2020 Independence Message from H.E. Audrey P. Marks Ambassador of Jamaica

2020 Independence Message from H.E. Audrey P. Marks Ambassador of Jamaica to the USA and Permanent Representative to the OAS

2020 Independence Message

from

H.E. Audrey P. Marks

Ambassador of Jamaica to the USA and Permanent Representative to the OAS

Independence Day – August 6 – has always been a significant date on the national calendar in Jamaica and for Jamaicans residing overseas.

Each year, we look forward to our vibrant celebrations which feature, inter alia, national festival and gospel song competitions, Festival Queen and Farm Queen pageants, fireworks on the waterfront in downtown Kingston and the much-anticipated Grand Gala at the National Stadium.

It is a time for celebration of the best of Jamaica through our music and creative and performing arts, showcasing our deep reservoir of talents to Jamaica and the rest of the world, while inspiring hope and unity.

Independence Day is also a time of reflection on our journey as a nation, from the era of slavery and colonialism to our achievement of nationhood in 1962.

This year’s commemoration has taken on a somber note, as the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 global pandemic.

With more than thirteen million cases and over five hundred thousand fatalities, it is clear that the tentacles of this formidable enemy have left no area of the globe untouched.  Jamaica, regrettably, was not spared. In the past four (4) months since the first case was detected, we have had just over 700 cases and ten fatalities, which is relatively miniscule compared to other countries in the hemisphere and around the world. Thankfully, however, the Government of Jamaica has done a phenomenal job in containing the virus among the population as it seeks to flatten the curve.

The observance of the 58th anniversary of our country’s independence under the theme “Resilient and Strong: Let’s celebrate Jamaica 58”, is therefore quite opportune.  Birthed out of centuries of struggle, our nation has long been accustomed to adversity. The ongoing challenges are therefore no match for the strength and strong resolve of the Jamaican people.  I am confident that we will not only survive this ordeal, but we will also thrive, despite the enormous obstacles we confront.

Many will fondly recall all the successes achieved by the Government of Jamaica in the last few years in terms of macroeconomic stability, 20 quarters of modest growth or no economic contraction, decline in unemployment and inflation and increase in consumer confidence. Many of the gains have been eroded or risk erosion based on the developments over the last few months. A report recently released by UNCTAD points to Jamaica as one of the countries to suffer the greatest economic fallout from the closure of our tourism industry, to the tune of 11% of GDP. It has been estimated that the economy may contract by 12% – 14% during the April to June quarter.

In order to alleviate the negative impacts of the closure of the borders and the slowdown in the economy, the Government provided stimulus packages to various segments of the population, such as the unemployed and pensioners. With the recent reopening of the country’s borders and resumption of activities in tourism and other sectors, we anticipate that Jamaica will eventually emerge “resilient and strong”.

I take this opportunity to convey sincere appreciation to members of the Jamaican Diaspora who provided tremendous support, in tangible and intangible ways to fellow Jamaican nationals who were stranded in the United States a few months ago, following the closure of Jamaica’s borders in March. Your generosity is truly appreciated.

I also pause to extend condolences to those who are grieving the loss of loved ones to COVID-19. May their souls rest in peace.

We are, indeed, living in unprecedented times. Notwithstanding the ongoing turbulence, I believe that we have a bright future ahead, if we join hands and hearts to make Jamaica a better place.  As is attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, “what lies behind us and what lies before us, are tiny matters compared to what lies within us”. May our theme, “Resilient and Strong: Let’s celebrate Jamaica 58”, remind us of the natural, steely resolve and tenacity that characterise the Jamaican spirit. Together, we are resilient and strong.

 

Happy Independence 2020!

South Florida Events in Celebration of Jamaica’s 58th Independence Celebration

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