The Gleaner, North America March 09, 2023 - April 08, 2023

THE MONTHLY GLEANER | MARCH 9 - APRIL 8, 2023 | | NEWS 2 THE MONTHLY GLEANER | FEBRUARY 20 - MARCH 22, 2023 | | NEWS 10 BLACK HISTORY MONTH Will Mr. Dainey St. Aubyn Laing whose last known address is 13 Torrington Road, Kingston, Jamaica or anyone knowing his whereabouts, kindly contact the Child Protection & Family Services Agency, 10 Hanover Street, Spanish Town, St. Catherine, Jamaica at 876-301-4983. N O T I C E JAMAICANS ALL over the world are riveted by the allegations of a multibillion Jamaican dollar fraud in the securities/investment sector. Undoubtedly, the news is more widespread because of the allegations that track legend Usain Bolt lost millions of US dollars in the alleged fraud. Jamaicans in the diaspora are being called upon by their non-Jamaican friends and colleagues to explain what is happening in the financial sector in Jamaica, to defend Usain Bolt; and to question their own sanity over the news reports, social media postings, denials, and the explanations that are emerging from this scandal. THE GOVERNMENT of Jamaica in 2004 moved to formalise communications with the diaspora, and successive governments have continued the outreach. Jamaica is a unique country in many aspects, but significantly, she has as many and, technically, more Jamaicans living outside the boundaries of the country than who live on the Rock. Jamaicans who live outside the borders of the island glorify Jamaica and live in a sort of suspended animation as many live in two worlds. They uphold their “Jamaicaness”– if an overseas organisation has a Jamaican working in any capacity, that fact that a Jamaican is present is widely known. Jamaicans overseas promote their country’s culture and set an operating standard that demonstrates an extraordinary work ethic, attentiveness, exuberance, and charm. All the while tethering in their homeland and moving in their new homes, assimilating into the fabric of the countries they adopted. Jamaicans across the world are visited on a regular basis by successive government officials and representatives from the Jamaican banking and investment sectors and real estate and business sectors, among others. They are updated on Jamaica’s progress and urged, in no subtle fashion, to invest in Jamaica in many ways – not the least of which is to send money to deposit in Jamaica. They, me included, are often turned off from these presentations because until you have tried to open a bank/investment account in Jamaica, you have not experienced true exasperation. Many Jamaicans who migrate believe that they are only going“to check out farrin”and that they will eventually return home to Jamaica to live. Some Jamaicans overseas do realise this dream and return home after toiling in foreign lands and or maintain investments or bank accounts in Jamaica. UNSETTLING The news of the allegations that millions of US dollars could be missing from one establishment and that government institutions charged with its oversight missed this completely is unsettling and has left the diaspora in amazement. We are painfully aware that had not the Legend’s funds been caught up into the allegations, this would more likely have been a blip on the news scene that would have died a natural death as we moved on to a new scandal. Sadly, the enormity of the amount alleged to have been misappropriated from the most recognisable living Jamaican has stopped us in our tracks – no pun intended. The feeling is that if what is alleged can happen to Usain, it could certainly happen to any average Jamaican – at home or abroad. One notable video making the rounds on social media says the pecking order for Jamaicans is God, Jesus, Bob Marley, then there is Usain Bolt. Questions abound: Where was the Financial Services Commission?Where was the board of the FSC?Where were the CEO(s) and owners of the financial institution at the heart of the allegations? Where were the Ministry of Finance and its ministries during the relevant period? Notwithstanding which party forms government, the default response from the political directorate should be to come out immediately and unequivocally address issues. This solidifies confidence in the country and in our leaders. When you wait to see if the crescendo will die over an issue – whether it is this or any other national issue -it does not foster confidence in governance and by extension in the country. When we hear that the country’s investment oversight body produces too many reports to be reviewed - intimating that no one could possibly review all the reports generated by the FSC - it begs the question, what is the point of the oversight body? Is their work an exercise in futility? The situation also prompts the simple question: Whose responsibility was it to act on the red flags raised by the FSC? These are genuine, straightforward questions that are on the table and which are deserving of answers. Understandably, investigations must take place to get to the bottom of the alleged missing millions, but the question of oversight, governance and responsibility should be answerable without an investigation and without buck shuffling as to who is ultimately responsible. Answers are necessary because clearly, there are obvious holes in the process that need to be plugged - and plugged quickly - to restore confidence, even before investigations are concluded. Because if youmust wait for an investigation to tell you with whom the buck stops, then it is obvious that the buck was, and is being, passed. BAD FOR JAMAICA The issue of allegations of mismanagement of investors’ funds is bad for Jamaica in the eyes of the world and is worst for the diaspora. Nomatter which “P” is governing the country, Jamaicans overseas want to invest at home, and to learn that the very infrastructure that is established to safeguard those funds appears to have been too large to be effective – for years - is a huge blow to the psyche of members of the diaspora. Jamaicans overseas are the country’s biggest ambassadors. Yes, although we sang “I man