Editorial

Ambassador Moreno, a true friend of Jamaica

Friday, June 16, 2017

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Except for the 1970s when the then Michael Manley-led Government embraced democratic socialism and grew close to communist regimes in this region and in Europe, Jamaica and the United States have generally enjoyed good relations.

Largely, Washington has assigned diplomats who not only protect America's interests here, but have been very supportive of Jamaica, particularly in the areas of security, the economy, education, health, and culture.

That practice has remained with the appointment of Ambassador Luis Moreno who will end his tour of duty at the end of this month.

Ambassador Moreno, a career member of the senior foreign service, was confirmed for the Jamaica post on November 20, 2014. Upon officially taking office in January 2015, he hit the ground running as he is obviously the kind of diplomat who believes that his country should continue helping to improve the lives of people in states that share the ideals of democracy and freedom.

So, in just over two years, Ambassador Moreno and his team at the US Embassy in Kingston have been busy assisting with Jamaica's development in areas that, of course, got serious attention from his predecessors, particularly Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater and Ambassador Sue Cobb.

In fact, after a mere six months in Jamaica, Ambassador Moreno saw to the groundbreaking of a US$80-million wind farm in St Elizabeth and was involved in the negotiations for a US$60-million solar farm in Clarendon, both of which, he pointed out, were being developed by US investors, would provide many jobs and help Jamaica cut its annual US$2-billion oil bill.

We also recall ambassador Moreno's drive to help Jamaican exporters get their agricultural products to grocery shelves in the US, an initiative to which he spoke in October 2015 at the opening ceremony for the 16th staging of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Expo.

In the area of security, the embassy has provided the Jamaica Defence Force and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) with Boston Whaler boats; domestic violence training for the Jamaican police; body cameras and at least 7,000 less lethal weapons kits to the JCF; and, more recently, a scanning electron microscope that has enhanced the capability of the Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine to better analyse trace evidence such as gunshot residue, paint and glass fragments, among other elements collected from crime scenes.

That list, by no means, is exhaustive.

The recent crisis at Cornwall Regional Hospital also got attention from Ambassador Moreno and his team as they set about securing emergency assistance from the United States Agency for International Development, the Pan American Health Organization, and the US Department of Defense.

While some people may view these acts of kindness as par for the course between two countries that, as Ambassador Moreno put it, enjoy “a strong and durable friendship”, we were particularly moved by the diplomat's display of human compassion when he issued a statement of condolence to the family of Constable Crystal Thompson, who was gunned down while on her way home from work in July 2015.

It was a rare comment from a diplomat which he followed up with a strong statement of support for Jamaica's crime-fighting efforts.

Amid all that, Ambassador Moreno has kept lobbying American businesses to invest in Jamaica. He is indeed a good friend.

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