New Jamaica PM: We will be a republic

Jamaica Portia Simpson Miller 300x250
Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said last week her government will seek to remove Her Majesty, the Queen of England’s representative as the Caribbean country’s titular head of state.

The announcement, made Thursday during Ms Simpson Miller’s swearing-in address following her late December election, also gave strong indications that Jamaica intended to ditch the United Kingdom’s Privy Council as its court of final appeal – opting instead for the Caribbean Court of Justice. The court, based in Trinidad, acts as the final court of appeal for Caribbean Community member states.

The proposed changes come as Jamaica prepares to celebrate 50 years of independence from the 
UK on 6 August.

“We now need to complete the circle of independence,” Ms Simpson Miller said Thursday. “We will, therefore, initiate the process for our detachment from the monarchy to become a republic with our own indigenous president, as 
head of state.”

International observers might interpret that statement as Jamaica making a move away from its current parliamentary democracy in favour of a more American-style republican democracy. However, Jamaica’s honourary consul to the Cayman Islands, Dr. Joseph Marzouca, said he would seriously doubt that was intended.

Mr. Marzouca believes Prime Minister Simpson Miller is referring to a situation similar to Trinidad’s, where the elected Cabinet chooses a president who is the head of state; rather than having the appointment of a governor-general handled by the UK. The president’s position is largely a ceremonial role, except in instances where parliament has been dissolved ahead of an upcoming election.

The ruling government in Jamaica, made up of a majority of members from a certain political party – in this case, Ms Simpson Miller’s People’s National Party – would still choose its own Cabinet ministers and prime minister following an election.

“Everything else would remain the same,” Mr. Marzouca said. “Whether we have a president or a governor-general, what is really 
the difference?”

Recent data collected from more than 1,000 Jamaican residents by pollster Bill Johnson indicated 44 per cent of those questioned thought that the current Westminster-style governance system should be retained, while 35 per cent said it should be replaced with a republican system. The poll had a 4 per cent margin of error.

The same poll found 60 per cent of respondents thought Jamaica would be better off today if it had remained under British rule rather than going independent in 1962.

Former Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding of the now-opposition Jamaica Labour Party indicated this past summer that his government essentially agreed with the position taken by Ms Simpson Miller.

“I have long believed that if I am to have a queen, it must be a Jamaican queen,” Mr. Golding said in June 2011, according to the Jamaica Gleaner. “Transforming Jamaica from a monarchical to a republican state means no disrespect, and must not be interpreted this way.”

Mr. Marzouca echoed that sentiment and indicated that such a move, if it is made, would not equate to cutting any diplomatic or international relationships Jamaica maintains with the UK.

“Even before independence, there was a large community from Jamaica in the UK,” he said. “This is not an anti-English sentiment.”

Privy cancel

During her address, Ms Simpson Miller also indicated her intention that Jamaica should “fully repatriate our sovereignty”.

“One important agenda item will be to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice in its final appellate jurisdiction, and in this way, end judicial surveillance from London,” she said, adding opposition party members recently stated the PNP and JLP were “not far apart” on this position.

According to Cayman Islands Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin, the idea of dropping the Privy Council has been around for decades within former UK colonies in the Caribbean and elsewhere.

“This whole issue about the judicial committee of the Privy Council being the ultimate court of resolve is what causes a number of the Caribbean countries that were formed colonies … to chafe,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “The view is that the council is very Euro-centric.”

Good examples of this in recent times have been the elimination of the death penalty as a punishment option in murder cases and the continued existence of criminal punishment for certain homosexual behaviours within the Cayman Islands Penal Code.

“Human rights is supposed to be universal, but like everything else, it’s subject to interpretation,” Mr. McLaughlin, the former chairman of Cayman’s Human Rights Committee, said.

Mr. Marzouca said a move to the Caribbean Court of Justice as the final court of resolve may be more about money than anything else.

“It would certainly be cheaper,” he said. “Some would argue you would not get the objectivity you would get from the Privy Council.”

Jamaica Portia Simpson Miller

Ms Simpson Miller


  1. Yes Alden, be careful how you speak. Qualify your statements that may appear to condone everything Jamaica is doing constitution wise. Jamaica is no role model to follow where constitution advancement or stability is concerned. and Mr. Premier and your delegation don’t get any ideas that Caymanians are going to agree to go independent to suffer more under your regime than we are suffering already. GET INDEPENDENCE OUT OF YOUR HEAD.
    and do’nt bring it here. We would be another Cuba in the West Indies should Cayman make such a horrible mistake.
    Some of us are capable of learning by the way. We have functioning intellect and brains that learn from the mistakes of other Caribbean neighbors like Jamaica and Cuba.
    So keep all your independent promotions TO YOURSELF
    Don’t bring it here to destroy our financial and tourist industry.We dont have enough canoes to run to the US from bullying Independence heads of state.We can’t ever let that happen to us.

