'Butch' Stewart urges J'cans to fight COVID-19 together_20200301

'Butch' Stewart urges J'cans to fight COVID-19 together_20200301

Praises unleashing of US industrial might against virus

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

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Gordon “Butch” Stewart, making an impassioned plea to Jamaicans yesterday, urged his compatriots to take care of each other and unite to fight against the coronavirus which “has come upon the world with a speed and ferocity never before seen”.

In the same vein, Stewart, the founder and chairman of Sandals Resorts International (SRI), the Caribbean's leading hotel chain, said Jamaica stood to benefit from the United States unleashing its industrial might against the virus.

In a letter to the Jamaica Observer, of which he is also chairman, Stewart said Jamaicans were well known for coming together in darkest times, and he was confident they would do so now to overcome the coronavirus.

Following is the full text of Stewart's letter:

“This coronavirus or COVID-19 disease has come upon us with a speed and ferocity never before seen in the world. It is no respecter of persons and does not respect differences in and between people.

It shows that we are all the same whether heir to the British throne; the prince of Monaco; the prime minister of England; global superstars; rich or poor; powerful nations or weak nations. The virus is infecting anyone in its devastating path.

It was shocking to witness the speed at which businesses closed and supplies cut off in the hospitality and other industries.

Speaking from experience, I could not imagine short of a world war every single hotel in this magnificent Caribbean region closing their doors and sending the great majority of staff home to keep out of harm's way.

We need no further evidence of how important it is that we all follow the advice being given by the health experts and authorities washing our hands; social distancing; not touching the face and all the rest. Our very lives could depend on it.

You owe it to yourself, your family members, neighbours and communities. It is imperative that we respect each other and look out for each other at this time. It is the most invaluable thing that we can do for friends and country.

The intensity of the fight in country after country to control this monster of a virus seems almost unreal. It did not take guns and bullets to humble the world; it took a single virus that has crossed continents and time zones. Indeed, it shows that humanity, with all we have achieved, still has much to learn.

But it is also a wonder to watch the United States of America unleashing the awesome power and capacity of its industrial might, its medical and scientific prowess, and its private sector with some of the greatest companies in the world against the virus.

They have been able to divert companies from manufacturing cars and aviation equipment to producing medical equipment like respirators, ventilators, and generators at great speed, similar to the days of World War II in the 1940s.

I am reminded of the Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto saying after his country's attack on the then neutral US naval fleet at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii: “I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

The coronavirus has awakened this mighty giant all over again, and it will use the industrial power of its private sector to come to the rescue of the people of the world.

There is no finer example of what the private sector, which is often taken for granted, can do for a country than when it turns its attention to producing for the nation and saving lives. Which brings me back to home.

Jamaica's proximity to the United States, with our energy and our ability to use what little we have and make so much out of it because we are that kind of people is really a godsend. Let us tackle this fight against the virus together.

I find the support of the Opposition, working with the Government, very comforting and appealing. Let us care for each other to the utmost and defeat this monster together, as one Jamaican people.”

Hon Gordon “Butch” Stewart, OJ, CD, Hon LLD

Chairman ATL/Sandals Group of Companies

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