Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference Approaching Quickly

Commissioner Winston Barnes - Caribbean National Weekly News
Photo Courtesy of City of Miramar

Veteran Jamaican-American politician and radio talk show host, Winston Barnes, Vice-Mayor of the City of Miramar cautions Caribbean nationals who have hopes of migrating to the United States in search of a better. He cautions. “Do your research on what life entails in America before leaving the shores of the island in the sun.”

The vice-mayor told CNW, “Don’t fool yourselves. America is not heaven. My first trip here was 50 years ago and I am yet to see heaven. The business of America is business. You are told come to America and work hard and you will make it. Nothing could be further from the truth. People need to come to America far more educated about the American way of life.”

Barnes, as he has done since 2004 will be part of a delegation from the South East United States Diaspora who will attend Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference to be held at the Jamaica Conference Center in Kingston from July 23 – 26.

Some residents in the Jamaican Diaspora have been pushing for some time for the Diaspora to have the right to vote in Jamaican general elections from their within the Diaspora. The usual argument for this right is that Jamaicans make significant contributions to the Jamaican economy through the millions in financial remittances and should, therefore, have a say in who governs the country. However, Barnes is strongly against this argument.

He said while remittances strongly support the Jamaican economy, those contributions cannot be the sole basis for demanding the right to vote.

“The kind of contribution made to the Jamaican economy by remittances is only an indirect benefit to the Government. It does not go directly into the government’s coffers,” he explained. “People often confuse voting from the Diaspora with the American system. When you are an American living outside the US you vote for a President, not mayors or locally elected representatives.”

Statistics from the Jamaican Government consistently shows remittances from the U.S., Canada and United Kingdom as Jamaica’s highest earner, just ahead of tourism.

In April, Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson-Smith, launched the Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference in Miramar, Florida. She addressed the importance of engaging as many delegates as possible.

Copyright 2017 – Caribbean National Weekly News

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