born yah, I nah leave yah”, hundreds of thousands of us did leave the geographical borders. However, Jamaica is a borderless country. Lyrics of Sweet Jamaica abound – “Ackee and wi saltfish – wi nah lef yah, …wi big flour dumpling, wi nah lef yah!” Wake the town and tell the people that Jamaica is wherever a Jamaican resides! We take Jamaica with us no matter where we live, and we love wi country. We brag and boast about Jamaica to our foreign neighbours and friends. Yes, we criticise the Government and our leaders – no matter which “P” is in power, but this does not negate our undying love of our country and desire for its success. We need to know that yes, the alleged fraud is being investigated and those responsible will be held accountable; but we also need to know that Jamaica is capable of good governance and that entities established to safeguard depositors’money are effective. We also need to know that when allegations of the poor safeguarding of depositors’ funds are red-flagged, someone takes responsibility for seeing to it that those red flags are addressed. We need to know who that person is, and we do not want to hear “It wasn’t me”! - Dahlia Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States. Send feedback to info@ The diaspora is in shock GUE S T COLUMN I S T Dahlia WalkerHuntington Christopher Barnes - General Manager Moya Thomas - Editor-in-Chief Janet Silvera/ Senior Gleaner Writer WESTERN BUREAU: T HE CARIBBEAN is optimistic its tourist arrival numbers in 2023 will surpass pre-pandemic records set in 2019, the best year ever for the tourism-dependent region. ADDRESSING THE media at a Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) press conference in Barbados on Tuesdaymorning, CTOActing Secretary General Neil Walters said proj ctions indicated the industry will see a 10 to 15 per cen increase in arrivals over 2019, when t e region welcomed 32 m llion land-based visitors. “This means that between 31.2 nd 32.6 million tourists can b expected to visit the region this yea ,” s i Walt rs. Similarly, the cruise industry is also anticipated to continue recovering and expanding. “All berths in the region have reopened and are expanding. As more ships are deployed to the region, the capacity for cruises will rise and demand will stay high,”Walters predicted, noting that there should be between 32 million and 33 million cruise tourists visiting the Caribbean in 2023, an overall increase of five to 10 per cent over the pre-COVID-19 baseline figure. His forecast comes in the wake of the Caribbean earning the reputation as one of the regions with the quickest recovery rates globally in 2022. In fact, 28.3 million stopover visitors arrived on the region’s shores in 2022, an 88.6 per cent increase in relation to pre-pandemic levels. Walters said that the recovery was bolstered by the relaxation of restrictions on international travel as well as strong demand in the United States, the region’s top source market for inbo nd travel. The United States cornered the market, accounting for more than 50 per cent of visitors to the region, whopping 14.6 million travellers, 3.2 million m e than 11.4 million in 2021. After two consecutive years of decline, the Canadians are also returning to the region, but their pre-pandemic numbers are anaemic and are among the lowest to contribute to the region’s return to normalcy. However, there was a robust resurgence in European travel as a result of shorter travel restrictions, pent-up demand, and surplus savings accrued during the pandemic, saidWalters. “Strategic marketing initiatives and the restoration of some of the airlift capacity between more markets and the Caribbean have also contributed to the positive results,” he explained. However, he pointed out that the industry’s recovery and growth were undermined throughout the year by negative effects, including rising prices, the intermittent supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic, labour shortages and disputes, global inflation, and heightened geopolitical tension. Haiti showed a negative 20.3 per cent during 2022 as the industry was negatively impacted by the well-document crisis in that country, and the US Virgin Islands, which is normalising, showed negat ve 3.2 p r cent. But all 27 C ribbean tourism destinations showed an increase in stayover arrivals, compared to 2021, of between 8.3 per cent and 16 per cent. The top five Caribbean destinations include Puerto Rico, The US Virgin Islands, St Maarten, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Dominican Republic. These countries have now surpassed their total pre-pandemic arrival numbers, which are still being tabulated, saidWalte s. Although the ntire region has not yet surpassed 2019 numbers, ac ordi g to CTO C airma Kennet Bryan, who is also inister of tourism for the Cayman Islands, the needle is certainly moving in the right direction. High hop s Positive forecast for Caribbean tourist arrivals in 2023 Passengers arrive at the Ocho Rios Cruise Ship Terminal on the Carnival Sunrise following the reopening of the cruise industry in August 2021. CONTRIBUTED The Marella Discovery 2 cruise ship docked at the port in Port Royal, Jamaica, on Monday, February 24, 2020. It was the vessel’s second visit to the newly developed port. A BUST of National Hero, Nanny of the Maroons was recently unveiled in Holywell, at the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park (BJCMNP). It was donated to the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust by sculptor Mark Treunfels, who first came to Jamaica in 1989 as a United States (US) Peace Corps volunteer, after finishing art school in California. The initiative was part of a Reimagined Nanny Project, and the 30th anniversary celebrations for the BJCMNP, Jamaica’s first United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural OrganisationWorld Heritage site. Speaking at the park’s 30th anniversary celebration launch held at Holywell, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange reminded the participants that Nanny is a source of