We’re not traitors, says Maroon colonel
Sterling says leaders’ meeting with Gov’t without contentious Currie not an act of betrayal
Colonel of the Moore Town Maroons in Portland, Wallace Sterling, has rubbished suggestions that a decision to accept an invitation to meet with Prime Minister Andrew Holness without Accompong Chief Richard Currie was an act of betrayal.
Currie has been sparring with the Government over the 1738 treaty with the British government, which granted the indigenous group sovereignty over their lands, making them exempt from paying property taxes and giving them full autonomy as a sovereign state. But questions have been raised in government circles about whether the pact is still valid in post-Independence Jamaica.
Last weekend, the Maroon colonels indicated, in an interview with The Sunday Gleaner, that they would have been seeking audience with Holness to try and ease simmering tension between the Government and the indigenous groups, especially in relation to those in the Cockpit Country led by Currie. Their concerns had also been heightened following recent revelation that the Government had issued a directive for all ministries and agencies to cease giving financial support to the indigenous groups.
Following news that Holness, along with Culture Minister Olivia Grange and Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister Robert Nesta Morgan, had later met with Sterling, Lloyd Latibeaudiere of the Scotts Hall Maroons and Marcia Douglas of the Charles Town Maroons, Currie suggested that his colleague Maroon leaders reneged on a plan for all four states to stand as one.
“Everyone decided it was in the best interest of the collective and maintaining the position of one conversation having to do with the rights of indigenous peoples and the Maroons,” Currie said on his Instagram page on Friday. “Having agreed to these terms, within the last 24 hours, most of my disappointment was the decision of the other three colonels.”
Sterling, the most senior of the Maroon Secretariat, said that an initial meeting was important for future talks.
“I do not think it is fair for him (Currie) to ever think we would betray him. When we were contacted by the Government, we insisted that Currie should be at the table, but they said, ‘No. Not at this time’,” Sterling told The Sunday Gleaner.
“As a unified body, we don’t want anyone to think that we are undermining them or being a traitor,” he added.
Latibeaudiere also insisted that last week’s meeting was necessary to quell the tension and set the pace for Currie’s participation in the next meeting, but the Accompong leader argued that an icebreaker meeting which does not involve the voice of the representative of the territory that seems to be causing all the chaos was nonsensical.
“There’s an element of trust that needs to be babied, that needs to be preserved. Nanny of the Maroons wasn’t the only Maroon hero,” Currie said.
“Many talk and they have never been here. They don’t know what’s happening. There’s been so much funding that has come into this country on behalf of indigenous people and none of it gets spent here,” he charged.