Is Jamaica Really A Silent Democracy?

For this year’s observance of Human Rights Day on December 10, the United Nations has focused on the right of every human being to have their voice be heard in public life and political decision-making.

In Jamaica one would think that this right would be facilitated through the democratic process by which we select our government, elections. But elections in Jamaica are just one day, every four years. What happens to the other 1459 days? Is it that the public has nothing to say or that we are just going along for the ride docile silence?

Unless a referendum is called or a by-election is held, the voice of the masses is reduced to a whisper with the most vocal of us venting on the airwaves, in community taverns or more recently, facebook. You may say that yes, when the media opines about something or latches on to a controversy the political directorate takes note and sometimes action, but that is only when they have a mind.

The truth is that in this democratic state other than the magical date of a General or Local Government Election there is very little that the public can do to have their voices heard and reasonable action taken by leaders as a result.

Our nightly news is replete with protests from every corner of the nation by various persons, some crying for justice, some for basic commodities, some for just the listening ear of their Members of Parliament, but the one thing they all have in common is the innate human desire to be heard.

Jamaicans have protested, Jamaicans have marched, Jamaicans have even chained themselves together in Half-Way-Tree Square all to demand their right to be heard. So what about you? What would you do to have your voice be heard? How would you go about getting the leaders you have elected to listen to what you have to say? How far would you go to be heard?