Sat | Oct 20, 2018

The little matter of sovereignty

Published:Sunday | September 7, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Ronald Mason, Contributor

Jamaica, after gaining political independence on August 6, 1962, now faces a challenge regarding our sovereignty. In this matter, sovereignty is defined as being able to make national decisions which are in the best interest of our country and people. We are losing this ability. Despite the proclamation by Ian Boyne that the United States (US) does not have the moral authority to dictate to us, they must do so for our own good. I totally reject that line of thought.

Our world would do well to compare and contrast the attributes of moral authority versus moral suasion versus raw geopolitical power. In this regard, let us interlink the US and the European Union as being on the same side of the issue as against our national interest.

The base of our conundrum lies in our inability to provide for our own needs. We are mendicants. That is the undisputed fact. We have as a government, irrespective of the political administration, become professional beggars. When the euphemism "grant funding" is given prominence in our budget, that is the label fit for only professional beggars. This has placed us at the mercy of the US/European Union axis.

They dictate and determine our policies in so many ways. The issue of hanging, the action of our security forces, how we deal with the LGBT community, how we deal with the marijuana situation, how we maintain our standing in international bodies despite being chronically late in paying the cost of good-standing membership, our food imports from the US, as dictated from the US Department of Agriculture. This list is by no means exhaustive, but is sufficiently representative. Remember the matter with the US forces boarding a ship in our territorial waters without the obligatory "consultation".

Economic clout

The US/European Union have the economic clout and we have the dependency. This is influenced by the facts of our having more Jamaicans living in their countries than at home. The vagaries of geography with the proximity of the US and the raw power Monroe doctrine. We also have the colonial ties with European Union by way of Britain. The European Union has adopted a free-for-all attitude to homosexuality and hanging. Anything goes in one case and a blanket prohibition in the other. We have a cultural base that is not in keeping with this. This gives the cover of moral authority. These actions by them are supposed to be a step on the evolution of a civilised people. However, they do not see the value in our opposition to this position. Hence, moral suasion is brought into play.

With the raw geopolitical power standing leashed but very visible. How dare them; but we must comply or pay a very high price. US subsidises their agriculture and let loose the Food and Drug Administration office to protect their markets. They keep the big geopolitical power in the form of the World Trade Organization leashed, but very visible. Look at Antigua on the issue of online gambling. How dare them? They use the human-trafficking report, the US State Department's reports and others to decide our position.

Senator Patrick Leahy is now the de facto head of our national security. Ask former Commissioner Ellington. Ask the Firearm Training Unit. Ask the numerous Jamaicans who are blacklisted by some report written by some nondescript Drug Enforcement Agent while posted in Jamaica. The US cannot deal with Iraq and ISIS. They can do nothing to stop the gruesome beheading of American journalists. However, they can threaten our economy by the mere issue of a travel advisory issued by the Department of State.

Moral suasion

There is very little moral suasion applied. The British has the police institutionalised racism of the Lawrence family case. The US police shoot and kill young black men at an all-too-frequent rate. Where is the moral basis to protest our policies? What we are subjected to is 'might is right' policy. We have to be mindful that some 1.5 million Jamaicans live in the US. We are never allowed to forget the remittances they send for their own reasons of family and business activity and how vulnerable it is to a singular act of the Department of Commerce. Let us look at our 'friends'. When was the last time we had a large significant direct investment having its origins in Britain or the US? Friends allow friends to grow and strive for economic viability. Moral suasion must be by value of argument. We have dictate backed up with threats. We have reliance on 'grants' which come, quite usually, with strings attached.

At what point do we agree to accept the accuracy of the old Jamaica proverb, "If yu want good, yu nose have fi run". We need to sacrifice for something. Let us have principled relations with the US/European Union. Let us treat them not as benefactors who have some moral authority to dictate to us.

What strings are visible with the Chinese investments? The little matter of our sovereignty.

Ronald Mason is a US Immigration Attorney/Supreme Court Mediator. Send comments to or