Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Jamaica, President Obama's Visit, CARICOM Neglect and The Chinese Invasion

Like most Jamaicans I am happy that the President of the United States decided to visit Jamaica. President Obama is a US President that I support and respect on many levels. First he is a member of the Democratic party and I support the Democratic Party as there is no way on this green earth I could support a party like the Republican party with all those crazy lunatics within it. Second he is the first Black President in United States history and looking at the USA racial history one has no choice but to respect him on this great historic achievement.

However unlike most, I am not blinded by his blackness, my support for President Obama is not 100% blind support. No one on the face of this planet, alive or dead gets 100% blind, fanatic like support from me because I must remain objective. The fact is there are some things the President does that I am in agreement with and there are others that I am not in agreement with and as such I could not live with myself if I did not remain true and objective.

US Presidents are for the most part generic since they operate within a framework that does not allow much individuality. In my view this is a framework that does not even allow them to implement their election promises and manifesto for which they got the mandate from the people. These elected presidents in my view operate in a system design for domestic stagnation and to fight wars. Some Jamaicans reject any attempt to be objective about President Obama as they class you bad-mind, sell-out, hater and any number of words design to control the debate.

The White House declared that President Obama’s trip to Jamaica was a working trip but I quickly realised based on the carnival like atmosphere and the mind set of most Jamaicans including the members of the Political class that there would be no real work taking place because the entire country went into Hero Worshiping Mode. President Obama’s visit to Jamaica was like the Boy Band One Direction visiting an all-girl high school in lily-white suburbia, this was rock stardom at its very best, Beatlemania and beliebers rolled into one. Jesus second coming and as such the members of the political class, the media and the powers that be could not be trusted to remain objective, keep their eyes on the prize and put Jamaica and the region first since they were too busy trying to get President Obama’s attention and themselves in close proximity of power, basking in his glow.

During his visit everybody posted how they knew someone, who knew someone who either shook his hand or was in the same vicinity of greatness. I was surprise people were not selling second hand Obama handshake on eBay, shake the hand, that shake the hand, that shook Obama's hand.

Worst among the giddy headed people was the Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller who never stopped smiling, beaming, holding and hugging. When she was asked if she brought up the issue of illegal guns flooding the island from the USA to the President, she told to people of Jamaica not to worry because the USA is serious about stemming the flow of guns to Jamaica, they have our back, “Yeah When?” … simple answer for the gullible, the US have our back like how Michael Slager had the back of Walter Scott.

Her reassurance however is not based on reality because the reality is that illegal guns are flooding Jamaica from the United States of America even as she spoke, turning our streets into killing fields but there was no way our starry eyed PM or other members of the Political class could break out of fan base mode to articulate our issues forcefully with tact, openness and objectivity, engaging El Presidente on an intellectual level. At times like these I miss Michael Manley because I believe both Obama and Manley would not only be good friends but would be able to engage each other on a deep intellectual level with regards to the problems facing Jamaica and the third world and the rest of the world.

Then there was the Leader of the Opposition who I can only describe as shallow and egotistical. For weeks Andrew Holness and his minions have been bitching to the media that the Government have not informed them of the President’s plans and as leader of the opposition he should be involve. He should be given the opportunity to engage the President (Holness making it up as he goes along like he did with the resignation letters).

This went on for weeks as the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Holness acted like a little school boy who was not allowed to sit at the big people table during Sunday dinner but on the day of the President’s arrival Mr. Holness was placed front and centre grinning like a Cheshire cat and acting like a school boy unable to contain his excitement on Christmas morning. He too was star struck basking in the powerful rays of President Obama like Superman to the Yellow Sun.

Only the yellow sun from Planet Earth can give Superman Super Powers.
It was not until the day of the visit that Information Minister Sandrea Falconer outlined that most of the President’s schedule was defined by the White House, outside of their control and most of it was a secret, on a need-to-know basis. This coupled with the Gleaner headline on March 18, 2015 which states “Meeting with Holness not on Obama agenda for visit to Jamaica”. I wonder if President Obama let his minions sign undated resignation letters and then try to get rid of them man-a-yard-style, if they did not give him 100% blind dictatorial support to feed his fragile ego and insecurity. Note to the wise, if Mr. Holness tells you to sign a piece of toilet paper, used or not seek legal advice first.

