Letter: The Jamaica Diaspora national policy in its draft form is a crisis of national identity

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Dear Sir:

The justification for the Diaspora vote was always based on the protection of all Jamaicans by shifting the dynamics of a garrison-based electoral system to a broader set of electorate to include the Jamaican Diaspora. “Jamaicans with foreign passport now able to remain in Jamaica for six (6) months” is an oxymoron, an inherent contradiction.

Diaspora voting right is not an imposition of our will on the Jamaican people but rather the embodiment of the common man’s vision of the future for Jamaica outside of the colonial construct created to perpetuate the economic enslavement our people. Crime in Jamaica is an instrument of social control to deplete the rising power of a middle-class by forcing them to “fly-out ” and oppress a captive underclass by using them as the dominant electorate subverted by criminal gangs and their “Don” leaders.

Some Jamaicans at home and in the Diaspora have diminished the core principles behind the rights of Jamaicans overseas to vote, which is a constitutional right. The argument that Jamaicans overseas think they are better than Jamaicans at home is a self-imposed argument to just hatred. I do not think the new migrants from China believe locals are equal to them but Jamaicans don’t have an issue with that.

For instance, I was travelling in a taxi when one of the passengers accused me of showing off on them with my accent. Luckily, it was my cousin’s taxi. A lady in the front seat took him on and told him it is not every Jamaican “chat bad” even at home, we all have different accent or local dialects based on which part of Jamaica we grew up.

One of the most frequent arguments against Diaspora voting is “they don’t have to live with the consequences”. But I say this, you are right! We don’t want to live with the consequences of continued poverty and crime; instead, we want live with the consequences of Jamaica’s prosperity that is why we are demanding the vote. The truth of the matter is our politicians do not have to live with the consequences of mismanagement of the Jamaican economy. Most have their primary residences and mansions overseas and fly regularly to Miami for medical care.

“Under Chapter II of the Jamaican Constitution, persons born in and born outside Jamaica of Jamaican parents have an automatic right to Jamaican citizenship”. For our Prime Minister, Andrew Holness to have traveled to Miami to tell Jamaicans that “citizenship was not about where you were born but how you feel” was an insult and to further support its position and lack of respect for our constitution, the JLP government appears to have removed all reference to the constitution regarding the basis of citizenship rights from the Passport Office’s website in an attempt to impose a narrative to suggest that it is the government and not the constitution that confers rights to the Jamaican people.

The government even went further to contradict the constitution of Jamaica by stating on its website that it recognizes “dual nationals”, which is a clear departure from recognizing “dual citizenship”, despite the fact that the constitution does not condemn dual citizenship nor does it imposes a residency requirement on who are citizens by virtue of which it confers the right to vote.

Our prime minister has stated in a public town wall that he holds the highest moral authority over all Jamaicans when a young man asked questions about the new National Identification System (NIDS). This attitude was clearly demonstrated in recent actions by the government under the state of emergency (SOE) dealing with the treatment of prisoners. I am sure the Supreme Court will have a different opinion on this again.

We are not asking to change the laws; we are only demanding what the constitution guarantees us pursuant to the rights and duty of a citizen under the UN Charter of Rights and Freedom, to which Jamaica is a signatory.

Silbert Barrett

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