NAJASO – Addressing Jamaican Issues Head-on
Ambassador Curtis A. Ward
(17 July 2017) — Only one week away from a broader government-sponsored Jamaican Diaspora Conference to be held in Kingston, July 23-26, 2017, the issues discussed at the NAJASO 40th Convention held in Montego Bay, Jamaica, set the stage for broader diaspora discussions and problem solving. The level of discussions set a very high bar for the diaspora. The discussions at the NAJASO Conference set an extraordinarily high standard for identifying the issues, analyzing their impact, and offering some relevant solutions in which the Jamaican diaspora can play a significant role. These discussions, part of a very packed program of activities, covered some of the most topical issues important to Jamaica and the diaspora communities. They included the following:
- Crime, violence, and international security – explored ways in which diaspora expertise can be marshalled to support the Jamaican government in crime intervention and prevention programs. This discussion was led by Ambassador Curtis Ward and Captain Dr. Rupert Francis, head of the Jamaican Diaspora Crime Intervention & Prevention Task Force (DCIPTF). Attendees at the Conference, many of whom are practitioners in areas related to crime and violence as well as social and economic related issues, had much to offer in terms of possible courses of action for the Jamaican government in dealing with law enforcement, security, and underlying social and economic issues – which create conditions conducive to recruitment to criminal activity.
The DCIPTF is comprised of close to 1,000 Jamaicans in the diaspora with law enforcement, security, intelligence, and related expertise across a broad spectrum of crime and violence prevention, and security issues. These, primarily, are individuals who have decades of experience at every level of professional participation at local, State, and Federal levels in the United States in dealing with crime, security and intelligence. Most importantly, DCIPTF has brought together Jamaicans who have a strong desire to help the people and government of the Jamaican homeland and are offering their expertise to help solve these and related issues.
2. Immigration seminar – offered valuable information to diaspora members on issues affecting them and their families in the United States, as well as family members who are potential migrants. The wrongful deportation of some Jamaicans with claim to citizenship by descent were highlighted, and immigration attorneys Joan Pinnock and Franklyn Burke offered possible remedies to these illegal deportations. The indiscriminate nature of deportation being carried out under President Donald Trump’s administration affects the U.S.-based Jamaican diaspora community as it does all other immigrant communities.
3. Other seminars discussed topical issues on Education; Tourism; and Business development, in particular, “The Role of Business and Finance in Sustainable Development.” There was a Health Symposium in which panelists were drawn from the Jamaican diaspora, as well as from Jamaica, covering a broad range of health-related issues affecting the Jamaican population, while offering some possible solutions.
4. A very lively Young Professionals Forum featured the Hon. Floyd Green, Minister of State in the
Ministry of Youth, Education & Information and a number of young professionals from the U.S.-based Jamaican diaspora, as well as from Jamaica. The enthusiasm of Jamaican diaspora young professionals to engage in problem solving and service to Jamaica, both diaspora based young professionals and young professionals at home was quite evident. They challenged the Jamaican government to engage young professionals in a meaningful way.
It was a recurrent theme at the Convention that successive Jamaican governments have not established a mechanism to effectively engage the expertise of the Jamaican diaspora.
This, among other issues of great interest to the Jamaican diaspora community, was addressed by the Leader of Opposition the Hon. Dr. Peter Phillips, who was the featured Luncheon speaker at the Convention. The Convention was also addressed by the Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism, and the Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, who represented Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
Ambassador Curtis A. Ward
© Curtis A. Ward/The Ward Post