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, April 23, 2008

The Disadvantage of Jamaicans as Dual Citizens

To Jamaicans everywhere, the news that Daryl Vaz was declared ineligible to be an M.P. should come as good news.

And I say this speaking as a dual citizen, born in Falmouth, Massachusetts, but a child of Jamaican parents. (I was granted both citizenships without having a say.)

The first is that we have clearly demonstrated that the rule of law is paramount. Regardless of our opinion about the value of this particular law, it does demonstrate that we can be governed by what is constitutionally ordained. This brings us well into the company of civilized countries.

It also has allowed our country to breathe a collective sigh of relief as our new chief justice shows her mettle, courage and wisdom in this very public way.

A this benefit is that it forces us to confront our constitution, and its growing weakness as it increasingly departs from present-day practice and common-sense. We have all meant to reform it, and now we simply must do so.

It is crazy that we have more stringent requirements for political office than the US, Canada and the UK. We are tremendously talent-challenged, over 2 million Jamaicans live outside the country and we are hardly likely to go to war with another country anytime soon.

It's a time to put practicality over pride.

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At 4/23/2008 9:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of people have been knocking this, but I liked Kevin O'Brian Chang's article on it recently. He recited the Oath of Allegiance that US citizens must take, and bwoy...mi sorry...a man who takes that oath should not be part of the Jamaican Parliament. It is no small thing. And it's not 'just words" either...Read it and tell me what you think - "I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution. and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God." Hmm...

At 4/24/2008 7:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally I agree with Dr. Paul Ashley when he says that the constitution should be changed to exclude even those in the Commonwealth. Jamaicans have not yet grasped the reasoning behind the fact that it cannot be right to have someone holding a foreign passport in their clutches, while serving the interest of the Jamaican people. It just cannot happen. If you have so much faith in the Jamaican scenario, why hold on to another nationality? You cannot have it both ways! What happens when a foreigner makes a bad decision? Couldn't he/she just run off and leave us in deep sh*t? Every time I hear someone with two passports object to this I get really angry. First and foremost, if you note well, both the PNP and JLP are private clubs, where nepotism is rife and this thing about 3-4 generations if the ability to serve is genetically linked. Therefore, foreigner or not it's pointless trying to serve your country...especially with the likes of those we see today sitting in Parliament. Also, there is some sentiment that many people who live in Jamaica are incapable of serving their country as an MP and therefore we need to ask people in the Diaspora! NO NO NO! We do not want people in the Diaspora to be leading on anything nor should they have a vote in Jamaica. Might as well we ask tourists to vote as well. There are many Jamaicans who understand "third world" living and dynamics MUCH better than those who have lived in the "metropole" who have become "firstworldised". What happens in the US is not necessarily applicable here. And right now, I am overjoyed about the Vaz issue. Nobody is saying a foreigner cannot serve, but give up your other passport....I am not looking to serve's not worth my time and the world is way too big for Jamaica to hold me back.

At 4/24/2008 8:33 PM, Blogger fwade said...

Jamaican Girl,

I think they would argue that their remittances are keeping the country afloat, and that they deserve to have some kind of say. Why should we have one of the most restrictive policies when we have so many Jamaicans living abroad (most of whom are itching to come home and would probably do so if conditions were to improve.)

Ja Funk,
The words on that oath are pretty strong, except that they mean nothing outside of the U.S., and they don't actually require the speaker to take any legal steps to renounce anything.

In other words, the are only "big words." Anyone can claim citizenship in another country even after saying the oath.

Morally, you have a point, of course, but legally there is a realism that enters into the picture in actual practice.

At 4/25/2008 4:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes...I have heard people in the Diaspora positing that their "truppance" that they send back are keeping Jamaica afloat. However, we all know that remittances and tourism are on par....should we all every single tourist to vote? Also, based on the literature, professional Jamaicans overseas do NOT contribute significantly in $$ to our economy. The arguement is that a professional would have left here with a degree or two, which automatically places them in a higher socio-economic bracket than say the construction worker in say Calgary.....hence they were better off than those in the lower bracket in the frist place...and come from families who already had it made and do not require remittances to survive....and these are the types that we would be looking to come back to Jamaica to help....and I am being plain and straight about it...Jamaicans tend to listen to what they want to hear. We do not need anyone from overseas to get involved in representational politics OR get involved as technocrats in Jamaica. We have qualified people right here. Why you think the PNP was up in arms when they were told that they need to get up to UWI and try recruiting from there? It's because they only want boogoyaga and crooks in the party and it is only these types from UWI i see in the PNPYO...I mean let us get serious....who in their right mind could serve alongside these unsophisticated idiots?

Before they can ammend the constitution they would have to throw it out to the people...and they have asked this same question (should the Diaspora be allowed to vote?) in many straw polls and the answer is always a resounding NO! Why should someone sit overseas and determine my fate?

One last thing, they cannot make things better for Jamaica. We live in a world system where there will always be the core and the periphery. The core (US, UK etc) always ensures that there is a constant relationship of subordination. When you look at countries such as Bermuda, Cayman, Turks and Caicos, Anguilla you will see that they live way above us....what do they have in common?? They are ALL British Overseas and see what would happen should they gain independence. So they have a great life....but a place like Bermuda which 90% African descent has to make up a law that if you're coming in to set up shop you MUST hire a black native! Imagine that! So let us not fool ourselves....Jamaica will always be in this's not going anywhere....we will never arrive at developed status and the core ensures that they have attractive policies like self sponsorship so that if you're a professional you can relocate to the core....this way they will always maintain their hegemonic status. Soon countries like Jamaica will be left with a whole heap of unskilled and no Diaspora member can really make any significant changes as to start with they don't even understand Third World dynamics.

At 4/28/2008 7:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So based on Jamaican law, if the current Prime Minister of Barbados was Jamaican he couldn't hold that office because he was born in England.His father is a black Bajan and his mother a white English woman and he came to Barbados as a child.

At 4/29/2008 5:27 PM, Blogger fwade said...


Well, not quite... as Commonwealth citizen he is exempted from the law.

From what I understand...

If he had been born in the US or Canada, that would be true.

At 4/30/2008 8:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Canada is a member of the Commonwealth so if someone was born in Canada and was in Jamaica for at leats 2 years, then they are eligible.

Also, why are people beating up on the Jamaican Constitution like that? It is what it is! Also, the US Constitution is also being broken had Vaz been allowed to continue. People are missing the whole picture!

At 5/01/2008 6:19 PM, Blogger fwade said...

Ja Girl,

I am no lawyer, but it seems that swearing the oath that naturalized Americans take when they assume citizenship is not legally binding -- in other words, the US still recognizes dual citizenships even after it's taken.

In other words, saying that you "renounce all other citizenships" is not the same as actually doing it.

Of course, I could be wrong -- I am no lawyer.

Question is: does taking that oath or any other turn the person into a non-Jamaican? In Jamaican law, it doesn't and there are only a few countries such as Luxembourg that actually require the new citizen to take the legal steps to renounce their old citizenships.


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