by Mervyn Claxton

Comment provoked by a report that 50,000 criminal deportees have been sent back to the Caribbean in the past ten years

A causal connection has been convincingly established between criminal deportees of El Salvador nationals from the U.S. in recent years and the subsequent spike in violent crime in the country, including the great increase in the number of criminal gangs. It would appear that a similar cause and effect situation exists in the Caribbean. I was unaware that the issue of criminal deportees had been raised by Caricom leaders with Obama during the latter’s visit to T&T last April.

The great discretion on the subject (as evidenced by the absence of any publicity or public discussion of the issue) is, perhaps, yet another manifestation of the general indifference, on the part of Caricom citizens, of such a crucially important social problem, something I find most puzzling. Just as important is the misplaced focus by Caricom leaders on criminal deportees instead of the conditions in Caricom societies which generate crime. Transplants, whether physical, social, or cultural, can survive and thrive only if favourable conditions in the recipient society/country exist for them to do so. That principle applies to transplanted criminals.

Only when Caricom leaders cease treating the symptoms of the many serious problems which our societies face and begin tackling, instead, the roots of those problems would the need for alternative development policies become clear and unavoidable. But politicians, as distinct from statesmen (which our region sorely lacks), tend to pursue their narrow political interests. As long as Caricom citizens and civil society groups continue to either remain silent on important socio-economic issues (through passivity, resignation, or apathy) or merely content themselves with pro forma protests rather than stimulating a public debate on such issues with a view to proposing feasible alternative policies, business will continue as usual and nothing will change. In the course of my research on conditions propitious to, and the causes of, social and political change, I examined a number of revolutions and social explosions. A recurrent factor in all of them was the blindness of the “bourgeosie” to the grave danger of continuring to ignore or dismiss explosive conditions in their society.

James Baldwin

James Baldwin

In 1963, James Baldwin published “The Fire Next Time” which he hoped would help prevent the racial conflagration he saw coming. Whether Baldwin’s book helped to open the eyes of the white power structure to the explosive situation in American society is not subject to proof but it most certainly galvanized the civil rights movement. The passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has been attributed, in part, to the enormous impact his book made. Baldwin warned in his book that should his effort fail the words of a slave song might come true: “God gave Noah the rainbow sign, / No more water, the fire next time!” Who will be Caricom’s Baldwin? Who will come forth to warn Caricom society of the Fire Next Time?

Mervyn

Criminal Deportees To Caribbean Tops 50 Thousand Mark In Decade

CaribWorldNews, WASHINGTON, D.C., Fri. July 17, 2009: Over 50,000 convicted Caribbean-born criminals, who have called the U.S. home for many years, have been shipped back to the Caribbean in the past decade under tough U.S. immigration laws, a CaribWorldNews analysis of new Department of Homeland Security data reveals. The number of criminal deportees sent back to the Caribbean between the decade of 1999 and 2008 totaled 50,589, DHS statistics released this month and analyzed by CWNN reveal. Last year, the number was at 4,343, a slight increase from 2007, when the total was 4,315. However, it was an improvement from 2005, when the total rose to 5,149, the highest for the decade.

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