We should not ignore historical relationships
THE EDITOR, Sir:
When we think of diplomacy, we think of tact, principles, and even subtleties. Our diplomatic policy seems to be unfolding in an inconsistent, incoherent and dangerous manner. We saw signs of this when Jamaica voted in the UN to abstain when most voted to oppose the USA moving its embassy to Jerusalem, in order to recognise that city as the capital of Israel.
The recent vote in the Organisation of American States (OAS) not to recognise the legitimacy of the Venezuelan government for a second term was also out of line, and our position appeared to be influenced. We cannot ignore historical relationships, regardless of who is in power and whether or not we favour their current leader, and their policies and agenda. It is for this reason why our diplomatic principle is based on one of non interference and the use of peaceful, negotiated resolution and mediation to resolve conflicts. Once we start moving away from these principles, we damage relationships and our image.
In a recent press briefing, Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamina Johnson Smith reiterated "that Jamaica votes in favour of human rights, democracy, law and order and the principle of non-intervention". But we maintain close ties with our neighbour Cuba, although their government was never democratically elected and Cubans do not have the right to vote. We also have close ties with China and Israel, where new bilateral agreements are being forged, despite human-rights issues.
We are an independent nation, and must start acting like it in order to be taken seriously internationally. While other views should be considered, we cannot make harsh decisions in a vacuum. The aggressive takeover of Venezuela's 49 per cent share in Petrojam, using legislative means, is obviously linked to Jamaica's new position on Venezuela, which is extreme and undiplomatic. The latest actions by the Jamaican Government is cause for concern; it shows signs of autocratic leadership and the country should stand on guard.