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Archive for Jamaica

Newsline: U.S. envoy to Jamaica insults Twitter critics

The U.S. ambassador to Jamaica exchanged insults with people on Twitter who accused him of interfering in the country’s internal affairs, telling one he used too much marijuana and another that “you drink that cheap stuff.” The exchanges on Tuesday happened after Ambassador Donald Tapia posted links to interviews he gave local media, in which he warned the Jamaican government against installing fifth generation mobile technology made by Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE. Washington says Huawei technology could be used to spy for China and has been dissuading other countries from installing it. Huawei has denied the claim. The U.S. embassy in Kingston and the State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The office of Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness declined to comment. The ambassador appeared to have deleted his tweets after Reuters reviewed them. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-jamaica-diplomacy/u-s-envoy-to-jamaica-insults-twitter-critics-you-drink-that-cheap-stuff-idUSKBN27D31P) Tapia, a wealthy Arizona businessman, philanthropist, Republican donor and supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, has been in the post for more than a year. His Twitter account is verified by the social media company. Tapia’s posts ignited a backlash from other users who insulted him, saying his interview comments interfered with Jamaica’s internal affairs. Another user accused Tapia of “drinking rum or red bull or your trying to make a joke of me,” and Tapia replied: “I don’t drink and you are a joke.” When another Twitter user wrote: “I don’t drink American made vodka.” Tapia responded: “You can’t afford it, you drink that cheap stuff.” State Department regulations prohibit the posting of “offensive or harassing language” and “abusive or objectionable language” on social media.

Newsline: Jamaican opposition concerned about embassy closure in Venezuela

The Opposition People’s National Party’s (PNP) spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Lisa Hanna, is calling for the government to reverse its decision to temporarily close the Jamaican embassy in Caracas, Venezuela. Hanna says this latest move by the Government to halt diplomatic relations with Jamaica’s long standing ally is shocking and leaves Jamaicans in Venezuela without access to assistance which the embassy would normally provide. “We have several concerns, most notably is whether or not we are halting, or appear to be halting diplomatic relations in Venezuela, and certainly at this time, we don’t need to be packing up our bags and walking away from Venezuela.” (http://www.rjrnewsonline.com/local/opposition-concerned-about-temporary-closure-of-embassy-in-venezuela) She also questioned the timing of the move just before Prime Minister Andrew Holness meets with US President Donald Trump. The embassy is to be closed on April 1.

Newsline: Jamaica Embassy in Venezuela temporarily closed

The Government of Jamaica has announced that its Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela will be temporarily closed with effect April 1. The move, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, is due to significant challenges being faced for some time now to operate the post. “As we have previously stated publicly, we have been monitoring circumstances related to the operations of the Embassy, both in the wider context of our diplomatic representation review, as well as in the particular circumstances of the mission in Caracas. The ministry along with its Embassy have been experiencing significant challenges in the operations at the post for some time, and temporary closure is now the practical solution,” said Minister Kamina Johnson Smith. (https://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/_Jamaica_Embassy_in_Venezuela_temporarily_closed) The minister reminded that over the past two years, the ministry has been reviewing its resident diplomatic presence overseas due to the ever changing global environment and the emergence of new patterns of trade and investment as well as technical and economic cooperation.

Newsline: White powder found at Jamaican Embassy in Washington deemed non-hazardous

A suspicious substance found Tuesday in an envelope at the Jamaican Embassy was not hazardous, authorities said, as they reopened a street at Dupont Circle that had been closed for more than 90 minutes. The closure of both lanes of the 1500 block of New Hampshire Ave. NW, where the embassy is located, caused lunch-hour backups near dozens of restaurants and businesses. D.C. firefighters responded about 12:30 p.m. and reopened the street a short time after 2 p.m., said Brian Leary, a spokesman for the U.S. Secret Service. A D.C. fire department spokesman confirmed that the envelope contained white powder.


Newsline: Ecuador to open embassy in Kingston

Ecuador has expressed its intention to establish an embassy in Kingston, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade A.J. Nicholson has disclosed. Nicholson, while admitting that his Government has welcomed the proposal, said the country could reap significant benefits from such a move. “The establishment of that embassy will serve to strengthen our hand in the Latin America and Caribbean integration push. Once that embassy is established, it is going to open up new or other avenues to the integration movement that is under way in Latin America and the Caribbean. The more countries that have embassies in Jamaica and the more countries within which we have embassies it certainly will push the movement closer,” Nicholson said. The minister was however unable to give a timeline as to when the embassy would be set up, adding that a number of issues will have to be ironed out first. He said, however that it was his belief that it would not take a long time before to plans come to fruition.


