Tag: Foreign relations

Jamaica: Shirking its role as a voice against global injustice

Jamaica has never been a shrinking violet on the international scene. Far from it, we have historically punched above our weight and even led campaigns against the injustices that were taking place. Even when our nation was going through great turmoils like the 70’s and the 90’s we were always leading the charge or in full support in calling out the global injustices, be it Southern Africa, Greneda or Cuba we have always had a strong voice and compelling opinions on these issues.

All that seems to have changed however, as over the past thirteen years (when we helped Aristide escape the US backed coup) we have been silent on the pressing issues facing us all. We have shirked our responsibility and forgone our history in order to remain silent and try to suck at the teet of high finance and political power.

Examples of our deafening silence are many and would put persons who left the nation in the 70’s-80’s and those who remember our vocal attitude to shame. We have done nothing for almost twenty years as the world burns around us and as injustices continue to be meted out. A prime example of this and one that we as a nation should be profoundly disappointed with can be found in how we deal with Africa and more to the point Congo (the DRC). This is a nation that has been at constant internal conflict since independence but which has seen the conflict become more heated and brutal in the past few decades. With wanton raping, destruction of villages, the virtual (and sometimes literal) slavery that is the norm in the precious metals and stones mines and the (now common) use of child soldiers we see where we have foreign ministers (from both parties) who are silent on this issue, yet they like to speak of black solidarity, how sickening.

Taking a look a little closer to home and we see the same thing being done by the Jamaican government. The coup of 2009 in Honduras which was condemned by almost all of the world (and admittedly the OAS) was met with a tepid reply of support for the recently ousted president by the Jamaican government and opposition. The political and social situation in Guyana is devolving at a frightening pace (although their economy is doing ok) to the point where we now have a political party, centered around race openly calling for the abandonment of CARICOM among some other radical reforms. The same thing plays out in the nation that should have been a beacon of anti-imperialism but which instead was and still is being destroyed by imperialist and neo-colonial powers, Haiti. As the nation endured (and still does endure) economic devastation persons crossed the border to the Dominican Republic to find economic refuge. To cut a long story short, the descendants of those immigrants are now being (and have been historically) systematically oppressed, arrested and deported. These persons are being held in squalid conditions in detention centers and daily face racist abuse and physical abuse until they are ‘deported to their country of origin’ all for the crime of being black, poor and therefore not having ‘proper’ identification of citizenship. Again we got the same tired and lame condemnations from the opposition and government,but no concrete steps were taken to shame let  alone sanction the Dom Rep government. Again we were silent and are silent as we do business with them as they continue to carry out those atrocities, we have become whores for a few cents and sold our soul in the process.

In Asia the same thing plays out, we readily accept money from the Chinese and never once have we called them out on some of their practices that are nothing short of reprehensible (and incidentally sometimes totally against the ‘orthodoxy’ the CPC preaches). We are silent as Myanmar cum Burma is still embroiled in civil war and ethnic cleansing and instead of calling them out or at least making vocal our displeasure we say nothing at all. Even in the ‘conflict of our times’ the war against ISIS and Islamic militancy our government and opposition only come out of the woodwork’s when a bombing happens as in London (but strangely never when it happens in Nigeria) showing just how much of our once proud heritage of being vocal and active on the international scene has been withered like a grape on the vine.

Nothing though shows the Jamaican government (and opposition’s) total lack of morals and humanity than the recent visit of our Prime Minster to Israel, an act I will always and forever decry and oppose. During this trip, never once did he the head of the Jamaican  government come out publicly and denounce and condemn what Israel has done and continues to do, instead we got a photo-op and cushy smiles while Palestinians were being oppressed. No, we didn’t condemn them or tell them off as we did their spiritual predecessor apartheid South Africa, instead we fawned over their (albeit impressive) technological systems and irrigation systems, ignoring the fact that it was literally built on and watering stolen Palestinian land. And while that oppression continues unabated (and still ratcheting up) we have a government and opposition say nothing, while Palestinian men and women are being killed protesting access to their religions third most holy site we have a government putting machinery in gear to welcome the war criminal, war hawk and Zionist expansionist Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Jamaican government has lost its soul, it has been that way for some time that much is clear. They will do anything for a buck and will stay silent when the most oppressive things take place even in their own backyard and that is sad. We have lost our voice, have shirked our responsibility as a vocal proponent of international justice and human rights and that needs to change. The people of Jamaica are very knowledgeable of foreign affairs and for the most part are disgusted by what is happening, so why isn’t our government speaking on our behalf as our representatives instead of having disgusting public brawls over garrison seats? We must demand a change, we must insist that our representatives call out international crimes and oppression and uphold our proud heritage, and not just because we used to do it but because it is the right thing to do and history will rebuke us if they don’t.

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.