inspiration and strength for Jamaican women of all ages. She said the activity has again raised the importance of Nanny and “what she represents to her descendants, the Windward Maroons and, indeed, all of Jamaica”. “We must continue to collectively raise awareness, and should seek to continually engage those who, through their actions, aim to negatively impact the forest, trails, archaeological sites and other cultural spaces,” she said. Referring to the BJCMNP, the only mixed site for cultural and natural heritage in the Caribbean, Minister Grange urged citizens to continue to aim to preserve the environment for current and future generations. “This is especially important in the ever-increasing threat of climate hazards such as tropical cyclone events, droughts and sea level rise, all of which affect our lives, livelihood and cultural heritage,”she added. Minister Grange commended the work of the site managers for maintaining the health of the national park and for raising awareness among the Maroon communities, as well as Jamaicans at home and abroad. The anniversary celebration also featured a panel discussion involving Acting Colonel of the Charles Town Maroons; Marcia Douglas, artist and winner of the Re-Imagining Nanny Visuals Arts Competition, Richard Nattoo; and national parks advocate and author Audrey Peterman. Bust of National Hero Nanny unveiled Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange (centre) admires a bust of National Heroine the Right Excellent Nanny of the Maroons in Holywell, a the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park. Sharing in the moment (from left) are Executive Director of the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust (JCDT) Dr. Susan Otuokon, and Acting Colonel of the Charles Town Maroons, Marcia Douglas. CONTRIBUTED

THE MONTHLY GLEANER | MARCH 9 - APRIL 8, 2023 | | NEWS 3 ONE OF the 13 provisions of the Constitution to be reviewed for Jamaica to become a Republic will include the Commonwealth qualifications to sit in Parliament. Speaking at the recent ministerial briefing hosted for diplomats at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in Kingston, Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Marlene Malahoo Forte said this matter is of particular importance to Jamaicans in the diaspora. “[There are Jamaicans in the diaspora] who feel that there are many nationals within the wider Commonwealth who are constitutionally eligible to sit as a parliamentarian, but who have taken up citizenship in the United States, which falls outside of the Commonwealth, and are barred from doing so,” she said. Minister Malahoo Forte said that she is looking forward to the “excitement around the discussion”. “When I served inmy ministerial role here at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and I had responsibility for diaspora affairs, that was one of the issues that were constantly raised, and I know that it remains on the agenda of diaspora issues and resolution with the Government,” she said. Meanwhile, the Government will also review the provision that speaks to the constitutional life of Parliament, which is currently five years and also the circumstances in which there could be a holdover. A holdover of Parliament involves the tenure of Parliament going beyond the dissolution date. Minister Malahoo Forte said that the Constitution prescribes a holdover of a maximum of 12 months if Jamaica is at war. “We have learnt that had we come to the full life of the Parliament during the COVID-19 pandemic and we were unable to hold the elections in the early phases when everything was uncertain, we would have found ourselves in a constitutional crisis of no mean order,” she said. “Coming out of the COVID-19 experience, we would have to expand the provision beyond a state of war to other calamities which would truly classify as the kind of emergencies that the international instruments facilitate suspension of your regular constitutional affairs,” the minister added. Other provisions to be reviewed include the composition of Parliament, which currently provides for a monarchy Senate and a House of Representatives, and provisions relating to qualifications to serve in both Houses and the number of senators and elected parliamentarians. THE UNITED Kingdom (UK)-based Kroll Associates is to provide forensic audit investigative services to the Financial Investigations Division (FID) in the entity’s probe of the Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL) matter. The development follows the signing of a Statement of Work by Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke, and representatives of Kroll on Tuesday, March 7. “Kroll will bring leading-edge technology that will support the FID in unravelling all aspects of this 13-year fraud and bringing co-conspirators and accomplices to justice,”Dr Clarke said, while opening the 2023/24 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives. The signing of the agreement with Kroll follows the minister writing to and collaborating with the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office of the UK. Dr Clarke noted that the British Government, which has long supported the FID, has offered to cover some of the initial costs of this engagement, with the Government of Jamaica providing the balance. Dr Clarke also implored Jamaicans not to jump to conclusions on the SSL matter but to await the outcome of the investigations. He said that a formidable team of highly capable local law enforcement professionals from multiple agencies supported by foreign investigative capacity is on the case.