Jamaica is silent, she along with the rest of CARICOM has lost her voice and seems to have lost her drive in this new century as it relates to internationalism and the causes of mankind. Lest we forget that Jamaica was one of the first countries to speak out against the regime and system in South Africa, lent moral support to the liberation of sub Saharan Africa, denounced the atrocities committed in the Americas while being vociferous opponents of the open brutality meted out by the former USSR and her allies.
That was the past, as seen starting with the illegal war in Iraq, Jamaica and the region has been silent. We once spoke loudly and punched well above our weight and gained much kudos for it and we are in serious danger of letting it, like so many others, rot.
We as a people are not unaware or uninterested about international affairs or the plight of our international brethren, we are the home of Garvey, we are a hodgepodge of immigrants (the majority of our ancestors forced as slaves) and as such we care deeply about what happens abroad. Go to any bar, talk to people on the street, even read the recent articles on the palestinan issue and allepo in our local publications, the citizens care, yet our politicians remain silent.
How powerful would it be if Jamaica with the largest Chinese population in the Caribbean (and strategically important I may add) condemned openly what they are doing to their own people? How strong a message would it be if Trinidad, with the largest Muslim population in the Caribbean were to condemn the house of Saud for the atrocities it commits on an almost daily basis to its own people?
Jamaica has wasted it’s international standing and goodwill and has sat idly by. As our government sits quietly the Palestinians still live in an apartheid that the South Africans of old (whom they aided and abetted) could only dream of. As our minister of foreign affairs (and all of them since ’03 are complicit) say nothing masses of persons are being ethnicly cleansed in Mayanmar cum Burma under the watch of a Nobel Peace laureate.Syria has been burning for almost seven years and we don’t even have the conscious to let in the Christians and minorities who are being exterminated and who would find cultural links and common folk in Jamaica, and even if we say no to that at the very least condemn in the strongest terms the madness that is going on.
The nation that gave us Michael Manley, who, whatever one thought of his politics, always spoke out against injustice and oppression is now a silent onlooker. The nation that literally helped invade a country (see Grenada) because we believed in something and had principles is nowhere to be seen on the international scene. And while some may say ‘we’re broke’ or that we have our own issues is no excuse as we stood up all during the 70’s-80’s when our economy was dying and the seeds of violence were sown.
We the people need to address this, we have to speak up and demand that our politicians of both parties revive our dormant tradition of speaking out loudly, especially at the non-aligned summits. We need to regain this voice for we are becoming a parody, a nation that is thought of only in terms of sunshine, beaches and a big head spliff with cool reggae playing in the background, a people who are thought of as docile and uninformed.
We need to push our politicians on this issue, we must demand that they find their voice in the international sphere. We are a small nation of 2.8 million that is true, but when we speak it carries weight, especially with the large diaspora community that we have. The same goes for the region, we must stand up and let our voices be heard. Caricom must stand up and speak, speak loudly and speak on the issues that trouble us all currently in the world from global warming to the permanent war that is the war on terror, issues that affect us directly and issues that don’t, for if we allow our leaders to shirk their duties then we the citizens will have to answer to not only our children, but also to the sufferers in the international community.