News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. Feb. 8, 2018: US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, stopped over in Jamaica Wednesday for a quick meeting with the country’s Prime Minister, Andrew Holness. But while there was a lot of talk on energy and Venezuela, the infamous S-Hole comment from the US Secretary’s boss did not make it into the conversation – at least according to the official statement.
Holness revealed that the two sides focused on energy security; security cooperation in order to more effectively combat transnational organized crime; boosting the U.S.-Jamaica economic partnership; exploring opportunities to broaden U.S.-CARICOM engagement; the economic vulnerability of Middle Income Countries, including climatic events; de-risking and correspondent banking issues and the situation in Venezuela.
And he added that the Jamaican Diaspora definitely made it into the conversation with Donald Trump’s top diplomat, with the PM saying in a statement after the visit that he “used the opportunity to discuss Diaspora matters and the invaluable contribution of Jamaicans resident in the United States.”
Nothing though on illegal immigration, Caribbean Dreamers or deportees and definitely no question on the alleged s-hole comment from Trump about African nations and Haiti.
PM Holness did say that the discussion included those (Jamaicans) engaged in the service sectors in the US, which he said is of “critical importance to the United States economy.”
The Jamaican Diaspora discourse, however, seemed to have eluded the U.S. State Department and Tillerson since they put out a tweet after the meeting saying the PM and the Secretary “discussed bilateral and regional security, energy efforts, and Jamaica’s successful economic reform efforts.”
A second tweet added: “The U.S. understands the importance that our security and prosperity are very closely tied to that of our Caribbean neighbors, and we’re glad to have the partner we have in Jamaica.”
Energy seemed, however, to have been a major focus of the discussion with Holness also saying that former Exxon CEO Tillerson agreed with him “that the transformation of Jamaica’s energy sector is critical to the achievement of our development objectives, including resilience.”
“I expressed the hope that the US will continue to support our thrust towards energy independence in the region, including greater efficiency in energy use and greater incorporation of renewable energy sources,” the PM’s statement added.
Holness also said he agreed with Tillerson that “the Government of Venezuela must act in the best interest of its people and that it should ensure that the presidential elections are free, fair and credible in the eyes of the Venezuelan people and the international community.”
The meeting comes less than three months after the Jamaica government said it is considering purchasing the 49 per cent shares in Petrojam, which is owned by Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA, as concerns mount among banks locally and overseas over an executive order issued by Trump in August last year which imposes restrictions on government entities in the South American country.
In August, the US president issued Executive Order 13808, referred to as EO.
The EO prohibits Americans and those within the US from engaging in transactions involving new, medium- and long-term debt; new equity and certain existing bonds of the government of Venezuela. It also restricts the purchase of any securities from the government of Venezuela other than specified debt securities.
Tillerson returned to Washington, immediately after the Jamaica meeting.