  2. Marzouca is right. There is no real change. It is just a symbolic move by Portia to replace the governor-general for a president. It is just to show that Jamaica shares no allegiance with the UK. Remember Britain has authored much of the dark pages in Jamaican history as well. Not only during the time of slavery, but prior to Manley starting the party system and opposition against the British program of repossessing or taking away lands from the peasants. They came a long way to reach Independence, and many Caymanians (sorry to say) don’t know caribbean history and understand why they chose that route. But it was a route worth taking on their part.

  3. Here’s a good idea. Every time Jamaica comes up with a new, hare-brained scheme to foul up their already impaired governance, let us do the opposite!

  4. When I read such articles I always remember the past and specifically Jamaicas cuttings of it ties with the UK. First of all, I am not a Brit so dont get your nickers in a knot that I am.

    I also remember when The Bahamas cut its ties with the UK. I was there.

    In both cases the economy of both nations went straight to the toilet and theres not a lot to debate about that. I also think along the same vein when Cayman says it wants to cut the cord as well.

    If the new Prime Minister sees this as being functional then I can see where her prioriteis lie. Theres more pressing issues facing Jamaica. Then again shes a politician and if that’s what gets people riled up and excited, then she wants to be elected again and theres such a warm fuzzy feeling that goes with that thought.

    Tackle the real isses facing that nation.

  5. A few comments on this article.

    Before certain assumptions and judgements are passed on these statments by Prime Minister Simpson-Miller, an in-depth understanding of Jamaican history and politics is necessary and if one did not grow up and was schooled in Jamaica, this would be lacking in some respects.

    There are quite a few Caymanians who did grow and were schooled in Jamaica and they would understand this situation very well, just as most born-Jamaicans do.

    There are only two instututions in Jamaica that has any direct and legal ties to the United Kingdom under the current status quo and those are, the office of the Governor General and the status of the Jamaica Defence Force, the armed forces of Jamaica.

    The Jamaica Defence Force is, at present, a Royal armed force because of the political status quo, it functions as an extension of the British Army because the Queen is still the official head of state of Jamaica.

    In essence, Jamaica becoming a republic will change nothing from how the country is governed and run, in all respects Jamaica is an independent country, except for this symbolic relationship with the British Monarchy.

    The Governor General of Jamaica has been a Jamaican ever since independence in 1962 so changing the role and title to president, again, would be mainly a symbolic one, depending on what constitutional changes would be necessary in the Jamaican Constitution to create the role of president and how Jamaicans see this role in the creation of a republic.

    There is one thing that most observors can be guaranteed;despite the problems that Jamaica, as a country has, the world will NEVER see the disentegration or the threatening of law and order and parliamentary democracy in Jamaica, similar to what is represented in a country like Haiti.

    Jamaicans, both at home and abroad, will simply not allow that to happen.

    Where I have doubts on the effect that this move could have on the Cayman Islands is the temptation for Cayman’s politicians to use this development in Jamaica to work people’s emotional triggers to sway or persuade some elements amongst Caymanians, that what is right for Jamaica, is also right and good for Cayman.

    I, myself, am a total product of the Jamaican school and political system so I’m not speaking from any second-hand position…this is the truth from the horses-mouth, so to speak.

    Any move towards independence or having Cayman’s legal system put under the Caribbean Court and removing the Privy Council as Cayman’s final court of appeal would spell disaster for Cayman’s society; Cayman is NOT Jamaica.

    This is something that Caymanians too, abroad and at home, must simply NOT allow to happen.

    I sincerely hope that Cayman’s politicians are reading these comments posted on here by those of us Caymanians who are now CURRENTLY living abroad.

  6. Dennie,
    We don’t need to change the constitution just because you want a gun license.Maybe god is saving you from something by delaying the process for you. Look at it that way.

    Jamaica’s independence cost Jamaica hundreds of thousands of guns on the streets of Jamaica and blood shed too.

  7. Vietnam…

    You actually have a basic understanding of how street politics work in Jamaica, which is much more than is exhibited by some of the posters on this forum who are commenting on Portia Simpson-Millers’s declaration.

    Its clear that most of the comments made here are made in honest appraisal but that they also carry an element of emotional response that equates the current disaffection with Britain amongst Cayman’s population, in some areas of the society; those areas of the population are the more politically influenced, or in other words, the people who depend on their political leadership for every facet of their lives.

