THIS WEEK’S TOP NEWS STORIES
PRIME MINISTER WARNS HE MAY BE “FORCED TO TAKE ACTION” IF JAMAICANS FAIL TO FOLLOW COVID-19 PROTOCOLS
Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness has warned Jamaicans that they must follow established protocols designed to control the COVID-19 pandemic. Their failure to do so could force him to “take action,” he said. Holness noted that there has been a slight increase in the number of COVID-cases since his government issued revised measures in June 2021. He also pointed out that some countries around the world are seeing setbacks in the battle against the disease as they have relaxed restrictions. Holness described his role as Prime Minister as one that requires him to balance all considerations and that he has a duty to protect the safety of Jamaica’s population. If Jamaicans’ behavior poses a threat to that larger population, he will be required to act. His warning was issued less than two weeks after the government loosened the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
JAMAICAN LABOR MINISTER PROMISES TO INCREASE PARTICIPATION IN OVERSEAS EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM
Jamaica’s Minister of Labor and Social Security Karl Samuda issued a pledge to raise the number of participants in the Overseas Employment Program to 30,000 over the coming four years. Every year, some 7,000 Jamaicans join the program and receive agricultural H-2A and hospitality H-2B visas. About 6,000 Jamaicans are placed in the United States through private employment agencies. Samuda says the Ministry recognizes how transformative the program can be in improving the lives of its participants, their families and communities. The Ministry wants to “aggressively grow the program,” he said, noting that the goal is to increase the number of people in the program from the current 13,000 to 30,000 over a period of four years. This will occur while ensuring that the workers receive any protections necessary. As part of his effort to grow the program, Samuda met with representatives of the US State Department, Labor Department, and Homeland Security Department in Washington DC on July 14, 2021.
THIS WEEK’S TOP CARIBBEAN NEWS
CONDITIONS IN CUBA AND HAITI COULD SPARK MIGRATION CRISIS
Cuba and Haiti, the Caribbean nations with the largest populations, are facing domestic crises that are prompting their citizens to seek asylum in the United States in increasing numbers. Haiti is facing chaos following the assassination of it president, and Cuba is experiencing its largest public protests in decades due to bad economic conditions. Even before these situations in the two countries, the number of Haitians and Cubans wanting to migrate to the US has been steadily rising. However, the Biden Administration, through comments from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, has told potential emigrants not to risk their lives trying to enter the US illegally. On July 13, 2021, Mayorkas said in a new conference “You will not come to the United States.” As many as 10,000 Haitians have been estimated to be at the US-Mexico border already, unable to pursue their asylum claims because of a public health order imposed by the Trump Administration and maintained by the Biden Administration.
THIS WEEK’S TOP JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
SPRINT LEGEND USAIN BOLT CALLS RACIST ABUSE OF ENGLAND PLAYERS “HORRIBLE” AND “UNFAIR”
Jamaica’s sprint legend and eight-time Olympic medal winner Usain Bolt told Reuters that there is no place for racism in football or in any society. He was commenting on the face that three England football players were exposed to online abuse after being defeated by Italy in the penalty shootout at the Euro 2020 final on July 11, 2021. The three players – Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Bukayo Saka – missed their spot kicks at the shootout and were targets of racist abuse online following England’s defeat. Bolt said fans can be upset about a player missing a shot, but “if you’re going to bring race into it, then it has no place in football or just in general.” He went on to say that the abuse was “horrible” for him as an African and a Black person and that it must be difficult for the targeted players. “In football, you win some, you lose some, and it’s tough for you to lose,” he said, but comments about race have no place here. He called the racial abuse “very unfair” and said he cannot believe “this is where football is headed.” The English Football Association said it was “appalled” at the abuse of the players and that it will do everything it can to support those affected as well as urging that the most stringent punishments possible be imposed on those responsible.
THIS WEEK’S TOP BUSINESS NEWS
MARATHON INSURANCE BROKERS PROVIDES $12 MILLION TO SUPPORT JAMAICAN OLYMPIC EFFORT
Marathon Insurance Brokers (MIB) has provided $12 million to support the Olympic efforts of Jamaica at the 2021 Tokyo Games through a sponsorship deal. The firm sponsored the Jamaican Olympic team at the London Games in 2012 and at the Rio Games in 2016 and stated that it is strong in its commitment to supporting Jamaica’s athletes on the global scene. According to MIB’s director Keisha Burgher, the decision to enter into new partnership agreement with the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) was easy, adding that Marathon will support the athletes “as best we can.” MIB will provide cash support totaling some $7 million as well as free travel insurance for Olympic team members. All athletes who win a medal at the Games will receive free insurance coverage for a full year as well.
THIS WEEK’S TOP ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
GOSPEL ARTIST AND PRODUCER KEVIN DOWNSWELL WINS FOUR OF FIVE CATEGORIES AT STERLING GOSPEL MUSIC AWARDS
Kevin Downswell, a gospel artist and producer, said he was “very grateful” to know that his ministries had made an impact during the pandemic year. He won four of the five categories in which he was nominated at the Sterling Gospel Music Awards (SGMA). His single “Carry Me” won the awards for Local Hit of the Year and Local Hit Producer of the Year, while the song’s music video won for Video of the Year. “Conversations with Kevin Downswell,” a project in which he spoke to international motivational speaker Pastor Pamela Dillion; fellow gospel artists Rondell Positive and Psalmist Oshane Mais; and comedian Ity Ellis, won for Virtual Series of the Year. This was not the first time Downswell dominated the awards. AT the first SGMA event in 2017, he took the award for Album of the Year for “All the Way,” as well as Male Artist of the Year, Local Hit of the Year, and Collaboration of the Year for “Not Afraid” with Rondell Positive.
THIS WEEK’S TOP SPORTS NEWS
JAMAICA DEFEATS SURINAME 2-0 IN OPENER AT CONCACAF GOLD CUP
Jamaica’s team brought home a win at the Concacaf Gold Cup competition in Orlando, Florida, on July 12, 2021. Jamaica attained a 2-0 victory over Suriname in the opener of Group C competition.
In the first half, Shamar Nicholson scored a goal in the sixth minute, with Bobby Reid scoring in the 26th minute. These goals were sufficient to give the Reggae Boyz the win. Jamaican finished with seven shots, six on target, compared to 10 attempts by Suriname with only three shots testing Andre Blake, the Boyz goalkeeper.