MINISTER of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Kamina Johnson Smith yesterday announced the closure of the Jamaican Embassy in Brazil, effective March 1.
The minister, in a release, said coronavirus-related budgetary constraints has caused the ministry to review its representation overseas, but said, “Having acknowledged that similar decisions have been taken by Brazil and other countries at this time, our assurance has been given to the Government of the Federative Republic of Brazil of continued support and engagement by the Government of Jamaica at the bilateral and multilateral levels.”
“The Government remains committed to maintaining its long-standing diplomatic relations with Brazil, which remains an important bilateral partner of Jamaica,” said the foreign minister. “The decision to close the mission was reached after careful consideration of factors, including its exponential operational costs, which are difficult to justify, particularly at this time, in light of the minimal consular services requested of it,” she said.
Minister Johnson Smith said she had previously indicated to Parliament that the ministry has been undertaking an organisational review which includes that of its representation overseas to ensure the most effective allocation of its resources. Less than 200 Jamaicans, she said, reside in the countries under the purview of the embassy in Brazil, namely: Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. Requests for consular services are projected to decline further with the current provision of online passport applications.
In light of the embassy's closure, the minister said arrangements to continue services will be made as they become necessary. “In that regard, we are in the process of appointing an honorary consul in São Paulo to undertake consular duties,” she said. She added: “New appointees in Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and Montevideo will be engaged to assist with the maintenance of representational duties in the region until further decisions are taken about diplomatic and consular representation in South America.
“The public is advised that requests for services which would have been provided by the embassy in Brasilia can also be referred to the headquarters of the Jamaican foreign ministry at firstname.lastname@example.org,” Minister Johnson Smith said. She assured Jamaicans that the ministry remains committed to reviewing the number of embassies and consulates abroad to maintain optimal diplomatic and consular representation, and will continue to keep the people of Jamaica apprised of such decisions.