Robert Montague, chairman of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), is batting for law-abiding Jamaicans to be allowed visa-free entry to the country’s major trading partners such as the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Montague, who made the suggestion while speaking at the 79th annual conference of the JLP on Sunday, said that he wanted the party to engage in internal dialogue to arrive at a common position on the issue.
He said the party would then broach the issue with the Government.
According to Montague, if the Government found favour with the proposal, it could then have talks with its major trading partners on the issue.
In a Gleaner interview at the end of the conference, Montague said that the United States currently has a programme where it offers nationals from several countries visa-free travel to the US.
According to Montague, persons who take up that offer can “go on to a site and register and answer certain security problems and periodically, whether it’s annually or every two years, you go and you update your information”.
He said that the security systems of “the US, United Kingdom, Canada, and Jamaica are in sync so you can pull information and verify the information”.
The St Mary Western member of parliament said that a “visa regime is always there to sieve out, and I am saying why sieve out the law-abiding because if the thing worked, those persons who the PM spoke to who are directing crime would not have gone”.
In his presentation, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that the Government was in talks with its US counterpart to crack down on Jamaican dons who are influencing crime in Jamaica.
Montague insisted that law-abiding Jamaicans should be rewarded with visa travel to Jamaica’s major trading partners.
The party chairman said that under Jamaica’s farm work programme, 99.9 per cent of the workers return to Jamaica.
“We don’t want to run away, but once you have the opportunity, you can go when you want and come and go. Jamaicans don’t want to leave Jamaica,” he said.
With a new kng having ascended the throne in Britain, the country where the seat of Jamaica’s final court is situated, Montague questioned: “Should an immigration officer determine whether I can go before that court to seek justice for a wrong that has been done to me?”
He said that the current US Ambassador to Jamaica, N. Nick Perry, was born in Jamaica, “so he knows and understands the ethos and culture.
“We also have one of the most experienced ambassadors to Washington and, importantly, we have a Jamaican in the White House,” Montague said, referencing Vice President Kamala Harris, whose father, Donald, is Jamaican.
“So the time is right. We have a convergence of things for us to make the call, but we can’t make the call until the party would have distilled, discussed, and come to a common position,” Montague said.