The Shambolic State Of The Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Our Editor-At-Large recently held some informal conversations with a number of past and current Foreign Service Officers. The picture they painted was one of a Foreign Ministry, that was clueless and flailing in trying to find its footing.
As a result of these conversations, this attending article was written to shed light on what was once a proud Ministry, led and staffed by Professionals who understood the meaning and essence of Diplomacy and were erudite practitioners of the kind of Diplomacy that had Jamaica, at the top of the World Diplomatic order, their opinion and vote sought and solicited before crucial decisions in the Corridors of the US White House; The United Nations, and its varying Bodies and even the UK.
Some say, lately, Jamaica has lost its relevance and is no longer an important player and or voice in world affairs, and the Country is now paying the price for the missteps and feckless Foreign Policy it has been pursuing, in recent years.
Read our summation of what is happening; what transpired and is likely to happen going forward, based on our conversations with Foreign Affairs Officers, Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps. And the Opinions of Senior Officials in the FA Ministry:
Diplomatic Editor,

Kamina Johnson-Smith

The state of Jamaica’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is one of the worst kept secrets in Government, as it is said to be Shambolic at best and catastrophic at its worst; with the unenviable record of the worst rate of attrition, in the entire public service. So much so, it’s very difficult to tell just how many MoF internal positions are open and have been so for the last four or five years.
Nobody is willing to point fingers at the Minister, or blame her, but as one senior officer inside the Ministry quipped in rather a cryptic comment: “ If the buck does not stop with her, then who, The Prime Minister?”
That officer would offer no further comment on the state of the Ministry, but others were not so guarded, and some Career Officers who have served different administrations, said, it’s the worst they have seen it. Its as if the Ministry and its supporting structures are crumbling before our very eyes, and those in charge seem oblivious to the continuing breakdown and distressing state of affairs.
According to that source, the Ministry has been overrun with political appointees both at the internal and external (Diplomatic) level, more than any other time in its history. With some appointees so Green, they are clueless upon entering the Service and remain even more clueless when they depart, but they retain bragging rights and titles which they think will be enough to launch them on the international scene, such as the UN and its related agencies, when their tenure comes to an end.
Another source confided, that the overseas representation has been so poor, one Ambassador that was posted to Asia, ran up a high hotel bill, that is still unpaid to this date, and is supposedly now in retirement, saddling the Government and Taxpayers with a Vanity Bill, as this was an unnecessary expense, and there were guidelines which should have prevented this, but the Ambassador in question claimed Political Privilege (A Lot), so was able to circumvent the usual channels, because those who should have managed that process were afraid of running afoul of his political sponsors, so pretty much ignored it until it is now an international embarrassment.
“And speaking of International embarrassment”, that source continued, ‘There is now talk that since Ambassador Markes might be coming home in October, of moving the Consul General of New York to Washington, to act as Ambassador until the current tiff is ironed out. And I can only say I hope and pray that this does not come to fruition, as our Consul General to New York, (God Bless her well-intentioned soul) is barely literate and is not schooled in the social graces and or sufficiently exposed to the Diplomatic protocols and practices to function effectively, She would be a disaster!”.
When questioned why, the response was: “Good God Almighty, do not pretend you do not know that the woman is barely literate!”
This was news to me, as indeed, I have met the Consul General and thought her to be fashionable and supposedly schooled in the art of worldly wisdom and charm, or why else was she appointed in the first place?
The response whilst priceless, was unprintable, and unnecessarily cruel, even if proven to be truthful.

Frankly, we have not been doing so well internationally recently. Our Ambassador to Cuba, returned home early as there were suggestions that she was spending more time in Jamaica than Havana; Our High Commissioner to Britain, has been asking to be relieved of duties for the last few years, but is still there, Even though it is being propagated that Attorney At Law, Alexander Williams is now the designated High Commissioner in Waiting; but take that with a grain of salt, as we also heard, before the retired or made to retire Senator, Attorney Leslie Campbell, was also offered the post of High Commissioner to London, as he was offered the post of Ambassador to China and Germany, whilst he was still in the Senate.
And speaking of Germany, that position has been vacant since 2017; Geneva, since March of this year, and China is also vacant, but it is being said, our High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago, (who it was said was also offered the post of HC to London, is now slated to take up the post in China; whilst Nathalie Campbell Rodriquz who recently quit the senate, is scheduled to be his replacement.
And back here in Jamaica, the Governments of Costa Rica, and Argentina, are yet to name their Ambassadors to Kingston, and Belgium, whose Ambassador returns to Brussels, this week, is yet to name a replacement.
And then there are the vacancies within the Ministry itself, as the Ministry is having a very hard time retaining staffers, (and the new pay raise/classification exercise, did not help) as more people are leaving than are clamouring to serve. And, we have not yet touched the subject of policy failures/directions and or absence thereof!
Frankly speaking, the decision to abandon our own people on the high seas, to the whims of Ship Captains and other Governments at the outbreak of the pandemic was just amateurish and unJamaican. Our handling of the crisis faced by students in Ukraine and Russia following the outbreak of war, caused a number of internal resignations, in its wake, as we simply did not stand up for our people and we did not give them a sense of hope or solidarity, in fact, its safe to conclude we abandoned them to their…

