Jamaica: Background and U.S. Relations [July 9, 2010]   [open pdf - 295KB]

From the Document: "The Caribbean island-nation of Jamaica has had a relatively stable parliamentary political system stemming from its history of British colonial rule. Current Prime Minister Bruce Golding of the Jamaica Labour Party was elected in September 2007 when his party defeated the long-ruling People's National Party led by then-Prime Minister Portia Simpson. In late May 2010, however, Jamaica's stability was challenged after Prime Minister Golding agreed to extradite to the United States an at-large alleged drug kingpin and gang leader, Christopher Coke. The Jamaican government deployed police and soldiers seeking to execute a warrant for Coke, but his armed supporters erected barricades and roadblocks to battle the security forces. In the ensuing violence, 76 people were killed, including two policemen and a soldier. Human rights organizations have called on the government to conduct a thorough investigation into the killings, especially since Jamaica's police forces have been criticized for many years for extrajudicial killings and the indiscriminate use of force. Coke was ultimately captured and extradited to New York in late June 2010 to face drug and weapons trafficking charges. High rates of crime and violence have plagued Jamaica for many years. In the 1970s and 1980s there was a high level of politically motivated violence when political parties became allied with armed gangs to deliver votes at election time. Jamaica's gangs initially were involved in the trafficking of marijuana in the 1970s (Jamaica is the Caribbean's largest producer and exporter of marijuana), but in the mid-1980s became involved in cocaine trafficking, with Jamaica used as a transit country, as well as weapons trafficking."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R41318
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