Community Focus : Miners warned to keep out
Maroon leader Melville Currie, the deputy colonel of Accompong, the historical Maroon village in the hills of St. Elizabeth, says the Government must immediately abolish all plans for bauxite mining in the Cockpit Country.
According to Currie, not only is the Cockpit Country the home to indigenous species and wildlife, but its jurisdiction actually falls within the hands of present-day descendants of the Maroons, which means it is not owned by the Jamaican Government.
“We can’t sit down and let them do that because we own the Cockpit Country,” said the 84-year-old Currie. “The Cockpit Country belongs to the Maroons.”
As proof of his claim, Currie pointed the signed peace treaty between the British and the Maroons in Accompong in 1738 that granted the latter certain rights and autonomy.
Currie said the treaty still stands to this day, despite various infringements by bauxite companies to disturb and mine deposits.
“If you turn to the treaty, you will see that I am right in what I say. We are in the Cockpit now so if we let them come and mine then where are they going to put us?” asked Currie. “It is the Maroons’ lands pass down from generation to generation, but the Government is looking money. They have been mining all the areas in Jamaica.”
“Just look at Manchester, where they mined and left a big hole. They dug up the land and now it is spoiled and can’t come back. That’s what they want to do to the Cockpit Country,” added Currie.
Currie believes the Government or private companies should instead invest in research of the Cockpit Country, noting that the area has untapped medicinal value that can aid the country as a whole.
“What they must do is come to Accompong, get some scientists and experiment on the herbs and make medicine from those things. That is what they must do and we will gladly cooperate with them, but the mining is a no-no,” said Currie.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness has said the Cabinet, in response to a Jamaica House petition on the Cockpit Country, is deliberating on matters concerning the area.