Jamaica on path to economic independence, says Marks
Jamaica's ambassador to the United States, Audrey Marks, is pointing out that "Jamaica is firmly on the path of the true national mission of this generation - achieving and establishing economic independence for our nation and all our people".
Delivering the keynote address at the Atlanta Jamaican Association Independence Ball on Saturday at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Atlanta, United States, Ambassador Marks said "Jamaica's first focus after Independence was to build exemplary social and political institutions for our young nation".
She noted, "We have, by any measure, achieved our political objectives as a stable and democratic country. We have evolved from the political violence of the late 1970s and 1980, and election corruption for decades, to now be considered among the most democratic nation in the Western Hemisphere."
The Jamaican envoy pointed out that: "We also have stamped our mark on the world within the cultural realm, particularly in the areas of music and sports. Rastafari is considered as the only new religion of the 20th and 21st centuries. We produced reggae music as an authentic musical form that has influenced the world, dramatically.
"In sports, we have excelled beyond the wildest expectations, producing world-beaters and legends, particularly in athletics, cricket, boxing, netball and swimming. Music and sports are areas we once considered major recreational pastimes only but, today, are respected as two of the world's emerging cultural industries, generating billions of dollars in revenue."
JAMAICA'S TASK NOW
Ambassador Marks told the nearly 800 attendees that Jamaica's "task now is to prepare the nation for long-term economic growth. We have to cultivate and maximise these cultural and other industries to the economic benefit of Jamaica, in much the same way as countries with natural resources such as oil, gas, or gold."
She continued, "We are therefore challenged to see prosperity not as a political slogan, but as a national imperative; a national mission around which the entire Jamaican nation, at home and aboard, must be mobilised and inspired to action."
The ambassador concluded that the island's current challenges with crime, education, health and infrastructure could be traced to decades of economic stagnation.