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Cablegate: Jamaica: Newly Inaugurated Prime Minister Bruce

VZCZCXYZ0005
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKG #1419/01 2602048
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 172048Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINGSTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5356
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L KINGSTON 001419

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

PASS TO USAID - FOR DIRECTOR HENRIETTA FORE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/17/2017
TAGS: PREL PGOV EAID PTER SOCI ASEC MARR OFDP UNDP
XL, JM
SUBJECT: JAMAICA: NEWLY INAUGURATED PRIME MINISTER BRUCE
GOLDING CONSIDERS HURRICANE RECOVERY AN URGENT PRIORITY,
REQUESTS ADDITIONAL U.S. ASSISTANCE

REF: A. KINGSTON 1369 (071956Z SEP 07)
B. KINGSTON 1292 (241313Z AUG 07)

Classified By: Amb. Brenda L. Johnson, Reasons 1.5(b) and (d)

Summary and Comment
---------------------

1.(C) Newly inaugurated Prime Minister (PM) Bruce Golding
considers recovery from the ravages of Hurricane Dean an
urgent national priority, and requests greater U.S.
assistance. According to UNDP:

-- 19,000 homes were seriously damaged with a cost of USD 57
million;

-- damages to schools and education buildings totaled USD 9.9
million;

-- losses in the agricultural sector exceed USD 54 million.

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management
(OPDEM) is still calculating total damages from the
hurricane. The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) has
revised its economic growth forecast downwards from an
already anemic 2.1 percent to a mere 1.1 percent. Post
endorses PM Golding's request, and notes that Washington was
able to provide Jamaica about USD 18 million in relief
following Hurricane Ivan. A generous U.S. response to Dean
would be an excellent means of solidifying good bilateral
relations with the new Jamaican Government.

2.(C) Golding intends to name Senator Anthony S. Johnson
(protect closely) as the next Jamaican Ambassador to the U.S.
(Note: Until recently Leader of Opposition Business, Johnson
is a key figure in the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), trusted
confidant of the PM, and excellent Embassy contact; Post will
provide bio background septel. End Note.)

3.(C) Comment: After eighteen years in opposition, how
easily Golding's JLP will adjust to the challenges and
responsibilities of governance will be revealed in the weeks
and months ahead. If the new PM's deportment and demeanor
during his first days in office are any indication, the
transition will be well-organized and smooth.
End Summary and Comment.

4.(SBU) Following his inauguration on September 11 (Reftel
A), Prime Minister (PM) Bruce Golding requested a meeting
with Ambassador the morning of September 13 at Jamaica House,
the traditional office of the PM to which he had aspired for
so many years; DCM and PolOff accompanied. Permanent
Secretary Pat McCalla, Amb. Paul Robotham (until recently
Jamaica's Ambassador to Japan, now serving in the PM's
office), and other senior advisors also were present. The PM
began by describing recovery from the ravages of Hurricane
Dean (Reftel B) as "an urgent, pressing priority." He had
completed an aerial inspection of Jamaica's south coast the
previous day, and was seriously concerned about the
widespread damage to houses, particularly in Clarendon
parish. Many families had been separated and were living
with relatives or friends. Given its difficult fiscal
situation, the Government of Jamaica (GoJ) was hard pressed
to provide adequate relief to families having suffered severe
losses. Golding then asked if there had been any indication
of further U.S. reconstruction assistance. Ambassador
replied that the Embassy had requested USD 2 million from
USAID, and also noted that former U.S. Ambassador Sue Cobb
had established a hurricane relief fund for Jamaica, "1,000
Roofs of Love," to which former Secretary Powell and other
prominent figures were contributing.

5.(SBU) Golding then said that, while he certainly did not
want to sound ungrateful, USG assistance for recovery from
Hurricane Dean was only "a drop in the bucket" relative to
Jamaica's needs. He said the GoJ had been in touch with the
European Union, which was diverting 6 million euros for
hurricane relief. The GoJ was keen to enable people to get
back on their feet and restore a degree of normalcy to their
lives. In response to Golding's inquiry, Ambassador
confirmed that the USD 2 million requested from USAID, if
approved, would be fresh funds, i.e., not a diversion of
funding already destined for Jamaica. (Note: Subsequent to
Ambassador's meeting with Golding, USAID/Jamaica received
guidance from USAID/Washington that the Mission should
identify an appropriate level out of its projected FY-08
Budget for reprogramming to address current hurricane
recovery needs; USAID/Jamaica will respond to this request.
End Note.)

6.(C) Ambassador then said the Embassy looked forward to
working with the new Government, and noted that, on several
past occasions, the GoJ's responses to USG overtures or
offers of assistance had not been as timely as they might.
She then emphasized that the U.S., U.K., and Canada had
enjoyed excellent cooperation with outgoing Minister of
National Security Peter Phillips; we hoped that Phillips and
his successor, Derrick Smith, would collaborate closely to
ensure a smooth transition and continued close cooperation in
ongoing anti-crime, anti-corruption, and counternarcotics
efforts. The PM then asked whether there were any pending
security-related issues between the GoJ and USG; Ambassador
replied that we hoped Jamaica would move forward to conclude
a new Status of Forces Agreement with the U.S. Golding
concluded by noting that the GoJ would continue its
cooperation with the U.S. in counter-terrorism efforts. Only
the day before, the Commissioner of Police had brought a
terrorist-related issue to his attention involving Jamaicans
who had been in contact with "questionable elements" in the
U.S.; USG and GoJ authorities were cooperating closely.

Comment
-------

7.(C) PM Golding appeared relaxed, confident, and quite at
home in his new role and new office. Perhaps indicative of
the heavy agenda in front of him, Golding wasted little time
on small talk and was very focused. After eighteen years in
opposition, how easily the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) will
adjust to the challenges and responsibilities of governance
will be revealed in the weeks and months ahead. If the new
PM's deportment and demeanor during his first days in office
are any indication, the transition will be well-organized and
smooth. End Comment.
JOHNSON

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