Why Obama had no meeting with Holness Jamaica Observer Sunday, April 19, 2015 
"Interestingly, it was the Jamaican Government that wrote to the US authorities, the Sunday Observer was told, requesting that a meeting be held between Obama and Holness. That was flatly dismissed by the US, which responded in writing by citing the fact that the American president does not meet with opposition leaders or opposition candidates for national elections.

One member of the United States mission in Jamaica questioned the approach taken by Holness and the Jamaica Labour Party spokesman for foreign affairs and foreign trade Edmund Bartlett in raising the point of Obama's visit in "political tones".

Like I said I am happy that President Obama decided to visit Jamaica because it gave Jamaica and the region a rare opportunity to sit down one on one with the President of the United States and discuss our problems and outline mutual beneficial solutions to these problems. However it was an opportunity that I am afraid was not fully taken advantage of. I for one was happy when it was announced that this was a working visit as oppose to a ceremonial state visit because it implies less carnival like atmosphere and more time for problem/solutions, creating a path to the way forward. Also I feared that all this welcoming would cost us money we do not have in this of hard economic times under IMF austerity. We simply cannot afford the over the top Pomp and Ceremony, for such things we have The Queen of Jamaica, Elizabeth II. Us Jamaicans are known historically to whitewash the entire country when important visitors are coming, even the trees use to get a double coat of whitewash.

It is fair to say that the Obama Administration Neglected this Region from day one and the only thing we got from this administration are Borg like orders and demands. As they force us to comply with their various demands over the years and as we all know when it comes to our Great Colonial Masters Up North resistance is futile, it is not an option, we must comply. It amazes me that it took so long for him to try and engage this region, almost at the end of his term as President, when he is all but a lame duck in office and I wonder why. We must also be careful of US Presidents who come to our shores with promises and more demands, the time for that is long gone we demand mutual beneficial actions not words. Not to mention whatever promises President Obama made, whatever agreement we may have signed, we had better wait to see if those small minded Republicans send us a signed letter telling us that when he is gone from office they will not Honour it, like they did with the Iranians. How I see it, this Emperor has no cloths and suffers from diminishing power. What the republicans did that day will set a precedence that the American Government’s word is not their bond and any agreement with one administration is not worth the paper it was signed on, ...Cuba watch out.

So what was the purpose of President Obama’s visit and what did we achieve? What we know is that the first Black US President visited Jamaica, that in itself is Honourable and Historic and filled me with pride but we have achieved nothing substantial from that visit, except we were lectured to, like a school boy in Economics class and we lost most of our TV channels. When President Ronald Reagan visited Jamaica it set in motion a framework to creating a mutual economic regional partnership, The Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) was a unilateral and temporary United States program aimed to provide several tariff and trade benefits to many Central American and Caribbean countries. This then followed in 1990 with the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Expansion Act which made CBI permanent and then in 2002 we had the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act before the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) wiped it all away. I am not judging the effectiveness of CBI at this time just that something was done on a regional level with the intention to allow us to export more.

What I expected from President Obama’s visit was some big economic regional pack aimed at hemispherical development but all we got was some lyrics and Jamaicans love a good DJ like lyrics. They were in awe of the town hall meeting as various people questioned if our local members of the Political class could master a town hall meeting like Obama. As if the ability to speak in a town hall meeting is all we need to solve our problems. Jamaicans do not demand actions, Jamaicans demand words, pretty flowing lyrical words.

Amazingly most of what was said by Obama have been said over the many decades by our local Home Grown Colonial Masters but like most things Jamaicans prefer the imported version. Obama saying we need to grow the economy is very different from members of our political class saying we need to grow the economy. Saying we need to grow the economy, stating the obvious means nothing and Obama saying the word Growth is not magic, we cannot say growth and clip our heels 3 times and it happens like magic.

Growth is something we have been trying to get and sustain for decades and a lot of the reason why we fail at it, is because of the USA and its International Financial institution’s policy towards Jamaica as well as Jamaica’s policy towards ourselves. We can be self-destructive as we live our over the top lifestyle, a mean US$300 for a carnival G-String costume and an additional US$50.00 if you want the one feather cheaply made carnival head wear.... Kaka-Fart!!!.

