mek dem tek it!
By John Maxwell
And more questions...
Last week in Seattle
No mek dem tek it!
Its been amusing to watch some of the performances by those
who want to cut off a slice of Hope Gardens for an upscale
Talking to Mrs. Jennifer Messado on the First Edition radio programme,
I elicited a scandalised No! from her when I suggested
that the developers should instead turn their lusts towards the
Constant Spring Golf Club, which is open space, also owned by the
public. But, said Mrs. Messado, the golf club is being used.
Exactly, just like Hope Gardens, but not all parts of it are being
used at the same time. Besides which, Mrs. Messado said, the people
who want to live in the Hope Country Club dont want to live
at Portmore and they can pack their bags and leave Jamaica at any
time. She was, she said, thinking of people like the young executives
at Wray and Nephew, a Jamaican company for nearly two centuries.
As I reminded her, Wray & Nephews managers still solidly
reflect the complexion of the ruling classes of the last three centuries.
Hope, of course, is not being used not in the way that
the ruling classes understand it. They, after all, went to schools
abroad, every one of which has its own Hope gardens. The people
who cant afford Couples or Negril or the golf clubs, have
to make do with Hope, although that word seems to spring eternal
in the breasts of Messrs. Cartade and Douglas, whose obsession with
this piece of land goes back a long time.
Mr Douglas says the developers first approached him in 1995, but
both Cartade and the ministry of housing were after a piece of Hope
for far longer, as I explained last week. And Mr Douglas, I think,
misled Parliament when, according to report, he said it should be
clearly understood that the government Town Planner
has no authority to stop his scheme.
Mr Douglas is depending on the Housing Act, designed to allow the
Minister to build houses in areas of need. And, under the Act, it
is Mr Douglas who is the developer, not Mr Cartade. Why then should
Mr Cartade be guaranteed a profit from the land? Why should he be
involved at all?
Ahhh! Cartade has technical expertise. All the talk about helping
squatters boils down to Mr Cartades offering the Ministry
of Housing technical assistance to rehouse the squatters.
Those who derided the objectors to the scheme on the ground that
they didnt want to live next to poor people have
got their answer, from the horses mouth, so speak. Mr Cartade
is by profession a chef, and he is going to offer technical expertise
to a ministry with more experience in rehousing squatters than probably
any government housing department in the world. Such FUN!
Mr Douglas, who is a former Government Town Planner says the Town
Planning department has no authority to stop him, forgetting perhaps,
two small points. First, is that the area is covered by a development
Order, which puts the TPD in the drivers seat, and second,
that the Natural Resources Conservation Authority Act gives the
NRCA sole discretion over physical developments of any kind in Jamaica.
Under the Housing Act the Minister may acquire lands compulsorily
and determine how much should be paid for them. Mr Douglas has chosen
another route. Instead of summoning his Commissioner of Lands to
his office and telling him to turn over part of Hope Gardens, he
went to Cabinet to get authority. But he did not inform cabinet
that the lands are part of Hope Gardens, because according to him
they are not. So why did he need Cabinet permission?
And, since he can acquire the land compulsorily, why did he choose
to offer it instead, by private treaty, to Mr Cartade, although
another developer, Mr Roosevelt Thompson was had been recommended
by the former commissioner of Lands to be the beneficiary?
And, having offered it by private treaty and getting his Commissioner
of Valuations to value the land, why did Mr Douglas ask Cabinet
to reduce the price? In a world ruled by the market, surely another
bidder might have been found at full value, perhaps even more. If
the scheme is commercially viable, it should be viable commercially.
What is the Paramount Importance attached to this piece of land
for it to be handed over to a professional chef for development
for yuppie housing? Why should the lions and crocodiles have to
be hushed when little Wrays nephew has the gripe?
And why should the young lovers out of Bond Street and Rum Lane
be forced to take their ease on grass watered by the chlorinated
excrement of the ruling classes? Perhaps it doesnt need chlorination
at all and should be distributed in champagne buckets to specially
AND MORE QUESTIONS...
Since Mr Douglas, under the Housing Act must be the developer of
Hope Country Club, he should be able to give the rest of us further
and better particular about this scheme In fact the law requires
him to do so. But as one objector said at the meeting with the developers,
the scheme is a moving target. One day it will have x number of
homes (not houses) or housing solutions (shades of Nannyville!)
another day the number has changed.
The Environmental Impact Assessment contains a map showing clearly
that the land will eat a huge piece out of the Development Order,
but the Development Order is not mentioned in the EIA, or at least,
it is never addressed. How can the Minister or the NRCA accept an
EIA which does not consider, as it should. all the social and economic
factors affecting the scheme? How can an EIA simply toss aside the
interest in the land inhering in the more than two million citizens
of this country?
LAST WEEK IN SEATTLE
The barrage of propaganda by the American Press may have concealed
the fact that the debacle in Seattle was provoked by an attempt,
on the world scale, to do to humanity what Hope Country Club proposes
to do to Jamaicans. Despite the uproar caused by a small number
of troublemakers, the real issues at Seattle were about democracy,
about whether mega-corporations should rule the world and have the
right to tell ordinary people how to live their lives, what to eat
and how much to expect for their work.
As I have suggested in several columns, the World Trade organisation
is at heart a conspiracy to nullify Agenda 21 and to make an end
run round sustainable development. Under the existing rules of the
WTO, the United States, for example, cannot exclude from its market
gasoline deemed environmentally dangerous by the US Environmental
protection Agency. The Europeans cannot keep out of their markets,
food produced in the USA which the Europeans believe may be harmful
to their health. Under the WTO rules, small farmers in Jamaica and
Dominica must be penalised for paying their workers a subsistence
wage while Chiquita (United Fruit) and Dole pay starvation wages
to their peons in Central and South America.
Now, in Jamaica, the nurses are paid much less than policemen and
cannot have a wage increase because the government has decided to
subsidise the rich in order to stop them speculating against the
dollar and has reduced income tax at the same time, to engender,
perhaps confidence. Perhaps, the Hope Country
Club is another step in the same direction.
NO MEK DEM TEK IT!
In his statement to parliament, Mr Douglas argued that more people
signed letters approving the scheme than those who made objections.
I presume that Mr Douglas counted the Jamaica Society of Architects,
for instance, as one objection. And that the objection lodged by
the Hon. Vivian Blake, QC and I represented two.
I have news for him.
I have not counted the number of people who have come up to me on
the street and thanked me for objecting on their behalf, as they
put it. I remember most clearly, one man, who accosted me politely
in the local pharmacy and said: Beg you, Mr Mac, no mek dem
tek it! He didnt have to tell me what he meant, as other
people nearby, hearing him, nodded and indicated by various means
that they understood what I had understood. Another person, a woman
said to me on the street that selling Hope Gardens would be like
dig up Daddy Manley and bury him a May Pen!
I got the message.
It is quite plain:
They must not pass!
They shall not pass!
© 1999 by John Maxwell