Tag: China

If you’re going to sell yourself, at least be expensive

If you’re going to sell yourself, at least be expensive

Jamaica has been selling off bits and pieces for ages, be it bauxite rights, our port (leased out) or even the sugar belt and Goat Island which has been granted to the Chinese, we see where Jamaica has been slowly at first, but rather quickly recently, giving away key areas and industries of the nation. Now, this has naturally brought out the nationalistic tendencies in us human beings that inhabit this island, we have been demanding that the government reverse these policies and staunchly go it alone, or at the very most engage in trade with others while retaining sovereignty of our key industries (electricity, bauxite etc). Now I am staunchly in this camp, I feel that alone (really as a unified Caribbean basin) we can have a real go at making something of ourselves as a nation and region.

That, however, for the time being, is a pipe dream. The powers that be are intent on selling off any area and aspect of the nation that can turn a quick few $US million. Now I don’t agree with this line of thinking, but if our leaders are indeed going down the road of selling off everything lock-stock and barrel then by god let us ensure that they get quite a few $US Billion while also ensuring that the people (that would be us the citizens of the neo-colony) get some benefits.

Take for example the on again off again sale of Goat Island and the aborted deal for the port (both Chinese deals), it is obvious that the Chinese are looking for a firm foothold in the region, more specifically the areas in the region closest to the major shipping lanes (from the Panama Canal to the Port of Miami and further up the eastern US seaboard), that is why they have pumped so much money into the Cuban refitting of the Port of Mariel. Now the Chinese are not silly, they know that absolutely no cargo ships are allowed to dock in the US after directly docking at Cuba, they need a mid-point therefore. This is where Jamaica and us being a potential expensive hoe come into play. If they want the port and the Island and the Government is intent on selling it, then sell it, but go big. Sell them both for XBillion US$ and demand concessions and access to the port, sell them and insist that they fund and train our merchant marine fleet (which they will need for their ships coming in) so that we can have some lasting benefits as it relates to the individual Jamaican.




The mining rights is also a case of the same thing. China is the hub of global industry and manufacturing and is also fast ascending as it relates to R&D, therefore it is natural that they want to (and they are) monopolize the minerals of the world. Again we see where the differing administrations are intent on selling it to the Chinese, in line with the old school sell-offs where we end up carrying the bag. It doesn’t have to be this way, Let us sell it to them, but let us make them pay dearly. Insist that when we sell the bauxite rights (again for a cool X Billion $US), demand in the deal that the roads and rail networks are upgraded. This again is something  that would benefit both parties, the Chinese would need good, reliable transportation networks to transport the minerals (or processed aluminum) to the docks so that they can be loaded into the awaiting ships, we the Jamaican citizen would also benefit greatly as we would then have cash on hand along with a brand new road and rail network we didn’t have to build.

Now I am not saying that the Chinese are looking to or are going to become our new colonial overlords, I have never been in that camp and the facts (though they point to exploitation and no-strings-attached loans/grants) do not point in that direction, they do however wish to gain a permanent foothold in the region as they aim to cement their status as the next global behemoth. If we are going to sell our souls, sell off our natural gifts and key industries, then lets at least have something to show for it, let it not be a case of us selling off everything we have only to realize that we own nothing, have access to nothing and are left scrounging for the ‘what lef’ in ways that would make our current reality look like a fun game.


Giving away our birthright for a bowl of pottage

As the government looks to seriously push through on the idea of privatizing the NWC one cant help but remember the story in the Old Testament of Esau and Jacob. I am sure that we all know the story, but for those who don’t remember Esau was the eldest son so he would be entitled to a greater share of the family wealth when his father died.Esau was hungry and in a pique of desperation forfeited his birthright to the younger Jacob in exchange for a bowl of pottage. To cut a long story short, after eating the meal Esau wished to renege on the deal but circumstances and members of his family were against the idea of reneging on the deal.

This story i feel aptly represents how our politicians and members of civil society operate and deal with the national question. Jamaica for the past two decades (but stem picked up in the past fifteen) has been selling off bits and pieces of the nation because like Esau in the story, they are hungry and only wish to address the immediate problem without thinking of the long term consequences.

Actual examples can be found with these land transfers and business deals. Think about the fact that we as citizens through our government are set to lose our last reaming shares in JPS thus fully leaving us to the wolves of capitalism. We face constant woes with JPS and yet they are still able to ride roughshod over reality by demanding price increases. We also in selling off that birthright enshrined in that deal that should the nation go fully renewable then the JPS should be compensated. Now i don’t know about you, but that sounds like the actions and behavings of a utility company (one that the entire state depends on) that not only fails to understand the economic psyche of their customers but also has no real incentive to change because we the Jamaican people (through the government and policy makers own nothing of it as we see the profits of this company skyrocket.

As it relates to the water and its impending privatization one only needs to look at Ireland to see where that road would lead. After the Irish entered into a PPI deal for the operating of their water company the citizens saw their water rate skyrocket by double digit percentages, leaving the average Irish man paying more for the same life sustaining utility. It is clear that the privatization of key utilities leads to companies looking to make the most profit while keeping the same or providing a worse degree of service.

A look at the bauxite scene conjures up even more horrors when one really examines it. Imagine, we have workers who are  constantly living on edge because they know that if the foreign company that owns the plant is facing a hard time financially then they as the worker will bear the brunt of it when costs are cut. We have a levy on the bauxite mined from our shores that is so pitifully small that in the end the state in actuality ends up being the loser financially speaking, as all the profits vacate the island.

We see this in almost all sectors of our economy. Sugar has been sold off to the Chinese (along with mining rights), the oil that may be below us is already in foreign hands along with the former pride of Jamaica, Air Jamaica. This fire-sale of our land, resources and heritage seems to be unrelenting as even now we debate on just where the Cockpit Country borders are so that the rapacious foreign companies may destroy our environment.

‘Jamaicans need to hold our government to account and ensure that not only give away the house for a few trinkets. We must demand that our birthright not be played with and instead demand decent representation when it comes to retaining it. People must wake up quickly to that fact that we own nothing or very little in this island as we quickly become a nation of beggars. We must take heed of the tale of Esau and Jacob and think about the long term ramifications rather than find a quick fix solution that in the end leaves you in a much worse position than you started at.

Jamaica’s Lost Voice

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.