Jamaica's Ambassador Sets the Record Straight
During my absence from the office over the past week, on urgent personal matters, I
was bombarded with queries in relation to media reports regarding a United States
Government diplomatic policy request of the Jamaican Government.
Both the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, as well as the United States
State Department, have already responded to the erroneous nature of a Radio Jamaica
report which was subsequently picked up and carried by various news organizations
and social media platforms. This report is now being used as a basis for various
individuals with their own agendas to continue promulgating false information.
Therefore, let me use this opportunity to reiterate the facts of this matter. The United
States has requested that countries recognize diplomatic spouses in same-sex
marriages, a condition which has been legal in the United States over the past eight (8)
years. Based on this policy, a request was received by the Jamaican Embassy [on 20th
June 2023] for Jamaica to extend privileges and immunities to all spouses, irrespective
of gender, of accredited personnel assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica. As is
customary, this request was forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign
Trade and the recommended response, in keeping with Jamaican laws, was made and
sent in a timely manner [by 5th July 2023], to the U.S. Department of State.
The report of Jamaica receiving this request earlier this year, which was ignored, and
thereafter, a second demand was made is totally incorrect.
Additionally, at no time was a request made by the United States Department of State to
have Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States removed or to leave the USA
immediately; before the end of the year; or immediately upon the expiration of her
As Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, I shall return home to Jamaica at the
appropriate time in keeping with my contract or at the behest of my government.
The USA implemented a new policy in August 2019, which came into effect in August
2021, where diplomats from all worldwide bilateral missions to the USA will be
accredited for a maximum of five years and are expected to depart the USA thereafter.
This policy does not apply to the Ambassador (Chief of Mission), the Chargé d'Affaires,
or the Deputy Chief of Mission. Over the past two years, we have requested a few
extensions, and some were denied. The fact is that the USA gave two year's notice of
this policy change, and many persons who were or will be affected have been here for
well over five years.
Such long-term stays in the U.S. were never the intent of these work visas when they
were issued, so this policy is an effort by the USA to return to the diplomatic
accreditations; original intent. As a government, we agree and respect this policy
Let me also use this opportunity to advise that Jamaica’s leaders have not been
snubbed in any way, shape, or form by the United States. Over the past year, Prime
Minister Andrew Holness and Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson Smith have
engaged in several high-level, in-person bilateral and multilateral meetings with USA
officials, including President Biden, Vice-President Harris, Secretary of State Blinken,
the Secretary of Treasury Yellen, and other members of the Cabinet, leaders of the
Senate, leaders in the House of Representatives, and other senior officials. These are
all ongoing engagements.
As we commemorate 61 years of a strong diplomatic relationship with the USA, I recall
the words of William Clay, “This is quite a game, politics. There are no permanent
enemies; and no permanent friends, only permanent interests.” In this instance,
however, Minister Johnson Smith has shared with you the exact position shared by our
friends at the US Embassy last week, that not only our shared interests but also our
friendship as allies with the USA in the constant struggle for global peace, democracy,
human rights, and the rule of law remains strong and steady.