Jamaica is in the middle of its second International Monetary Fund (IMF) Austerity Program after failing the first IMF program in 2010, lets face it we borrow that money and nyam it. The current IMF agreement requires the government to run an annual primary budget surpluses of 7.5%. Which when compared to a country like Greece who is only required to run a budget surpluses of 3 to 4 percent is disgusting. Jamaica currently pays more than 8 percent of GDP in interest alone -- about twice the level of the most indebted countries in Europe, and one of the worst interest burdens in the world. The IMF is currently pulling out more money from little Jamaica than it is lending.

Obama waving Goodbye to Jamaica
Please Read: President Obama Visits Jamaica, But What Is His Government Doing to Jamaica's Economy?

Faced with this Economic difficulties and burden one would then think that a visit by the President of the United States would include some form of mutually beneficial economic program to help ease the burden of not only Jamaica but the region. Assuming off course that the President understands the reality of the situation and the problems we face as a country and a region. Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) William Mahfood was also hoping that the visit of United States President Barack Obama would results in some tangible economic benefits in the form of a sustainable economic stimulus package, some sort of debt forgiveness or investments, anything to give us some breathing room in terms of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) austerity measures we are currently under but no such luck. President Obama left us same way he found us at the mercy of the IMF and the International Financial Agencies that are for the most part controlled by the United States.

Please Read: PSOJ Closure of businesses for Obama will be a small price if...

As far as I am concern we are not asking for a hand out, we have been getting drips of Aid and Grants for decades now and still we suffer under unsustainable harsh economic conditions imposed on us by the world financial organizations run by first world countries and unsustainable economic conditions imposed on ourselves by our own irresponsible and corrupt behaviour plus our Over The Top lifestyle, Yes we are also to blame and must take the lion share of that blame. Handout, begging’s and Aid causes more harm than good in my book as the population gets too use to being taken care of, further more Aid and Grants are not really beneficial because it comes with a rope tied around our neck, terms that only benefit the country giving Aid and Grant. Think about it, what if I said to you, I will give you 500 dollars now if you give me a copy of your house keys or your ATM password and allow me full access, well that is how we lost our dairy and citrus industry. What we need are favourable terms and conditions to allow for sustainable increased economic actives to take place. I remember the details of one such grant that states that we can only use the grant money to buy Microwaves, I can only assume that the microwave lobbyist had a hand in that one.

Jamaica/USA Balance of Trade 2014:
  • Jamaica’s total IMPORT from the United States of America was valued at: US$2.1742 Billion
  • Jamaica’s total EXPORT to the United States of America was valued at: US$285.1 Million
  • Jamaica’s Balance of Trade with the United States of America was valued at: US$-1.8891 Billion
"No country can live beyond its means indefinitely, borrowing may obscure or even conceal a deeper problem concerning foreign exchange for a period of time. But sooner or later the reality of the situation will demand attention if a country is consistently seeking to spend more foreign exchange then it has the capacity to earn. There is only one way out of a foreign exchange crisis and that is to earn more foreign exchange. If increase spending power is not accompanied by an increase in production, and in particular production for exports then inflationary pressures will translate into an ever spiralling demand for imports." ...MM

This negative Balance of Trade is almost the same for every year and is only favourable to the United States of America, now imagine if most of the countries in the region are running the same Negative Balance of trade, pumping US dollar into the American Economy at alarming rates. So why should they try to help balance the scale, Jamaica pump US$2.1742 Billion a year into the US Economy. This imbalance represents the destruction of our local industries and it is not sustainable because we do not earn enough foreign exchange to pay for it but the USA would gladly give us a loan with high interest rates or a grant/aid with terms that says something like, you need to remove more import duties and/or you can only spend the loan/grant/aid money on more US Imports, it is a classic win/win situation and Resistance is Futile, you will comply, you must comply.

Room For Rent, Apply Within, When the USA Run Out Then China Run In!

In Jamaica we use to play a skipping rope game where we sing the song “Room for rent, Apply within. When I run out, then you run in” at which time the person currently skipping would jump out and another person would jump in and continue to skip and sing.

