Jamaica retreats from courage, Caricom ‘spineless’ …Lisa Hanna

Source:  Jamaican Observer

January 8 2018

Lisa Hanna in St Kitts

Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Lisa Hanna has described Jamaica’s abstention vote on the UN Jerusalem resolution as a “retreat from principle, a retreat from courage”.

lisa hanna in st kittsIn a well-received address at the St Kitts and Nevis Labour Party Gala on Friday evening, Hanna also suggested that the Caribbean Community (Caricom) appeared “spineless in the face of an offensive threat”, because some countries supported the resolution, while some abstained or left the room when the vote was called.

Following is a lightly edited version of her address to the party which enjoys fraternal relations with the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) here:

Life has taught me that courage has no limits; it might be perceived as stubborn or unreasonable and could even mean you stand alone on principle. Courage can create the perception you’re choosing battles unwisely that could adversely alter the immediate and long- term future. But courage has a responsibility to the future to take a stand, be fearless in the face of any adversity, and act in our children’s best long term interest. Our children ARE our future generation of power.

Courage is individual but also can drive people’s collective consciousness to imbue a country with national courage, and nations with regional courage.

As a region, we have a proud history of promoting respect, self-determination and tolerance of different economic and political systems. Size has never hampered our ability to stand tall, think big, and unleash our feisty/unabashed certainty that we know the answer even in the face of great opposition.

Our regional courage has never been in question and has, and should be allowed to force each of us to recognise that courage’s responsibility to the future will always translate into Caricom’s best interests.

Given the extraordinary disruptions currently taking place geopolitically, cowering in the face of bullies is NOT courage, and will not take us forward. We must never allow our pride, self-respect, and integrity as peoples of this great region to be bludgeoned into acquiescence by veiled or unveiled threats.

Retreating from taking decisions on principle has never been our preferred option.

In the absence of any public explanation for the sudden volte face, Jamaica’s recent vote at the United Nations on Jerusalem can only be taken as a retreat from principle; a retreat from courage.

Abstention (physically or verbally) cannot be the basis of a sound, strategic, and principled regional foreign policy direction.

Jamaica has always shown assertive, courageous and enlightened leadership in our foreign policy and diplomacy. The Rt Excellent Norman Manley led the world when, even before our independence, he took the position that Jamaica would not trade with apartheid South Africa.

Since then, the policies of PNP administrations have been founded on: (1) respect for the sovereignty of ALL nations (2) respect for human rights and the citizens of ALL countries and (3) a non-aligned stance.

When it was deemed detrimental to support Cuba after 1962, Michael Manley showed unrelenting support and led a united front with Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1972, being the first to do so in the western hemisphere.

We did the same with China. Now China’s aggressive global growth strategy has resulted in China being Jamaica’s main source of bilateral loans and foreign direct investment, and almost certainly prompted the celebrated visit to Jamaica by President Barack Obama in 2015 — the first such since Ronald Reagan’s visit 35 years ago.

That Obama visit was undoubtedly a by-product of Jamaica’s courageous stand on foreign policy issues such as relations with Cuba, China and Venezuela which sent the unmistakable signal to Washington that little Jamaica was strategically crucial to US interests and needed to be courted, NOT threatened.

It was a sign of the times — a confirmation that the basis upon which China and the USA deploys their capital and political might is inexorably changing, especially since the USA holds more Chinese debt.

It’s clear that the China Silk and Belt Road initiative has the potential to increase China’s dominance in the Asian Pacific and quietly turn the global axis of trade dominance towards China. In the meantime, USA’s response to changing world realities appears isolationist, protectionist, and inward-looking.

In the USA of 2017/18, bullyism trumps diplomacy and friendship, and exclusion trumps inclusion. These policies can only assist China’s increased geopolitical influence in global politics and reduce that of USA. Is this the bandwagon that Caricom nations wish to jump on?

The current American president’s pronouncement that climate change is a man-made phenomenon has serious implications for small island developing states (SIDS) in Caricom. Climate change is a real and potentially destructive issue for all of us who call the Caribbean our home, and we must tackle it with courage and realism or we could well be facing the total annihilation of economies.

I know the extensive work of Dr Denzil Douglas in this area to protect the coastlines of St Kitts and Nevis.

They say “he who feels it knows it” and “rain don’t fall on one man roof”. Back to back category five hurricanes are now our reality in the region and we ALL felt the devastation by Irma and Maria.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit’s emotional pronouncements at the UN last year should serve as a chilling reminder to urgently brace for this year. In this fight We must not only survive but we MUST prevail.

To do this we MUST speak as one voice and have the courage to press for the complete removal of the failed US-imposed embargo on Cuba which has deprived the us from valuable trade with one of our closest neighbours.

We MUST have the courage and speak as one voice to bend the reluctance of international lending agencies to grant concessionary loans at lower interest rates to our member states in the aftermath of natural disasters, in spite of our GDP per capita.

