Wed | Feb 19, 2020

Ronald Thwaites | Welcome, Mr Pompeo

Published:Monday | January 20, 2020 | 12:05 AM
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Good Day, Mr Secretary, and welcome to one of the most beautiful and hospitable countries in the world. Thank you for the long and continuing history of friendship between the people of the United States and Jamaica. We are grateful, too, for the home your country and Canada offers to as many Jamaicans as live on this Rock.

Also, we are in the debt of the United States for the generous training and educational opportunities which have been availed by thousands of our citizens. You used to give us lots of money, for which we are thankful.

Surely you, too, will appreciate and be grateful for the extremely valuable contribution which Caribbean people, especially our superbly trained doctors, teachers and nurses, continue to make to the cultures and economies of North America at great cost to our own societies. In fact, we would be happy to train more of these and other professionals for service, temporary or permanent, in the United States, if you will share the expense with us.

You see, Sir Mike (this is our ersatz-British way of address, which is both familiar and respectful), we really want our relationships to be reciprocal so that we do not become subservient and you do not become arrogant.

So having rehearsed the tone of our friendship, please could you share with us the reason for your visit at this time. In the past, your predecessors have come when there is a serious issue testing our friendship. What is it this time, please and thanks?

Not Cuba or drugs or Dudus. Could it be China, Venezuela, or Israel? Sad to say, our Government does not have the best record of telling us what they discuss and agree on our behalf, so we are asking for full disclosure this time. We do not appreciate Nicodemus arrangements.

GOOD VIBES

We are asking you not to tell us who to keep as friends. Our principle is to have good vibes with all countries who help us and who respect the practice of non-intervention. You see, we are not a “s…hole country”.

We realise full well the sensitivity of living in the armpit of the Americas and recognise our shared concern for the security of our waters. We wish to remind ourselves and you, however, that the Monroe Doctrine is long dead and beyond resurrection.

Friendship demands truth and candour. Right now, the flow of guns from America is occasioning mayhem and murder in our land. We don’t have any Second Amendment to our good, good Constitution. Please restrain the exercise of yours.

Sir, we acknowledge the full discretion of every nation to determine who enters their country and, if not, citizens who must leave. But it cannot be right, ethical or moral to compromise a person’s reputation by withdrawing a visa without being truthful to them about the reason.

Surely, the dictates of natural justice apply in affairs that can damage peoples’ lives as much as between nations and in any court of law. It cannot be fair for a friendly nation to place a pall of suspicion and disrepute over the citizens of a friendly country without disclosing the cause, just because of your size and power.

Jamaica will never do that to any American citizen and so we are asking you to correct the damage done recently to several Jamaicans, including some who hold offices of public trust, and who, until proven otherwise, deserve the protection of their reputations – especially by a friend.

We hold to the principle that size, power and wealth ought to be used to empower others, not to disable them.

Finally, Sir Mike, please tell your president good evening for us. We are taught to have manners, even to people with whom we do not agree.

Yours respectfully.

Ronald Thwaites is member of parliament for Kingston Central. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com