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Parliamentarian Pearnel Charles is predicting an imminent uprising by the Jamaican people, who, according to him, had taken too much for too long and were ready to explode with violent protests.

Charles, who is marking 50 years of active life in Jamaican politics and trade unionism, told the Jamaica Observer in an interview that the fact that people were getting more violent, committing so many heinous crimes, and not having the economic opportunities to provide basic goods and services for themselves, were warning signs that things were reaching boiling point as far as maintaining law and order is concerned.

The former Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Cabinet minister and sitting Member of Parliament for North Central Clarendon said that the signs were becoming clearer.

“I am a political science student with a degree in government, so I have examined governments around the world. I have seen that people only accept suffering for so long and no longer, and they soon move into action when there is a leader who comes along and tells them that they shouldn’t be suffering so badly,” Charles said.

“In Jamaica, Marcus Garvey fought for the people and got arrested, (Paul) Bogle led an uprising and was hanged, but that is not to say that if we push our people to where those people were, that it won’t happen again. People are knocking at my door and asking what we in the JLP are doing … if we are not ready to lead a revolt against the suffering, and how we are going to throw out the PNP (People’s National Party). People are willing to risk their lives for survival. If we continue in this same direction we are going to have an uprising,”
Charles insisted.

Citing the limited number of school leavers who had been able to get jobs or enter tertiary institutions since they graduated from secondary school between last June and July, Charles warned that having too much loose talent around with little to do, could give rise to irregular conduct.

“Of 55,000 young Jamaicans who graduated from high school recently, less than 10,000 of them got jobs. What has happened to the other 45,000?

“When you graduate so many people and they can’t get jobs, what do you expect them to do? They are skilled enough to manipulate the system, they are skilled enough to manipulate the computer, do you believe that they are going to say, ‘I am a Christian I don’t have a job; I am not going to do anything’?”

I am fearful that if you push no growth, no investment and no employment, then you are on that road where the revolution is ripe. I am not wishing the country bad but I am a realist. People are becoming more violent in Jamaica today than they were ever.

You don’t find in the past no man raping a four-year-old girl, killing her and throwing her body for crows and hogs and dogs to eat. You don’t find men going into a home, shoot people dead and injure the others.

We are getting there. The police have increased their presence 300-fold, and murders have increased 600-fold. Something is wrong. Over the last three years the police have killed more than 1,000 criminals. Police locked up more than 2,000, so how come we still have more than a thousand murders this year? Are we getting anywhere?

The people who are out there never necessarily wanted to become murderers, but they ended up that way because of circumstances,” Charles argued.

The former JLP deputy leader insisted that the Government had to deal urgently with controlling murders, and eradicating the lotto scam, which had only served to gnaw away at the gains made by the nation in other areas of its development.

“Scamming and murders are the biggest obstacles to foreign direct investment. Any sensible man would ask why he would want to invest in a country in which he is not only liable to lose his investment, but lose his life.

“Why have Jamaicans shamed us across the world by their skill of getting American money under the scam. Is it such a skilled operation that the Americans can’t do anything about and that the Jamaican security experts too, can’t do anything about? Scamming can wipe us out. It’s a US$300-million-a-year operation. An illiterate man cannot do that. But, again, if you lock off the scamming and the scammers what do you give them to do? There is no investment, no employment and nothing of value to occupy their time,” Charles reasoned.

“I am fearful of the future. I am disappointed with the past. We have not managed the system well. Our management has shown that the system cannot work.

The political system that we have used to run Jamaica from 1962 to now just will not get us anywhere. It’s two steps forward and one and a half backward, that means we are not going anywhere. 0.1 per cent or 1 per cent growth in an economy like Jamaica we are only waiting for a violent revolution. It won’t be long before people take to the street. If you look at politics around the world, people suffer for so long, even the Maroons and the slaves rebelled under guns, chains, handcuffs. How can we expect people not to rebel when they are under no guns and chains!

“You are now dealing with a different generation, a more intelligent generation. When I look at the PNP they are not as significant to the people today as they were in the past. You couldn’t find JLP fighting JLP or PNP fighting PNP the way they are doing. Something has happened in the politics of the people and it is that they are not influenced by the ideology of the party as they were in the past. A man is a socialist he will say nothing about the PNP; a man is a labourite, he is a rock stone labourite … that is not so anymore.

“Some of us are saying that people are not labourite anymore, they are money-rite. Others are saying that the PNP are zinc and ply board PNP. If you are not giving them some money, they are not with you and then you ask why and they tell you, ‘Mr Charles, what I hear you saying now I have been hearing for 50 years and nothing has happened, so you have to give me now before me give you a vote’, and the PNP man is saying the same thing … that the PNP not helping him and he has to send the pickney to school. He will tell you that he is a socialist but it naa work out,” said Charles, the author of four books.

The trade unionist also poked a finger at the Government for “freeing up” ganja though the enactment of recent legislation allows for the drug to be decriminalised in special circumstances. He said that relaxing the law on ganja use would “create a bigger havoc in life”, as there are those who will manipulate the system.

He was among a minority of parliamentarians who voted this year against decriminalising the drug for personal use in small quantities in private places, although he had no problem with it being used on medical grounds. The schools, he said, now have the biggest problem of ganja smoking, which we never had.

“It is now being sold outside the gates of some institutions and you are now allowed to have up to five plants in your yard. I have never seen one man who was sick and got better as a result of ganja. Tobacco destroys your lungs and ganja destroys your brain. The minister of education acknowledged that it was a big problem in schools now and it will get worse,” the parliamentarian stated.

Charles, too, in his trade union role, touched on the Government’s offer of four per cent pay increase to workers in the public sector as an insult, as the country would find it difficult to experience meaningful growth, arguing that private sector companies, even if they are capable of doing so, would not offer their workers more than that given in the public sector, which could result in a choking of the economy.

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