Jamaican Diaspora – Not the ‘Panacea’

Go Lean Commentary

Here we go again. Will “they” ever learn? CU Blog - Jamaican Diaspora - Not the Panacea - Photo 0

Due to the high societal abandonment rate in the Caribbean homeland, the population of the citizenry of the individual member-states is approaching a distribution where half of the citizens live in the homeland and the other half live abroad – in the Diaspora.

Those who live in the Diaspora, know “both sides of the coin”, as most of them have lived in the ancestral lands at one point. But the other half, those who still live in the homeland may have never lived abroad.

They do not know what they do not know!

Oh, they may have visited! But being a visitor to some North American or European city is different than being a resident, as visitors do not have the interactions of applying for jobs, housing, government benefits, paying taxes, co-existing with neighbors, etc.. These ones in the homeland may naturally assume that the “grass is greener on the other side”. Here’s the truth:

It is not! (The grass in the northern cities may not even be green at all; it may be covered with autumn foliage or snow).

So as observers-and-reporters of Caribbean people, culture and eco-system in both the homeland and the Diaspora, “we” – the movement behind the book Go Lean…Caribbean – have noticed how consecutive government administrations seem to empathize with the strategy of making outreach to their Diaspora; see article in Appendix A. They put a lot of stock (investment) into this strategy and the results are always consistent:

There is no pay-off! Even now, after 50 years of emigration, the positive impact of the Diaspora is still elusive.

Hoping for the Diaspora to be the panacea of Caribbean ills – “Diaspora Bug” – has proven to be a fallacy, time and again. Notice in the referenced article that the World Bank organization reportedly stated that $500 million in investments had come to this one country from their Diaspora, but the researcher seems to want to inflate the impact, projecting a “pie-in-the-sky” figure of $12.8 billion.

Enough already people!

The movement behind the book Go Lean … Caribbean has been consistent in this theme. Just this year alone, we have commented on these flawed efforts, in:

The criticism has been leveled against all these Caribbean member-states hoping that their Diaspora – those who had fled, being “pushed” or “pulled” away from their homeland –  would invest back in their country. The problem is that this Diaspora-outreach strategy double-downs on the failure of why the Diaspora left in the first place. Both previous commentaries relate:

The subtle message to the Caribbean population is that they need to leave their homeland, go get success and then please remember to invest in us afterwards.

… It is so unfortunate that the people in the Caribbean are beating down the doors to get out of their Caribbean homeland, to seek refuge in these places like the US, Canada and Western Europe. And yet it seems like the Chief Executive of this Caribbean country is encouraging more of it – there is a similar sentiment in the rest of the Caribbean member-states. As a result, we have such a sad state of affairs for our Caribbean eco-system as we are suffering from a bad record of societal abandonment.

The country du jour – for this commentary – is Jamaica; see the related article in Appendix C below.

They have got this “Diaspora Bug” real bad. They have been “plowing these fields” for a while; they have structured an organized Diaspora Conference since 2004 and they sow and sow; still hoping for some reaping. See the full news article in Appendix A below relating the “Jamaica 55 Diaspora 2017 Conference” that was held in Kingston July 23-26, 2017.

The book Go Lean…Caribbean – available to download for free – serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), for the elevation of Caribbean society – for all member-states. The book asserts that the region must work to hold onto its populations – especially the professional classes – not see them leave for foreign shores. To accomplish this objective, this CU/Go Lean roadmap presents these 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion and create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to ensure public safety and protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improvement of Caribbean governance to support these engines, including a separation-of-powers between the member-states and CU federal agencies.

The Go Lean book asserts that while conditions may be bad for Caribbean (i.e. Jamaican) residents in their homeland, many minority immigrants to other countries (think Black-and-Brown in America) have to contend with less than welcoming conditions there. In fact, economic and sociology researchers have published that first generation immigrants (especially noteworthy for those from Latin America and the Caribbean) normally under-perform all other segments of society in their new countries. It is only with the second generation that prosperity is achieved, but by then, their progeny no longer identifies with the ancestral home. Think: Jamaican-Americans identifying more with America than with Jamaica.

Consider further the American experience. The movement behind the Go Lean book has consistently related that the United States of America functions as a Great Society but it has two societal defects:

These societal defects can easily create a ‘Climate of Hate‘ that causes people to haze and blame-game the immigrant community.

There are similar anecdotes in Canada, the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, France and other Western European countries. While immigrants are better able to survive in these advanced democracies – there is an abundance of minimum wage jobs – to thrive is more of a challenge. It would seem better for Caribbean people to work to remediate the problems in their homeland, rather than work to become immigrants, aliens in a foreign land. But this is no easy task; this is hereby defined as heavy-lifting.

The Go Lean roadmap calls for a reboot!

Do what you have always done; get what you’ve always got.