“The Government will not carry out this investigation. That is the work of the investigative authorities, but our policy directions are clear. We will get to the bottom of this matter, and we will continue to keep the people of Jamaica informed, whatever the outcome,”Dr Clarke pledged. UK-BASED ENTITY TO PROVIDE FORENSIC AUDIT SERVICES FOR SSL PROBE Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke WASHINGTON, CMC: MARGARETTE MAY Macaulay has been elected president of The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ (IACHR) 2023 board of directors. With the second historic allwoman board of directors and the first with all-women from the Caribbean and Central American countries, Roberta Clarke of Barbados has been elected as second vice president . The first vice president is Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño of Panama. Macaulay has served on the IACHR since 2016 and is in her second term. She is an attorney in private practice and a mediator in the Supreme Court of Jamaica. She was a judge of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights from 2007 to 2012. She is also an honourable member of the Legacy Wall for Gender Justice for women’s rights advocates, which has achieved significant changes and was launched in December 2017 at the United Nations in New York during the Assembly of Ministers. She is known as a strong advocate and reference for women’s rights. Clarke has been a member of the IACHR since January 2022. She led UNWomen Regional Offices in East and Southern Africa, Asia Pacific, the Caribbean and Libya. Prior to her career at the United Nations, she was a lawyer in Trinidad and Tobago. She has been involved in civil society at national and international levels. She is an activist for social justice and gender equality. The election of the board of directors takes place every year, on the first day of the first annual period of sessions in accordance with the Chapter 3 of the Commission’s Rules of Procedure. The IACHR is composed of seven persons, with the other members being Joel Hernández, Julissa Mantilla, Stuardo Ralón Orellanda and Carlos Bernal. A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. Two Caribbean nationals on all-female IACHR board of directors Ja to review Commonwealth qualifications for Parliament Legal and Constitutional Affairs Minister Marlene Malahoo Forte addresses lawmakers in the House of Representatives on Tuesday. KENYON HEMANS/ PHOTOGRAPHER ‘Kroll will bring leading-edge technology that will support the FID in unravelling all aspects of this 13-year fraud and bringing co-conspirators and accomplices to justice.”

THE MONTHLY GLEANER | MARCH 9 - APRIL 8, 2023 | | NEWS 4 WASHINGTON, DC: GOVERNOR OF the Bank of Jamaica, (BOJ) Richard Byles, has assured Jamaicans in the diaspora that the country’s financial systems remain stable and secure, and the banks remain adequately capitalised. He told members of the diaspora in the United States that “a major part of our efforts at the bank is to bring the level of price increases back within the target range of 4.0 per cent to 6.0 per cent.” Governor Byles, who was a guest on the monthly series ‘Let’s Connect with Ambassador Marks’, explained that “high levels of inflation negatively affect all Jamaicans, but especially the poor and fixed-wage earners”. He explained that “in addition to increasing the bank’s policy interest rate from 0.5 per cent before the pandemic to 7.0 per cent at present, we have intervened from time to time in the foreign exchangemarket to smooth out demand and supply and keep the Jamaican dollar relatively stable”. By doing so, he said, “we have limited the full impact of imported inflation that otherwise would have sent prices in Jamaica even higher”. “The good news is that our inflationcontrol policies seem to be working, and there is beginning to be some reduction in world food prices, which together with our efforts, has resulted in inflation moderating from 11.8 per cent in April 2022 to 8.1 per cent in January 2023. We project to return to the target 4.0 – 6.0 range by December this year,” Byles said. PRUDENTIAL SUPERVISION Turning to the well-publicised SSL fraud case, Byles said “the case of alleged fraud at a securities dealer in Jamaica has created bad publicity for the country and for all Jamaicans at home and abroad”. “This institution represents .05 per cent of the J$5trillionmanaged by the total Jamaican financial system. Nonetheless, small as it may be, it is a sign that we must redouble our efforts to supervise that sector even more closely,” Byles said. He advised that the Government “intends to change the system of regulation for financial institutions in Jamaica over the next two years. We will be moving from the current approach where BOJ is responsible for supervising only deposit-taking institutions (commercial banks, merchant banks, building societies), and the Financial Services Commission (FSC) supervising non-deposit-taking institutions (securities dealers, insurance companies and pension funds)”. Governor Byles told members of the diaspora that “under the new regulations, the BOJ will be responsible for prudential supervision for all financial institutions and FSC becoming the regulatory agency with responsibility for market conduct and financial consumer protection for all financial institutions”. Managing Director of the Jamaica Stock Exchange, Dr Marlene Street Forrest, who was also a guest on the programme, gave an update on the country’s securities market. Let’s Connect with Ambassador Marks enables members of the diaspora to communicate directly with the ambassador about matters affecting their lives in the USA and also stay up to date with the Government’s policies and programmes, as well as the embassy’s activities. Ambassador Audrey Marks is occasionally joined by distinguished guests, including US government officials, key players in various local and international organisations, and prominent members of the Jamaican diaspora. Jamaica’s financial systems remain stable, secure - Byles Governor of the Bank of Jamaica, Richard Byles. FILE MINISTER OF Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange has been vested as a Dame Grand Cross of the Imperial Order of the Star of Honour of Ethiopia. The investiture was made by the Crown Council of Ethiopia at the command of His Imperial Highness, the Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie, on March 4, at the Army Navy Club Hotel in Washington, DC. The Grand Cross is the highest of the five levels