Hope and the Jamaican Diaspora

It is my opinion that the Diaspora comprises many Jamaicans who have become very nationalistic as a consequence of their “new” socialization, global exposure, international experience and many supportive networks developed while living, working and studying overseas. Many Diasporans are far more loyal to Jamaica than many of the those occupying leadership positions in politics, business, academics and the media.

I would say that ever since 1944 our politicians and business class have been less than nationalistic. Many, especially those from the business class, have been extremely selfish, and that explains part of Jamaica’s economic failures over the many years. They have always seen Jamaica as a market place to maximize
profits to be moved to offshore tax havens instead of investing in the 95 per cent population and growing the local business sector.

They have stifled the market place for too long and it appears it will either take a massive influx of people from the Diaspora and/or foreign investors to once and for all unleash the talent and entrepreneurship that exists naturally in the majority of Jamaicans.

Unlike most people, I think the private sector has a greater role to play in Jamaica’s economic development than the government. It’s big business that should spawn smaller businesses with government playing the role of facilitator, but our private sector is only interested in whining and complaining about what the government is not doing, instead of taking bold initiatives themselves.

The last administration had a glorious opportunity to tap into the Diaspora but they squandered it all by going only after foreign investors and excluding nationals abroad.  If migration continues at the present rate, I expect the Diaspora to continue to be a rich source of expertise and investments from which a smart prime minister and his cabinet can extract human capital. Of all our leaders I have much more hope that Golding will be the one, but I will wait to see if he has the strategic insights and courage to do this.

Milton Maragh


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