The island of Grand Cayman in the Caribbean has iguanas. Big deal, right? Iguanas are all over the tropics. Sure, but Grand Cayman is the only place in the world where there are blue iguanas, not the common green variety. A source of national pride for the Cayman Islands, blue iguanas are on the endangered species list. Only an estimated 400 blue iguanas are left in the wild. To help preserve them the Botanical Gardens operates a breeding facility for these unique creatures.
Saturday night, May 3, someone broke into the Botanical Gardens and brutally killed six adult blue iguanas important to the breeding program. Two of the dead females were preparing to lay eggs.
With all the human death and suffering in the world today, why is the murder of six blue iguanas relevant? In perspective it seems rather trivial. Ah… but more is revealed here than meets the eye. What was the motive and what will the reaction be?
Was this the drunken act of some sicko who decided it would be fun to stomp some iguanas? Or was this an act of vengeance at Caymanian Society? I’m just speculating here, but my guess is the latter. Somebody probably had his or her visa renewal denied and wanted to lash out.
In the past several years Grand Cayman has seen a number of shockingly brutal crimes the likes of which I never saw in fifteen years of living in Los Angeles. Sadly, the finger of blame usually points to bad elements from Jamaica.
Well, Jamaica is impoverished and rife with violent crime. Life is cheap. Urban congestion and poverty usually breed such things. And now, some of it has spilled over to the Cayman Islands.
The emotional knee jerk reaction I’ve heard is: "Deport them all! Let the good Jamaicans take care of the bad ones!" But is that really a viable or realistic alternative?
Like the low income Latinos in Los Angeles I’ve found the majority of Jamaicans I’ve met here to be great people. They have great senses of humor and morality without the arrogance found in the more privileged levels of society. I’d rather hang out with Jamaicans and Latinos than a group of Yale or Harvard grads any day. Of course there is no way I’ll deny that there are some nasty customers to be avoided in any culture especially Latin America and Jamaica.
So what to do? There’s no simple answer unless one wants a bad one. Deport all Jamaicans and import a new lower class ethnic group to do the labor? Is this not punishing an entire nationality for the bad seeds and societal flaws which created them in the first place? What guarantee is there that the replacement bottom rung members of society won’t eventually have their own criminal element?
Maybe this is the way of the future, rigidly controlled borders and policies in the name of "security." Will the US complete its fence along the Mexican border? The Gaza Strip is already an open prison with 1.5 million suffering inmates. The Palestinian West Bank has its Matrix of Control and its growing separation barrier. Baghdad is gradually being converted into walled-in security zones with Sadr City being the current containment project.
How far will this police state mentality of ethnic isolation, cleansing and control go? Will it extend to walling-in South Central Los Angeles? How about Washington DC? Are there populations of people there where crime is bred and as such, they need to be enclosed and controlled? Just about every city has their nasty areas. It seems absurd but absurd has been the norm in Bush’s Brave New World. Do we really want to lock in the people who live in the sub-prime communities and thus shut out any opportunity to ever get out… all in the name of "security?" I can’t think of a better formula for creating hatred, violence and the need for more security.
Well, I don’t have a solution. I’m not sure there is one. But I am sure that State-sponsored programs of control, which deny opportunities, can only make things much worse for everybody. Humanity will always have its ugly side. The Powers That Be are no exception.
Maybe I’m a bit overly upset. After all, it was only six blue iguanas.
Tom Chartier [send him mail] played lead guitar in legendary Los Angeles punk band The Rotters for 26 years until their final appearance in January of 2004. He has lived in Tokyo and Los Angeles. Currently he resides somewhere in the Caribbean.