FloodingThe response to living in a stressful environment cannot be to continue to encourage the succession of crises that detract from important issues of State. Since my last article we have had several episodes of an unreal soap opera called Hashtag Jamaica.

Just to be fair, the USA is also on government by Twitter but all their concerns may not affect us immediately. So why take on the stress? The visit to Saudi Arabia, the address to Muslim countries, the note in the Wailing Wall, the warnings to Iran and North Korea, et al, are all above our pay grade. So I have left them alone outside the off-stump.

But at home we have had a failure in our drainage infrastructure, and new and changing flood planes that have wreaked havoc across the country. We had our Prime Minister visiting the Dominican Republic on trade business, but was forced to come back early to help pump out flooded areas and assist people who knowingly built in riverbeds.

Then we had the “grass planting episode” that must have been a considerable embarrassment to all concerned. These episodes were set against the background of several more horrific killings, woundings, and other criminal activities.

I have left out several cameo performances, such as “the school attendance register at Gordon House”. That really needs a full PTA meeting, and some enquiry pending expulsion. “Free health care can be a challenge to development – IDB” (Gleaner 22/5/17), even as the GCT on health insurance premiums commences and threatens the ability of people who need coverage but cannot take the price hike. Do the IDB and the IMF speak to one another?

Dr. Parris Lyew-Ayee Jr. of UWI, and Diana McCauley, as well as members of the public and political voices have stepped up to speak out against the foolish neglect of timely warnings. Scientific knowledge has already been shared on these topics but we have failed to take note or take action. Damaged bridges that have been neglected over the years and whose non-maintenance has contributed to the dislocation caused by the heavy rains have been posing a threat to lives and mobility. In addition, agricultural production has been affected and will need a concerted effort in order to recover and make an increased contribution to GDP.

People were stranded on roofs waiting for a poorly equipped fire service or a JDF helicopter for a rescue that really could not be effectively undertaken in the height of the disaster. Those tasks were difficult, dangerous, and daunting, even for the well-equipped USA in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Our shelters were open but largely unused as people in many communities have a fear of looting and will mistakenly choose to float with their furniture while risking their lives. It is therefore unfair to ask our responders to unnecessarily risk their lives during a time of emergency that could have been avoided by proper approvals, inspections, or evacuation. Our Prime Minister has promised action, so we will wait and see.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness paid an official visit to the DR in an effort to enhance trade relations with that country. Many will have forgotten that the DR applied for membership in CARICOM from the early 1990s and that body has failed to address the matter. We (CARICOM) were forced by the EU to embrace the DR in trade negotiations, and we grudgingly agreed to CARIFORUM. Most of those agreements were never signed, and it was left to me, your humble servant, to activate the CARICOM/DR Private Sector Council in 2006.

The Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce settled the matter of the notorious Law 183 in the Constitution of the DR by having two esteemed Jamaican lawyers who satisfied themselves as to the appropriate procedures in conjunction with their counterparts from the DR. Our CARICOM companies have, however, continued to use the old notion as a constant excuse for not doing business with the DR, while others have moved ahead, albeit quietly. If you are in doubt I would recommend well known attorneys Jerome Lee and Milton Samuda for a full explanation.

Prime Minister Holness has engaged Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of SVG directly in respect to Venezuela. Dr. Gonsalves has pulled for the old “sovereignty card” in the face of undeniable human suffering and some human rights violations. Having a regular electoral cycle is not a reason for the use of repressive measures against citizens involved in peaceful protests.

Venezuela has a long history of civil unrest and revolution as the late President Chavez knew well. As much as we have admired the late Simon Bolivar it seems that his dreams and ambitions have been thwarted and forgotten by successive corrupt regimes across South and Central America. It would be useful if both prime ministers took note that as revolution is the natural outcome of poor governance; so responsibility, transparency, and honesty, are the protective measures that ensure national stability.

There is no need for Dr. Gonsalves to try to emulate the image of the long dead Che Guevara as: “the revolution will not be televised”. In fact, he has been somewhat of a partisan in Jamaica as a guest speaker at PNP activities, and has received assistance with his own electoral strategy campaign from them. So much for sovereignty!

Stick to your path, PM Holness. Human care and welfare must supersede the ambiguities of sovereignty. As stated in a previous article, Venezuelans are our friends and many students boarded with our families while attending school here. We must do what we can to bring them much-needed assistance, even if it has to come from North America.

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