It been known for quite some time now that, that all was not well Diplomatically, between the Andrew Holness Led JLP Administration, And the Biden Led Democratic Administration in the US.
For months now Diplomatic observers have been commenting on the growing rift between the Holness Administration and the Biden Presidency. That rift broke out in the open, recently, when the US Vice-President, who has some Jamaican ancestry, refused to meet with Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, when they both visited the Bahamas, a few weeks ago, for the Commonwealth Heads confab.
Not only did the Vice President flatly refuse to meet with Holness, Diplomatic Observers pointed out at the time that there was no joint communique, and that the visit was so skillfully managed, not one single photo of the Prime Minister and the US Veep, was allowed. And this, (according to Sources from the US State Department), was after the Jamaican Foreign Minister had sought an audience with the US Ambassador to Jamaica, to request that he facilitate a meeting of the two, plus another request that Jamaica’s level 3, ranking on the US State Department Travel Advisory, be revised downward, so as not to unduly scare potential US Visitors.
Word at the time was that the US was piqued at the Holness administration for what was perceived as cozying up to China, and unchecked corruption within the Administration. Later on, a source close to the Jamaican Government hinted that the problem was one of a “Diplomatic Nature’, as the Jamaican Government, had declined to issue a diplomatic clearance and immunity, for the same-sex partner of an incoming US Diplomat, who was scheduled to take up his post in Jamaica.
Now this was indeed strange news coming from a Jamaican Government official, as it was widely held, that Former US Ambassador To Jamaica, businessman Donald Tapia, was considered a member of the LGBTQ Community, and he and male, thought to be his companion, were frequent guests at many a Jamaican Government functions and guested at many private parties given by members of the Government and the city’s social elite. So one could never imagine that the Holness Administration would be attempting to play hardball, with the US State Department, in 2023, by refusing to accredit a US Diplomatic spouse, because of his sexual orientation.?
But so it was, as the news is, when the official request came in March, the Foreign Minister’s response was” Not Over My Dead Body”. And then she took the matter to the Cabinet, and sources say the Cabinet was split on the matter, but the Foreign Minister carried the day and so the Government decided to stall.
Realizing that the Government was indeed stalling, The US State Department wrote to them again requesting that all the normal diplomatic courtesies be extended to the spouse of their Diplomat, and this time the Government wrote back denying the request.
Needless to say, that did not go down well with the Americans, and in response, they advised the Jamaican Government that Come October when the current Diplomatic Visas, of our Ambassador to Washington, HE Audrey Markes; The Miami Consul General, Oliver Mair, and two lower-level officials, plus another Official from the JTB offices, would not be renewed and consequently, the Ambassador, Consul General and the Other named Officials, would be expected to vacate their offices and return to Kingston.
And that was how, the Diplomatic turd, hit the fan, with the blowback set to not only affect Jamaican Politicians, but business leaders as well, as the US is expected to tighten the Diplomatic stranglehold on the Holness administration, with one source cautioning that the GoJ opened up Pandoras Box, with his refusal to grant the requested immunity and clearance for the Diplomatic spouse, as they do not expect the State Department to necessarily accept whomever is named as Ambassador Markes’s Replacement, and that expected Diplomatic stalemate could continue for a while and could be widened to include other classes of persons.
Sources say, Consul General Mair, flew to Jamaica, from Florida, last week for consultation with the Foreign Minister and Government, as soon as he was notified that his Diplomatic Visa, would not be renewed, but they are unsure what decision was taken by the Government to appease the Americans.
But some observers are saying expect nothing much from this Foreign Minister and her team as they have proven to be a bungling bunch of maladroits, who are lacking in the required skills set to make them effective Diplomats, and they point out a number of Diplomatic faux pas, this Administration gave rise to, including the announcement that Prime Minister Holness was heading to Washington in March of this year, to hold high-level talks with the Head of the FBI and Other top-notch officials, without first consulting with US Officials to secure such a meeting.
The end result was the day Prime Minister Holness arrived in Washington, The Director of the FBI was photographed leaving his office, and Holness ended up meeting with some lower-level officials, but there was no joint release of anything discussed or agreement reached.
Same sources say after Holness was snubbed in the Bahamas by Vice President Harris, he flew to Washington and met with his Ambassador, and instructed her to lobby friendly forces in Congress, to secure a high-level meeting to discuss what was clearly the growing impasse.
To date, no such meeting was arranged, and things took a turn for the worse last week, as when Prime Minister Holness, was traveling to Brussels, via Miami, he was not met by any officer from the US Secret Service and was made to suffer the indignity, of having to remove his belt, shoes and other items of his ensemble, to clear metal detectors and security. And now this latest escalation, a development, that is clearly now, more than a war of words.
One commentator parting shot was now the Jamaican People can expect the PM and His Spin Doctors to turn this into a campaign rallying cry, accusing the Americans of trying to force the Country to legalize same-sex marriages.
The Country waits with bated breath…