Chinese built Highway
The United States of America is fast becoming irrelevant to the Region and that irrelevancy was caused by the USA. There is a new sheriff in town and at some point I will start to refer to People's Republic of China as Our new Colonial Masters of the Far East? Jamaica and the Region have had our British Colonial Masters but they vacated the position and was replaced by our Colonial Masters up North the Americans during the cold war but now that the cold war is long over, they vacated the region, we were “Mujahideened” by them and now the Chinese are setting up shop and rightly so, one man's garbage is another man's treasure.

Chinese built Highway

The Obama Administration have neglected and ignored this region thus allowing the Chinese to run in and capitalize on their stupidity. Chinese investments, Chinese gifts, Chinese loans and grants are at an all-time high in the region and has been for some time now as the Obama Administration did what the British did, pretended as if we did not exist and is no longer relevant in the scheme of things. The Chinese have advanced on the region like the Thailand Tsunami of 2004, leaving in their wake investments after investments:

Chinese Upgraded Sugar Plantations
Chinese built Stadiums
Chinese built Schools
Chinese built Hospitals
Chinese built Power Plants
Chinese built Hotels
Chinese built Shipping Ports and upgrade airports

Hey Merka, What have you done for me lately?

China’s economic might has rolled up to America’s backyard in the Caribbean, with a flurry of loans from state banks, investments by companies and outright gifts from the government in the form of new stadiums, roads, official buildings, ports and resorts in a region where the United States has long been a prime benefactor. In Jamaica, where a Chinese company has invested heavily in sugar estates and where the Chinese government has loaned Jamaica several hundred million dollars in loans for infrastructure, we have new highway system thanks to the Chinese and who can forget the Chinese plans to Invest up to US$1.5 Billion in Jamaica’s Transhipment Port.

Jamaica Infrastructure Development Thanks to the Chinese
Let me see, Jamaica’s choice is between USA gum beating, promises and cheap chat, pure talk versus Hard core Chinese Investment on the ground, pumping billion into the Jamaican economy and upgrading our dilapidated infrastructure. We cannot argue that the difference between the USA and the Chinese is that the Chinese is making a difference in the lives of Jamaicans, it is visible and tangible having a real impact on people’s lives while the USA demand blind dedication void of substance.   

To President Obama and the United States I say action speaks louder than words, Jamaica is in an Economic crisis and your words, your beautiful flowing lyrics and your charismatic “Wha Gwan Jamiaca” nature is not hard currency and cannot be used for the purchase of oil on the world market, as we say in Jamaica “Afta dat cyah Nyam” it cannot be eaten. President Obama came to Jamaica and all we got was a series of lectures, for the most part he talked down to us and to us but our people are so in love with President Obama and his achievements that they are honoured to be lectured to by him.

China plans to Invest up to US$1.5 Billion in Jamaican Transshipment Port

Jamaica need investment in infrastructure, Jamaica needs investment in Logistic centres, Jamaica needs investments in every area and if the United States, Great Britain or the European Union no longer sees any value in Jamaica and the region then I welcome the Chinese because your words cannot “nyam”. The United States want Jamaica and the region to reject Chinese investments but at the same time are not offering any alternatives other that speeches, lectures and token loans and grants while at the same time like pigs at the trough are inviting the Chinese to invest in their own country.

Jamaica Infrastructure Development Thanks to the Chinese

Total Chinese Investment between 2005 and 2014 To: 

United States was $71.9 Billion
Great Britain was $23.6 Billion
Canada was $39.4 Billion
Jamaica was only $1.2 Billion

The China Global Investment Tracker created by the American Enterprise Institute and The Heritage Foundation

Trust And the Chinese
I know what you are thinking, you are thinking that we would be idiots to trust the Chinese, that they are only using us as a means to an end, that we are just pawns in the scheme of things. But I am here to tell you that I do NOT trust the Chinese nor do I trust the United States of America and I sure as hell do not trust the United Kingdom of Great Britain and the European Union and at what point in our history were we not used by ALL of the above and discarded like an old tire at Riverton Dump?

