THIS WEEK’S TOP NEWS STORIES
JAMAICANS GO TO POLLS IN COVID-19 ENVIRONMENT
Jamaicans headed to the polls on September 3, 2020, to cast their votes in the nation’s 18th general election. According to the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ), 6,984 polling stations were expected to be open with voting underway from 7 am to 5 pm. Prime Minister Andrew Holness expressed confidence that his Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) will retain power by gaining a large majority of the votes. Opposition leader Dr. Peter Phillips stated that he would leave his post as president of the Peoples National Party (PNP) if the party lost in the general election. Thousands of police were deployed throughout the island to maintain control during the voting.
REGARDLESS OF WHAT PARTY WINS, CHALLENGES COULD ARISE FOR CROWD CONTROL POST-VOTING
Jamaica’s two major political parties, the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) and the Peoples National Party (PNP), have both struggled to devise a plan to contain their supporters on the evening of the general election after the polls have closed. There are concerns about crowd control whichever party wins the hotly contested general election. The JLP expects to obtain at least 36 seats while the PNP expects a minimum of 35. Neither party has made definitive plans about maintaining the COVID-19 protocols issued by the Ministry of Health and Wellness after the election. There has been a surge of cases of the coronavirus over the past two weeks, with more than 2,600 cases total and over 1,600 currently active cases reported. As a result, officials have called upon voters to forego the traditional celebrations of electoral victory or concession speeches and commit to having virtual responses instead.
THIS WEEK’S TOP CARIBBEAN NEWS
PUERTO RICAN DUO PLAYS ELECTRO-CARIBBEAN “HYMN OF BELONGING” TO RAISE SPIRITS DURING PANDEMIC
The electro-Caribbean music duo named Buscabulla has released a video of its “hymn of belonging” entitled “Miro.” Lead singer Raquel Berrios said the song is aimed at Puerto Ricans who feel proud about what is theirs. “The sense of belonging transcends money,” she says, although “Sometimes it’s really hard to conceive of that now, when … spirituality and traditions seem to go to a secondary plane.” Berrios also serves as the designer, composer and DJ of Buscabulla, while Luis Alfredo Del Valle is a DJ and instrumentalist. They met in Brooklyn, New York, in 2011 to form their musical collaboration. “Buscabulla” is Puerto Rican for “troublemaker,” or someone who looks to start fights at parties. When they returned to Puerto Rico in 2017, they found their home island devastated by Hurricane Maria and marked by the departure of many local residents. They also found foreigners flocking to the island to buy land and initiating developments without regard to the environment. This prompted the release of their first album, “Regresa,” which includes the “Mio” track. Berrios believes the coronavirus pandemic has made the album’s message even more important. “In the end, the album is about accepting yourself with your mistakes and imperfections,” she said.
THIS WEEK’S TOP JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
TWO TORONTO CITY COUNCILORS SEEK TO PROTECT CITY’S LITTLE JAMAICA NEIGHBORHOOD
Toronto city councilors Josh Matlow and Mike Colle are working to protect the culture of the Little Jamaica neighborhood in the Eglinton West area of the city from the damaging effects of gentrification. Matlow’s constituency includes Little Jamaica, while Mike Colle is responding to voiced concerns about the loss of character and identity of the area due to gentrification, which threatens the existence of small black-owned businesses. The “pressures” of gentrification include increased development arising from the new Crosstown LRT, which will open along Eglinton and facilitate links between Little Jamaica and the rest of the city. Matlow cited the area’s immigrants created a lively reggae scene that contributed to the music legacy of Toronto, the food scene, and the existing strong sense of community. The two councilors are creating a “planning framework study” to consider how best to retain the neighborhood’s identity.
THIS WEEK’S TOP BUSINESS NEWS
JHTA REPORTS “NO KNOWN CASE OF COVID-19” TRANSMISSION IN TOURISM INDUSTRY
According to the president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) Omar Robinson, there have been no known cases of transmission of the COVID-19 virus within the Jamaican tourist industry. This has been the case in spite of an increase in cases generally across the island. Robinson attributed the rise in number of cases to “Jamaicans not taking responsibility for their actions.” Since the tourist industry reopened on June 15, 2020, he noted that hotels have been following the extensive safety protocols established by the government, and this has succeeded in providing for the safety of guests and staff members. Tourist attraction venues have also adhered to the safety protocols to ensure visitors and staff fully comply with the COVID-19 rules. Robinson appealed to Jamaicans to take more personal responsibility in the battle against the virus for the sake of Jamaica’s economy. “We can’t leave it up to Government. The Government has been phenomenal, so far, in containing the spread. It is for us as individuals, just like what we are doing in tourism, to ensure that you practice physical distancing and wear your mask,” he said.
THIS WEEK’S TOP ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
LEGENDARY REGGAE STAR TOOTS HIBBERT IN MEDICALLY INDUCED COMA
Fans continued to pray for the recovery of legendary Toots Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals who is hospitalized in a medically induced coma at University Hospital of the West Indies. According to his publicist Claude Mills, the singer is “fighting for his life” and is on a ventilator. Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports Olivia Grange assured Jamaicans that Hibbert is received the best medical care possible as he suffers from “respiratory problems.” A statement from Hibbert’s recording label Trojan Jamaica/BMG stated that his family thanked everyone for their love and prayers and that medical personnel at the hospital confirmed that he is in stable condition, receiving round-the-clock treatment. Tessanne Chin, winner of “The Voice” television competition, sent her prayers and expression of respect for the legendary singer, as did singer Zia Benjamin and Ziggy Marley, who requested that positive thoughts and energy be sent to Hibbert, his family, and his foundation.
THIS WEEK’S TOP SPORTS NEWS
JAMAICA’S SHAUNA-KAY HINES CHOSEN TO PROMOTE 2021 PARALYMPIC GAMES
Para athlete Jamaican Shauna-Kay Hines has been chosen by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), which is the international governing body for para sports, to be part of the organization’s continuing social media initiative designed to promote the 2021 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. The 2020 staging of the games was postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Christopher Samuda, the president of the Jamaica Paralympic Association, this is a historic achievement that reflects how Jamaican athletes have influence beyond the island’s borders and impact the “global village.” Hines, who said she was “elated that Jamaica has been selected,” will join an elite group of para athletes from around the world and across sports disciplines to bring inspiring messages to the IPC’s Instagram project “One Year To Go.” Hines only began her participation in para sports three years ago, but in that short time, she has made considerable progress and is just about to qualify for the Paralympic Games. She has thus far received a silver medal at the 2018 US Open Taekwondo Championship, a bronze medal at the 2018 Pan Am and Para Championship, bronze at the 2019 US Open Taekwondo Championship, a bronze medal at the 2019 Mexico Open TKD Championship, bronze at the 2019 Lima Para Pan Am Games, a silver medal at the 2020 Mexico Open TKD, and a silver medal at the 2020 Costa Rica Open.