JAMAICANS yesterday expressed delight at the planned State visit to the island of US President Barack Obama, saying that it was long overdue and hoping that he will enjoy his short stay.
News of Obama’s visit was broken by the Jamaica Observer on its website shortly after midday, creating a buzz locally and overseas as the story went viral within a minute of being posted, eventually racking up 51,722 page views by press time last night. It was also shared by 6,100 visitors to the Observer website, was tweeted 178.
times from the website, and reached 271,104 people on Facebook and was shared on Facebook 1,208 times. Approximately two hours later, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller announced the visit in Parliament, saying that Obama will arrive in Jamaica on April 9 and will hold bilateral discussions with her.
Simpson Miller also said that Jamaica will host talks between Obama and Caricom heads of government on issues on the Caricom-USA agenda, including security and trade.
“They will also exchange views on regional and international issues of mutual interest. The Caricom-US encounter will be co-chaired by Honourable Perry Christie, prime minister of The Bahamas and current chairman of Caricom, and President Obama,” Simpson Miller said. “The Government of Jamaica is delighted that President Obama will be visiting Jamaica at this time.
It will mark the second time since our Independence that a sitting US president will be visiting Jamaica,” she added in reference to Ronald Reagan’s visit in April 1982.
“We view the president’s upcoming visit as an affirmation of the strong ties of friendship and co-operation that have united our two peoples for centuries.
We are confident that through fruitful dialogue and exchanges during the visit we will succeed in further strengthening the close relations that exist at the bilateral level between Jamaica and the USA, and between the USA and Caricom,” Simpson Miller said. At the end of the day, Obama and the Caricom heads of government are expected to leave for Panama City for the Seventh Summit of the Americas to be held April 10-11.
Yesterday, Observer online readers were quick to comment on the planned visit, with most saying that they were happy with the development. “This visit is a long time coming. In fact, overdue.
I know he’ll be welcomed with open arms. Hope he returns on one of his vacations in the near future,” wrote a reader who posts under the name Janaa Pickford.
Another, who uses the name Brich68, said: “WOW! I never thought I would see the day that he would come to JA. I just called my wife and told her that my daughter has the day off to go see her president.
Of course, I got a lot of chat about my mother and grandmother growing up in racist Texas back in the 20s and 30s dreamed of a day that there would be a black president in the states.
Unfortunately they never had the chance to see the day he was elected as they have both passed. Even though we do not agree with all his policies he has been the greatest president in the US in my lifetime and I’m not saying that because he’s black but being black makes me even more prouder.
1 Love Jamaica.” Andrew Simpson Miller wrote: “This visit is loooong overdue. Can’t believe Obama took so long to touch down on Jamaican soil. The soil of the most prominent and well known ‘Black’ country in the western hemisphere. Welcome, Mr President.” Another reader, who posts under the name hapley63, said: “WOW!!! I mean wow!!! This great man continues to impress me more and more — and I mark hard.
He knows exactly what he is doing and is aware of history and legacy. I believe that he was influenced by Bob Marley in college. I also predicted months ago that he will seek to pardon Marcus Garvey on leaving office.”
Reader Lionel Mattis posted: “Overjoyed; absolutely overjoyed that Brother Obama is making it Jamaica, the greatest little country in de whole wide world.
Let us give him some love. Just like one of our share mentors MLK he will be absolutely blown away by Jamaica’s hospitality.
I certainly hope he will be empowered after he leaves and get the necessary vibes to deal wid dem Republican when im go back a merca.” Another reader, who uses the name ‘gosford’, had one simple line of welcome for Obama: “Mr Prez, I have an ice cold Red Stripe for you.”