The Go Lean roadmap presents a different approach; it posits that leveraging a Caribbean Single Market (42 million people) is better than catering to the Diaspora of just one country; (Jamaica’s Diaspora has a size of 3 million). This roadmap is presented as the panacea of Caribbean ills; and it still includes the Diaspora, but for all the Caribbean nations combined – estimated at 10 to 25 million. This plan calls for an interdependence of the Caribbean eco-system. This was the motivation for the CU/Go Lean roadmap, as pronounced in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 12 – 13) of the book:

xi. Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xix. Whereas our legacy in recent times is one of societal abandonment, it is imperative that incentives and encouragement be put in place to first dissuade the human flight, and then entice and welcome the return of our Diaspora back to our shores. This repatriation should be effected with the appropriate guards so as not to imperil the lives and securities of the repatriated citizens or the communities they inhabit. The right of repatriation is to be extended to any natural born citizens despite any previous naturalization to foreign sovereignties.

xx.  Whereas the results of our decades of migration created a vibrant Diaspora in foreign lands, the Federation must organize interactions with this population into structured markets. Thus allowing foreign consumption of domestic  products, services and media, which is a positive trade impact. These economic activities must not be exploited by others’ profiteering but rather harnessed by Federation resources for efficient repatriations.

xxiv. Whereas a free market economy can be induced and spurred for continuous progress, the Federation must install the controls to better manage aspects of the economy: jobs, inflation, savings rate, investments and other economic principles. Thereby attracting direct foreign investment because of the stability and vibrancy of our economy.

The goal of the Go Lean roadmap is for Caribbean people to prosper where planted; the book therefore provides 370-pages of turn-by-turn instructions on “how” to adopt new community ethos, plus the strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to execute so as to lower the “push and pull” factors that drives people to leave their homes in the first place. What are these factors:

“Push” refers to people who feel compelled to leave, to seek refuge in a foreign land. “Refuge” is an appropriate word; because of societal defects, many from the Caribbean must leave as refugees – think LGBTDisabilityDomestic-abuseMedically-challenged – for their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

“Pull”, on the other hand refers to the lure of a more prosperous life in the foreign destinations; many times our people are emigrating for economics solely.

The landscapes and waterscapes of the Caribbean make-up the best addresses on the planet. No one wants to leave to get away from the physical paradise; see the VIDEO in Appendix B below. But they do leave … to get away from our deficient and defective societal engines:

No economic prospects; no security assurances; no governing efficiency.

One mission of the Go Lean roadmap is to lower these “push and pull” factors.

Yes, we can.

Another mission is to invite the Diaspora to repatriate to the region, to come back home. This could be attractive prospect once the needed remediation is in place.

See how these missions has been communicated in other blog-commentaries, with this sample:

http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=11314 Forging Change: Home Addiction
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=9648 ‘Time to Go’ – Public Schools for Black-and-Brown
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=8155 Gender Equality Referendum Outcome: Impact on the ‘Brain Drain’
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=7769 Being Lean on “Push & Pull”: Asking the Question ‘Why’ 5 Times

In summary, growing the Diaspora is bad for the Diaspora and bad for the Caribbean. Any official policy that double-downs on the Diaspora, double-downs on failure. We do not want an official strategy of requiring people to leave and kindly remember us so that our communities can be successful; no, we want to be successful anyway, to prosper right here at home. We strongly urge everyone to lean-in to this roadmap to make our homeland – Jamaica et al – a better place to live, work and play. 🙂

NOTE: This writer has mixed Jamaican heritage.

Download the free e-book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

Sign the petition to lean-in for this roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.


Appendix A Title: Jamaica still in dark over Diaspora’s huge potential

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica has no precise understanding of its diaspora’s massive potential, although emerging evidence indicates nationals living overseas are making a far greater contribution to the Caribbean nation’s welfare than previously believed.

Preliminary findings from a study, conducted by the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) and revealed at last month’s “Jamaica 55 Diaspora 2017 Conference” here, showed the country relies heavily on contributions from an estimated three million nationals living in places like the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.

CU Blog - Jamaican Diaspora - Not the Panacea - Photo 1According to research officer Shanike Smart, CAPRI’s study, sponsored by Jamaica National, was aimed at taking the guess work out of the diaspora’s influence, which would then lead to a better grasp of its value and enhance the relationship with Jamaica.

“We wanted to find out how significant are their (diaspora’s) contributions, because we think this can advance the conversation,” Smart explained following her conference presentation.

So far, she has already dismantled some long-held perceptions. For example, the diaspora’s contribution has mainly been identified with remittances. Jamaica benefits greatly from money sent from overseas – an estimated $2.2 billion a year. But that may be just the tip of the diaspora’s clout,.

“It turned out to be much more than that,” Smart said.


Diaspora investments in Jamaica also make up a huge chunk of benefits for the island as well. The World Bank reportedly stated that $500 million in investments had come to Jamaica. That figure, may be more like $12.8 billion.

Also gone underestimated has been the contributions in several other areas, including export of goods and services from Jamaica to the diaspora.

“I speak about companies launching businesses overseas, not thinking that maybe it’s the diaspora, not understanding that without (the diaspora) they might not been able to even prosper in that environment,” Smart explained.