    This is a very dangerous situation to be in and is what has led to Jamaica’s current problems.

    Jamaica’s declaration of becoming a republic should in no way be seen as Jamaica championing Britain’s other overseas territories in any quest or ideas of independence that they may be harbouring; it does not represent that in Jamaica, nor should it be seen to represent that in Cayman, or anywhere else.

    I’ve already explained what it actually means for anyone wishing in-depth knowledge on the subject.

    In your response to Mr. Warren, your insight here is very evident because, that is EXACTLY what independence brought to Jamaica, in not even 10 years after.

    By the 1972 general election in Jamaica, the guns were already on the streets, having been doled out by the political party ‘dons’, to intimidate and influence the population vote in Kingston…and Jamaica has suffered greatly ever since.

    The guns for political power in Jamaica has NEVER been retrieved and it became a monster that got totally out of control and it is only now that the country is becoming more responsible in its political development and growth that we are seeing peaceful general elections in which political violence now plays little or no part; Jamaica is really beginning to grow up as a country.

    I am a bit alarmed by McKeeva Bush’s sucking up to Jamaica’s politicians because, for Cayman, that is totally unnecessary as family and blood ties go so deep that less political involvement in this relationship is better for Cayman; I do not trust his motives as I know Jamaica and Jamaica’s politicians very, very well…as I know Cayman’s.

    It truly has come the time for me to get cracking on this planned book about the political, historical and social ties between Jamaica and Cayman so that Caymanians can have a definitive reference provided by one of their own when the temptation comes to follow the path of Cayman’s politicians, set for them by their Jamaican counterparts.

    Emotional responses to past wrongs and oppression by Britain’s colonial administrators was what drove the independence movement in Jamaica, amongst a largely poor and uneducated population, controlled and manipulated by Jamaica main two political leaders, Sir Alexander Bustamante and his cousin, Norman Washington Manley…it was not a rational, well thought-out decision by Jamaica’s majority population.

    I guarantee you, that if Jamaica’s current population had that decision to make again, it would be an entirely different one.

    The most that we can do in Cayman’s case is the best that we can do to not have history repeat itself.

  8. Apprentice

    With all due respect…you don’t know bounce of what you’re talking about.

    Please, before you lead readers astray on such important subjects, do some research where its needed.

    Your own personal opinions only carry so much weight and on the topic of this newspaper report, doesn’t weigh even as much as a feather.

    Most of what is known about Jamaica, its history and political situation in Cayman is heard from second-hand stories, popular music and immigrant Jamaicans who do not even know some the important information themselves.

    Please educate yourself on this topic if you intend to comment on it.

  9. Ms. firery, I was reading well your comments until you said this:-

    Emotional responses to past wrongs and oppression by Britain’s colonial administrators was what drove the independence movement in Jamaica, amongst a largely poor and uneducated population, controlled and manipulated by Jamaica main two political leaders, Sir Alexander Bustamante and his cousin, Norman Washington Manley…it was not a rational, well thought-out decision by Jamaica’s majority population… I guarantee you, that if Jamaica’s current population had that decision to make again, it would be an entirely different one.

    No matter how knowledgeable on the subject of Jamaica you are, your interpretation of it, is distorted. Independence may have not been a well thought-out decisions for Jamaica, but it sure as hell was a decision that was worth it in light of the colonial rule and how the British treated the people.

    On human rights, equality, and democracy, there is where you and I part. The history books can speak for themselves. Jamaica’s decline was not from Independence, but even a primary school kid would tell you, it is from POLITICAL CORRUPTION. You need to read without bias the books of history until the present, and you will see that Jamaican politics became corrupt.

    What is more appalling with how you speak, is that you make it look like Jamaican are ashame of their Independence. For your information, Ms. firery, whenever there is Jamaican Independence, Jamaicans are out of their homes celebrating their break away from Britian. Are you saying that they shouldn’t celebrate after the abuse their forefathers have went through? lol… I wish you were in Kingston right now amidst a crowd, telling them how they should be ashame of their Independence!

    You firery, defintely dont know jack about Jamaican experience, but head knowledge.

  10. Bodden

    Let’s be clear on one thing here, and then read my comments again in that context…you are famously pro-independence for the Cayman Islands…I am not.

    And I’m very much a robust, male specimen of the human race..not any Ms, as you mistakenly have addressed me as in your response to my comments.

    When you have survived the political warfare in Jamaica, as I have, then you come back and talk to me.

    And if you actually knew who my family in Jamaica and Cayman is, you would know that I have EVERY right to state my position on Jamaican politics and independence.

