Friday, February 23, 2024

Jamaica’s Ambassador Working for Reversal of Latest US Travel Advisory

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Audrey Marks, Jamaica‘s
ambassador to the United States, is calling on the State Department to retract
the revision made in its recent Level
3 travel advisory
issued for the Caribbean
nation, denouncing the advisory’s depiction of elevated crime and inadequate
healthcare as “inaccurate.”

Updated in
January, the contents of the advisory posited the prevalence of violent crimes
on the island and alleged frequent sexual assaults, including incidents at
all-inclusive resorts. However, it lacked any specific details regarding these
claims.

Additionally, the
advisory criticized the responsiveness of local police to serious criminal
incidents, and highlighted variations in the accessibility of emergency
services and hospital care across the island, stating that high-level and specialized
is frequently unavailable.

Marks took to Facebook to express the Jamaican
government’s strong disagreement with the updated travel advisory, saying that
it, “disagrees strongly with the contents of the revised travel advisory,
as it distorts the reality and facts in Jamaica.” 

She also said that
the Government of Jamaica has made its opposition known to U.S. officials and,
citing the dire economic fallout of such an advisory, also urged Jamaicans,
including the overseas diaspora, to throw their weight behind efforts to have
it rescinded.

To back up her
claims, Marks also posted a link
to a fact sheet
sourced from Jamaica’s Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of
Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade, providing counterpoints to the advisory’s
assertions.

The U.S. Embassy
in Kingston also weighed in on the matter via
Facebook
, releasing a statement that seemed to be aimed at
de-sensationalizing news of the revised advisory. It clarified, “The level of
our travel advisory did not change with this update and has remained at level
3, the same level it has been since March 2022.”

Marks said that
one Jamaican group, seeking to garner attention for their own purposes in upcoming
elections, used exaggerated rhetoric that, “unfortunately gave the impression
that there was a serious outbreak of violence in the island,” prompted the U.S.
government to revise its travel advisory to include stronger language, despite
the fact that there had been no actual inciting events.

She wrote in her
Facebook post, “Serious crimes against tourists are extremely rare in Jamaica.
Data shows that American tourists are safer in Jamaica than in many cities in
the USA—there were over 3 million US visitors to Jamaica in 2023, of which
there were 5 homicides, regrettably all of whom were Jamaican-Americans who
were not in resort areas and of which 2 were gang-related; 2 robberies; and 1
interpersonal conflict. There is no targeting of homosexual tourists in
Jamaica.” 

Marks further
added, “Combating crime is the GoJ’s most pressing priority and in 2023,
Jamaica recorded its lowest level of crime in more than 22 years. She also
noted, “80% of Jamaica’s serious crime is related to guns and drugs trafficked
illegally between the US and Latin America (and over 90% of illegal guns in
Jamaica are from the US).”

 


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