Wednesday, November 6, 2019

NORTHEAST COMMUNITY CALLs FOR POSTPONEMENT OF DIASPORA COUNCIL ELECTIONS



New York, November 4, 2019: - A number of community leaders in the Northeast region, including elected officials have added their voices to calls for the Jamaican Government to postpone elections for the Global Jamaica Diaspora Council (GJDC), until further discussions have been held with the community, particularly to address the issue of community representation.

Among those joining the call are Rhode Island Representative, Jamaican Marcia Ranglin-Vassell; Mount Vernon City Council Member Delia Farquharson; Andrew Lawrence of Connecticut; Blaine Stoddart of Pennsylvania; and Dr. Robert Clarke of New jersey.

Rhode Island elected representative, Mrs. Ranglin-Vassell said that any person elected to Council from the Northeast region must be a true representative of the community, who will speak for the community.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should not be holding elections to elect persons to represent us in the Diaspora. Such election must be an outgrowth of the community and must be organized and held by the community,” she said.

Mrs. Ranglin-Vassell said she was concerned with the process and asked that the Ministry give consideration to pushing back the elections, until the issues, are satisfactorily addressed by members of the Northeast/US region.

Councilwoman Delia Farquharson also echoed similar sentiments, that any elections for the Northeast region representatives must come from the community itself.

“It has to be a grassroots effort as the person will be our representative,” she said.

Councilwoman Farquharson said that the government is seeking to control the process and to what end? She said that the community must have a voice in electing the persons from the region who must speak on our behalf and represent the interest of the community.

Mrs. Farquharson said that dividing the community for the benefit of self is the wrong way to go.
Dr. Robert Clarke said that if the Ministry controls the process it will mean less autonomy for the Diaspora.

“We must control the process and not have direct governmental control of the process,” said Dr. Clarke, the immediate past President of the National Association of Jamaican and Supportive Organizations (NAJASO).

He said that the community does not want political interference in the process.

Dr. Clarke said that while those elected under the proposed conditions will have a seat at the table, the voice of the community is not being heard as it should. He questioned how can this make the process better.

Dr. Clarke further questioned whether the Council will be an independent body if the present process of Government involvement is followed in electing the members of the council.  
  
Mr. Blaine Stoddart, President of the Young Caribbean Professional Network (YCPN), said that to some, Diaspora participation means that we in the Diaspora continue to send money, take vacation, provide technical and disaster assistance, and education resources and support to Jamaica.

“The re-organization of the Diaspora is a continuation of the status quo.  The re-organization may actually lead to Diaspora engagement, but the process sends the wrong message. I strongly suggest that the Minister of Foreign Affairs and/or her representatives, go on a listening tour throughout the Diaspora as part of the re-organization. To implement this in a few short weeks is another slap in the Diaspora’s face,” he said.

“It is viewed that the Biennial Diaspora Conference is the most glaring representation of the current situation where government ministers who are seated on panels, speak for 70 minutes in a 90-minute session, leaving 20 minutes for all the other panelists and Q&A – a true reflection of the level of participation of the Diaspora.”

Mr. Stoddart expressed the view that the Diaspora is not afforded the same privileges to participate in voting, policy, and other national opportunities on the same level as foreign investors and foreign nationals.
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