We MUST have the courage and speak as one voice to take the risk and bet on Caricom —one for all and all for one. If you threaten one, you threaten all!

The world has changed significantly since our respective independence. If we are realistic, acting individually as nations will easily marginalise us and lead to us ultimately being globally irrelevant. As Caricom we are a strong voice at the table.

The recent UN vote, where we had some countries voting for, some abstaining and some just absent from the room, does not project a unified front. We appeared spineless in the face of an offensive threat.

As a region we’re bonded by so much more than West Indies cricket. When Usain Bolt or Kimani James compete internationally, they run not only for their respective countries but on behalf of all of us bonded by history, climate and economic circumstances.

Let the world not only see our beaches and our music but our spirit, our courage, and our fervent value system that doing what is right is far superior to might.

Many of you in this room were a part of a generation that gave the world true examples of regional activism, and you did it in step with your Caribbean brothers and sisters in leadership.

What will my child and your child take from our generation of leadership on their behalf? Abstention should never be our legacy. Our only option is to show them our courage.

VI Caricom-Cuba Summit Celebrates 15 Years of Good Relations

Source:  TeleSUR
4 December 2017

6th cuba caricomThe summit will be held in Antigua and Barbuda. | Photo: Cuban Foreign Ministry

Ministers say they hope Friday’s meetings will create a “space for exchange and coordination in a frank, friendly and fraternal environment.”

The Caribbean Community is preparing to meet with Cuban officials for the sixth round of talks aimed at restructuring international trade beginning Dec. 8.

RELATED:  Caribbean Countries Unite to Digitize Judicial Processes

The VI Caricom-Cuba Summit will be held in Antigua and Barbuda as it celebrates the 15th anniversary of its tri-annual summits and the 45th year of continued diplomacy and solidarity in the Caribbean.

Cuba’s Foreign Ministry expressed its gratitude to the Caribbean’s continued support amid the U.S. blockade, saying it will never forget the kindness and attitude of its leaders, namely Errol Barrow, Forbes Burnham, Michael Manley and Eric Williams, Prensa Latina reported.

These leaders were monumental in opening the door to mutual respect, friendship and cooperation between the Caribbean nations, the ministry said.

92 percent increase

Due to the 45 years of good relations as well as the gradual integration of Cuba’s health, education and sports, the nation has seen a rise in trade output and finances. In 2016 alone, trade was US$126 million a 92 percent increase from the year before.

According to the Cuban Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment Rodrigo Malmierca, over 5,000 Caribbean students have studied in Cuba and as a result of the regional organization’s strong relations with Cuba, the island has been able to assist neighboring nations such as Haiti with desperately needed disaster relief more quickly.

RELATED: Tri-Continental Nations Support Caribbean Quest for Reparations

“It continues to be a challenge to all our governments and commercial enterprises to streamline the foundation we have already set up. What is significant is that there is a definite will and a firm determination for all to carry out that task,” he said of the Caricom-Cuba relations.

The delegations signed the Second Protocol of the Agreement of Trade and Economic Cooperation with Caricom in November in order to expand business and trade endeavors throughout the Caribbean.

Ministers say they hope Friday’s meetings will create a “space for exchange and coordination in a frank, friendly and fraternal environment.”

The summit has been held since 2002, stemming from a convention which established the diplomatic relations between Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago on Dec. 8, 1972.

Michael Manley presents Muhammad Ali with the key to Kingston

Sources:  JSC &  Final Call

It was 42 years ago in December 1974, that Muhammad Ali, the heavyweight boxing champion and student of the Honourable Elijah Muhammad, was invited to Jamaica by then Prime Minister Michael Manley.

Michael Manley and Muhammad Ali 4.jpg

Muhammad Ali with a copy of Michael Manley’s book The Politics of Change

According to some reports, Michael Manley told Ali that “your fist might have put you in everybody’s favour…but it is your conscience that has written you into immortality in the history of human affairs.”

Muhammad was presented with the key to Kingston in front of thousands of Jamaicans at the National Stadium .

Also travelling with Muhammad were members of the Nation of Islam, including a young Minister Louis Farrakhan who exposed the large gathering to the teachings of Elijah Mohammed for the first time.

Manley’s invitation to Muhammad and the Nation of Islam marked a change in official government policy as years earlier the patriarch of the Nation of Islam had been denied entry into the country under Prime Minister Hugh Shearer.

