Ambassador Tapia, a true friend of Jamaica

Ambassador Tapia, a true friend of Jamaica

Monday, January 20, 2020

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We welcome United States Ambassador Donald Tapia's declaration that his Government is proud to stand together with Jamaica in defence of religious freedom, firm in our belief that people must be free to practise their faith without any fear of persecution.

Indeed, as Ambassador Tapia states in his message marking Religious Freedom Day, which was observed in the US last Thursday, fostering respect for religious pluralism and diversity of belief is key to reducing discrimination and persecution and will help to ensure all individuals equally enjoy their rights.

Ambassador Tapia, we find, is a man who speaks his mind. And while some people may take offence with that, we are comfortable knowing that he's no hypocrite and, indeed, that he has Jamaica's best interest at heart.

Since his arrival in Jamaica last August, Ambassador Tapia has been at the forefront of efforts by his Government to help Jamaica in the areas of education, national security, business, renewable energy, disaster resilience, health, and, most naturally, strengthening bilateral relations.

It is not by accident that Kingston and Washington have signed three key security-related agreements to help combat transnational crime, illicit trade, and aviation safety. Additionally, both governments have partnered to professionalise Jamaican law enforcement, strengthen counter-narcotics, and combat child trafficking and corruption.

In the area of cyber security, the US Embassy here facilitated Jamaica hosting the inaugural Cyber Capacity-Building Workshop for the Caribbean and Latin America, which saw the participation of officials from 19 countries.

On the matter of renewable energy, Mr Tapia was most gracious in hosting a high-level Jamaican delegation at the Solar Power International Trade Show — the largest such event in North America held in Salt Lake City last September.

Also, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Jamaica has established a new loan portfolio guarantee mechanism with National Commercial Bank which will facilitate up to $25 million in financing for small-scale energy projects throughout the Caribbean.

Add to that the fact that Jamaica will soon sign on to the US Trade and Development Agency's Global Procurement Initiative and one gets an even better picture of how active Ambassador Tapia has been and his desire to contribute to improvements in this country.

Significantly, the US$5 million in financial assistance provided by the American Government for disaster risk financing has spurred other donors to support Jamaica's efforts to improve disaster preparedness and resilience.

As Mr John Barsa, USAID assistant administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean, noted at the memorandum of understanding signing last October, the agreement “marks another important step forward in the long-standing partnership between Jamaica and the United States”.

While we acknowledge that some of the programmes were in train before Mr Tapia's arrival, we have heard him express, more than once, his belief that Jamaica deserves recognition for its role as a leader in the Caribbean, and that he wants to ensure the strong relations between both countries continue.

He is, truly, a good friend of Jamaica.


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