Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ stars continue to rise and he is increasingly being seen as the voice of reason for the developing world, on the international stage.
The Prime Minister demonstrated firm leadership in his capacity as the current Chairman of CARICOM, when he addressed the United Nations General Assembly and called for a lifting of sanctions against Cuba.
Given Jamaica’s chequered political history, particularly the clash of ideologies in the 1970s, many would have thought it inconceivable that a Jamaica Labour Party leader would be brave enough to fight Cuba’s cause on the biggest political stage in the world.
The Prime Minister’s advocacy demonstrates a mushrooming maturity in the politics of the country. Cuba is Jamaica’s closest neighbour and a prosperous Cuban nation can only be good for Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.
America has become the political clown of the world and there is no modern coherent argument or justification for its continued imposition of economic embargoes on Cuba. There is no great conspiracy between Cuba and Russia to try and emaciate America. If anything, America under Trump is lapping at Putin’s heels, hoping to find favour with a resurgent and repositioned Russia that is seeking its place in world leadership.
Prime Minister Holness was absolutely right. Jamaica has not capitalised on the massive benefits of Cuba being its closest neighbour and the time for change has come. The fear of communism is long gone and Cuba is now presented as a well organised, disciplined society where order is maintained and the population lives within their means.
It is often said that Spanish is Jamaica’s second language but there is no practical application of this. The majority of Jamaicans are not even vaguely associated with Spanish. This needs to change. The country should be seeking to engage more directly with Cuba to develop higher standards in education and technology. There should be an expansion of exchange programmes that will see more Jamaicans getting the opportunity to study in Cuba and more Cubans coming to work and study in Jamaica.
The continued economic embargo is a cruel regime that is designed to punish a people because of their political convictions. Cuba has the right to self-determination just as any other country on earth.
The Caribbean should not sit by and allow America to continue to be the bully boys of the region. While developing states must depend on the United States for trade and aid, only development and economic independence of the region will allow it to realise its potential.
Prime Minister Holness’ chairmanship of Caricom will come to an end on December 31. He has a great opportunity to stamp his mark as a regional leader of substance by giving purpose to the often troubled and fragmented regional body.
While Mr Holness continues to make strides on the international stage Jamaica must hope that his interactions with world leaders will redound to the benefit of the country. Jamaica needs help in many critical areas and the Prime Minister has the opportunity to make his case first hand to the most powerful and influential leaders in the world. Let’s wish him all the best, for Jamaica’s sake.
By Andrew Clunis