THIS WEEK’S TOP NEWS STORIES
PRIME MINISTER HOLNESS AND JLP WIN LANDSLIDE IN LOW-TURNOUT EARLY ELECTIONS
The Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) won 49 of 63 Parliamentary seats in the general elections, marking a big victory of the opposition People’s National Party (PNP). Following the concession by the PNP after the election on September 3, 2020, Holness praised Jamaicans for the “smooth and fair election” that was held in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Holness declared the “people of Jamaica” as the winners of the election, stating that it indicated Jamaicans “are maturing in their outlook” and understand that “populist policies can have a destructive impact on the national good.” The JLP focused its campaign on rebuilding the national economy, which has suffered from the impact of the pandemic on tourism and exports. The PNP campaign focused on the provision of social program aimed at helping the most vulnerable segments of Jamaican society, including students, the poor, and working-class Jamaicans. The general elections, which were not required until February of 2021, were scheduled early by Prime Minister Holness on August 11, 2020.
JAMAICA TEACHERS’ ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT WANTS GOVERNMENT ACTION TO ADDRESS INTERNET ACCESS ISSUES
Jasford Gabriel, the president of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), says it is “critical” for the Jamaican government to provide clear outlines of any progress that has been made to expand internet access across the island before the planned reopening of schools on the island. Schools have been closed since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and concerns have increased since then about the lack of broadband internet access for students in rural areas. According to Gabriel, the JTA needs to be made aware of progress on broadband access issues in order to determine the extent to which teachers will be able to improve students’ level of connectivity. He added that the promised plan to provide data support for teachers “has not materialized.” The Ministry of Education has said that there will not be an “over-reliance” on virtual learning in its proposed mixed approach to lesson delivery during the coming school year, but Gabriel said stakeholders must make the necessary infrastructure investments for internet access and teacher support right away.
THIS WEEK’S TOP CARIBBEAN NEWS
EIGHT SMALL ENTERPRISES FROM SIX CARIBBEAN NATIONS AWARDED SUPPORT FUNDING
The Ashton Multipurpose Cooperative Limited (AMCO) received a Caribbean Sea Innovation Fund (CarSIF) SME micro grant to help six nations in the Caribbean with building the capacity of small and microenterprises (SMEs) in financial management, recordkeeping, and marketing of their sea moss businesses. AMCO is a community-headed sea moss cooperative that is based on St. Vincent’s Union Island. SMEs in the Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines received funding from the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARA) to help strengthen the efforts of their businesses in developing sustainable community livelihoods. The funding totaled US$13,500. The micro grants are key to the “Powering Innovation sin Civil Society and Enterprises for Sustainability in the Caribbean (PISCES)” project in 2019. The goal of the grants is to address priorities in the management and governance of marine and coastal resources in the Caribbean.
THIS WEEK’S TOP JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
JAMAICANS IN U.S. DIASPORA CONCERNED ABOUT LOW TURNOUT IN GENERAL ELECTIONS
Jamaicans who are part of the diaspora community in the United States showed concern about the low turnout among Jamaican voters for the general elections. Overall voter turnout was just 37 percent for the 2020 election, compared to 48.37 percent in the election of 2016. Diaspora members are concerned that this could signal problems for the nation’s democratic systems. US diaspora members also congratulated the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) on its landslide victory, however. Political commentator and former lecturer at the John Jay School of Criminal Justice Dr. Basil Wilson said that the People’s National Party (PNP) had “abysmal” results and had to undertake some serious introspection to become relevant to the voters again. He believes the party needs a new president. Una Clarke, former member of the New York City Council and a community activist, questioned whether the low turnout should be attributed to voter apathy or COVID-19 concerns. Clarke said she thought the middle of a pandemic was a bad time to call an election. General elections were not due constitutionally until February of 2021, but Prime Minister Andrew Holness of the JLP called for an early vote on August 11, 2020.
THIS WEEK’S TOP BUSINESS NEWS
PRESIDENT OF JAMAICA EMPLOYERS FEDERATION SAYS MORE JOBS ARE COMING IN SPITE OF COVID-19 IMPACT ON ECONOMY
While the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) reports that the country’s economic shrank by an estimated 18 percent between April and June 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, a decrease attributed chiefly to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, David Wan, president of the Jamaica Employers Federation (JEF), says that in spite of the pandemic, some firms have started to hire more workers due to a greater demand for their services. This is especially true for the fast food sector as more people want food delivered due to COVID-19 restrictions. Other companies looking to increase their workforces include those offering sanitation services as more Jamaicans want their homes and offices professionally cleaned.
THIS WEEK’S TOP ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
BILLBOARD ANNOUNCES JAMAICANS BOUNTY KILLER, BEENIE MAN TOPPED “VERZUZ” POLLS
Billboard magazine announced that the “Verzuz” battle between Jamaican legends Bounty Killer and Beenie Man was chosen by cans as the best battle to date. Both the recording artists, who were not included on the magazine’s Verzuz tribute cover, took in a large majority of fan votes; in fact, the results were so overwhelming that actual polling seemed superfluous. Some fans of the Jamaican dancehall stars objected to the way Billboard presented the results for their win. The magazine reported that their battle took 88 percent of the vote with 44.5 percent of the total votes coming from fans in Jamaica, which some took as making a questionable implication about the results. They believe the report should have noted that 43.4 percent of the votes came from beyond Jamaica’s borders. With Bounty Killer and Beenie Man taking 88 percent of the total votes, however, indicates that the other 18 Verzuz battles were left with the remaining 12 percent. The second-place battle was between R&B singers Brandy and Monica.
THIS WEEK’S TOP SPORTS NEWS
EDWARDS CALLS FOR PROGRAM TO DEVELOP YOUTH BASKETBALL
Simone Edwards, working in her new position as coordinator for national youth basketball, reports that plans are going forward to reenergize the development of Jamaica’s basketball through the recruitment and training of young players from throughout the diaspora. Strong programs targeting local players are part of the plans as well. Edwards, former WNBA national player, said that such a program could be in operation by January 2021 if the global COVID-19 pandemic is controlled soon. At present, Edwards if focusing on connecting with local coaches to identify young players for development and working with the business community to implement scholarship programs to help support players.