of the Order in the Ethiopian Solomonic Awards. The Order of the Star of Honour of Ethiopia was founded by Emperor Menelik II in 1884-85, in his capacity as Negus of Shewa and before he became Emperor of Ethiopia in 1889. It is one of the older awards in the imperial pantheon, and it is currently awarded as a house order by the Crown Council of Ethiopia. The order was established to honour foreign and domestic civilians and military officials and individuals for service to the country and is considered the fifth-ranking order of the Empire of Ethiopia, alongside the Order of Menelik II. CULTURAL AND DIPLOMATIC BRIDGES In his remarks, Prince Ermias said Minister Grange was conferred with the award in recognition of the Minister Grange honoured by Ethiopia Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange is conferred with the Dame Grand Cross of the Imperial Order of the Star of Honour of Ethiopia, by His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie, on March 4 at a special ceremony in Washington, DC. PHOTO BY DERRICK SCOTT PLEASE SEE HONOURED, 10

Japan activists demand dualsurname option on Women’s Day TOKYO (AP): WOMEN’S RIGHTS activists in Japan renewed their demand Wednesday for the government to allow married couples the option to keep both of their surnames, saying the current practice in which most women face social pressure to adopt their husbands’ surnames – a prewar tradition based on paternalistic family values – widens gender inequality. At a rally marking International Women’s Day, representatives from dozens of women’s rights groups delivered a joint statement to lawmakers urging them to do more to change the 125-year-old civil code, which forces married couples to choose one surname. “We strongly urge the parliament to face the issue and promptly achieve a revision to the civil code,” the activists said in a statement they handed to lawmakers who also attended the rally in Tokyo. Public support for a dual-surname option has grown, with surveys showing a majority now supports the option for married couples to keep separate surnames. Some couples have also brought lawsuits saying the current law violates the constitutional guarantee of gender equality since women almost always sacrifice their surnames. Under the 1898 civil code, a couple must adopt “the surname of the husband or wife” at the time of marriage – which experts say is the only such legislation in the world. Although the law does not specify which name, 95 per cent of women adopt their husbands’ surnames, as paternalistic family values persist and women are generally seen as marrying into their husband’s household. A 1996 government panel recommendation that would allow couples the option to keep separate surnames has been shelved for nearly three decades due to opposition by the governing Liberal Democratic Party. French strikers renew pressure on Macron to axe pension plan PARIS (AP): TENS OF thousands of people marched in Paris and other cities across the country Wednesday to denounce the government’s pension plan as unfair to female workers, in demonstrations meant to coincide with International Women’s Day. The show of anger against President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 is set to continue in coming days, as train and metro drivers, refinery workers, garbage collectors and others have said they would continue ongoing strikes. Unions aim at maintaining pressure on the government as senators debate the changes. Feminist activists say the pension reform would further deepen gender inequalities at work, where women’s wages are on average 15.8 per cent below men’s. Hard-left lawmaker Clémentine Autain, who took part in the Paris march, said there are two reasons for the protest: “First, because, like every year, on March 8, we march to demand equality and also, to ask for this pension reform bill that is going to make women poorer to be withdrawn.” The reformwould raise the minimum pension age and require 43 years of work to earn a full pension, amid other measures. The government argues that the current system is expected to dive into deficit within a decade as France’s population ages and life expectancy lengthens. THE MONTHLY GLEANER | MARCH 9 - APRIL 8, 2023 | | NEWS 5 News Briefs Women chants slogans during the International Women’s Day celebration at the Mobolaji Johnson Stadium in Lagos , Nigeria, Wednesday , March. 8. AP Women march during the International Women’s Day demonstration Wednesday, March 8, 2023 in Bayonne, southwestern France. Feminist activists see the pension reform as unfair to women, especially because they say it would further deepen gender inequalities faced during their career. AP

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7 Kimone Francis/Senior Staff Reporter JAMAICANS APPEAR to be losing confidence in the leaders of the top two political parties, judging from the findings of the latest Don Anderson poll. THE SURVEY was commissioned by the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) and was conducted between February 17 and 26 among 1,002 eligible voters islandwide. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 per cent at the 95 per cent confidence level. Prime Minister AndrewHolness’positive (‘good’ and‘very good’) performance rating declined substantially to a new low in recent years, slumping to 25.3 per cent from 38 per cent in July 2022, when the RJRGLEANER Communications Group commissioned that survey. This represents a falloff of 13 percentage points over seven months. Still, Holness’handling of his portfolio continues to top Opposition Leader Mark Golding’s, who got a 14.7 per cent approval (‘good’ and ‘very good’) rating, down from the 18 per cent in last year’s survey. Even more telling, Holness’ negative performance rating jumped to 44 per cent in February, compared to 27 per cent last July; while there was a 10-percentage point increase in the Opposition leader’s negative performance rating, which moved from 39 per cent last year to 49 per cent seven months later. Some 31 per cent of those surveyed rated