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Ambassador Marks Hails Strong Traditional Jamaican – United States Bi-lateral Relations

ROCHESTER, New York – Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States Audrey Marks, has told Jamaicans in New York, that as Jamaica celebrates 61 years as an independent nation, we also celebrate 61 years of strong diplomatic relations with the United States.

She told the 17th Anniversary Gala of the Jamaican Organization of Rochester New York on Friday night, that the United States is home to the largest number of Jamaicans in the Diaspora, and “as sovereign nations, we have the deepest respect for each other as we pursue bilateral relationships in pursuit of trade, energy, security, and cultural relations.

Strong Jamaican - United States Relations
Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States Audrey Marks receives a warm welcome from the Mayor of Rochester Mr. Malik Evans. At left is Mrs Shawanda Evans, wife of the Mayor and president of the Rochester Jamaica Organization Dr. Joel Frater. – Photo Credit: Derrick Scott

“I want to emphasize that contrary to recent media reports both Jamaica and the United States continue to enjoy strong and cordial relationships with each other,” Ambassador Marks declared.

She told the packed ballroom of Jamaican revelers at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Rochester, that “The United States of America represents Jamaica’s permanent interest,” pointing out that “More than one  million first generation Jamaicans and over three  million persons of Jamaican heritage reside in the United States alone.”

“As we approach another year of independence, we must be proud that Jamaicans living in the United States have displayed exceptional leadership abilities in US politics,” she said.

Jamaicans Involved in U.S. Politics

Ambassador Audrey Marks
Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States Audrey Marks delivers the keynote address at the 17th Anniversary Gala of the Jamaican Organization of Rochester New York on Friday night, July 28, 2023 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Rochester New York. ( Photo Derrick Scott)

Ambassador Marks pointed to the level of Jamaican involvement in the politics of the United States, noting that “There are over sixty Jamaican Americans in the legislature in the New York, New Jersey Connecticut and Florida who are representatives from the county to the state level. There are also Jamaican Americans in leadership at the Federal level, with six Jamaican Americans in Congress and two Jamaican Americans in the Cabinet at the White House and many others in the Biden-Harris Administration.”

Jamaicans Urged to Become U.S. Citizens

The Jamaican Ambassador urged Jamaicans in the Diaspora to “continue becoming citizens of the United States, as there are many Jamaicans living in the US for twenty, thirty, forty years who have not become citizens because they don’t want to give up their Jamaican passport. “I am assuring you that Jamaica recognizes dual citizenship, and so you can have both a Jamaican as well as a United States passport,” she said.

“In becoming a citizen, you’ll be able to participate in all areas of public life fully as a citizen of the United States including voting. And in so doing, help to influence the government’s policy direction. I know you know, but I want to emphasize, my friends, that as Jamaicans in the Diaspora, you can be a powerful force for change and transformation both in Jamaica and here in these United States of America.”

Ambassador Marks took the opportunity to announce that following discussions with Rochester’s Mayor Malik Evans, efforts will be made to have the Town of Port Maria in St. Mary, twinned with the City of Rochester, New York.

“As Jamaican Americans, you can be proud of your contributions, not only to the homeland, the Rock, but also to your adopted home, the United States of America. ” she concluded.

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Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States Audrey Marks (centre) shares the spotlight with the scholarship awardees of the Jamaican Organization of Rochester
Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States Audrey Marks (centre) shares the spotlight with the scholarship awardees of the Jamaican Organization of Rochester.

In his remarks, the president of the Jamaica Association of Rochester Dr. Joel Frater noted the strong mission of the organization in providing scholarships to worthy students of Jamaican heritage.

This year the organization awarded some fourteen scholarships to Rochester area college students, pursuing various academic degrees, valued at just over $40-thousand dollars.

Mayor of Rochester Malik Evans emphasized the importance and value of Jamaicans in that city noting that Rochester has the second largest concentration of Jamaicans in the state of New York.

“Rochester is the City it is today, thanks to the Rochester Jamaica Organization and the Jamaican community as a whole. Rochester’s business, arts, education and restaurant sectors have been shaped by Jamaican culture, and as your mayor, I celebrate that with great joy and appreciation,” Mayor Evans said.

He lauded the Jamaican organization for ‘its educational scholarship programme which he said has created a community with a powerful sense of Jamaican pride.”


South Florida Caribbean News

The Team provides news and information for the Caribbean-American community in South Florida and beyond.

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