    You ae the one who has insinuated shame for independence in my comments…they inferred nothing of the kind.

    The euphoric celebration of independence in August every year is indeed a heady experience for Jamaica and Jamaicacans at home and abroad and the pride of being its own country is nowhere more evident than in Jamaica.

    And then, reality sets in…you take a trip to Riverton City, Grants Pen (which is next door to Barbican where I grew up), Seaview Gardens, Flankers(in Montego Bay) and any and all the other poverty-ridden areas of Jamaica and ask the residents of these neighbourhoods what independence means to them…and then come back and talk to me.

    As I’ve said before and will continue to warn Cayman’s people, being blindly led by power-driven politicians like your self(ex-politician, that is) is what drove Jamaica’s indpendence movement…

    And Cayman’s people should avoid taking the same path and making the same mistake.

  11. Bodden

    And now that you’ve stirred up the hornet’s nest…let’s get down to business about making clear to the readers here about what your agenda is for Cayman, along with the others who think like you do.

    You are a Jamaican-educated person, from the socialist doctrine of Dr. D. K. Duncan, of the UWI, back in the day when socialist rhetoric and experimentation was rife in Jamaica, with very mixed results…socialism is now a failed, out-dated and obsolete political and financial doctrine…even Cuba is beginning to realise this fact.

    Independence for Cayman will not mean ‘independence’ as such; it will mean going back under Jamaica’s umbrella, with some sort of ‘independence’ title to trick Cayman’s people.

    But the politicians of your ilk all want to be ‘the man’ and at any expense to the people and under British administration, you will never get that chance;under Jamaican administration you might, if Cayman follows the model of Jamaican politics, with all its institutionalised corruption, which you, yourself, has freely admitted.

    The Cayman Islands does not share the history of harsh and bloody oppression and slavery, rebellions and executions and assasinations that Jamaica shares with Britian…there is no need for Cayman to carry the burdens of Jamaica’s history with British colonial rule.

    There is nothing in Cayman’s current relationship with Britain that equates to Jamaica’s history and Cayman’s people need to be vigilant to not be led into making decisions to their own detriment by politicians who will create these problems for their own purposes.

  12. lol.. firery, I dont know where you get your information from; especially, about who I am. To enlighten you, I am Pro-Independence for Jamaica – not Pro-Independence for Cayman!

    Apparently, you are deluded in thinking that Independence is the cause of Jamaicas poverty and crime. You need to take a class on 101 again on Jamaican history.

    And pretty please stop making comments on who I am and who you are, as to compare. I think it is very egotistical and high-minded. I dont think no one cares who you are!

    Dont mention sea view gardens, I have taken many trips to even tivoli, and I can tell you it is not to be blamed on Jamaicas Independence, but political corruption and crime! That there is corruption in Jamaica, is so obvious. It is mindbloggling that you can comment here and say it is from Independence! Right now, Turks and Cacois is under the UK… so don’t tell me that Independence leads to corruption!

    I suggest you weigh very carefully your ideas before commenting and misguiding people.

  13. Bodden

    You’re a funny guy..

    You admit a point that proves a point and then tries to to use that very same point to deny another that you don’t agree with.

    You’re just going around in circles, mate…and you’ve not denied who I’ve implied that you more proof needed.

    Let me make my point even more clearly to you…political corruption THRIVED in pro-independence Jamaica…just as corruption has thrived in post-independent Zimbabwe and…

    It is exactly because of an attempt to stem a culture of corruption in the Turks Caicos Islands that they have been put under direct British rule.

    The evidence shows that corruption THRIVES in post-independence ex-British colonies and destroys further, their economic and social fabric.

    You still cannot address my point of finding any intelligent Jamaican citizen who will not agree with me…and give an opinion, that MAYBE, Jamaica would have been better off staying under Britain…at least for a while longer.

    I’ve had this conversation with too many of my Jamaican friends, both inside and outside Jamaica, to give too much credit to your confused and inconsistent comments on the topic.

  14. Bodden,

    Obviously you are completely naive as to who firey really is. You’re even more naive about Jamaican History. Firey grew up in Jamaica and was educated there and he is a champion on Jamaican History as you should have already been aware if you have been paying close attention to all his comments.

    Re Independence…well Jamaica’s Independence paved the way for crooked politicians to rape the banks and put guns into the hands of young thugs. Yes Independence and crooked, crmiminal minded roge politicians compliment each other…..

    The wealth of Caribbean independent nations is TRANSFERRED TO THE UK upon Independence and the crooked politicians break open the cookie jars stuffing their pockets during the constitutional exchange or change.