Holness’performance as ‘average’, compared with 35 per cent last July. Golding’s ‘average’performance rating moved from 43 per cent in the last survey to 36 per cent this time around. “The performance of both leaders reflects significant changes over the last survey in July 2022,”noted pollster Don Anderson, pointing out that fieldwork from his team at Market Research Services Limited “was approved only after the most vigorous validation of the interviews was carried out”. “The nationally representative sample we used for the survey, 1,002 persons 18 years and older across the 14 parishes, accurately represents all age groups, gender and socio-economic groups in line with their numeric importance within the population,” Anderson said. MORE WORRYING FOR THE JLP The findings “spell trouble” for the political leaders, analysts have argued, but more so for the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). They believe it raises fresh concerns about the“leader centrism” of the current administration. The poll results come just over a week after Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Desmond McKenzie tabled a bill in the House of Representatives for the fourth consecutive postponement of the local government elections. The bill was passed without amendments after the Government used its majority to push it through. Opposition members subsequently staged a walkout. Days later, the Government again used its majority in the Senate to approve the bill. Political scientist Dr Jermaine McCalpin, while cautioning that a time series poll was not conducted, said the“precipitous” increase in the prime minister’s negative rating should concern the ruling party. He said the larger questions of the economy, crime, wage issues and the discontent in some quarters of the public sector, and the perception that the Government is not interested in holding the local government elections are leader centric issues that shape people’s perception of performance. “The incumbent has more to give pause to because they are leading versus the party in opposition. If the party in opposition is doing poorly it’s one thing, but if the party in power is doing poorly, it’s a whole different conundrum, and I think these polls point towards that,” McCalpin told The Gleaner. CONTRACT TO PENSION Thousands of low-wage earners to receive benefits with new employment status FINANCE AND the Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke on Tuesday announced that hundreds of low-skilled workers in public schools as well as garbage collection workers who have worked without benefits for years will now become pensionable as their status have been upgraded from contract workers to permanent employees. Clarke said the change in schools is being effected under the Reform of Contract Work in the Public Sector in the Ministry of Education. Among those to benefit are hundreds of cooks, watchmen and sanitation workers. “This Government is going to resolve this longstanding issue. We will create the post codes required to elevate 716 cooks and [52] assistant cooks in our school system, from contract employment to permanent employment … ,” he said to applause. In addition, 367 schools regular watchmen working on contract and without post codes will now have their status changed. After announcing that there would be no new taxes for the sixth consecutive financial year, Clarke told the House that the 659 persons employed as caregivers in early childhood institutions will also move from contract workers to permanent employment. Clarke also announced changes for sanitation workers employed by the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA). The workers to become permanent staffers total just under 2,000 and will include sidemen, landfill workers, drivers, mechanics, enforcement officers, and other sanitation workers. Clarke rebuffs demands for more pay, says economic gains could reverse WHILE CONCEDING that critical public sector groups, including the police, teachers, and doctors, deserve more under the compensation restructuring exercise, Finance and the Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke on Tuesday told them plainly in Parliament: “I cannot do any more.” The “any more” that Clarke referenced is $12 billion set aside in the Budget for teachers; $11.8 billion for members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force; and $6.4 billion for doctors under the restructuring exercise. The complement of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) is 12,300 while public sector teachers number about 24,000. A critical vote this week by delegates of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) on whether to accept the Ministry of Finance’s offer could determine the turn of events on the industrial scene in the weeks ahead. Already, scores of teachers at several schools across the country have sent a clear signal that they are dissatisfied with the current offer by staging sit-ins and calling in sick. Clarke, who opened the 2023-2024 Budget Debate in Gordon House on Tuesday, restated that the payment allocated in the current Budget cannot be accommodated in the upcoming fiscal year. He also made it clear that the law prevents unused amounts this year from being carried over to finance expenditure next year, noting that public sector groups that have not settled before month end could see their payments beingmade over an extended period beginning in fiscal year 2024-2025. [NEWS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED] Dr Nigel Clarke, minister of finance and the public service, making his presentation as he opened the Budget Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday. IAN ALLEN/PHOTOGRAPHER Teachers at the Manchester High School protesting on Tuesday as they object to the latest offer under the compensation restructure scheme by the Government. PHOTO BY TAMARA BAILEY Public confidence in leaders dips Approval ratings plunge for Holness, Golding in latest opinion polls THE MONTHLY GLEANER | MARCH 9 - APRIL 8, 2023 | | NEWS

