Wed | Nov 25, 2020

Elevating the status of J’cans

Published:Friday | July 26, 2019 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

As more world leaders embrace the nationalist agenda, where country comes first, regardless of previous treaty or trade agreement, it behoves the Jamaican diaspora to take note of their status outside of Jamaica.

The Jamaican diaspora is over three million, with the majority residing in Canada, England, and the United States (US). Upon until quite recently, their favourite destination was the US. How long this will remain so is up for debate as President Trump’s America is changing or becoming more anti-immigrant, illustrated by recent rhetoric by the president and his embolden supporters to “go back” and “send her back”, despite the ‘victims’ status as American citizens. The diaspora needs to do its part to ensure that home is fixed and suitable for living.

The place of the Jamaican diaspora and the status of Jamaicans living in foreign lands are intricately linked to what happens in Jamaica. A Jamaica that is strong and performing transforms the position and status of the Jamaican diaspora in foreign lands.

Likewise, if we continue this negative trend of a Jamaica that is corrupt, lawless, crime-infested, and waiting on that one chance of a visa to ‘fly out’, that narrative will not boost the Jamaican diaspora status. It will only enable indifference.

How can the diaspora and the Jamaican society, in general, help each other? And to what end? Our main task is the transformation of the Jamaican society into a place where we can live, work, raise our children, and create and attract investment opportunities in relative peace under the rule of law, and justice for all.

DIRECT INVESTMENTS

The diaspora is known for remittances, but what of direct (foreign) investments, the stock market, the housing sector, etc? We can replicate the Chinese model that says that despite where we are, we strengthen and develop our native country first.

The Jamaican society can make it easier for the diaspora to start businesses and trade online with the Jamaica Stock Exchange. Jamaicans need to stop seeing and treating returning residents as sitting ducks to be robbed, fleeced, and killed. Mr Percival LaTouche can relate some of the heart-wrenching realities diaspora people face upon returning to Jamaica.

As we get closer to our nation’s Independence Day, let’s reflect on where we are and what has led us here. It’s true, there are lots of missed opportunities. We call on our leaders and their enablers to stem the wanton bleeding of our resources for selfish gain. It’s been more than five decades since our Independence, we have our freedom as a sovereign nation, but we are yet to fully realise land ownership and socio-economic transformation for the majority of our people.

Nevertheless, for the first time in many years, the pointers are all very positive towards our future as a nation. Let’s fix Jamaica so that we can define the relationships that we want with the rest of the world. We should not find ourselves, as Jamaicans, running for cover or gone into hiding when other governments crank up their policies or create barriers to limit immigrants. The destiny of all Jamaicans in the world, wherever they are, is bound up with Jamaica. A performing Jamaica elevates the status of all Jamaicans around the world. Let’s fix Jamaica, for our sake.

Frank Peart

Bronx, New York

Frankpeart@yahoo.co.uk