CaribZone Commentary: Aubrey Campbell –Wednesday, April 6th

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s another great day to be alive and well, and with all protocols having already been observed, I add my personal thanks to you for joining the conversation.

By my calendar, it’s nine weeks away from the Jamaica Diaspora Conference, and for the sake of clarity, I will break it down for you. The Jamaican Diaspora in the USA, has three regions, Northeast, Midwest and West. This  conference will deal with the Northeast region from Rhode Island in the north to Virginia in the south, taking in 11 states with the tri-state area (NY,NJ,CT) serving as the epicenter. No magic there!

The date is set, the venue and agenda confirmed and by my guess, I will get some information soon, on who the speakers are.

I am drawn by the theme of the conference; Building a United Diaspora for Growth and Prosperity in Jamaica, but I’m not feeling the overall topics and discussion sessions, unless there will be ‘subsets’ to be announced later.

I see a listing of the usual ‘suspects’ but no mention of the troublesome ones, the ones that aid national development. Growth and prosperity in Jamaica today, is hinged squarely on national security and to be ultra specific; crime reduction/prevention, corruption, unemployment, scamming, aided and abetted by a justice system that is fair to all.

If you ask me, and I know I am going to get into trouble for this, but..healthcare is tired, education is tired, the Jamaican clergy are cowards, because they have allowed politics to take away the pulpit; immigration and deportation, worse tired!

Jamaica does not have a problem with immigration and/or deportation, just ask the Trinidad and Tobago governments of the past and present. Jamaicans are the problem, so much so that they are now calling for a re-write of the Treaty of Chaguaramas.

To begin with, this conference will unite just a section of the USA/Jamaica Diaspora. And now that a new government is in office, a government that said it is open to representation of the overseas constituency at some level of government, where is that on the agenda and who will lead that charge?

I do not want to come there and hear a roomful of misfits, arguing over who is doing this and that and the devil knows what, for healthcare, education, or what exciting investment opportunities  await some ‘fool’ with money!

I would be very careful of that word ‘prosperity’ in the current context because if you ask me, Jamaicans at home are very prosperous and they will let you know in a New Kingston heartbeat. Both sides used it to their advantage/disadvantage in the just concluded general elections.

My point here is that this is the very same agenda that was presented and used in Montego Bay last summer, so am I now to assume that those papers will just be dusted off and entered as new evidence of work being done to bridge the gap, to unite the Diaspora?

A conference in the USA in general and New York City in particular, should spend some time on looking at ways to strengthen existing services and broaden the scope of the Jamaican Consulate, there on Third Avenue, in Manhattan. Where is that on the agenda?

Do we know who is on the short list to be the next Consul General? Will that person be a political lackey, as happened so often in the past? And if US$2 billion means so much to the national development agenda, why not more openness to such appointment(s)? These are matters that will seek to unify a ‘scattered’ Diaspora, crying out for inclusiveness and inclusivity, beyond the mendicant approach that now obtains.

I have maintained from day one, in this forum and elsewhere, that the Diaspora will always be seen as dysfunctional as long as it continues to be used as a political football.

En otros palabras (In other words), the Diaspora must be at the stage where it becomes the dictator, not the dictatee. LOL. And that means having a structure and autonomy over your affairs.

Why is there not a closer working relationship between the overseas missions and the Diaspora Advisory Boards? Growth and prosperity for Jamaica is nothing new and I’m sure that that remit identifies and resonates with both entities?

Hate to say it but if Oliver does his homework, he will have too much fun hosting the closing ceremony. And I will be the fly on the wall. SMH.

I hope the April showers here in the south bring delightful May flowers.

That’s today’s conversation. You have the last word. Share your thoughts.



  1. Why don’t you focus on the Conference in the Southern Region I assume that’s where you currently reside. Leave the NE alone. I am tired of your negative rhetoric its TIRED. (Yawn). You are contributing to the DIVISION which clearly exists in the Jamaican Diaspora. You do not have to attend if you do not want to. We all have free will.

  2. Dear Ms. Pinnock,
    Thanks for your response. Appreciate you joining the conversation. I am yet to hear of any plans for a conference here in the south, hence my unfettered decision to give some visibility to the NE event.
    If i erred in doing so, i’m only human. I’m only the messenger,
    Thank you,
    Aubrey Campbell

  3. Hello Aubrey.
    I like the idea of a Jamaican Diaspora. By the way we did not coin the word Diaspora and the word does not belong only to Jamaica. In my opinion it really should be the Caribbean Diaspora. We have a common history and a complete unity of the region is a laudable idea. It may even be ‘pie in the sky’ due to the plurality of our geographic situation. Nevertheless, if one can imagine a Jamaican unity that would be terrific. Maybe if Jamaica is united then they can unite with others.

