The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) which was in opposition at the time had called the island wide demonstration to protest against a wave of price hikes.

But according to a confidential US Embassy cable, the PNP which was in Government at the time wanted was doing all it could to avoid the economic fallout that could come with a national protest.

The diplomatic cable from the US Embassy reported that an executive member of the PNP explained that the party paid area leaders not to participate in the September 6, 2005 demonstration called by the then Opposition JLP.

 

According to the cable the PNP executive said the party made that decision because it wanted to avoid a repeat of the widespread damage during the violent gas riot of 1999.

The ‘99 riot was backed by supporters of the then governing PNP and the Opposition JLP.

But the 2005 island wide protest was being instigated by the JLP.

The cable said the PNP official claimed the party had discouraged its constituencies across the island from the lawless behavior.

He said the party had sent its local representatives to communities to ‘lubricate’ influential community leaders or dons including handing out money.

The PNP member further told a US embassy official that the party’s efforts were successful, implying that it was primarily JLP supporters who eventually carried out the protest.

The Embassy further claimed that the PNP executive member accepted that the demonstration by the JLP was not irresponsible, but that the party was worried that certain aggressive elements in the then opposition could incite violence.

Then opposition leader Bruce Golding had called the demonstration in what he said was a desire to protest against a series of price hikes which had left many Jamaicans fuming.

But the US Embassy officials said days before the demonstration, a senior JLP member boasted that the party had planned the demonstration for the same day several regional leaders would be in Montego Bay to sign the PetroCaribe agreement.

This was reportedly contradicted by another high ranking Labourite who denied that the PetroCaribe signing in Montego Bay was taken into consideration when the demonstration was planned.

According to the cable, the high-ranking JLP member described the protest as a success even though, he did lament that some persons had become unruly.

The senior JLP member insisted that the party only endorsed peaceful demonstration but admitted that protests in Jamaica seem to be inextricably linked with road blocks and lawlessness.

 

SOURCE: jamaicagleaner

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