8 Chris Ramsaroop/ Contributor OUT OF the ashes of the Farmworker Modernisation Act, the Biden administration has announced its intention to implement a new pathways scheme for agricultural guest workers in the United States. Responding to a comment from Fox News Digital, the United States Citizenship Immigration and Services state that they are “committed to promoting policies and procedures that break down barriers in the immigration system, increase access to eligible immigration benefits, enhance protections for temporary non-immigrant workers, and better ensure the integrity of the H-2A and H-2B programmes”. According to theWilson Centre, the H2A programme has seen astronomical growth. From2013 to 2022, the number of participants increased threefold from 100,000 to 317,000. Mexican workers comprise the lion’s share of participants of 93 per cent while Jamaica is number three on the list with two per cent. Curiously, South Africa has the second most participants (three per cent) in the H2A programme, leading to allegations of racism in states such as Mississippi where African-American farm workers are being replaced by white South Africans. One wonders whether the Biden administration will heed the lessons of this recent defeat. The FWMA would have expanded the use of the H2 worker programme in agriculture and permitted the use of the H2 programme in year-round operations such as the dairy industry. While there was promise to develop a pathways system of immigration for some undocumented workers, in reality it was a very small opening that acted more like a lottery system rather than a system based on need. SYSTEMIC POWER IMBALANCES Despite assurances from the federal government to implement harsher penalties for employers and recruiters who violate the conditions of the H2 programme, these measures do not address systemic wide issues. OnMarch 30, 2023, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration will be given new powers to certify applications for U Visas (witnesses in criminal investigations) and T Visas (victims of human trafficking) when the agency identifies ‘criminal activities in the workplace’. The new powers are heralded as providing legal status for both undocumented workers and guest workers to assist investigations into labour violations. However, these changes are reactive and do nothing to address wider systemic power imbalances that put workers with precarious immigration status under vulnerable conditions in the first place. Rather than listen to employers, what would an immigration system look like if workers such as Servano Jimenez were involved in the creation of immigration reforms for farm workers? Writing in Labornotes Jimenez argues, “I know just how gruelling year-round agricultural work is and how difficult it can be to make ends meet as an undocumented farmworker. After coming to the United States from Oaxaca, Mexico, I spent years picking grapes and after that, working on dairy farms. Farmwork wasn’t my first choice, but as an undocumented person, there weren’t any other options for me.” PUSH FACTORS Immigration reform can not and should not be a one-way street. In the current hysteria and xenophobia that informs immigration reforms, very little thoughtful analysis exists of the push factors that are leading to migration. These include the impact of economic trade agreements such as CUMSA and its predecessor NAFTA, and the consequences of climate change on small farms across the Americas. Furthermore, Jimenez notes the conditions that agricultural workers currently face as a result of current power imbalances in the industry. “In just 10 years of farm work, my body was broken, leaving me unable to support myself. This is physically demanding work with long hours and little pay (that) can damage the body in just a few years.” In fact, the confluence of US trade policies that focus on export-oriented agriculture and immigration policies that advocate the expansion of H2 programmes are pitting guest workers and undocumented workers against one another. Rather than targeting the US’s hegemonic dominance in agriculture, workers are in competition with one another for crumbs while the industry prospers. Jimenez’s words must be a rallying cry for change, change that uplifts workers, not perpetuates a race to the bottom. Immigration reform should not be a one-way street Ramsaroop. CONTRIBUTED THE MONTHLY GLEANER | MARCH 9 - APRIL 8, 2023 | | NEWS

9 Dave Rodney/Gleaner Writer A JAMAICA-BORN engineer in New York has filed suit in the Supreme Court of New York against his 79-year-old mother for theft of his Bronx property, currently valued at almost US$2 million. The suit lists the defendants as his mother, Lolita Channer, and his halfbrothers, Bryan and Oral Channer. Esroy Bernard, 62, is a University of Technology (UTech) graduate from Westmoreland who migrated to the United States (US) in 1986. He is seeking to recover a two-family dwelling he purchased on November 4, 1998, for $250,000 through working three jobs, from savings, and from a personalinjury settlement. Court papers say the property is located in the Bronx, New York City. After Bernard became a US citizen in the late 1980s, he sponsored his mother and his stepfather to migrate fromWestmoreland to that country. To facilitate their welcome, he terminated rental for the lower-level, two-bedroom unit at the property, losing out on $1,350 per month for rent, and he renovated the unit for their comfort and convenience. They lived there happily and rentfree for several years, and after they became US citizens, they quickly sponsored their two sons from Jamaica to join them. During those years, Bernard ensured that the needs of his family members were taken care of, sometimes even at the expense of his own wife and children. Around 2007, by virtue of his love and affection for his mother, Bernard entrusted all things to her, including a temporary transfer of the title of the Morris Avenue property. This was on the clear understanding that this was a short-term arrangement. For clarity, the lawsuit stated, he took his mother