Haitians at Boston Beach in Portland

And the International Embarrassment of having the Jamaican Prime Minister in his self-appointed role of Ambassador-At-Large from Caricom for Haiti, only to have a group of Haitians land in Port Antonio, and whilst the Jamaican Prime Minister is Speaking on an international Split-screen asking the World to support Haiti and its people, His Information Minister, is on the other side of the screen announcing that the Haitians will be returned home, as they did not apply for asylum, only for him to walk that back a few days or hours later, cannot be lived down in the global space!
Add all of that to the latest exposed Diplomatic rift between the USA and Jamaica, over the refusal of the Jamaican Government (As Instructed) by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, to decline the standard request for the spouse of the US Ambassador Designate, to be granted Diplomatic Immunity, based on the fact that Spouse is a same-gender partner, then you know the Ministry, or those in charge, are not playing with a full deck.
But the irony is, when the same-gender companion of the former US Ambassador used his Twitter account to insult Jamaica and Jamaicans in a Twitter meltdown, there was no diplomatic rebuke from our Minister and Ministry. The Spouse was not declared Persona Non-Grata. In fact, in what was seen as a timid response to the Vulgar breach of Diplomatic protocols, as the Ambassador’s companion, used the Ambassador’s Twitter account purporting to be the Ambassador, as a ‘Kiss-your-ass” note to the Ambassador, not rebuking him, for the diplomatic trespass he facilitated, but more like one seeking to make excuses for the faux pas.

Now, imagine refusing to Grant Immunity to a Spouse, on the ground that buggery is against Jamaica’s Laws?? For the record, so too was the possession of or smoking weed, up until a few years ago.
But to my mind, the most glaring failure of the tenure of the current Minister is that of failing to facilitate a high-profile State Visit, of a World Leader or Secondary leader on the World stage..

Boris Johnson

And the least we say about that ill-timed and ill-conceived challenge for the position of Commonwealth Secretary General, despite there being no vacancy, the better, As, we in the Ministry believed our Minister entered the race at the behest of then British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who wanted to unseat Baroness Scotland as some kind of payback. The problem was,, the Foreign Minister was not his first choice, but she became his stalking horse when the others would not play ball with him to harm the organization, in what they considered a racist ploy; but our Minister, seemed oblivious of the game plan, and went in anyway and came out damaged, for her efforts. But the real story is yet to be told, and that is the story of the cost of her campaign, and how it was truly financed!

Baroness Patricia Scotland

And, if her loss was not enough, imagine, Employees of the Ministry, were “Requested” to line up on the stairs of the Foreign Ministry, to welcome her back to the Ministry, after her disastrous loss to Baroness Scotland, mouthing empty platitudes and words of praise and affection, to soother her bruised ego…
A deeper analysis of her tenure, and that of Ambassador Audrey Marks, speaks to the colossal failure of the Jamaican Foreign Policy, as despite the US VP boasting of her Jamaican roots, she is yet to make a triumphant return to the land of her forebears, and some say, this is due to the amateurism of the Foreign Minister and our First Citizen, in Washington.

Audrey Marks

The political divide is so wide, the VP has not even seen it fit to be publicly photographed with the PM, the Foreign Minister, and or the Ambassador. And Diplomatic watchers are predicting, it’s only gonna get worse until something gives, And it might end up with close associates of the Prime Minister; high profile personalities with known ties to the Administration, losing their US Visa, or being hassled by US Customs and Immigrations, until the stand-off is resolved in the US favour.
And, there’s the real fear, that pretty soon, US allies such as the UK, Canada, and the EU, will up the ante by sending same-gender Ambassadors to Jamaica, as their Representatives, to see how the Jamaican Government treats them.

Scroll to Top