Commentary Jamaica Magazine

Dual Citizenship and the Global Economy


I read an article in the Carib News 12/16/08 “Caribbean Politics Grapples with Dual Citizenship”. The author points out that this has been a major discussion for the past two years in several Caribbean islands. My name is Daseta Gray. I currently reside in New York City and I have been living here for the last 28 years. Yes I have dual citizenship (US and Jamaica). Four years ago I visited my elementary school, and saw there was a need for books in the library, upon my return I collected enough book to fit in a jumbo barrel and shipped it to the elementary school utilizing the service of one of our very own shipper. Upon reading this article I was drawn to joining in on this conversation that would change the dynamics of the Caribbean region. This discussion is a global one and we now operate in a global market it is time that Caribbean leaders look at this discussion from a global perspective. In an article in the Palm Beach Times (6/7/08) Andrew Abrams points out “with the creation of the European Union and it’s striving economy it is very appealing for Americans in a global economy. Over four million Europeans that reside in the United States are now seeking dual citizenship”.


He spoke to a few people and has quoted one below: “I recognized for the first time in my life that being an American had limits Melvin said. And if I really want to become what I really call a global citizen, then I need to tap all my resources to expand my ability to serve entrepreneurs not just in Lake Worth, which is my home town, and not just in Florida or in America, but on the globe.” I WOULD LIKE CARIBBEAN LEADERS TO INSPIRE THEIR CONSTITUENTS IN THIS KIND OF THINKING. LEADERS IN THE CARIBBEAN NEED TO BEGIN LOOKING AT THE GLOBAL PICTURE. The Caribbean is a part of the global community not just the region. Most developed countries permit dual nationality without any restrictions. Examples are USA, Canada, UK, Israel, France, Ireland, Russia and numerous others. Among the developing countries too, granting of dual nationality is quite prevalent. For example, Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Barbados, Philippines and many other countries allow dual nationality for their citizens without any restriction. Then there are other developing countries which grant dual nationality with certain limitations such as, India, Sri Lanka, Slovenia and others (Source: . Accessed on 12/25/08). It appears that Caribbean leaders do not comprehend this trend. The Carib news points out that the information used for the discussion was taken from a ten year study that was done in Jamaica.

The world has changed so much in ten years. I wondered why a new study was not done as people would have changed in ten years? Governments and principles of thought have changed over the last 10 years to some extent. In order to compete in the global economy we as a region have to adjust with the times. Bring our nationals into the 21st century. Growing up in the Caribbean was a challenge. I recall there was little tolerance for creative thinking and very few people would welcome thinking “out of the box”. Forty years ago this kind of behavior was acceptable since literacy levels were very low. It appears that this kind of behavior still persists in the form of closed minded leaders who insist on keeping the Caribbean in a box. Global thinking is the order of the day some of our leaders understand the importance of thinking inside another box, then there are others within the government with the old mentality who are willing to leave the Caribbean behind since many leaders’ view issues “as political and personal” ,said Kim Marie Spence. As a leader you should have a national, regional and global perspective on issues that’s best for nationals to move the country/region ahead. With CSME (CARICOM Single Market Economy) that’s one major step, we need to keep moving ahead as other developing nations are doing.

A nation’s biggest resource is its people both in the region and the Diaspora. Laws and constitutions are created to address the needs of the times. However, as time changes that is when we need leaders who are visionaries that will be able to amend a constitution or change a law to satisfy the needs of the time that will benefit the people as a whole, not by political personal gain. Many times elected officials forget their main role, to serve the people be their voice. I do not understand why Jamaica along with the other islands within the region would deny a dual citizenship holder the basic human rights as stated in the 1984 United Nations Declaration of Human Rights: Article 2: Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, religion, political, or other opinion, national or social origin property, birth or other status. Furthermore no distinction shall be made on the basis of political, jurisdiction or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs whether it be independent, trust, non-self governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty. Article 12(1): Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly, indirectly or through freely chosen representative.

A citizen is an inhabitant of a town or city: one entitled to the rights and privileges of a freeman: A member of a state or naturalized person who owes allegiance to a state. Citizen –is preferred for one owing allegiance to a state in which a sovereign power is retained by people sharing in the political rights of those people. At present, I’m aware of the current case in Jamaica regarding Mr. Daryl Vaz who was bared from taking his seat in parliament last April. Other members of the region are awaiting the decision so they can follow suit. Allowing Caribbean nationals (members of the Diaspora) with dual citizenship to participate in the government will ONLY be an asset to the region. A nation like Ireland (Digicel’s corporate base) who once struggled during a great famine realized that and took a decision in the affirmative. Caribbean nationals send billions of foreign currency (remittance) to the region each month which equates to 40% GDP. In addition, dual citizen holders will continue to contribute to the financial sector and help to shape policies that will help to prepare our children and nation as a whole for the global and e-commerce economy etc. The experiences of dual citizens are priceless and can only prove beneficial within the government of the Caribbean region. At present political figures visit the Diaspora seeking financial assistance for their campaign back in the region. This conversation will continue…

About the author

Daseta Gray