Will Jamaica Benefit from President Obama’s Visit?

I am rather amused at the level fuss that has been made over the arrival of President Obama to Jamaica. 

It’s a bit pathetic. He is only one man. 

But as we all have viewed in slight bewilderment the frantic, feverish effort by the government to prepare for his arrival, spending millions of dollars to accommodate a very short stop over, we must understand that this is not a state visit so his visit is not to visit only Jamaica, but to hold a meeting with CARICOM and other leaders which happens to be held here. What we are all witnessing is a government that has failed to keep a small place like the nation’s capital clean and well-ordered and now have to be spending millions of dollars cleaning and resurfacing the areas where the president is going to pass.

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How long have those roads in Kingston been in need of resurfacing? How long have those areas been in need of cleaning? By anybody’s estimation it would be a very, very long time. But the government didn’t see it fit to allocate resources to do it. We have always heard that the government didn’t have the money to do it. And the IMF deal didn’t have any wiggle room in it for such allocations. So then we have to ask where is that money coming from now? Why couldn’t it be found earlier? Did the IMF allow the government to “find the money” and if so why cannot it allow the government to spend more on infrastructure like schools and roadways?


Isn’t that a much better way to allocate scarce resources? Furthermore, how much is this spending spree adding to the National debt? Who will repay it? It’s very sad to see that Jamaicans aren’t worth much in the eyes of their government, because if the government respected Jamaicans, they would have ensured that the nation’s capital remained in a respectable state thus making it unnecessary to do any work on the capital to accommodate the arrival of the President. The only time that the PNP sees Jamaicans as being valuable is at election time. It cannot be morally justified that Jamaicans have had to contend with bad roads, congested and filthy conditions,  and now all of sudden money can been found to do all sorts of things only to impress a state official from elsewhere. It is indefensible! It is an affront to the Jamaican people, and shows how lowly the government views us all. 

What will be achieved from President Obama’s visit to provide adequate returns for the cash outlaid, be it short or long term? Nothing. We must understand that America is a shadow of its former self as the world has changed dramatically over the last few decades. While the American market is still the largest in the world, we don’t make enough from it in economics terms to warrant wasting money on very short trip by President Obama. The nation doesn’t produce enough to sell to America, but rather buys a lot of things from America. 

The only thing that we could look at is the amount of money the nation gets from its agreements from with USA that includes military and budgetary support. That however doesn’t warrant us borrowing more to repave roads and clean up. The money we get from America pales in comparison to what we get from the Chinese and we don’t see the same treatment being handed out to the Chinese premiere. China is much more important to the world now than America, and to us they are essential, while America can only be classified as important. The world has shifted from America big time. Some will say well we have a special relationship with America. Nonsense. What we have is a one-sided relationship with America that has us doing their bidding, and where we are used as a proxy state in the Caribbean.

It’s not a special relationship, but a master and servant one. Another reason proffered by many is just as nonsensical. That deals with remittances. Whether we have a relationship or not, Jamaica will still receive remittances from America, simply because those monies are sent by Jamaicans working there. The next reason why many are justifying the amount of money being paid out to do infrastructure improvement, which I guarantee won’t last one year so we won’t benefit over the long term, is that the President of the USA can have bilateral talks with our PM and it will open up business opportunities for Jamaica. That doesn’t hold water simply because America isn’t the engine of growth for the world now and we aren’t producing much to tap into that market even if opportunities arises. The only reason why Obama is coming here is because America is now very concerned about China’s growing influence in the Latin America and Caribbean region and is seeking to limit china’s growing power in what America sees as its backyard. While the PNP will try as they are doing now to make it look like it’s a state visit, it is not. He is stopping by on his way to Panama or somewhere that side. 

One can understand the reasons why the present government wants to ‘play up’ the visit. They don’t have anything to boast about right now. The economy is in shambles, fish back has taken over from chicken back, unemployment is up, poverty has risen , and the Prime Minister is like a fish out of water in her handling of the government. This government needs a boost and trust me, we don’t have an Olympics or world championship now, to bring a euphoric feel to the nation for us to forget the distressing times. For those who will try to paint the government in a good light, saying Obama’s visit is a sign of good relations with the USA , that again hogwash, because it is not a state visit. The man is simply stopping by here on his way to somewhere else. That’s not a state visit.

So after the visit is over, what will the Jamaican public gain? Nothing  besides an increase in the national debt. I can guarantee that the minister will come later with a supplementary estimate of expenditures to either compress spending some more or raise taxes in order to compensate for the money now being spent. When all things are considered, Jamaica won’t benefit much if at all.

When you look at the dislocation and bad treatment been meted out to Jamaicans with vendor stalls being torn down, interfering with peoples’ livelihood and the subsequent ridiculous explanation being given by the government with Sandra Falconer saying that the reason why the stalls broke up is because they were rotten. That explanation speaks volumes about the level of care the government has for its people. Who will give back those people their stalls that have been destroyed? The government is interested in putting on a show and nothing will stand in the way of that. The tactics being used by the government to get people off the corridor to be travelled by the President, is reminiscent of how Hitler’s SS or Gestapo behaved to get their way in Germany. It’s shocking to see how Jamaicans are being treated by their own government in order to accommodate a visit by a foreign government head.


It’s obvious,  they view Jamaicans as worthless, good for nothing “ole” trash, only needed only at election time. This government makes me want to vomit.

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