Newsline: Former US Embassy security chief sentencing put off to June 10

The former security chief at the United States Embassy in Kingston who pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from a Jamaican entertainer is to wait awhile longer to know his fate. David Rainsberger should have been sentenced on Friday, but the hearing was put off. The matter had to be put off because the defense layer told the court the time was not convenient and asked for the sentencing to be rescheduled. The sentencing has now been set for June 10. Rainsberger is facing a total of seven years in prison for pleading guilty to receiving unlawful gratuities and making false statements to US authorities. He made the admission in February. Court records reveal that the former security chief befriended the well-known entertainer, identified only as DB. The entertainer had been barred from entering the US because of allegations of criminal conduct. Rainsberger’s investigation of the entertainer resulted in the reinstatement of DB’s visa. In return for his assistance, court records say he received two luxury watches from the entertainer as well as a birthday party hosted by DB and free admission to nightclubs.


Newsline: US Embassy Officer Pleads Guilty to Accepting “Gratuities” in Jamaica

A law enforcement officer with the US State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service has pleaded guilty to accepting “unlawful gratuities” from a Jamaican entertainer and making false statements while stationed at the US Embassy in Kingston. The news was announced by US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil MacBride and Gregory Starr, director of the Diplomatic Security Service for the US State Department. David Rainsberger, who was stationed as an assistant regional security officer for investigations at the US Embassy in Kingston from 2009 to 2011, faces a maximum of two years in prison on the gratuities charge and five years in prison on the false statements charge. He is slated to be sentenced Apr. 19. According to court records, Rainsberger befriended what the Department of Justice described as a “well-known Jamaican musician” whose entry to the US had been barred because of allegations of criminal conduct. Rainsberger’s investigation of the individual resulted in the reinstatement of his visa, which allowed the reggae star to travel to the US to “take advantage of performance and recording opportunities.” “On account of the assistance Rainsberger provided him with respect to his US visa, the musician purchased for Rainsberger two luxury watches worth approximately $2,500,” the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said in a release. “In addition, Rainsberger received free admission to nightclubs, backstage access to concerts, and a birthday party hosted by the musician.” The government said Rainsberger also “repeatedly accessed, without authority, Department of State visa and passport databases for personal purposes.” His guilty plea was accepted by US District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee. Court records did not specifically name the singer.


Newsline: No parking near US Embassy, Canadian High Commission in Jamaica

The traffic police are to enforce a strict no-parking rule in the immediate vicinity of both the United States (US) Embassy and the Canadian High Commission, in St Andrew. “On Monday we started to sensitise motorists about this no-parking rule and yesterday we started to enforce it,” Senior Superintendent of Police Radcliffe Lewis told The Gleaner. “We made the decision because of traffic congestion and more importantly because of security concerns,” added Lewis. “Any vehicle which is parked in any of these areas will be towed to the Kingston and St Andrew pound,” said Lewis. “Persons doing business at any of these two premises will have to park elsewhere, because we will be strict.”


Newsline: Six months or $10,000 for lying to US embassy

A woman who presented a forged document to the United States embassy was ordered to pay $10,000 or serve a six month sentence when she appeared in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate’s Court yesterday. Police say the woman Nastasha Bogle, presented a falsified bank statement when she applied for a US Visa. Investigations revealed that the document was fake and Bogle was arrested and charged.


Consular affairs: Suspected Jamaican human trafficker nabbed at US embassy

The lives of 17 Jamaican children in the United States may today be in danger after they were adopted and shipped off to that country by a woman the local police believe may be part of a major human trafficking ring operating between both countries. Local police, with the help of US law enforcement officials, are currently trying to track down the children, aged between five and 16. Detectives believe that more than the 17 children could well have been victims of the illicit trade. The human trafficking scheme was uncovered last week after the woman — a 53-year-old resident of Pleasant District in Bog Walk, St Catherine — was arrested by the Flying Squad at the United States Embassy in Kingston where she had presented forged documents in an effort to secure a US visa for a 16-year-old girl whom she had recently adopted. Detectives believe that the woman had been operating the scheme for about two years before she was arrested. According to the source, the accused, when cautioned, told the police that she was being paid J$60,000 for each child she sent to the United States. So far, she has been charged with forging adoption papers. However, the woman could be slapped with human trafficking charges as detectives deepen that aspect of their investigation.