrespective of race,ethnicity,social class,political connection,genetic connection,big man,small man,kleptocrat,or international.Jamaica is definitely looking at this one, and hopefully, we do not have to wipe or wash away any sand kicked in our faces,if the law enforcement authorities for once do the right thing by enforcing the rule of law, as opposed to hiding behind various forms of ad hoc situations, circumstances and conveniences in protecting thieves.

  2. Stunner Says:

    Well said Longbench! It has been the trend of the Jamaican Governments to cheaply sell out the assets of our beautiful country to investors without ensuring that these so-called investments benefit the people of Jamaica. They are all greedy people looking out for their own interests, no matter how much hard working Jamaicans suffer. As for the theft of the sand, I find it hard to believe someone could steal so much sand without catching the attention of someone. It seems we have some damn goo magicians in Jamaica! Something fishy about is, and it’s not the sea.

  3. longbench Says:

    Stunner and Esteban –

    As someone who drives on the northcoast road regularly, I can tell you that I have had to hitch up behind many a truck hauling sand and dirt, the crap trickling out like a trail behind them, blowing in our faces and messing up the windshield.

    That Duncans piece? Not new. In fact, if i think back over the past several months, it is entirely likely that I have seen similar operations underway, and scowled, kissed my teeth and swallowed the anger and powerlessness that I feel at this raping and pillaging of the country.

    What this episode should teach us is that we are constantly surrounded by this kind of theft; it happens right under our noses and before our eyes.

    However, too often we assume that those hauling the sand (and doing all kinds of other things) MUST have had permission, MUST know what they are doing, it MUST be ok because they are doing it. After all, why else would they do it if it was not ok? In fact, does it say anywhere that mining of our beaches is illegal? I doubt it. We will even defend the right of the truckers to haul because, after all, dem affi eat a food to’, and we don’t REALLY have evidence that that specific person is doing anything wrong. That is a position based on ignorance and acceptance of whatever goes. Yes, this is a metaphor for how everything works in this country.

    In my view, we totally underestimate the extent to how this privatization ideology has affected our everyday lives. Nobody ask question anymore; any and everybody who have big man fren, money, gun an’ truck can take step as they want. That’s what needs to stop. Immediately. Starting now.

  4. ESTEBAN AGOSTO REID Says:

    Copious thanks Longbench,I am extremely appreciative of your explanation.It has been extremely helpful in enabling me to fathom and comprehend how such an operation could or may have been executed oblivious to residents and local authorities.Indeed,as you rightly contend,theft of this nature and magnitude constantly surrounds us and takes place right under our very noses and before our eyes without us questioning the legality of such operations.Your explanation has been very instructive,and it will result in me being a little more circumspect and observant,when I see these convoy of trucks fully loaded traversing various roads across the island.RESPECT!!

  5. Agostinho Says:

    Hi Long Bench,

    A most insightful read. Development continues to be plagued by a number of issues in Jamaica, among the failure of the people to see their own contribution and responsibility in terms of the discussion. Indeed, the extent to which issues like these are “national” completely escapes some who feel that “Government” is the be-all and the end-all in the discsusion. This, of course, is a convenient way of washing our own hands of a collective civic responsibility which should, naturally, push us to act in the best interests of the country. Alas, not all are either sufficiently aware or concerned about such matters it seems. In which regard, the crisis continues.

    Having said that, Government’s role in this matter cannot be denied and there is, without question, a need for increased policing of developers in this regard. Not only at the level of enforcement, but also in terms of building capacity to ensure compliance. This is, without question, a critical component of the collective civic regulation, especially where it applies to local developers, themselves, important players in the discussion.

  6. duttybwoy Says:

    Long bench, there was a letter to the editor today in the Jamaica Observer criticizing your letter which was published in the Gleaner on Saturday. It is quite scathing, very critical of you .It even went as far as to suggest that you are breaking libel laws in collusion with the folk at the Gleaner.

    The writer letter is titled “Sand in the face also causes ‘red eye’—–The writer says that you are badmind against the “investors” whose only crime is being successful.

    Here is a link to the letter on the Jamaica Observer website http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/letters/html/20080721T180000-0500_138117_OBS_SAND_IN_THE_FACE_ALSO_CAUSES__RED_EYE_.asp

    Question?

    Are you going to response to this letter. I anxiously await the next chapter.

  7. longbench Says:

    Duttbwoy – Thanks for letting me know. Respond I will, but I’ll have to think about how I want to do so. I’m a little disappointed with Mr. Powell’s letter; I would have hoped he would have been more original in his accusations (“grudgeful” and “libel”) as well as in his veiled threats of a lawsuit against the Gleaner. This might be the tried-and-true way to shut people up and stifle debate and criticism, but that will only work if we accept the terms of the debate offered by the Observer and all those who work in service of elites’ dominance and the injustices that are par for their course. Selah.

  8. Mike Says:

    Great article.
    There is 1 law for the rich and 1 for the poor.
    The only reason there is a big stink about this is the investors are recognizable by name.

    If it was property owned by Mass Joe and Miss Jane, you would not hear a thing. Someone would pat them on the shoulder and say that ‘A so runnings go’. Case closed.
    All they could do is sing Bob Marley “Ol’ pirates, yes they rob I..”

    Pirates!?! hmmmmm.
    Second Spanish invasion. hhhmmmmmm

    Keep writing my friend. The Pen is indeed mighty.


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