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Jamaica right to roll out red carpet for Obama

_82235545_7deabd46-c99e-4f25-bb8d-d4b08a3bff61By Dexter Wharton, From Barbados Nation News

Martin and Haywood rule Read More Jamaica right to roll out red carpet for Obama

So United States President Barack Obama had a swell time in Jamaica last week.

Let me start by saying thanks to the people of Jamaica for showing him the sort of hospitality that has made the Caribbean a most sought after destination for global travellers.

It was heartening to see the images of the warm receptions the US president got wherever he went. And in true Jamaican style, even when approached by a dreadlocked man with a burning marijuana issue to share, the exchanges with Obama were familial, respectful and productive.

I am tipping my hat to Jamaica Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller for the wonderful role she played as host. She spared no effort nor expense in ensuring that Obama and his entourage had a wonderful and memorable trip.

Others will no doubt debate the merits of spending as much as Jamaica did for such a short stay by a sitting United States president. This came as Jamaica struggles to maintain some measure of economic stability with IMF-aided funding. But I am no economist.

What I see is a grasped opportunity and an important statement made to the world that in spite of difficulties, Jamaica will always be able to serve up the finest treatment to her finest guests. For a country that depends on tourism as her mainstay, showing the right image remains crucial and priceless.

Nothing about the manner in which President Obama was treated in Jamaica should surprise. As the population in the English-speaking Caribbean with the largest number of Blacks, many Jamaicans would have seen the US president as one of their own. And so the images of smiling Jamaicans wherever Obama went would have been genuine.

I am glad the US president visited an island run by one of our two female Caribbean leaders. It highlights the strides our Caribbean women continue to make. I am sure he would have had an enjoyable time wherever he went in the region. But there is something about the treatment one gets from a Caribbean woman that keeps you coming back for more.

Through Jamaica’s Portia Simpson Miller, a woman of Christian persuasion, and Trinidad and Tobago’s Kamla Persad-Bissessar, a woman of Hindu persuasion, the two English-speaking Caribbean countries with the largest populations are led by two strong women. And though pundits may not always support their every move, both women remain formidable leaders in the region.

We have come a long way from the days of patriarchy promoted by the dominant religions of the Caribbean.

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