Still so little information about the substance of President Obama's visitSaturday, April 11, 2015
OUR editorial entitled 'Why President Obama is coming to Jamaica' elicited a generous number of comments, demonstrating, we think, the high level of interest among Jamaicans at home and in the United States of America.
It also demonstrated that there was insufficient information about the visit, its timing, the reasons for the visit, who initiated it, what was on the agenda for discussion and what were the goals of the Government of Jamaica.
The Jamaican public is not much wiser now than they were before the meeting between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and their respective teams.
This near total absence of factual and timely information is an unfortunate oversight. We understand, as do Jamaicans at home and abroad, that for security reasons the details of the US president's schedule cannot be announced too far in advance and some details of the discussions cannot be divulged.
However, the agenda of the meeting -- which must have been agreed upon before the actual meeting, including Jamaica's goals, issues and concerns — is the kind of broad information that would not jeopardise the visit.
The media, in an effort to fill the vacuum of information, had to resort to academics, commentators, statements by the US Government and former Jamaican foreign service officials to glean information. Subsequent to the visit we have had no communiqué or extensive press briefing.
Ex-post palliatives are not a substitute for information on what was achieved by Jamaica and Caricom and what are the tangible deliverables from what seemed on the surface to have been a highly successful visit. The failure to inform the public is dismissive, which we do not understand because we do not associate this quality with Prime Minister Simpson Miller or Foreign Affairs Minister A J Nicholson.
But perhaps, the reason has to do with the fact that both the prime minister and the foreign affairs minister had to leave right after Mr Obama for the Summit of the Americas in Panama.
In such case, we suggest to our leaders that in planning important visits, like that of a US president, time be made for a communiqué to be crafted during the deliberations and presented at a full press conference immediately at the end.
This will prevent speculation and misinformation about what was achieved.
Thankfully, the visit was very pleasing to Jamaicans, and President Obama lived up to his billing as an electrifying speaker who connects with people. His use of the Jamaican vernacular was masterly and flattering and went over very well. His keen knowledge of the issues and his abilities to articulate them gained him even more admirers at the Youth Forum.
We think the information vacuum which has been left in his wake is unfair to the president.
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