Below is the cover of the January 17, 1975 Muhammad Speaks Vol. 14 No. 19 edition that covered the 1974 Nation of Islam visit to Kingston, Jamaica.

islam in jamaica the final call

Muhammad Ali also met with Bunny Grant, prolific Jamaican boxer of the 50s, 60s and 70s and winner of the Jamaican lightweight title, the Jamaican welterweight title, the Central American light welterweight title, the Latin American junior welterweight title, and the British Commonwealth lightweight title.

muhammad ali and bunny grant 2.jpg

Muhammad Ali spars with Jamaica’s Bunny Grant


Time to Re-visit Michael Manley’s path – A Vision for Jamaica

Source:  Jamaica Observer
(Photos and links added by Editor)

Al Grey

Ever since Jamaica earned formal political freedom from the British colonial empire, the government and people of Jamaica have had two basic choices in terms of developmental paths open to the nation – one, a neo-colonialist path that would continue the exploitation of our natural resources and people in the interest of the multinational corporations and a few Jamaicans, and the other, a path that would sever the colonial relation and start a process of development for the majority of the people.

bustaIn 1962, under the leadership of the Jamaica Labour Party with Alexander Bustamante as its head and with a politically divided people, the nation took the neocolonial path where a disproportionate part of the wealth generated by the productive forces in Jamaica continued to go to the multinational companies and the local elite class.

The neocolonial path was not a purely economic one.  It also manifested itself in our popular culture.  The music played on the national radio station continued to be predominantly non-Jamaican; the movie theaters continued to show films with few persons of African descent ever seen in a positive role; our manner of dress continued to be of the colonial ilk – judges wearing wigs, the dress code for church and formal activities remained incongruous with our tropical climate; despite the population being over 90% African our ‘Miss Jamaica’ competitions continued to shun women of pure African stock, and so on. (Photo: Alexander Bustamante, Prime Minister of Jamaica and President of the Jamaica Labour Party, 1962)

Look deh now: Everything crash

everything crash 2According to the indicators provided by some economists, Jamaica was doing quite well along the neocolonial path in the 60s showing respectable economic growth.  Yet in the 1972 national elections, the people strongly rejected the JLP and the Michael Manley led People’s National Party, PNP, registered a landslide victory.  In fact, the sound track for the struggles to remove the neocolonialist JLP was the then very popular Reggae song Everything Crash  by the Ethiopians – a song which started with the words ‘Look deh now, everything crash’.  What was seen as development for the 1% attracted these words from a wider cross-section of the people including the youth, workers and farmers.

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Michael Manley Addresses the UN in Observance of the International Anti-Apartheid Year, 1978

Address at a special meeting of the General Assembly in observance of the International Anti-Apartheid Year, UN by Michael Manley, Prime Minister of Jamaica

11 October 1978, New York

michael manley 5It was with deep humility and a profound sense of history and its obligations that I accepted the invitation to address this Assembly, at this particular moment in the struggle against apartheid and for the final liberation of southern Africa. Even as we meet here, we feel the presence of the spirit of the martyrs who died at Sharpeville and Soweto. We feel that Steve Biko is a witness to these proceedings. Even as I speak, millions of young lives are being warped and crushed in South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe, and their blighted hopes stand as a monumental reproach to all mankind.

I dare to speak, not in my own right, but as a part and product of a process of the struggle in Jamaica and the entire Caribbean. We look at our tormented brothers in southern Africa from a unique historical perspective; ourselves the victims of every outrage still perpetrated in South Africa, we are the products of a slave system which was the foundation for a unique colonial experience. We have known genocide, racism, oppression and exploitation as colonialism and later neo-colonialism have dominated our lives. Equally, we have struggled for our own liberation and have always recognized that our labours were a part of a world experience and very particularly linked to Africa`s struggle.

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Witter: Lessons from the IMF Experiences

mikey witter 2In reflecting on our 50 years of Independence, the Government of Jamaica and the IMF should draw lessons from the 39 years of borrowing from the IMF to help to frame the agreement currently being negotiated.  So much has changed in our attitudes since the history-changing agreement with the IMF of 1977.  Today’s negotiators were university students then, and conscious enough to understand the critiques of the agreements of those years and the global and domestic political interests the agreements supported, whether intended or not. (Photo:  Dr. Michael Witter)

The lead IMF negotiator of the aborted 2010 agreement is one of several Jamaicans who occupy very senior positions in the IMF.  One of their peers, who is currently a lead negotiator for the Government of Jamaica, co-authored one of the most incisive and cited critiques of the IMF’s relations with the Third World, using Jamaica as a case study.  In 1977, Jamaica and the IMF knew very little about each other. Today, after hundreds of studies of the IMF, and after many international and local studies of the Jamaican economy, the negotiators for both sides know a lot more about each other.

Read more at:  http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120708/focus/focus3.html

Life and Debt: Jamaica, the IMF and Michael Manley

life and debt

To thousands of tourists, it is the happy island of rum, reggae and sunshine. But a new film reveals how rich countries and the IMF keep the Caribbean poor.

Awards won by Life and Debt

By Linton Kwesi Johnson
Feb 2003
Source:  Jamaica uncovered The Guardian

“The issue is to make globalisation work for all. There will be no good future for the rich if there is no prospect for a better future for the poor.” That glib, cynical statement from International Monetary Fund director Horst Köhler is brilliantly exposed for the platitude it is in Stephanie Black’s engaging documentary Life and Debt. Black’s film is incisive in its examination of how IMF and World Bank policies, determined by the G7 countries, led by the US, impact on poor developing countries.

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