Jamaica Faces a Defining Moment

The government's effort to arrest an alleged drug lord puts the island nation on the brink of civil war.

Police patrol on May 24, 2010 in Kingsto

When he admitted on May 11 that he had sanctioned the hiring the American law firm Manatt, Phelps and Phillips to lobby the U.S. on Coke’s extradition, many business and civic groups called for him to resign. The admission was seen as evidence that Jamaican politicians at the highest level are in bed with criminals. Golding then reversed himself and agreed to the extradition, and apologized to the nation.

Now the standoff in West Kingston is likely to make Jamaicans regret that they let politicians and criminals hold them hostage for so long. “It is clearly a defining moment for Jamaica,” a political analyst who preferred to remain anonymous told The Root. Exactly what it will define remains to be seen.

Knolly Moses, a former Newsweek reporter, lives in Jamaica.