‘Come back home’ - Tapia woos Jamaicans to rebuild island’s economy
United States Ambassador to Kingston, Donald Tapia, used his first official speech to members of Government and the local business elite on Wednesday to implore Jamaicans living in America to return to their homeland and staunch the erosion of the country’s intellectual and skill capital.
Tapia was speaking at the official welcome reception held in his honour at the AC Marriott Hotel on the fringes of New Kingston.
“This is their country, and we have to make sure they know the pride of their country. They will stay here if we instil that in them,” he said.
Tapia noted that there was potential for stronger cooperation between Jamaica and the US, whose cultural and economic ties date back centuries, causing him to refer to the countries’ existing relationship as that of “kissing cousins”.
He said further that there were more than one million Jamaicans living in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, migrant-rich eastern states that could provide a source for the more rapid development of the island.
“That’s one-third of the population that you have here [in Jamaica]. We need to attract them to come back home, to come back home and build their future here and to bring their wealth and knowledge here. This is something that I am really strong on,” he insisted.
It is estimated that as many Jamaicans who live on the island – around 2.7 million – reside overseas.
Tapia arrived in Jamaica in September.
He added that the US had high regard for Jamaica’s political leadership in the region and that he expected to forge stronger ties with the northwestern Caribbean state.
“I am here on behalf of the United States, and we have taken notice of the Caribbean, but especially Jamaica, because Jamaica has strong leadership,” Tapia said.