US has no favourite in Jamaica's election race, says Tapia

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US has no favourite in Jamaica's election race, says Tapia

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, August 14, 2020

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UNITED States Ambassador to Jamaica Donald Tapia has declared that his country has no position on which party should form the next g overnment in Jamaica.

In fact, he has urged the two major political parties not to drag the US into the campaign.

There have been frequent complaints of Washington interfering in elections in the region to prop up administrations that the Americans favour, and with Jamaicans set to elect a new Government on September 3, the question of the US position loomed large during a media briefing with Tapia yesterday.

Responding to the Jamaica Observer, the outspoken ambassador was quick to point out that the Americans have no favourite in this race, and are prepared to work with whichever party wins the election.

According to Tapia, the US has no desire to determine if the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) or the People's National Party (PNP) will govern Jamaica after the election.

He said the concern of the US, and other international partners like Canada, Britain and the European Union, is the honesty of the voting process.

“We have had a very good relationship with the JLP and we also have a very good relationship with the PNP… It was interesting that yesterday [Wednesday] I was with the JLP in the morning, and [then] I had lunch with the PNP,” Tapia told journalists at the US Embassy in Kingston.

“We are apolitical and we must stay apolitical. What I mean by that is, as I said to the PNP and I said to the JLP, 'Do not pull us into your election. Do not pull us, or use us, or any issue that we have concerns about into your election',” declared Tapia, who, since arriving in the island, has repeatedly voiced concern about the relationship between Jamaica and China.

The ambassador underscored that the US is ready to continue its partnership with Jamaica, no matter who wins.

“It is for the people of Jamaica and for you [the political parties] to give your programme out to the people of Jamaica, and it is up to them to decide who is going to be the next Government here in Jamaica.

“We will work with whatever Government. The only Government I know, of course, is the JLP, because since I have been here the JLP has been in power, but we have had a great relationship with the PNP,” said Tapia.

He said he recently met with officials of the PNP at the US Embassy and discussed thorny issues, such as that party's relationship with countries including Venezuela, Cuba, China, and Russia, with which the US is not close.

“There is one thing that I pointed out to them, 'If something happens, are you going to turn to China? If there is a security issue and something happens, who are they going to turn to?' They are going to turn to the US. They are going to turn to 'Uncle Sam',” argued Tapia, even as he admitted that the US is not perfect.


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