Approximately 35 independent nations of the Americas are to meet in Panama between April 10 and 11, 2015 for the summit of the Americas – a coming together based on the concepts of democracy and free trade. Cuba will be present for the first time – a history making moment.
America’s 44th President and Leader of the free world, Barack Obama is scheduled to be in Panama for the summit. He makes a three hour or so stop in Jamaica en route to Panama. This is only the second time since independence in 1962 that a sitting President of the United States will visit Jamaica. The late, Ronald Reagan came in 1982 when Edward Seaga was Prime Minister.
Political vulgarity and contempt for the people of Jamaica is on display. Several persons have reportedly seen and photographed road patching exercises taking place at night. Obama’s official caravan cannot fall into a pothole. The citizens must however suffer damage to front end and great inconvenience of road patching by day if money is found to do the work.
No politician resists making a promise that cannot be kept. Leaders especially during the period leading up to an election are wont to spew chocolate promises to a gullible electorate. These promises are often without much thought as to whether the promise makes sense, whether it can be fulfilled and whether there is any intention of fulfilling it.
In the debates leading up to the 2011 general elections, Portia Simpson Miller in her bid to appease the gay community, promised that she would bring the provisions under the Offences Against the Person Act which criminalize sex between consenting adults of the same sex to the parliament for a conscience vote.
Speaking in the debates she said – “our administration believes in protecting the human rights of all Jamaica. No one should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. Government should provide the protection and I think we should have a look at buggery law and that Members of Parliament should be given the opportunity to vote with their conscience on consultation with their constituents…”
No timeline was given for this promise to be kept. But the Jamaica Labour Party, JLP, having demonstrated that no government has any inherent right to two terms, they having been booted from office after one term, there was expectation – at least on my part – that action would be taken by Prime Minister Simpson Miller to bring the offensive statute to parliament for a conscience vote – in this term in office.
Note – there was no promise for a change in the law but for the law to be brought to parliament for a discussion and a conscience vote. With one year to go before general elections are constitutionally due, no move has been made to get to the bottom of the buggery matter. There seems to be some acceptance that since gays are not being killed or beaten daily then there should be comfort in leaving the matter where it is at.
The Prime Minister demonstrated her intention not to move on her promise when confronted by gay rights activist in New York.
This was her response to the heckling – “nobody ever hear the government of Jamaica beating up gays – not one. SO, let me tell you something, you want to disturb you can disturb but this woman come here with the blood of Nanny of the Maroon, the spirit of Marcus Mosiah Garvey and this woman is not afraid of no man nowhere everywhere and I will speak the truth everywhere”.
She refused to accept their right to speak and to lobby freely for decriminalization of buggery in Jamaica however offensive their manner by resorting to her old tirade of telling them she is not afraid of any of them – no man, no woman, no where – she is prepared to fight and she is prepared to disregard the right of those who also wish to fight.
I hope for the sake of minorities the world over that the gay rights activists refuse to back down. I hope they picket every and any venue in which the Prime Minister or any other person who has made an unfulfilled promise to the electorate speaks. I hope they are not prepared to resile from their positions especially since the electorate in Jamaica has long lost its fire.
It takes great courage keeping one’s mouth shut especially when the stakes are high.