Jamaica

Jamaica Information Service/Prime Minister's Office

These days the Caribbean seems better known for debt ruin than for dark rum.

The region – South Florida’s next-door neighbor – is home to some of the world’s most indebted countries. Since 2010, five of them have defaulted. The government of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, may soon shut down thanks to its epic debt crisis.

But Jamaica – whose more than $16 billion debt represents 130 percent of its GDP – may be the Caribbean’s debt champ. And that’s a big reason Andrew Holness is expected to be sworn in this week as the island’s new Prime Minister.

Collin Reid / AP via Miami Herald

Jamaica will soon have a new Prime Minister. In yesterday’s parliamentary elections, Andrew Holness and the Jamaican Labor Party scored an upset victory.

Which means they will now have to deal with the Caribbean country's heavy economic crisis.

Jamaica’s debt situation is among the world’s worst. To rein in the problem, current Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller has imposed strong economic austerity measures. Economists say she’s made progress. But political observers say Jamaicans are weary of the belt-tightening.

Michael Erickson

When I recently met Jamaican-American author Max-Arthur Mantle at a South Beach café, we talked about his engaging debut novel, “Batty Bwoy.” But we also chatted about the way he was sitting. That is, with his legs crossed.

“In Jamaica, if you cross your legs, if you’re a male, in a quote-unquote effeminate way, I would get my ass kicked,” Mantle told me.

“As soon as they see me their eyes would roll, then they would get red, and then the anger, then the whole hate will come. And then the slurs.”

Miami Herald

Lauderhill and neighboring Broward cities celebrated Caribbean-American Heritage Month at a festival in Broward Regional Park Sunday. The Caribbean Village Music, Arts, Food, and Wellness festival featured food vendors, a parade, a talent show and a concert by Caribbean musicians.

Lindell Douglas, president of the Galleon Foundation, which sponsored the event, said a primary goal of the festival was to celebrate Caribbean American culture during its namesake month.

Lechmoore Simms / Flickr

President Obama heads this week to the Summit of the Americas in Panama where he’ll meet with the hemisphere’s other heads of state. But Obama first travels on Wednesday to Jamaica – where Caribbean leaders may be happier than usual to see him.

www.jamaware.org

08/01/14 - Next time on South Florida Arts Beat, we’ll hear about Jamaica’s 52nd Anniversary Independence Day events in South Florida from Cheryl Wynter, with the information office of the Consulate General of Jamaica and Sydney Roberts, Executive Director of Jamaica Awareness, Inc.

Greg Weeks / Flickr

First Uruguay, now Jamaica. Last week, the Caribbean island became the western hemisphere’s second country to make marijuana possession OK. Is this a trend?

Ganja, as Jamaicans call marijuana, has long been part of their culture. The island’s Rastafarian religious movement promotes it as a means of enlightenment. Still, marijuana has been illegal there. Now Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller says Jamaica will decriminalize small amounts of ganja – up to 57 grams, or 2 ounces. Other Caribbean governments look poised to follow suit.

newxcorp.com

In May of 2010, the streets of Kingston, Jamaica erupted in fierce gun battles between security forces and followers of drug lord Christopher “Dudus” Coke. It took most of us in the international media by surprise -- and many of us were also at a loss to explain what had sparked such an epic showdown, which would leave more than 70 people dead.

To help me understand the upheaval, which revolved around efforts to extradite Coke to the United States, I turned to respected Jamaican-American legal scholar David Rowe.

http://www.jamaicacgmiami.org/

08/02/13 - Next time on South Florida Arts Beat, Jamaica’s Consul General the Honorable Sandra Grant Griffiths and event producer extraordinaire, Sydney Roberts, have the details about Jamaica’s 51st Independence Day events here in South Florida. Our film critic, Dan Hudak, features his annual Florida Film Critics Circle Roundtable with Michelle Solomon and Hans Morgenstern.

With the Super Bowl only a few short days away, anticipation is building up for the superstar lineup of commercials.  The spots are widely known to be the products of endless hours of brainstorming, and deeper pockets than the average citizen can fathom.