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South Florida Jamaican Diaspora eager to help homeland

MIAMI GARDENS – Jamaican national, attorney Wayne Golding, resident of Orlando, said that Jamaicans in the Diaspora would like to be part of the solution in helping their homeland recover from the present unrest.

Mr. Golding who is also the Jamaican Diaspora representational contact in Central Florida, had journeyed some three hours, over 250 miles to participate in the Community forum, held last night (May 26) at the Holy Family Episcopal Church in Miami Gardens, indicating that he was sharing the views and concerns of his countrymen in that region.

The meeting was a collaborative effort by the Jamaican Consulate General in Miami, and the Jamaican Diaspora Southern USA to update nationals on the current situation in West Kingston since the Prime Minister, Hon. Bruce Golding authorized the signing of extradition proceedings for Christopher “Dudus” Coke to the United States. The event also provided an opportunity for persons to voice their concerns.
Among the more than 200 participants of concerned Jamaicans, Dr. Joan Muir, a Fort Lauderdale psychologist, also expressed her commitment to sharing in the solution of the nation’s economic development, even beyond the present circumstances in West Kingston.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Marlene Malahoo Forte, shared in the discussions assuring nationals that she was hopeful that Jamaica would recover from this period. “Jamaica is not unique to the problems it was currently facing, but we are committed to doing the best we can to restore order to the society,” she added. Additionally, a report of normalcy returning to downtown Kingston came in during the meeting and was shared with the audience.

As she clarified the legal and other circumstances surrounding the extradition, Senator Malahoo Forte called for the support for Jamaicans at home during this time, and urged nationals in the Diaspora to not be part of the chorus seeking to discredit Jamaica.

Citing the immediate measures taking place to curb the recent outburst of violence in the West Kingston area, Senator Malahoo Forte spoke of the joint operations and assessment of the security forces as all efforts were being made to restore law and order to the affected areas; regulations governing the period of public emergency; the establishment of the Media Center to provide information on joint police and military operations, and the measures of the Anti-Crime legislation to come in effect.

Senator Malahoo Forte expressed empathy indicating that she recognized the real fears that Jamaicans in the Diaspora had for the safety of their families and friend at home at this time. Despite the anger and disappointment expressed by many at the meeting, the Minister of State also challenged the audience that the process of nation building was the responsibility of all Jamaicans at home and abroad. Attorney Dahlia Walker-Huntington assured the Minister that the nationals in the Diasporic community were Jamaica’s greatest ambassadors stressing the strong sentiments of support that “we have put our hearts and souls for support of our country.”

While the meeting was in progress, amidst strong coverage from mainstream media and affiliates, the Senator used the opportunity to update the audience that authorities from the US State Department had strongly refuted an earlier ABC News Report which claimed that the Prime Minister, Hon. Bruce Golding, was a criminal affiliate of Christopher Coke, simultaneously recognizing the bold efforts of the Prime Minister and the Government’s anti-crime efforts and bring about the arrest of Mr. Coke. The news report had cited a US document as the source of information.

The meeting also facilitated situational updates from community leaders including Mrs. Kay Chong of Air Jamaica, who spoke on the current airline schedules from Fort Lauderdale, urging the traveling public to constantly check with the Airline for changes prior to their departures. Vice President of the Jamaica USA Chamber of Commerce, Florida, Mr. Joseph Rhoden, Florida-based, Antilles Freight Shipping Company, also gave an account of shipping schedules which he said were minimally affected.

Jamaica’s Consul General Sandra Grant Griffiths in her welcome remarks, said that the resilient spirit of Jamaicans would impact us positively through the present circumstances in West Kingston, which she said was causing suffering as the nation was poised for economic development. She urged Jamaicans to unite in an effort to rid our society of the elements of corruption and instability that has led to this pause in the national development.

Ms. Elonia Jarrett, retired Jamaican national residing in Hollywood Florida, told JIS News that she felt encouraged at the outcome of the meeting. “I was happy to receive accurate information and updates from official sources. That cleared away some of the concerns that we had for our people at home,” sounding a sigh of relief following the meeting.

A question and answer period followed the presentations which allowed for sharing of engaging and constructive criticisms as persons shared comraderie and discussed efforts to join in the solutions for their homeland.

Marlon Hill, Jamaica’s Diaspora Advisory Board member for the Southern USA, was the chairperson and moderator for the evening. He called for an observance of silence as nationals and friends paid tribute to those who had lost lives including three security officers during the series of events. The invocation was given by host Rector of the Holy Family Episcopal Church, the Reverend Horace Ward.

A recital of poetry was shared by dub poet, Malachi Smith.

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