THIS WEEK’S TOP NEWS STORIES
JAMAICA’S LEGAL AFFAIRS MINISTER EXPLAINS WHY TRANSITION TO REPUBLIC CANNOT HAPPEN BY 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF INDEPENDENCE
According to Marlene Malahoo-Forte, Jamaica’s Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, it is not possible for Jamaica to make the transition from its status as a constitutional monarchy to a republic by the 60th anniversary of the nation’s independence in August of 2022. This is because specific actions must be taken to remove long-standing provisions from Jamaica’s constitution, such a notice periods that must be followed as well as a referendum that must occur. The constitution establishes a process for amendment, and there can be no deviation from this process. The timing of required actions, such as the establishment of a three-month period between when a bill is tabled in the House and the beginning of a debate on the bill, preclude passage before the August anniversary of independence. She also said that while persons are seeking to compare Jamaica with Barbados which ditched the Queen as its head of state last November for republic status, the constitutional provisions of the two countries are different. While Barbados could move ahead rapidly to remove the Queen as its head of state, Barbados differs from Jamaica in that it did not require a vote from the people to make the change to its constitution, added Malahoo-Forte.
JAMAICAN PRIME MINISTER SAYS RUSSIAN OLIGARCH’S ASSETS IN JAMAICA ARE SAFE
According to Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness, the assets of Windalco owned by United Company Rusal, a firm owned by the sanctioned Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, are safe. Holness made his remarks on a state visit to the United States in April 2022 after meeting with US Vice-President Kamala Harris. Holness said he did not see any reason to seek divestment of Windalco by Rusal, in spite of the fact that the controlling interest is held by Deripaska, who is under sanctions from the US and the European Union related to the war in Ukraine. Rusal has requested that bankers in London and New York separate its foreign-based assets to protect them from new sanctions and the likely re-nationalization of the firm by Russia’s President Vladmir Putin. Maxine Waters, the chair of the US House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, is especially opposed to Rusal’s Jamaican assets. Holness also stated that his goal is to transform Jamaica into “the Singapore of the Western Hemisphere” and that he saw no reason to limited investment by China in Jamaica.
THIS WEEK’S TOP CARIBBEAN NEWS
CARICOM SUB-COMMITTEE TO MEET WITH KAMINA JOHNSON-SMITH AND PATRICIA SCOTLAND CONCERNING SECRETARY-GENERAL POSITION
A sub-committee comprising selected nations will meet with the incumbent Secretary-General of CARICOM Patricia Scotland and Jamaica’s Kamina Johnson Smith, who has been nominated for the position. Emergency discussions were scheduled after a surprise nomination by Jamaica of Johnson-Smith, its Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, for the role. There are concerns, voiced by Antigua and Barbuda, that by refusing to withdraw Johnson Smith’s nomination, Jamaica risks dividing the regional organization, which gave its strong support to Scotland to serve a second term. Scotland’s first term will end in June 2022, and she has been the subject of controversy about her leadership of the Commonwealth Secretariat. In particular, it was revealed by an audit that a contract was awarded to an insolvent firm owned by one of Scotland’s personal friends. She denied this allegation, however. Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness said Johnson-Smith is being put forward as an “alternative in response to persisting issues.” A final decision will come from the 54 members of the Commonwealth in June 2022 at a meeting in Rwanda.
THIS WEEK’S TOP JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
MEMBERS OF JAMAICAN DIASPORA WANT REPRESENTATION IN NATION’S SENATE
Mark Golding, the head of Jamaica’s opposition People’s National Party (PNP), is finding support from the Jamaican Diaspora for his proposal to expand the country’s Senate to include independent members appointed by the opposition leader and the Prime Minister from key stakeholders like churches and the Diaspora. A proposal to include Diaspora members in Jamaica’s Senate was introduced in 2008 by former Prime Minister Bruce Golding but was never implemented. In 2022, however, key interests in the Diaspora are supportive of the action. According to Dr. Allan Cunningham, representative for the southern United States at the Global Jamaica Diaspora Council, believes that the investments made by the Diaspora in Jamaica should be recognized by allowing Diaspora members to have a say in the decision-making and policy-making of the country. Council representative for the northeastern US, Dr. Karren Dunkley, added her support for the proposal, noting that Diaspora members want to “engage” with their country to influence policy options and action plans.
THIS WEEK’S TOP BUSINESS NEWS
JAMAICAN TOURISM MINISTER PREDICTS COMPLETE RECOVERY IN TOURIST VISITS BY 2023
Edmund Bartlett, Jamaican Tourism Minister, has predicted a return to the numbers of tourist arrivals to levels experienced in 2019 by 2023. He expects some 1.6 million visitors by cruise ships and 2.5 million stopovers, which will bring in $US4.2 billion in revenue to Jamaica. He added that he predicts Jamaica to end 2022 with the number of total visitor arrivals totaling 2.92 million, representing a revenue of US$3.58 billion. As Jamaica currently has achieved 72 percent of the 2019 figures, seeing 925,000 stopovers and about $1.17 billion in revenue, the country is displaying its move toward a full recovery. Bartlett said.
THIS WEEK’S TOP ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
LISA HANNA URGES GOVERNOR GENERAL TO NAME REGGAE ICON BOB MARLEY AS A NATIONAL HERO
Lisa Hanna, the Member of Parliament for St. Ann South East, has renewed her calls for Jamaica’s government to name reggae icon Bob Marley has its eighth National Hero. Hann introduced a motion for the Governor-General to take the necessary action to confer the national honor of the Order of National Hero to Marley. During her presentation to Parliament, Hanna noted that Marley has already been given hero status by people around the world for his contributions to civil rights, freedom, and justice. She noted that many countries have erected statues of Marley’s likeness as inspirations for their people. Called Marley a “global icon of peace, freedom, and love,” Hanna added that Marley’s messages through his life and works have prompted movements for social change that shape the consciousness of Black people worldwide and encourage them to battle systems of injustice.
THIS WEEK’S TOP SPORTS NEWS
JAMAICAN MINISTER OF SPORT HAPPY TO SEE RETURN OF TRADITIONAL CHAMPS COMPETITION
Jamaica’s Minister of Sport Olivia Grange welcomed the return of the in-person ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys’ and Girls’ Athletics Championships, otherwise known as Champs, after the COVID-19 lockdown. She noted that Jamaica receives major economic benefits from Champs, which is the top secondary school athletic championship tournament in the world. She cited the increase in number of visitor arrivals during the period prior to the beginning of Champs, which is partly due to support from Jamaicans in the Diaspora. Schools will also see the benefit of Champs’ return. When Champs was cancelled in 2020, schools lost significant funding usually received from the ISSA from gross income generated by Champs, and students lost out on opportunities for scholarships during the lockdown as scouts from colleges and universities, chiefly from the United States, did not come to Champs looking for exceptional athletic talent.