to the real estate office of Dalling & Dalling Reality in nearby Mount Vernon, where it was discussed that the premises would be required to be returned to its original owner, her son. REFUSAL TO COMPLY A few years later, several attempts were made by Bernard to have his mother sign over the property back to him, but to no avail. Her refusal to comply was strident. The dwelling was instead signed over to the two half-brothers, who arrived in the US between 2013 and 2015. In the words of the stepfather in court documents, the property was to be “his children’s legacy”. The situation escalated after the half-brothers arrived from Jamaica and started taking steps to exclude Bernard from entering the property by changing the locks. It became unbearable when they also changed the locks on the entrance gate. Additionally, the half-brothers altered the lease arrangement with the current tenant to divert the rent payments to their pockets. In a tearful, unrecorded confession by phone, Lolita Channer is alleged to have admitted to wrongdoing in relation to the Morris Avenue property, but said that she was pressured to do so by her husband and her in-wedlock sons. And in a strange twist, it turned out that the attorney who handled the original purchase of the house for Bernard revealed that Lolita Channer, her husband and their two sons were coming to her as clients behind Bernard’s back. Bernard secured another attorney, Lorna McGregor, to represent him after this disclosure was made. “I love my mother and family dearly, but I feel betrayed, and I want to get back my blood, sweat and tears from 37 years of hard work for my own two children,” he lamented in a STAR interview. He added that he first met his mother when he was seven years old, as she had left himwith a relative after he was born. Pretrial hearings and depositions are scheduled to begin this month. J’can engineer in NY sues mom for theft of property Jamaican-born engineer Esroy Bernard ... suing his mother for theft of property PHOTO BY DAVE RODNEY Simone Morgan-Lindo/ STAR Writer DR IVANAH Thomas celebrated her 55th birthday earlier this month and she was all smiles. The Jamaica-born, US-based woman has every reason to be happy, having overcome a tumultuous past, which involved being raped, and then becoming pregnant. SHE TURNED that pain into triumph as she has now fulfilled her dream of becoming a medical doctor, and now holds three other PhDs, an MBA, and a nursing degree. A mother of three, Thomas shares an extremely tight bond with her first child, KeronWilliams, who is the product of her vicious assault. She decided to share her captivating story with in the hope of inspiring battered and abused women worldwide. Born in Manchester, she grew up in May Pen with her beloved father who died in shocking circumstances when she was only 15. She got the message while she was heading to her educational institution, Glenmuir High School. “I rushed back home and found my father dead on the floor. I was very close with my dad and I remember just laying down beside him and telling him to wake up. I had never seen a dead person before and it was extremely traumatic,”Thomas recalled. “I remember clear as crystal that on the day of the funeral when they were lowering the casket, I tried to jump in the hole because I just wanted to die with my father and be with him. It took years for me to get over his death,”she said. About two months later, while preparing to relocate and live with relatives in Manchester, she visited a friend to bid her farewell. The unthinkable happened as her innocence was ripped away. “My friend wasn’t home and one of her family members was outside in the night. He had one hand over my mouth and a knife at my throat and he said‘do not scream’. I remember I was wearing a long dress that went down tomy ankles that my grandmother had sent me. It was a gorgeous dress and that dress, he ripped it off and that is where the assault happened. I remember it like yesterday, that piercing, knife-like feeling. It was horrible,” Thomas described. Thomas said she went back home and did not report thematter to the police. However, after relocating, and now attendingManchester High School, she told a family member. “I started school but a few weeks in I got sleepy and was vomiting. I was taken to the doctor and I found out that I was pregnant. I really didn’t understand anything about pregnancy. I had never kissed a boy or anything, I was innocent,” she admitted. “When the doctor suggested that I do an abortion and not ruin my life, my mother, who was living overseas, said she could not give consent to do so because it goes against everything that she believed in,” she recounted of her Christian mother. Still horrified, Thomas said she did several things to prevent having the child. “I lived in the country and people would say that when you are pregnant you should not walk fast or run or you could lose the baby. I would run everywhere, I would drop on purpose, but my belly just kept growing and growing,” she said. “At the time I didn’t feel any connection to my unborn child. “But my son is precious and means the world to me now.” At age 16, three months after the birth of Keron, they migrated to the US, and in 1985, she completed a General Educational Development test. A year later she got accepted at La Guardia Community College, in pursuit of a nursing degree. She sought a father figure and got married at age 18 to a man 21 years her senior. The union produced two children. That union later ended. But Keron, at age 12 expressed deep interest in knowing his father. “I knew he didn’t have a father figure because my husband did not like him. I don’t know where I got the courage, but I made the decision to take him to Doc turns pain into triumph Raped at 15, mother fulfils dream as medical doctor Photo shows Dr Ivanah Thomas (left) as a youngster in Jamaica with her son Keron Williams while at the family home in Manchester. CONTRIBUTED Dr Ivanah Thomas. CONTRIBUTED PLEASE SEE DREAM, 10 THE MONTHLY GLEANER | MARCH 9 - APRIL 8, 2023 | | NEWS