Tue | Dec 6, 2016

Jamaica's foreign policy vindicated

Published:Saturday | December 20, 2014 | 12:00 AM

LOCAL LAWMAKERS have hailed the move by the United States (US) government to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba as a vindication of Jamaica's foreign policy.

However, for Senator A.J. Nicholson, the foreign affairs and foreign trade minister who led the chorus of praises in the Senate yesterday, the move announced by US President Barack Obama on Wednesday was just one of several instances where Jamaica's foreign policy was "on the right side of history".

Nicholson cited the decisions taken in 1972 to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba and the People's Republic of China as well as the country's trade and travel ban on the then apartheid regime in South Africa as other examples.

LEADING THECHARGE

"We led the charge against sporting contacts with apartheid South Africa and led the world towards the adoption of the UN (United Nations) convention against apartheid in sports [and] we were on the right side of history," he said to thunderous applause from other senators.

Noting that this was not by chance, Nicholson asserted that Jamaica's foreign policies have been guided by some of the principles set out in the UN Charter.

"Many of these decisions were or will be difficult. Some of them were and will be unpopular in some quarters, and almost all of them came with some kind of price to be paid by us," he said in reference to some of the criticisms levelled at former Prime Minister Michael Manley for his stance on Cuba.

However, pointing to several contributions Cuba has made to Jamaica's development, the foreign affairs minister said the excellent relations Jamaica now enjoys with the communist country, as well as China and South Africa, "are a few examples of the benefits of making difficult choices for the right reasons".

"And so Jamaica has won the respect and even the admiration of the international community for our principled and balanced foreign policy," he insisted.