Jamaicans in Central Florida clamour for an honorary consul
New York, USA â€” Jamaicans across Central Florida in the United States are firmly behind a call for an honorary consul in Orlando to serve the needs of the growing population of Jamaicans residing in that part of the state.
Peter Gracey, who heads the Global Jamaica Diaspora Council for the Southern US, made the call in a letter earlier this year, but said that while the letter which was sent through the Consulate in Miami had been acknowledged, he had heard nothing since then.
E-mail by the Jamaica Observer seeking comments from the foreign ministry have not received a response.
Citing what he describes as severe challenges being experienced by Jamaicans in Central Florida in getting consular service, Gracey said that “an honorary consul in Orlando would
mitigate the various issues we come across and which have to be dealt with in Miami”.
Gracey noted that, the cost of travelling the 235-mile journey from Orlando to Miami was heavy, and even more costly for those who had to travel longer distances, such as from Ocala, Bellevue, Gainesville, Kissimmee, the Counties of Citrus,
Seminole and Orange, as well as Tampa “when toll, overnight lodging and food are factored in.”
Pointing to the growing number of Jamaican businesses across Central Florida, Gracey also argued that the presence of an honorary consul in the region would help to promote
Jamaican culture and open up avenues for greater trade opportunities.
Ocala-based retired corrections officer Leeford Daley backed Gracey’s idea as a sound one, saying that travelling all the way to Miami for the services provided by the consul general’s office there “is a nightmare as it is both time-consuming and costly”.
He hoped the Jamaican Government would react positively and with speed to the proposal.
President of Kissimmee-based CRR Network Louis Witter in offering his support said, “an honorary consul in Orlando would be of tremendous value to the rapidly growing Jamaican community here”.
“All the necessary services from a Government point of view are concentrated in South Florida. There is no agency to assist with things such as passport or immigration and deportation matters,” he lamented. Moreover, the growing number of Jamaican businesses in Central Florida would benefit from some sort of government presence in the area.”