You are all not to be trusted and being a poor third world country I have historical experience on my side. Jamaica was created by the British to be used, brutally and when they were finished using us we were dropped high and dry, discarded. Then the cold war came and the United States, Europe and Mother Russia used us some more and when that was over we were dropped high and dry.

Now the United States and Europe is using us through their controlled international financial institutions to pump money into their economy at our economy’s expense, to service them, forcing us to sign one destructive agreements after another and we still have nothing to show for that. Now the Chinese are using us but the difference is we have something to show for it, they are using us through hard investments, we are not na├»ve, we know none of you can be trusted, we know the nature of the first world is to use and discard and we know all of you want to use us to your end but it cannot continue to be for nothing. Yes the Chinese have only pumped US$1.2 Billion into our economy in the form of hard investments but that is US$1.2 Billion more than what we are getting from you.

Jamaica Infrastructure Development Thanks to the Chinese

And on that basis maybe we should start importing directly from the Chinese, maybe we should start pumping the US$2.1742 Billion we are currently pumping into the USA economy directly into the Chinese Economy because they are the ones with boots on the ground building the roads, fixing the sugar estate and building the shipping Ports.

Obama declared that legalizing marijuana is not a Silver Bullet but we never said it was a silver bullet. What we do know is that USA Tax Revenues from marijuana tops US$3 Billion per year and we understand the concept of one, one cocoa fill basket. It is not the solution in and off itself but it can represent an additional revenue stream.

Weed Vending Machine

Obama lectured Jamaica on Human rights for lesbians and gays and rightly so but what about the human rights of unarmed Black People in America murdered by the Police?

Socio-Political Ideology, objectiveness and principles is dead in Jamaica and have been for some time. In the past Jamaicans always knew their position on the totem pole of life but that did NOT stop us for standing up for what we believed in. We little but we Tallawah, we are more than a beach and “If we must die” was our David to Goliath war cry but now we live by the motto “Afta dat cyah Nyam and eat a food”. Our current so called leaders will bow to any demands, they are spineless and open to having their palms greased.

1 comment:

  1. Exactly. You see what I see. We don't need to trust and beg fren with any nation but we SHOULD rightfully be getting something concrete out of any deal with any country. Jamaica tends to be so grateful for any attention from name brand people and countries that we just throw them everything on the cheap and don't put our foot down and know our worth. We just still in the slave mentality of wanting to be seated with the "in" crowd. Not realizing technology like the internet has changed the way we do business and can give us options like we have never had before to achieve independence in truth and not just in name.

    I have no problem with the Chinese making deals that are advantageous to themselves, that is their government's job, to be for China. It is Jamaica's job to be for Jamaica, and to be smart at the negotiating table. Just like you, I am glad that the partnerships with the Chinese have resulted in change we can SEE, beginning with the roads and so many other buildings and hardcore evidence we can use to the point where there is actually a building or stadium of some sort the Chinese constructed that was never used and has been left to rot/rust/go bad from lack of maintenance. We want and want and getting bigtime. People wondered why Portia was flying around, she went out there to drum up these types of investments and it is paying off. Now logistics hub is coming and Jamaicans have been warned to see the writing on the wall and get their training/qualifications in line for it... Chinese know how to take the long view and get ready for the future from now... Jamaicans too use to having only enough for today and tomorrow so it is hard for us to plan for a better future without it being easy now... but we have to look around and learn how to do it or we will always be missing opportunities that require preparation to take advantage of. When that hub is reality and enough qualified Jamaicans can't be found to help run the thing, the outcry will come on the tail end of a bunch of Chinese human resource imports, who are ready from all now for all types of jobs. We can't want things from people and don't want them to get anything out of it, that is a badmind attitude and sadly, it permeates how the average Jamaican especially the less educated kind goes about their lives. You can't want pay but don't want to do the work you were hired for and not just the parts of it you feel to do when you feel to do it, you can't want top quality man or woman in your life and not top quality yourself, and you can't want a foreign country to invest in you and not provide some VALUABLE reason and ROI or them to do so.

    P.S. you know me as one of your most frequent commenters in the past, but like you I have decided a more anonymous setup allows me to maintain my privacy and collect my longer thoughts as their own blog posts. :)