The recent booing of Prime Minister Andrew Holness's wife Juliet Holness at a jerk festival in Florida is significant. This might be a first for a Jamaican first lady and we must read between the lines. I'm sure this was the culmination of many things, including frustration, anger, and despair.
Many in the Diaspora are still very closely connected to Jamaica. The controversial comments made by her recently, in which she said that, "Anywhere not safe to live, Comrades live there," was out of line. And she referred to these places as garbage dumps. During the booing, Holness continued on stage defiantly as if she was at a political rally.
I'm sure many Jamaicans living abroad have relatives and friends living in the dumps to which she referred, perhaps some lived there, too, before migrating to greener pastures.
Poverty is not a curse, it can also be a blessing. Government's responsibility is to find solutions to current problems. Crime and corruption are major problems facing Jamaica, gender-based violence, unemployment, and the rising cost of living are others.
The prime minister recently announced that seven of 14 parishes are now under states of emergency, which means that at least half of Jamaica is not safe. The lack of basic amenities supporting settlements and the fact that 20 per cent of the population live as squatters are realities facing many Jamaicans.
A couple weeks ago the prime minister ordered the demolition of squatter settlements in Clifton, St Catherine, sparking controversy and outrage. He defended the demolition, describing these illegal settlements as breeding ground for crime and gang activities. Many single mothers with children currently live as squatters. People living in poverty are victims of circumstances, it is not a choice. So while the party chairman warned that the prime minister will be shielded from critics, he should be enlighted that criticsm will follow anyone who holds such office.
The prime minister said recently that he has passed the stage of wanting to win political popularity and favour. It no longer matters, he says, legacy is more important. What legacy one might ask? Maybe his wife is on the same trajectory, but I don't know of any politician who isn't concerned about popularity.
At the recent Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) conference the attacks against the Opposition continued. Why not focus on the achievements of the prime minister since 2016? Why dwell on 18 years of previous People's National Party (PNP) rule? And the audacity to demand 20 years of rule under one political party, as if this is a "one don" communist State.
I was also confused when Holness described the Administration as accountable as there were so many times the prime minister and government ministers refused to respond to questions related to controversies. A Government in control should not fear criticism, but embrace it with confidence. When they tell people at the JLP conference that the Government is pressing for visa-free travel for Jamaicans travelling to Canada, USA, and UK, we must wonder if they really believe people are stupid.
So don't be surprised if the boos which started in Florida eventually reach Jamaica, and get louder.