By Derrick A Scott
ATLANTA – Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States Her Excellency Audrey Marks says “Jamaica is firmly on the path of the true national mission of this generation – achieving and establishing economic independence for our nation and all our people.”
Delivering the keynote address at the Atlanta Jamaica Association Independence Ball on Saturday night at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Atlanta, Ambassador Marks said “Jamaica’s first focus after independence was to build “exemplary social and political institutions for our young nation.”
“We have by any measure, achieved our political objectives, as a stable and democratic country” she declared.
“We have evolved from the political violence of the late 1970’s and 1980, and election corruption for decades, to now be considered among the most democratic nation, in the western hemisphere,” she noted.
The Jamaican envoy pointed out that “We also have stamped our mark on the world within the cultural realm, particularly in the areas of music and sports. Rastafari is considered as the only new religion of the 20th and 21st centuries. We produced Reggae Music as an authentic musical form that has influenced the world, dramatically.
“In sports, we have excelled beyond the wildest expectations, producing world-beaters and legends particularly in athletics, cricket, boxing, netball and swimming. Music and sports are areas we once considered major recreational past-times only, but today, are respected as two of the world’s emerging cultural industries, generating billions of dollars in revenue.”
Ambassador Marks told the nearly 800 attendees that Jamaica’s “task now is to prepare the nation for long-term economic growth. We have to cultivate and maximize these cultural and other industries to the economic benefit of Jamaica, in much the same way as countries with natural resources such as oil, gas, or gold.”
“My message tonight is about building on the foundation of political, organizational and cultural maturity to achieve economic independence. We are therefore challenged to see Prosperity not as a political slogan, but as a national imperative; a national mission around which the entire Jamaican nation at home and aboard, must be mobilised and inspired to action”, says Marks.
Marks said the positive economic indicators now being experienced, together, with the fiscal prudence and skilful management being exercised by Prime Minister Andrew Holness and the Government at all levels, will no doubt help fuel and propel the economy towards the goal of economic independence.
The ambassador concluded, that the island’s current challenges with crime, education, health and infrastructure could be traced to decades of economic stagnation.”