Yesterday was nomination day, the day when candidates officially registered their votes. This is one of the big landmarks in the election trail, and everyone was watching closely to see what the level of violence would be like.
The first election-related thing we saw was a JLP truck with a huge payload of green and white balloons driving down Constant Spring Rd. Intentionally or not, there was a hole in the netting and balloons were escaping one by one, floating up into the air and, no doubt, eventually landing in the ocean and choking some whales. Thanks, Bruce Golding.
The only fatal case of violence today happened in central Kingston today, a few blocks away from the Tower St. Adult Correctional Centre. Apparently, police spotted a wanted man in a crowd of JLP supporters and gunfire was exchanged. JLP supporters claim that the police were on orders from the PNP to disturb their procession, while of course the PNP denies all such allegations.
Flags also started popping up all over today for the first time in a while in Kingston. Innocuous campaign flags stuck into poles are used to unofficially mark territories, and since the garrisons are aligned with political parties, they are cause for serious border conflicts. Weeks ago, the flags were officially condemned by both parties and mostly disappeared from the streets of Kingston (though we spotted them in another parish!)–but now they’re back. With only 20 days until the election, this type of mounting tension is to be expected, although efforts from the political parties have made some hopeful about decreased violence this year.
Also interesting are the independent parties: there’s a Rastafarian one! It’d be interesting to see if they have any more luck than the independent parties in the U.S.
I learned about another really fascinating facet of the PNP/JLP divide today, too. When being officially nominated, all candidates must pay a JD$3000 fee. The JLP candidates paid in 30 $100 bills, which features former JLP prime minister Donald Sangster, while the PNP candidates paid with Norman Manley-adorned $1000s. Apparently, there aren’t many actions that haven’t been claimed by one party or the other. At least they (usually) don’t shoot you for it anymore =)