Maroon chief Currie urges 'proper dialogue' after being left out of meeting with PM
Maroon Chief Richard Currie

The leader of the Accompong Maroons, Colonel Richard Currie is urging “proper dialogue” between the government and maroons to quell tension after he was excluded from a meeting between the two parties on Friday.

The Office of the Prime Minister confirmed in a release Friday that Prime Minister Andrew Holness and other members of Government met with Colonel Lloyd Latibeaudiere of the Scotts Hall Maroons, Colonel Wallace Sterling of the Moore Town Maroons and Colonel Marcia Douglas of the Charles Town Maroons.

According to the OPM, “After productive discussions, it was agreed that future meetings will be convened to continue the positive engagement between the Government and the maroons.”

The maroons and the Government have been at odds in recent times as the Accompong Maroons have been asserting sovereignty from the Jamaican state since electing a new leader, in Currie, in February 2021. Currie recently categorically refuted Holness' pronouncement that Jamaica is a unitary sovereign state. 

Speaking during an Instagram live Friday, Currie claimed that Government had agreed to meet with maroon colonels only if he was not present, and that his colleagues had reversed their stance from an earlier decision not to meet with members of the Holness administration without him.

 “We raised the concerns, we had an open discussion about it and everyone decided it was in the best interest of the collective in maintaining the position of one conversation having to do with the rights of the indigenous people and the maroons,” Currie said. “Having agreed to these terms, within the last 24 hours, much to my disappointment, the decision of the three colonels, has changed.”

He said, since Accompong is at the centre of the dispute, it was nonsensical that the Government excluded him from the meeting.

“It makes no sense having what is being termed an 'icebreaker' meeting that does not involve the voice of the representative of the territory that seems to be causing all the chaos. We need to now tackle the challenges head on and like big people. I again implore the minds and hearts of those that be to let good sense prevail. Please I am asking for proper dialogue,” Currie said.

 In his presentation, Currie explained that he is “not here to divide” the country, however, his only duty is to protect the lands that he said were awarded to his people in 1738 when the maroons and British colonialists signed a peace treaty that ended the maroon wars. 

“We're not here to create problems. The maroons have lived over 300 years in these hills unprovoked, we have not been at war since the signing of that treaty,” Currie said, adding “We maintained a brotherhood, we lived off the land, we continue to live off this land and protect the land.”

He argued that the Cockpit Country has been in the sights of the Government, as it is a viable land for mining.  

 “In recent times, we've found ourselves in a conundrum where so many things have been promised to us as a people, roads [and] running water. The Cockpits provides 40 per cent of the island's freshwater [and] we don't have running water. We've had promises that these things would come, and to date, we still struggle as a people,” Curried continued. 

Admonishing the media, because of what he called nonsensical rhetoric, Currie went on to say “we are not creating a threat to the State; we are not here trying to overthrow anybody. The prime minister has his job and I have mine.”

 “The end of it all is that what we've been asking for is a sit-down to have discussions around the rights of the indigenous people of the land, everybody who is here, who is a representation of their heritage,  [and] we still aren't able to have a reasonable diplomatic conversation…there's an element of trust that needs to be preserved. So, I come today to let everybody know that my position remains firm in asserting the birthrights of the Cockpit Country Maroons coming via our indigenous rights and our treaty of 1738,” he further stated. 

Adding that his resolve to work with the Government to bring a resolution to the many challenges facing the maroons remains strong, Currie invited the public to visit the community so that they may have a better understanding of the people living there. 

 “I invite everyone, please; I would make myself personally available to you, come to my community, come and look and see what's happening here. Many talk and they've never been here, they don't know what's happening. There has been so much funding that has come into this country on behalf of the indigenous people and none of it gets sent here,” Currie said. 

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