Jamaicans attend US presidential debate
A team from the Jamaica Debates Commission (JDC) was among the hundreds of invited guests in the auditorium at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) last Wednesday witnessing the final presidential debate of the current political campaign taking place in the USA. The five-person team comprised JDC Chairman and Vice-Chairman Noel daCosta and Brian Schmidt; and JDC resource personnel Trevor Fearon, Eleanor Henry and Brian St Juste.
The JDC, a partnership between the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce and Media Association Jamaica, has organised pre-general election political debates locally in 2002, 2007 and in 2011, as well as a pre-local government election debate in 2012. Its efforts to stage debates ahead of Jamaica's 2016 general election collapsed with the refusal of the incumbent People's National Party administration to participate.
The Jamaican team and representatives of debate organisers from 27 other countries attended the US debate at the invitation of the US Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI). The CPD has been responsible for staging all presidential & vice-presidential debates since 1987 and has partnered with NDI to provide technical support to non-partisan debate-organising bodies in numerous countries
The invitees at Wednesday's event included teams from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition to Jamaica, the Caribbean was represented by teams from Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Curacao. All are members of the Debates International network which was formed in 2010. Jamaica is a founding member of the network.
The overseas delegations participated in a range of symposia and other events during their time in Las Vegas, including sharing best practices, conversations with organisers and moderators from earlier staging of US debates, as well as discussions with political thought leaders. They also participated in lectures with the UNLV faculty and student body.