The educational and professional qualifications of Jamaicans overseas have been downplayed as well, a reason many in the diaspora believe causes them to be overlooked for jobs in the island.

Diaspora tourists, are also now being viewed differently. According to statistics gathered by Smart, the Jamaica Tourist Board believes diaspora visitors’ spending accounts for four percent of general expenditure. She thinks it’s much higher.

“I estimated that it was seven percent of the expenditure,” Smart said. “(It’s) $180 something million U.S. dollars that they’re spending overall.”


It comes down to misinformation, Smart explained, which may or not be deliberate.

“Normally in the literature, we’re finding that the diaspora tourist tends to spend less (in Jamaica) than a foreign national. However, they stay longer,” she said. “… When we’re looking at the numbers we’re saying this is suggesting otherwise, and then I was saying ‘can this be true?’

“I saw that the Jamaican tourist was almost spending more than, in a lot of cases was spending more than what the estimate was for the foreign national.”

The misunderstanding has been blamed on several factors, including lack of information, reluctance to seek it, unwillingness to provide it on request and preference to rely on old myths. Some Jamaicans deliberately hesitate to reveal information.

“A lot of people think that’s just our culture,” said Smart, who led CAPRI’s research team, “but I’m not sure what the reason is. And, again, even to this day we’re having some pushback.”


In 2004 Jamaica held its first Diaspora Conference. But few had a full idea of the diaspora’s actual impact. Thirteen years, and a planned average of one conference every two years, later not much has changed.

However, through CAPRI’s early findings, a different picture is emerging. The study, which began about two months ago and is expected to have more concrete data by next month, has shown startling information.

Currently, the diaspora is estimated to contribute 23 percent of Jamaica’s gross domestic product (GDP). Smart suspects the potential is closer to 35 percent. However, she argued, more digging is needed to confirm her suspicions and guide future policy on the diaspora.

“We need research to back that up before we even start making any move,” she said.

What’s evident is the diaspora is offering much more than its been credited for and poised to make an even larger impact.

“When I look at the gap, when we look at what we’re currently doing and what the potential gap that’s left, it was 12 percent of GDP, over a billion (U.S.) dollars,” said Smart.

“I think it highlights how significant the diaspora is for Jamaica, which is currently under appreciated because the numbers aren’t existing,” she added.

It should be enough incentive for Jamaica to embrace its diaspora more tightly.

“It is also showing that it is an opportunity to show the diaspora and for persons to now recognize the diaspora, which should bring them onboard,” said Smart.

“And if they do come onboard some more, I mean, it’s unimaginable the value that will present.”

Related story: Jamaica lauds Diaspora’s input, but some lament slow progress

Source: Caribbean Today South Florida Magazine – Vol. 28 No. 9 (August) – Retrieved September 19, 2017 from: http://www.caribbeantoday.com/caribbean-news/latest-news/item/26432-jamaica-still-in-dark-over-diaspora-s-huge-potential.html


Appendix B VIDEO – Jamaica Farewell | Jamaican Kids Song | World Rhymes – https://youtu.be/nFfs0ryiFy4

Published on May 30, 2013World Rhymes

Down the way where the nights are gay
And the sun shines daily on the mountain top
I took a trip on a sailing ship
And when I reached Jamaica I made a stop

But I’m sad to say I’m on my way
Won’t be back for many a day
My heart is down, my head is turning around
I had to leave a little girl in Kingston town

Sounds of laughter everywhere
And the dancing girls swaying to and fro
I must declare my heart is there
Though I’ve been from Maine to Mexico

But I’m sad to say I’m on my way
Won’t be back for many a day
My heart is down, my head is turning around
I had to leave a little girl in Kingston town

Down at the market you can hear
Ladies cry out while on their heads they bear
`Akey’ rice, salt fish are nice
And the rum is fine any time of year

But I’m sad to say I’m on my way
Won’t be back for many a day
My heart is down, my head is turning around
I had to leave a little girl in Kingston town

Down the way where the nights are gay
And the sun shines daily on the mountain top
I took a trip on a sailing ship
And when I reached Jamaica I made a stop

But I’m sad to say I’m on my way
Won’t be back for many a day
My heart is down, my head is turning around
I had to leave a little girl in Kingston town

Sad to say I’m on my way
Won’t be back for many a day
My heart is down, my head is turning around
I had to leave a little girl in Kingston town

  • Category: Education
  • License: Standard YouTube License


Appendix C – Over 80 Percent of Young Jamaicans Want to Leave the Island

Many young Jamaicans are ready to leave their country to pursue better educational and job opportunities. In fact, they would leave Jamaica for any destination other than Afghanistan. According to a 2016 survey commissioned by Respect Jamaica and the local office of UNICEF, 81 percent of Jamaica’s youth between 14 and 40 years of age would leave the country immediately if they could.

Continue reading at Jamaica.com site: http://jamaicans.com/young-jamaicans-want-leave-island/#ixzz4tDq4LzUt

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