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Obama Should Put an End to Extreme Austerity in Jamaica


Obama Should Put an End to Extreme Austerity in Jamaica

Mark Weisbrot

The international media isn’t paying much attention to President Barack Obama’s trip to Jamaica this week, but maybe they should. The country has become a terrible example of what can happen when creditors — led by the International Monetary Fund — are able to impose harsh austerity on a small nation in an attempt to collect on an uncollectable debt. Because the U.S. Treasury Department decides what the IMF does in the Western Hemisphere, President Obama himself can claim responsibility for this crushing economic failure.


I don’t think it is in the job description of the collection-agent-in-chief to roll back austerity.


We need to put an end to Obama. Not mortally, politically. Impeach him and then try him an Bush.


Beneath the call for Obama to “end Jamaica’s austerity” and “allow” its economy to grow is a neoliberal message that only seeks to effect change at the margins (i.e. "end extreme austerirty, which implies that austerity measures are not necessarily destructive; in turn, this echoes notions that “unbridled” and laissez faire capitalism are problematic with the implication that capitalism is not a social ill).

The article also reinforces neocolonial power relations (while arguing in favour of a sovereign nation, the author undermines that sovereignty by suggesting that Jamaican prosperity requires American approval without really questioning that power dynamic).

The article failed to mention the constant struggles between Jamaica’s main parties (PNP Peoples National Party, and JLP- Jamaica Labour Party) since independence and how the (then) social democratic PNP was undermined and punished by the IMF for pursuing export-led growth policies that sought to nurture Jamaican industries (rather than open their markets to Western imports, as pushed by the liberal JLP). Part of the export-led policy was to increase human capital by making Jamaicans more literate and expanding secondary school to the poor.

JLP was founded by the Jamaican (white) aristocracy, led by Bustamante. Thier policies reflected liberal sentiments while capturing the electorate by speaking to the Labour movement (sound familiar?). (The JLP was the political wing of the Bustamante Industrial Union).

The parties alternated power (with PNP implementing popular domestic policies and punished when markets closed to them; the JLP winning subsequent elections and rescuing the Jamaican economy with IMF et al. “aid”).

Jamaica, like Haiti, continues to pay for its radical notion that…well, Black Lives Matter. (Haiti the first truly free country without slavery, and Jamaica among the first free Black countries of the Western Hemisphere…both “bad” examples for Black Americans


Obama: Jamaica visit raise concerns bout treatment of LGBT US ConservativeChristians went 2 defend anti-LGBT politics http://tinyurl.com/kvxgway


To interpret a headline that says “end extreme austerity” to mean “impose slightly less extreme austerity” ludicrous.

And I seriously doubt, nor do I read anything in the article that suggests that the prominent anti-yankee-imperialist and leftist Brazilian-USAn Mark Weisbrot is trying to “reinforce neocolonial power relations”.

And I’m sure Mr. Weisbrot knows a far more about Jamaican poltics than you do, but such a discussion would be beyond the scope of this article which was awareness raising to the general US public regarding the punishing “austerity.”

Have you even ever heard of Mark Weisbrot before coming here?

Your whole article is, like so many other commenters at Commondreams, bullshit conjured up in support of unrelenting negativity. Please get help for your depression.


You misinterpreted what he wrote. His point that had it is only because of the for the aid that Venezuela and Chine is giving them, that they service the debt at all. In other words, the aid of Venezuela and China is necessary and magnanimous, but it leaves Jamaica “living just enough; just enough for the citaaaay” to recall the old Stevie Wonder song.


Appeal to authority? Is that the best argument you can come up with?

It’s clear you’re a Weisbrot fan, and I usually enjoy his pieces, but he missed the mark here. And your obvious ignorance of Jamaican history and politics prevents you from recognizing it. What specifically in my post do you (could you possibly) refute? What do you hear (understand) when someone speaks of (writes) ‘sustainability’ and ‘growth’ in reference to an economy? I understand those terms in a capitalist context; that sustained growth is a goal.

I can see why, with limited knowledge of the subject, you view the article as merely “awareness raising.” With a little more insight and knowledge of Jamaican and Caribbean history – if you were already ‘aware’ – you might come to expect an “anti-yankee-imperliast and leftist Brazilian” to challenge (call for an end to) the strucural relations that permit an American president to dictate the domestic affairs of Caribbean nations, instead of advocating for the empire to be nice to Jamaica. You might expect such a person to view connect the IMF’s role in Jamaica to Manifest Destiny, and as a Brazilian, utterly reject it. I don’t read anything approaching such a stance.

I wonder what makes you assume I have limited knowledge of Jamaican politics (projection?). I don’t know what Mr. Weisbrot knows on the topic; I would assume he is well aware of the facts I posted. Hence my disappointment with the article (I know quite a bit about Jamaican history, as well as the histories of many other Caribbean islands…many citizens of Caribbean islands do).

Your rant is just that…a rant; and a pathetic one at that. A wholly negative post that only succeds in hypocracy by levelling an “unrelenting negativity” charge. Bravo! You’ve exposed your ignorance on the subject. So why not do some research before posting? Unable to refute the facts you’ve labelled as conjured BS is incredible; Cineplex could use your skills of projection!