The booing of the Prime Minister’s wife in Florida

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Juliet Holness. Courtesy of Juliet Holness Instagram.

According to reports going the rounds, there is much surprise at the booing of the wife of Jamaica’s prime minister, Juliet Holness, who is herself a member of Jamaica’s Parliament and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives. Mrs Holness was a guest speaker at the Jamaica Jerk Festival in Miramar, Florida, last Sunday. It appeared that the event’s organizers were either out of touch with developments back home in Jamaica, or out of touch with the composition of their audience.

Jamaica’s political temperature

It does not take much to know the level of the political temperature in Jamaica where the ruling Jamaica Labour Party has been making heavy weather in their efforts at running the country.  Corruption shadows all spheres of life in Jamaica and crime is at an all-time high with the island on a collision course with recording over 1,400 murders by year end. It has not helped that the Andrew Holness administration has presided over a period that has resulted in the highest rate of murders in the island’s history. Beyond that, the much touted “prosperity” has only visited a handful of Jamaicans, most of whom are in bed with the government, and while the administration has been rolling back land use regulations to facilitate the changing landscape with high-rise buildings now littering the Kingston and St Andrew landscape, the government took heavy equipment into a squatter community and demolished several homes that were all at varying stages of completion.

Insult to injury

Adding insult to the injury was a comment Mrs Holness made as the guest speaker at the party’s Norbrook divisional meeting on Sunday 23 October 2022 at the Constant Spring Primary School in the St Andrew North Central constituency that is represented by Labour and Social Security Minister Karl Samuda. According to Mrs Holness, “Everywhere in my constituency that is unsafe to live, comrades live there. Yuh hear what mi seh? Everywhere in my constituency that it is not safe to live, comrades live there. Anywhere where river going to wash away, comrades live there; Anywhere that is a garbage dump, comrades live there and is not Labour Party put them there”. She acknowledged that the topic was an ‘uncomfortable’ one. It has not helped that the government’s information ministry has doubled down on the statement which came in the middle of a firestorm over the demolition of unfinished houses on the outskirts of the Clifton Community bordering the Greater Bernard Lodge Development in St Catherine and part of the constituency represented by Fitz Jackson of the PNP.

Foot in mouth

While it has been common knowledge that politicians generally suffer from ‘foot in mouth’ disease and are prone to saying just about anything, it should not be out of the ordinary to expect that she would have at least attempted to walk back the comment which was as disgusting as it was divisive. Common sense suggests that an apology to the people of Jamaica would have been forthcoming but, instead, Jamaicans were met by a fusillade of defensive diatribe as an attempt to justify the intemperate remarks. Remarks, which say to a section of Jamaica that if you did not vote for the JLP then your ass is grass. Forget that as prime minister you represent all the people of Jamaica and forget that as the wife of that prime minister, you have the ear of the nation’s chief decision-maker. It is for those reasons that the comments were unfortunate. Notwithstanding, the efforts at being wrong and strong is what precipitated the booing at Miramar as Jamaicans who are on this side of the world are not constrained by the political temperature back home to hide their feelings.

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