Jamaica: No US Assistance in 2010 Tivoli Gardens Operation

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - December 8, 2011

By the Caribbean Journal staff

The Jamaican government said it is refuting a recent report in the New Yorker magazine that the United States gave Jamaica assistance in carrying out security operations in West Kingston in May 2010.

The operation was aimed at capturing Tivoli Gardens strongman Christopher Coke, who was later extradited to the United States and pled guilty to charges of racketeering conspiracy.

“The United States government did not at any time participate in the operations in Tivoli Gardens,” said National Security Minister Sen. Dwight Nelson. “In fact, Prime Minister [Bruce Golding] made a statement to Parliament to that effect and I continue to maintain that the United States did not participate in the operations in Tivoli Gardens.”

Nelson said the US was not part of the planning nor the execution.

Reports have emerged, most recently in a piece by Mattathias Schwartz in the current issue of the New Yorker that a US spy plane took surveillance imagery of Tivoli Gardens on that date during the operations.

Nelson said no request was made for any such assistance.

“I have checked the records in the Ministry of National Security and there was no request for a Lockheed P-3 Orion US Surveillance aircraft to fly over Jamaica, within Jamaican airspace,” Nelson said at a post-cabinet briefing. “I don’t know if this aircraft perhaps was flying above Jamaican airspace but certainly, there was no request from the government of Jamaica through the Ministry of National Security, nor of Foreign Affairs nor the Jamaica Defence Force for such an aircraft to fly over Jamaica, so my record shows that we granted no permission for such an aircraft.”

Nelson said JDF records show that there was no involvement or assistance from any aircraft providing imagery or other help to law enforcement agencies in Jamaica.

Typically, there is a procedure for foreign governments and agencies seeking to fly over Jamaican airspace.

“That foreign government or agency has to request permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which will relay the request to the Ministry of National Security and, provided that the law enforcement agencies have no objections, then the Ministry of National Security will grant permission for that aircraft to fly over Jamaica,” Nelson said.

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