    THE ECONOMY IS THE FIRST TO BE HIT when independence is declared. Crooked politicians can not wait for the country to go independent as it is the apparatus through which they work all their shenanigans.

    Firey is right in every sense of the word. He’s most qualified to reflect on what happened in Jamaica, it is where he grew up.

  15. I’ve read these postings a number of times and the only term that comes to mind, during one commentator’s argument or another’s, is Banana Republic.
    It’s a conceptual descriptive that can be gilded in many ways but this is all that I’ve perceived we’re reading about in one form or another.
    Thank you all for the insights and history, it was well appreciated and educational.

    It happened, will happen and might possibly might happen again.

  16. Banana Republic

    Your comments are well noted and appreciated.

    The conclusion is that all of the ex-British colonies in the modern era (since the 1960s), who have chosen independence as an option have indeed become corruption, crime, poverty and political-strife stricken ‘banana republics’ almost overnight after independence has been achieved.

    Even the Bahamas, a country that had and still has a lot going for it, went through its 20-year period of social and economic decline before things have stabilised…and the Bahamas close proximity and relationship with the USA has helped greatly in arresting the decline before it reached rock-bottom, as it has in Jamaica.

    In 1962, Jamaica was considered the ‘pearl of the Caribbean’, with a strong, growing economy and great hopes for the future…the Jamaican dollar was the currency of the Cayman Islands at that time, along with the British pound, if this gives any indication of Jamaica’s economy at the time.

    There were other factors that influenced Jamaica’s rapid decline post-independence…too many to go into great detail in a limited forum post and the conditions of a country given its indeoendence before it was quite ready for it only escalated those conditions…and led to the extreme culture of corruption that has practically destroyed Jamaica.

    Most Jamaicans will freely admit that it is the culture of corruption that is the blight of what is a very beautiful and resourceful country.

    Life under the British is not and has never been any bed of roses as the British are no example of a benevolent race of people, as history well shows but…

    Jamaica’s history in the modern era still shows that life under their own political leaders has been, at least, no better.

    The real reason for my posts on this topic, having lived through the worst of Jamaica’s experience in the years of the late 60s to early 80s, is to remind my fellow Caymanians of the dangers of jumping from the frying pan, into the fire…

    And they have a perfect example of a country that has done that and suffered the consequences, in our close neighbour, Jamaica.

  17. That was an excellent synopsis of how Jamaica’s socioeconomic plight came about. Caymanians, young, old rich and poor must set their minds against independence for the Cayman Islands because the situation would be a thousand times worst than in Jamaica. We must not allow any power hungry politician to trick us into independence.
    Even though Jamaica was very rich in foreign investment and tourism like the Cayman Islands is now, they were rich in livestock, manufacturing, produce, and exporting as well as rich in bauxite despite lot of natural resources and still they suffered immensely and untold misery immediately after independence. Once the coat tail of the last guard at Buckingham palace disappeared into the night….. the political thugs chorused Its time to lute the Jamaica public purse…..
    Cayman must never entertain the idea of independence.
    We must learn from the pages of the text books of Haiti, Cuba and Jamaica. Nothing to be desired.
    Maybe 100 years from now we can think about it, but certainly not at this time not for at least a century.

    We couldn’t possibly fall off our rockers and extend so much power to the kind of politicians that keep get elected in the Cayman Islands. It would be suicide married to genocide. even with the current checks and balances in place they still violate and disregard the laws set out in the constitution.
    Nothing wrong with our constitution, but there’s a lot wrong with the type of people we keep electing especially in some districts that keep repeating the same mistakes making life impossible for their own fellow Caymanians because of the bad voting choices they make at the polls election after election, lets do better next time, a clean sweep is much needed and nothing less will do.

  18. Didn’t the exchange control regulation destroy Jamaica? When Manley was in power the people who wanted to leave the country was basically stopped . They couldn’t sell their businesses. The regulations said you needed to get permission to turn jamaican dollars into another currency. So in fact it was prejudice that destroyed Jamaica. All of the professional people got scared when Manley allowed the Cuban and Russian Embassies to open up shop. So the regulation was used as a tool to oppress certain people who looked like English people. Then people got desperate when gangs were murdering people to get their groups certain privileges . Manley thought he was helping poor people to get ahead (like Mugabe in Zimbabwe). But his methods soon fell on deaf ears and people got out with whatever they could bring .
    I hope there is no politician that thinks Cayman wants independence. It will never happen in my lifetime. Besides any politician who speaks the words in his campaign will be commiting political suicide!!

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