The word on the streets of Jamaica and they are said to be coming from very high places, is that Vybz Kartel could be a free man any day now. The rumor was first reported by 18 Karat Reggae and then again by Fox News in the United States.
Supposedly the powers that be knows that Kartel’s release is imminent, however, they did not want it to coincide or interfere with the hype around Buju Banton and the kickoff of his Long Walk to Freedom tour.
With the much hyped Buju Banton concert now completed, the release of Vybz Kartel could be just a matter of days or weeks, according to well-placed sources in the Jamaican Government.
Why would Buju Banton’s tour and Vybz Kartel’s release be of concern to the Jamaican Government? Well, it boils down to money or as the United States’ senator; Ilhan Omar, would say, “It’s all about the Benjamin baby.”
Jamaica’s main source of income is tourism. Both Banton and Kartel are great tourist draws especially having been locked away for so long. The Jamaican Government feared that if Vybz Kartel was released before Buju Banton’s concert they could have interfered with each other where tourism is concerned and prevent the Jamaican economy from realizing maximum revenue gain from both men.
If Vybz Kartel was freed before Buju Banton’s show and both men decided to have a show in the same week or too close to each other, many overseas fans would try to kill two birds with one stones by planning one visit to the island and trying to attend both shows in the one visit. Or on the other hand they could attend one of the shows but not the other because of financial restraints.
“The Jamaican Tourist Board made it clear to the powers that be that they wanted to gain the maximum revenue from Buju Banton and Vybz Kartel releases. If they were both freed and planning shows at the same time, it just wouldn’t be possible,” the government source said. “Now that Buju part is over people can go back to foreign, work and save and then come back for Kartel’s show in two or three months,” he continued.
18 Karat Reggae spoke to parliamentarian, Lisa Hanna, backstage of the Buju concert and ask her if she was aware of Kartel’s upcoming release but the claimed she was not aware of anything like that.
Jamaica’s minister of culture, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, was more forceful in her response and completely rubbished the idea that Kartel’s release was being timed for maximum revenue impact on Jamaica’s tourism.
“Jamaica’s justice system and the Jamaica’s Tourist Board are two separate and independent entities that never collaborate unless it has to do with the safety of our visitors,” Grange said. “It is ridiculous to believe that we would exploit an individual’s freedom for the financial gains of the country she added.”
Whether the rumor is true or false, dancehall fans will just have to wait and see. Looking at all the revenue brought into the island as a result of the Buju Banton show, it would be beautiful if Jamaican could get another such week before Reggae Sumfest. Vybz Kartel is probably the only other artiste outside of Buju Banton that could make that possible.