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How Mr Golding damaged Ja-US relations - Editorials, Current Issues & Opinion Articles -

How Mr Golding damaged Ja-US relations

Monday, March 29, 2010

Almost four weeks ago, we pointed out in this column the danger in which the country was being placed by Prime Minister Bruce Golding's stubborn insistence of putting the interest of one man above the interest of an entire nation.

Since then, the relationship between Kingston and Washington has grown more frosty as the Golding administration continues to vacillate on the United States Government's request for the extradition of Mr Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

Since last December when Mr Golding first spoke on the issue, he has hopscotched from blaming the Americans for the delay in Jamaica's action on the request, to defence of Mr Coke's constitutional rights, arguing that evidence submitted by the US had breached Jamaica's Interception of Communication Act.

We have already stated that Mr Golding's defence of the constitution is pure piffle, given the many instances in which the State has denied Jamaicans the rights guaranteed under the constitution.

However, since Mr Golding is so seized with concern for Mr Coke's rights under the law -- to the point that he's willing to pay a personal political price -- he needs to acknowledge that he cannot arrogate to himself and his attorney general and minister of justice the right to determine the outcome of a matter that belongs in the Jamaican courts.

For as much as he and his spin doctors would try to have us believe otherwise, the fact is that his decision not to refer the matter to the courts represents an intrusion on the independence of that arm of the State, and is a precedence fraught with grave danger.

As it now stands, Mr Golding is making a grand mess of this case and has placed in serious jeopardy Jamaica's relationship with the US, a long-standing ally which, outside of the years when the then ruling People's National Party went on its dubious adventure of Socialism, has been more than a great friend.

That we attract more than 60 per cent of our tourists from that market, providing jobs for hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans directly and indirectly, and that the US is the market to which we send most of our exports, is testimony to that friendship and Americans' love for our island and the excellent tourism product we offer.

We are obviously not here suggesting that Mr Golding should simply genuflect to Washington's request on the basis of our relationship with the US. What we are respectfully advising the prime minister to do is to hand the extradition request over to the relevant authority established to deal with matters of this kind.

That is even more crucial given that Mr Coke is a constituent of Mr Golding's. For if indeed the Americans breached Jamaican law in obtaining evidence against Mr Coke, we have no doubt that the court would declare that to be so and turn down the extradition request.

And after turning over this matter to the courts, Mr Golding needs to give urgent attention to repairing the damage he has already caused in our relationship with the US.

For despite the foreign ministry's confirmation of Ms Audrey Marks' appointment as Jamaica's envoy to Washington, it is obvious that there is some amount of unease in the ties, as the Americans offered - when this newspaper queried - only that they were awaiting her credentials before giving the go-ahead.

The mayor of Washington, DC, the American capital, said it quite well in his interview published in yesterday's Sunday Observer. Both countries, he said, need to get past this very serious issue quickly. " want the working relationship to be as strong as it always has been."