THIS WEEK’S TOP NEWS STORIES
JAMAICAN GOVERNMENT PARTNERS WITH CHURCHES TO ADDRESS NATION’S MENTAL HEALTH
Jamaica’s government plans to partner with churches to develop a program that will provide interventions that support the mental health of the nation’s population. Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced the plan at the “Heal the Family, Heal the Nation” conference in Kingston on January 4, 2023. He said that a public education campaign must be launched with input from churches and other organizations in addition to the government’s Ministry of Health to encourage Jamaicans to change the culture of not seeking help when they are having mental health difficulties. Holness believes the partnership between the government and churches will benefit Jamaicans because pastors are trained to help with many kinds of issues and that “finding someone to talk to,” a process that is available in the church, can be helpful. Holness wants to confront mental health with a “whole-of-nation approach.”
RICHARD BERNAL, JAMAICA’S FORMER AMBASSADOR TO U.S., DIES UNEXPECTEDLY
Richard Bernal, the former Jamaican ambassador to the United States, died unexpectedly while out on a walk of January 4, 2023. Bernal was reportedly walking with his wife in Norbrook, St. Andrew, when he collapsed. He was an economist and diplomat who served as ambassador to the US from 1991 to 2001. He also served as Permanent Representative of Jamaica at the Organization of American States (OAS) at the same time. Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness expressed his sadness at learning of Bernal’s sudden passing and noted that he gave “committed service to his beloved country” and elevated Jamaica’s status with its partners. Holness added that Bernal had represented Jamaica’s people with “honor, dignity, and professionalism” and that his passing was a major loss to the country.
THIS WEEK’S TOP CARIBBEAN NEWS
SOME CARICOM MEMBER NATIONS PLAGUED BY GANG VIOLENCE AND WEAPONS SMUGGLING
Authorities in a number of CARICOM countries plan to make stronger efforts to address the issues of crime and gang violence in the opening weeks of the new year. CARICOM members Trinidad, the Bahamas, Barbados, and Jamaica experienced higher rates of murder in 2022 over 2021. Holness went so far as to meet with security officials in the United States to encourage them to take action against several foreign-based authors of serious crimes in his country, and Paula Mae Weekes, the outgoing ceremonial president of Trinidad and Tobago included a wish for less indifference among residents about the rise in number of “senseless crimes” that occur every day in her holiday message to her people. Countries that have traditionally seen lower rates of crime, included Barbados, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, and the Bahamas struggled with gun violence and high murder rates in 2022 and are taking action to address the matter in 2023.
THIS WEEK’S TOP JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
JAMAICAN OPPOSITION LEADER CALLS FOR DIASPORA TO ENGAGE IN CRIME-FIGHTING DISCUSSIONS
Mark Golding, Jamaica’s Opposition Leader, has joined with others to encourage members of the Jamaican Diaspora who are experts on crime and security to have a place in the next round of Vale Royal discussions. Prime Minister Andrew Holness indicated that he wants to act with the Opposition and church support to address these matters. Golding believes that these discussions should focus on dialogue to obtain a consensus on national security as well as states of public emergency (SOEs). He said that the government should engage with Jamaican Diaspora experts to develop a program that can help the country overcome its “most serious national problem.”
THIS WEEK’S TOP BUSINESS NEWS
PRESIDENT OF MANUFACTURERS AND EXPORTERS ASSOCIATION BELIEVES LABOR SHORTAGE WILL CONTINUE IN 2023
John Mahfood, the president of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA), believes that the nation continues to face a labor shortage that resulted from the shut-down of its economy due to COVID-19. Mahfood made his remarks on “Smile Jamaica” on TVJ, noting that companies continue to struggle to find workers even following the removal of restrictions imposed during the pandemic. He suggested that many workers started their own businesses or retired during the period of the shut-down in hotel and entertainment sectors. As economic sectors recover, they need workers, particularly in manufacturing. He said that firms will have problems finding skilled workers in 2023 and that the HEART/NSTA Trust has not done enough to train individuals after they leave high school without qualifications.
THIS WEEK’S TOP ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
BARRINGTON LEVY NAMED ONE OF 200 GREATEST SINGERS OF ALL TIME BY ROLLING STONE
Jamaica’s dancehall artist Barrington Levy was listed among the 200 Greatest Singers of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine. The magazine’s list was published on January 1, 2023, and include four other Jamaicans among its top singers in history in addition to Levy. They were Bob Marley, Toots Hibbert, Dennis Brown, and Luciano. Levy said that being included on the list was similar to getting a platinum record, an award given for selling over 1 million copies. Levy, 58, said it was the best New Year’s present he could hope for. Levy’s career began in 1979 when he was a teenager, and during the 1980s, he made several recordings that brought dancehall music to the attention of a broader audience. His collaborations with Bounty Killer brought him new fans in the 1990s.
THIS WEEK’S TOP SPORTS NEWS
NETBALL JAMAICA TO BE SPONSORED BY NATIONAL BAKING COMPANY
The National Baking Company will provide a $10 million sponsorship of Netball Jamaica, which will give the organizations a major financial boost as it prepares for the 2023 Netball World Cup. The tournament will be held in Cape Town from July 28 to August 6, 2023. Netball Jamaica plans to raise $51 million to cover the expenses arising from the preparations for the event. The association’s final preparations prior to the World Cup will be a three-match series versus England from January 11 to January 15, 2023. The National Baking Company sponsorship represented “a big day” for Netball Jamaica, said president Tricia Robinson, who added that she is looking forward to the matches with England as it will provide the coaching staff with a chance to evaluate its status ahead of the World Cup. The first match will be held at the AO Arena in Manchester on January 11th. The teams will then travel to London’s Copper Box Arena for games on the 14th and 15th of January.