Thursday, August 26, 2010

Jamaica - Not a great place to visit.

Do gun bans really stop criminals from getting guns? Americans need to look no further than the massive gun battle with armed gangs fighting police and soldiers that took place in Kingston, Jamaica recently. At least 30 people were killed in the fighting. It is a huge number for a small island nation of fewer than 3 million people, but unfortunately murder is so common in Jamaica that these murders won't even be noticed in the annual crime numbers.

Jamaica experienced large increases in murder rates since enacting a handgun bans in 1974. Since the gun ban, Jamaica’s murder rate has soared to become one of the highest in the world, currently at least double that of other Caribbean countries. Jamaica’s murder rate hasn’t sunk below 10 murders per 100,000 people since the gun ban went into effect. Yes, a fun place to visit. Since guns are outlawed, tourists like yourselves are easy pickings.

If you must visit a city like Montego Bay, then plan on avoiding high-threat areas including, but not limited to, Flankers, Canterbury, Norwood, Rose Heights, Clavers Street and Hart Street in Montego Bay.  Sudden demonstrations can occur, during which demonstrators often construct roadblocks or otherwise block streets. The primary criminal concern for tourists is becoming a victim of theft. In several cases, however armed robberies of Americans have turned violent when the victims resisted handing over valuables. Beatings and rapes also happen on a regular basis. Crime there is exacerbated by the fact that police are totally understaffed and ineffective. Additionally, there have been frequent allegations of police corruption and visitors should take all necessary precautions. Pay extra attention to you surroundings when traveling, and keep windows up and doors locked while in a vehicle. Avoid walking alone, exercise special care after dark, and always avoid areas known for high crime rates.

In 2009 the Embassy received several reports of sexual assaults against American citizens, including two cases of alleged sexual assaults at tourist resorts.  Americans, especially should maintain careful watchfulness, avoid secluded places or situations, go out in groups and watch out for each other.  Do not count on the local police to protect you. They can carry guns, but that is for their protection not yours. Under Jamaican law, they do not even have to respond to a call for help if they feel they will be in danger. Seriously!

I can only think of one other place more dangerous than Montego Bay in Jamaica and that would be Chicago.

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