Vice President Kamala Harris met on Wednesday with Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness at the White House today, a significant if not historic meeting between the first Black woman vice president who is the daughter of a Jamaican national and the Caribbean nation’s leader.
The meeting came after Holness told England’s Prince William in a letter last August that Jamaica, like other former British colonies in the Caribbean, planned to sever its remaining ties to the British crown and become “independent”. That letter set the state for a meeting in which Holness is expected to continue his push for stronger diplomatic and economic ties to the United States, where nearly 1.2 million people reported having Jamaican ancestry in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
From the Miami Herald
A senior Biden administration official told McClatchy that Holness’ visit will “underscore the importance” of the relationship with Jamaica and the region to the Biden administration. The official said the discussion will include “the COVID-19 pandemic, economic growth and recovery, and climate and energy security, among other issues.”...
…Jamaica under the Trump administration sought closer ties with the U.S. much to the dismay of some of its fellow Caribbean neighbors. Holness was among a handful of Caribbean leaders who met with former President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago in 2019.
It’s unclear whether Holness’ letter to Prince William means Jamaica intends to become a republic and remove Queen Elizabeth, Prince William’s grandmother, as Jamaica’s official head of state. Barbados, another member of the bloc known as the Caribbean Community, or Caricom, did so in November. Jamaica has been officially independent from Britain for 60 almost 60 years, but it remains a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, a group of 54 former British colonies around the world that still have the queen of England as their titular head of state.
Thirty-two of those countries are in Africa and the Caribbean.
Prince William condemned slavery in Jamaica and elsewhere in response to protests in the country over his visit to the Caribbean with his wife, Kate Middleton, last week for celebrations commemorating the 75th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s reign in England.