Sun | Jul 5, 2020

Letter of the Day | COVID-19 causes ‘colonisation in reverse’

Published:Thursday | May 28, 2020 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

Over the past two weeks, we have seen thousands of Jamaicans practically bracing on the doors of the nation's borders to come into the island. This after the Government closed the borders to protect the population from the current COVID-19 virus, which is now a pandemic. It is quite ironic that many are fleeing to Jamaica. This situation could be very well described as -colonisation in reverse - as, generally, Jamaicans would spend hours in the line at the US Embassy to get a visa for the 'promised land'. It's understandable though, given that the US and the UK are currently epicentres for the disease.

In the midst of the crisis and the chaos, Jamaica is somewhat of a safe haven, so to speak. Though we have more than 500 cases to date, the situation, in my estimation, has been better handled than in the UK and the US. The fact that persons are demanding to be let in, is a testament to this. In fact, I have seen tourists on TV saying that they feel safer here than in the US at this time. Imagine that.

REPATRIATION EFFORTS

I can very well imagine how stressful it must be to be locked away in a cabin at sea for an extended time. However, I wish to remind our seafaring brothers and sisters that it is the very measures that they now resent that has made Jamaica a more desirable place for them to come home to. If we relax or hasten the measures for repatriation, as being demanded by some, our situation would be even worse than the US and the UK, as we have far less resources. Many Jamaicans like myself have no other country to run to and escape. I urge the ship workers, therefore, to be patient and understanding and to think positively.

I wish to say thanks to our Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie, and her team for helping Jamaica to weather the storm and cauterising the virus at every point where it surfaces. Thanks also to the Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, for his strategic thinking and leadership. Thanks also to other ministers of government, in particular, Minister Desmond McKenzie, Minister Kamina Johnson Smith, and Dr Horace Chang for the part they played in containing COVID-19.

Finally, and by no means least, I must say thanks to Prime Minister Andrew Holness for his leadership. It is always easy to criticise our leaders whenever they mess up. That, I believe, is par for the course when you put yourself out there as a leader. However, I believe it is equally important to say ?thanks?. Encouragement sweetens labour. Jamaicans love to criticise and, generally, we tend to put down our very own. In fact, I believe one journalist had suggested that the prime minister should include someone with expertise in his Cabinet to handle the COVID crisis. Well, I can tell you that US President Donald Trump could do well to have Prime Minister Holness and Tufton in his Cabinet right now to teach him a thing or two. It is true that a prophet is never honoured in his own country. Recognition for how the Government is handling the crisis has been touted elsewhere on at least two occasions that I can recall. Yet, very little acknowledgement has come from us in Jamaica to whom it matters the most.

Well, PM, if no one else says it, let me say thank you very much. I urge you to keep on doing what you are doing, sir.

J. BARTLEY