Moving Back to Jamaica

A blog about my Move Back to Jamaica after 20+ years of living in the US. Most of the articles focus on the period from 2005-2009 when the transition was new, and at it's most challenging.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Comparing Jamaica and Barbados

I have been doing a great deal of travelling recently to Barbados, and it's interesting to note how much progress has been made in that country, versus what has happened in Jamaica in the same period of time.

Clearly, they are doing something right, and we have the distinction of doing several things all wrong (economically.)

Here are a couple of articles that are worth reading:

Click here to reference the article on Barbados' economic freedom.

Click here to access the report comparing the two paths that our countries have taken since independence.

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At 3/04/2009 5:06 PM, Blogger Rhythmwize said...

Hmmm, Jamaica has a population 10 times that of Barbados, are we comparing apples and oranges here?

At 3/06/2009 12:36 AM, Blogger Dennis Jones said...

Apples, oranges for sure. Also, if you measure other things than GDP/GDP per capita you get vastly different impressions. Barbados is a risk averse country/society. It has made few waves regionally in things like music, sport, literature. It shows what very small countries can/should do, by focusing on a few things and trying to do them well (eg cricket). But, you could better compare The Bahamas with Barbados.

At 3/06/2009 5:35 AM, Anonymous Gary M said...

In my opinion. The size of the country has nothing to do with it. The problem is and has always been poor governance. There are many countries in the same size range as Jamaica that have their act together and Jamaica could & should do the same.

If you ask most intelligent Jamaicans who live in Jamaica, they would give up all of the reggae music & sports accomplishments to date in order to feel safe in their own and country and for the country to be more productive.

I am a Jamaican who has lived in both countries and the USA (I now live in Jamaica). There are things that I did not like about Barbados, because as we know no country is perfect. I however never felt unsafe & I had no bars on my windows or doors for the years that i lived there & i never had a problem with crime.

In Jamaica no matter how nice a neighborhood you live in you are always on guard at some level and in the back of your head there is a constant feeling that you or your family could become a victim of crime at anytime.

We need to stop using one version of bad to minimize another & set the bar higher. We are more than capable of doing better.

At 3/06/2009 11:49 AM, Blogger Rhythmwize said...

I'm wasn't trying to give Jamaica a pass simply because of its size but size does matter when it comes to crime and poverty and how those factors impact and hamper economic development.

Certainly there are lessons to be learned from Barbados but governing an island nation of 2.7 million into prosperity is a much more difficult task then with a nation of only 280,000.

At 3/09/2009 8:19 AM, Blogger bjja said...

I read the report which I find very interesting.

I shows the effects of lack of vision and management.

Jamaica has not been able to minimize dependencies of Bauxite, energy coming from fossil fuels and the USD and US economy in general.

Major parts of the industry – tourism and mining is run by people outside of Jamaica.

61% of food is imported.

Creation of jobs has failed – even souvenirs are produced in China.

Tourism is limited to certain areas (behind fences). The hotel prices in these areas are crazy. If you compare traveling to Cuba and Jamaica the difference in price
Is 1 to 3.

Prices on hotels are quoted in USD which right now means that the EUR based economies stays away and goes to Thailand instead (same price as Cuba).

US do not have any very good track record considering contribution to sustainable development in 3. Party countries.

China are very good at that and you can see that in Africa right now.

I had a brief exchange of emails with a journalist from the Gleaner about the USD/EUR issue and his only arguments towards the USD was that it was based on tradition.

The Gleaner also tells stories about Jamaica lending money from everybody but they never say why that is necessary.

So all in all as long as I have been following the developments in Jamaica no major steps has been taken!!

If the Government will not see that Jamaica is a 3. Party developing country and start to act like that the problems will continue and even get worse.

At 3/31/2009 11:29 AM, Anonymous heaven said...

The difference is education.Jamaicans are always making comments about the smaller Caribbean countries size without realising that size has very little to do with your problems.It is the mindset of the people and your Government's willingness to tackle changing it.
I read a letter in the Gleaner written by a Jamaican who has lived in Barbados for over 30 years.The topic was free education.I have a saved copy on my laptop but I'm sure it can be found if you do a search on the Gleaner website.

At 4/01/2009 11:31 AM, Blogger chris percival said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 4/01/2009 12:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jamaicans are quick to remind us of how small we are. My grandmother often told me of Jamaican prejudice towards us in the U.K. To associate, date or go forbid marry someone from a 'small island" was equivalent to a Brahman having relations with an untouchable. That's why I hate when we refer to ourselves as West Indian. To hell with that. I am Barbadian. Don't care to dilute my identity by any means or for any purpose. Now let's get back to size. Jamaica is a big island. Let's all reaffirm and get that out of the way. An incredibly beautiful and fertile island, with an amazingly vibrate culture that is branded worldwide.