    I am in the tri-state NY area and the true sign of unity is seen first hand in the non Caribbean communities of this region. There is so much unity seen in trade and commerce in the various ethnic communities that the spectacle is to be admired and copied. Jamaicans are the best copiers next to Japan. Well China is in a different category of copy. Their brand of copying goes beyond the norm. So let us use our great talent for copying. Instead of having grandiose meetings and conferences and laudable speeches, these ethnic groups in the USA just forge ahead with their actions instead of words.
    One of the things that is clear to even the casual observer is the fact that these ethnic groups have created their own economies. By that I mean that they provide financial services to allow for the development of their communities. This creates jobs in their communities. So whenever there is a so-called recession, they go on working.
    This does not happen in the Caribbean communities. In the Caribbean communities we are dependent on other communities to provide goods and services and jobs. We are the first to be laid off in a recession. This could be changed if we emulate the Asians, such as Chinese and Koreans, Jews, Eastern Europeans, Irish, Italians and Indians to name a few. Let’s look at it further.
    What we need is a bank in the Caribbean Community that is tied to a bank in the Caribbean. Correct me if I am wrong, but ever since 1972 when Jamaica’s credit rating was shattered and the currency trashed, there has not been any mechanism setup for trade with Jamaica using vehicles such as Letters of Credit. What the Caribbean diaspora needs is to setup their own system of De Facto Letters of Credit. The banks must we willing to pay for goods and services at each end of the deal so that goods can move back and forth smoothly. The residents of the Tri State area from the Caribbean region are in an enviable position to trade with the USA if only they could take advantage of the enviable position. Notice I did not speak of the Government or even the central bank in Jamaica. If they are involved the inevitable corruption would raise its ugly head. In fact, we who have resided in the USA should spread the concept that the Caribbean private sector should look to itself for remedies and not look to the Government.
    Besides setting up the financial mechanism to improve trading relationship with the USA, the largest economy in the world, we have to focus on the so called investment opportunities. Again we cannot look to the Government to create these opportunities. We must look to the private sector. Each opportunity must be scrutinized for its merits and feasibility before the financial institutions will fund it.
    We see other entrepreneurs from around the world making in-roads into the enviable position that the Caribbean has. Entrepreneurs from the USA, Spain, China, Japan and India are among those who have rightly determined that The Caribbean is sitting on the greatest tourist destination in the world. Yet we are having diaspora conferences while the land is being taken away.
    I think it is in the ambition and DNA of the Caribbean people that each individual seeks glory for himself. Each one wants to be the one who is recognized for bringing an idea to the forefront. Each one wants to be the one who gets the handshakes and the congratulatory hugs. We like to hear that we went to Harvard, Yale, Hopkins and Stanford. Our children went to the same schools. We like to say my daughter is a Doctor or Architect and Lawyer. All these accomplishments still leaves us in a state of dependency on people outside our communities. Never mind that the grandiose ideas we expound never comes to fruition. We seem to like the journey and not the arrival.

    I have never attended any of the diaspora conferences. I am too naïve and would walk away thinking that big things are going to happen. It may take just one person to set an example and everyone will follow along. Someone please start a bank of the Caribbean in New York. Please give loans to upstanding citizens to buy a house and or go into business. Please someone unite with the Caribbean with our African American brothers. Do it quietly and do not seek the limelight. There is much commerce to do right here in the USA. There is much commerce and trade to be done between the Caribbean and the USA. Lets bypass NAFTA and not complain about it. Let’s find a solution and do it and not talk incessantly about it. Let’s trade also within the Caribbean. Let’s trade with our brothers in Africa. There is so much to be done and so little time to do it there is no time for repeated conferences. Let’s get some solid proposals for specific projects that are vetted properly. Let’s get the Governments out of it.

    Anyone can take any of my ideas and ‘run with it’ If you make money reinvest it into the Caribbean community. You don’t have to give me credit. Let’s just do it and stop the incessant talk.

  4. Brother Fitzroy,
    Thanks for joining the conversation and look forward to seeing you at the conference. Your voice of reason will be a welcome addition to the session on trade and invest. I am aware of the Diaspora dynamic catching on in the Caribbean region as governments become more and more dependent on ‘outside’ help. I am also are of a Caribbean Consular Corp in every major jurisdiction that Caribbean nationals reside, UK, Canada, USA, but where on their meeting agenda a Caribbean Diaspora falls, is my worse guess. The idea becomes a flirt only in the face of a natural disaster and when that lust is satisfied, the idea is hastily discarded like a used condom. My guess is that when Donald Trump becomes the next POTUS, then we will see Jamaicans and Caribbean nationals residing in the USA, uniting for the greater good of their homeland, doing so by boarding the next available flight home.
    Thanks for sharing.

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