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Cablegate: Labor Minister Dalley On Seaga, General Election,

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KINGSTON 000655

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/CAR (BENT)
SOUTHCOM FOR POLAD AND J7 (RHANNAN)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/07/2015
TAGS: JM PGOV PREL ELAB CMGT CVIS
SUBJECT: LABOR MINISTER DALLEY ON SEAGA, GENERAL ELECTION,
AND LABOR DISPUTES

REF: A. KINGSTON 00458

B. KINGSTON 00253
C. 04 KINGSTON 02898
D. KINGSTON 00640

Classified By: P/E Mark Powell, Reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

Summary
-------

1. (U) On February 24, Emboffs met with Labor
Minister Horace Dalley, who shared his views on
former Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) leader Edward
Seaga's departure from politics and the
succession issues within the People's National
Party (PNP). He also discussed his view of the
party's platform in advance of Jamaica's upcoming general
election (due by October 2007), commented on recent
difficulties he has faced with local labor unions,
and expressed concern about the U.S. Department
of Homeland Security's recent cap on H-2B visas.

Dalley on Seaga and the JLP
---------------------------

2. (C) Poloff, Pol/Econ Chief, and visiting INR
analyst met with Horace Dalley, Minister of Labor
and Social Security, on February 24. Dalley
commented on the previous weekend's Jamaica Labor
Party (JLP) annual conference (septel), and
described himself is an avid admirer of
long-time JLP leader Edward Seaga. Dalley
claimed to have made a close study of Seaga
during Seaga's political career, adding that he owns
a transcript of every speech the former leader
has made. Dalley added that Prime Minister
Patterson has also closely studied Seaga, and
that "PJ knows Seaga better than Seaga knows
himself." Dalley recounted his attendance at a
recent farewell reception for Seaga. He said
that many in Seaga's inner circle were critical
of "insincere" reformist JLP members who had
recently praised Seaga's career in Parliament,
when in fact they were happy to see him go.
Dalley went on to say that Seaga was forced
out by certain elements within the JLP, and
that he was not ready to step down.

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3. (C) Dalley said with some confidence that the
government would not call for by-elections in
West Kingston until at least April, given the
busy parliamentary schedule in the next several
weeks. West Kingston is Seaga's former
constituency that seems certain to choose Golding
as its new MP, giving Golding a much-needed seat in
Parliament, a constitutional requirement for Golding
to assume the official title of Leader of the
Opposition.

Patterson's Days Numbered
-------------------------

4. (C) On February 21 and 22, Dalley attended a
cabinet retreat, of which he said the main focus
was the national budget. Dalley acknowledged the
widely held belief that the meeting was
Patterson's last budget planning session, and
speculated that the prime minister would, in
fact, step down before 2006. In addition to
the Caribbean Court of Justice, which is now
being hotly debated, Dalley indicated that the
PNP intends to table several other issues for
discussion in Parliament, including capital
punishment, term limits, republican status for
Jamaica, and fixed election dates.

Portia Still Popular
--------------------

5. (C) Dalley appeared to continue to support the
candidacy of National Security Minister Peter
Phillips to succeed Patterson as party leader and
prime minister. Dalley denied that the February
5 PNP vice presidential election was a barometer for
the leadership race (Ref A). He speculated that
Portia Simpson Miller is still the popular
favorite, and that she finished second to surprise
winner Karl Blythe only because not as many of
Simpson Miller's delegates attended the February
5 vote. He maintains that she would have
received many more votes had the vote been held
at the party conference on January 22.

Doing Battle with Labor Groups
------------------------------

6. (C) Dalley explained that he had met earlier
in the day with the Prime Minister and labor
unions to settle a lingering dispute over
striking workers (Ref B). Dalley did not go into
the details of the meeting, but did not appear to
be overly concerned with the issue, despite
previous threats by the labor unions to call for
his job. On February 25, the media reported that
the parties had reached a favorable settlement.
Of his labor portfolio, Dalley joked that he
couldn't understand why the JLP was so anxious to
take over the government, since going to work at
the labor ministry was like going into combat
every day. Dalley has previously mentioned that
he may consider retirement following the next
general election (Ref C).

Dalley Concerned by U.S. Labor Cap
----------------------------------

7. (SBU) Dalley again expressed his concern that
thousands of Jamaican seasonal workers could lose
their jobs this year, following the enforcement
of a cap on H-2B work visas. He asked Emboffs to
look into the status of a proposed U.S. bill that
would exempt certain workers. Dalley,
however, spoke enthusiastically about the job
prospects that new hotel developments and the
upcoming Cricket World Cup would bring to the
country. He also mentioned investment interest
on the part of the Government of China, which he
said plans to invest in the Sabina Park and
Greenfields cricket grounds in Kingston and
Trelawney, respectively.

Aristide Was "a Friend in Need"
-------------------------------

8. (C) Making the same argument he has made in
the past, Dalley described the GOJ's relationship
with Haiti and Aristide as "just helping a friend
in need who asked for assistance." He said that
some within the cabinet believed that Washington
had overreacted to the GOJ decision to allow
Aristide to visit Jamaica "for family reasons."
In making these comments, Dalley emphasized that
he was offering his personal views, not speaking
on foreign affairs issues on behalf of the GOJ.
He assured Emboffs that the GOJ was not taking an
adversarial position to the U.S. by extending
Aristide an invitation to stay on the island for
several weeks. He added that a condition of the
stay was that Aristide keep a low profile and
refrain from making public statements while he
was in Jamaica. P/E Chief acknowledged that Dalley
had offered his remarks on Haiti as reflecting a
personal perspective. He then reminded the
minister that the GOJ had indeed acted unhelpfully
during the 2004 political crisis in Haiti, including
by publicly accepting at face value Arisitde's
unfounded allegations about a U.S. role in his
downfall, and by remaining largely unengaged in
resolving the crisis nearly a year after Aristide's
voluntary resignation and departure.

Comment
-------

9. (C) Dalley's professed respect for Seaga
demonstrates the former opposition leader's
iconic status in Jamaica after 43 years of
parliamentary service, and perhaps betrays the
labor minister's conservative leanings; Dalley
described himself as "Texan" (i.e., in favor) on
the issue of capital punishment. His comments on
the circumstances surrounding Seaga's departure
from politics and the JLP's inner strife tracks
with comments we have heard from JLP officials
(Ref D) and the news media. Many of the issues
(particularly term limits, fixed election dates,
and republican status) that Dalley says the PNP
plans to table in parliament are precisely those
which senior JLP officials have said Golding
intends to raise in the coming months. Golding,
however, has championed these issues since his
departure from the JLP in 1995. End Comment.
ROBINSON

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