Barbados is a densely populated island. Admittedly small, no natural resources to speak of, a pretty dry island obviating any possibility for real agricultural development. It too is beautiful but any honest Barbadian must admit that Jamaica is more so by far. Jamaica has everything that should make it unequivocally the shining star all the islands of the Caribbean. Nonetheless we do our best to feed our people, to provide medical care, free education, safety, and surpass Jamaica on all development stats. Economically some suggest it’s an apples and oranges comparison but I beg to differ. If it is not fare to compare Barbados to Jamaica then please inform as to which country or countries are better suited. Barbados has little to work with compared to what God bestowed upon Jamaica. A 2.5 million population is significantly greater than 280K of Barbados but significantly less than many countries including, Thailand, Malaysia, Ecuador, Peru and many others. Since you are keen at distinguishing yourselves from us small countries, lets add Canada, France, Germany, Spain, which you may consider more in your league. They are all big countries with much larger populations than Jamaica but they also have a handle on important matters. A country as large and lush as Jamaica should be a bread basket without any challenges in meeting the food needs of its population. Jamaica should be a major exporter of food yet you even imports carrots. How insane is that? Imagine, Barbados with just 10% of the resources Jamaica has. In saying that the two countries are not comparable based on population, remember that we have a smaller population and little to work with but we maximize to our best abilities. Jamaica does have larger population but exponentially more land, resources, influence and overall means. Can one tenably compare a multi-millionaire family, with 10 kids living in the suburbs, with a middleclass family with two kids, 100K total income living in the inner city? You bet. The millionaire family can say oh, we have bigger problems, lot more kids = lot more problems, bigger taxes, much more to deal with than that simple middle class family, with their simple lives. This is BS because when it is all said and done respect for your parents, financial responsibility, values and appreciation for what you have and your community cannot be bought. That’s right. If I gave every Jamaican a one million dollars US today (what’s that? 87 million Jamaican dollars) I guarantee you the adversities faced by its people will not budge one bit. Jamaican’s have so much but their government really could not give a damn about making the necessary sacrifices for future generations. And neither are the people willing. Errol Barrow, a former prime minster of Barbados, and a man I am only now really beginning to truely appreciation, once challenged Barbadians to have a mirror image of itself. The same holds true for Jamaica. See link:

For the record, I grew up among Jamaicans. I love their vibrancy, and can do it spirit. Every Jamaican thinks s(he) is a star. And why not? But violent temper and willingness to throw reason overboard at the slightest whim a very very big problem. I have never met a people so quick to call upon violence or kill for nothing. My first experiences with Jamaicans when I moved to the States in the 80’s as a young boy was absolutely shocking. Every conversation was about violence, speaking of and exalting criminals and murderers with levels of admiration that truly had me awestruck. And this continues today. Even well mannered, well educated Jamaicans I knew were less so but still they too seemed to have a tacit admiration for gunmen and the violent aspects of Jamaican and Jamaicans. To be Jamaican to so many means to be rough, rugged, take no BS at any level. Period. “Jamaicans are the badest”. Hell of a way to navigate life. Just listen to dancehall and reggae music. The content is beyond nuts and I have no doubt perpetuates the worse in Jamaican youth at home and abroad. , take no BS, be a take no Murder dem, fly marrow, kill a sound, my gun this, my nine millimeter that, boom bye bye etc. Don’t for one moment think that they are just songs my friends. Much of it is toxic youth. And what is the preoccupation with killing gays. Quick note, there are the least of your problems and more than likely among the more productive demographic of your society. On any given day I’d rather live next door to a gay person that a gun toting, hair triggered, bad bwoy.
I think Manley and Seaga sure did a number on Jamaica. Violence and corruption are now ingrained and prevents true change. I recently saw a documentary about Jamaican gangs in Jamaica by someone named Ross Kemp. My God!!

At 5/06/2009 9:20 AM, Anonymous Don. T said...

comparing Jamaica and barbados
comments;when i see comments from anonymous people it's always ANTI-Jamaica why?

At 12/19/2009 1:48 PM, Blogger bathmate said...

Thank you for posting.
it is really helpful to all.
such a nice topics.


At 6/06/2010 6:42 AM, Anonymous fire pit said...

It's not with eyes of tears
That I greet the new season's dawning.
Nor do I chase like a butterfly the
Threads of a half-forgotten tapestry.
I sing no song of pain to raise my muse,
For she calls to me in every mood,
A spirit fixed to my inner soul
----I have only to listen.


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