While making his contribution to the Budget Debate on Tuesday, Golding expressed alarm over what he claimed was a departure from long-established traditions that have burnished Jamaica’s prestige globally.
Golding was particularly critical of Jamaica’s role in having the Organisation of American States rap the Maduro administration in Venezuela in a geopolitical controversy that sparked a rift in the Caribbean Community.
“Many Jamaicans were ashamed to hear Prime Minister Andrew Holness declare openly on an American news channel that Jamaica understands the orbit in which we are; we are in the backyard of the United States.
“Jamaica is not in anyone’s backyard. We are no puppet or stooge to any foreign power. We are not for sale,” charged Golding as he tackled Holness over his perceived cosiness with the United States under the Trump presidency.
But on Thursday, Holness, in seeking to rebuff Golding’s suggestion, said he, as prime minister, had been invited to participate – even as the only leader from a small economy – in numerous high-level conferences, including G7 and G20 summits.
Holness however left out the part of the narrative explaining that his invitation was as a result of his being the outgoing chair of the 15 member Caribbean Community of Nations, CARICOM, and at the time, spoke on behalf of the regional grouping.
In making his budget presentation, Golding outlined the position of the Opposition on the topics of International Affairs & Foreign Policy.
International Affairs & Foreign Policy
Madame Speaker, I must say something about Jamaica’s place in the world. Jamaica has a long history of advocacy for a more just and equitable world, based on unyielding adherence to principle and the rule of international law.
Over the years, this elevated our country to a position of admiration and respect on the world stage. It enhanced our influence with our peers, and we were able to leverage that goodwill to help our country get through times of adversity.
Being a small country, we have always had an internationalist posture, seeing our future as bound up with countries with a similar past and facing common challenges. There are many issues where the fortunes of our people can be enhanced by a progressive foreign policy, or can be undermined by opportunistic manoeuvres that are inconsistent with our tradition of standing by principle at all times.
We have also long recognized the strategic benefits of speaking with a common voice with our Caricom colleagues in dealing with larger players in the international arena.
Madame Speaker, it was therefore with considerable alarm and disappointment that we witnessed this Government departing from these traditions in its dealing with Trump administration.
Sadly, Jamaica chose to participate in the fragmentation of Caricom’s stance within the OAS in relation to Cuba and Venezuela, rather than standing in principled solidarity with the majority of Caricom states. Cuba and Venezuela are two countries whose generosity to the Jamaican people is unsurpassed. Prior to this, Jamaica had dealt with them from a position of respect for the principles of self-determination and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.
The Government’s departure from the established norms of Jamaica’s foreign policy, and from the sure road of Caricom solidarity is highly regrettable. It was also pursued with a lack of transparency and without full disclosure to the Jamaican public.
A PNP administration would never have embarked on that slippery slope. We know that it cannot be prudent in the long run to depart from well-established principles that have served us well over many decades. Those principles had built Jamaica’s prestige around the world. That is who we were. A leader within Caricom, and a sovereign, principled and respected state on the global stage.
Many Jamaicans were ashamed to hear Prime Minister Andrew Holness declare openly on an American news channel that – “Jamaica understands the orbit in which we are. We are in the backyard of the United States”.
No Sah. What is this? Jamaica is not in anyone’s backyard. We are no puppet or stooge to any foreign power. We are not for sale. As Michael Manley once courageously said, we walk the world stage on our feet, not on our knees!
With the advent of a new and more progressive administration in Washington, the Government’s unfortunate dance with the Trump administration has been laid bare. Let us hope that Jamaica’s prospects have not been blighted by the departure from our long and noble tradition of upholding Caribbean solidarity.
I wish to pay tribute to those Caricom leaders who stood firm in the face of whatever pressures or inducements were offered to those, like Jamaica, who strayed from the fold. We say, Powerful Together.
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