WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) – Politics in Jamaica has a new face, a female face. The Honorable Portia Lucretia Simpson Miller was elected Feb. 26, 2006 as the first female prime minister of the Caribbean nation. She made her first official visit to the United States on June 13, to a standing room-only crowd at the Ronald Reagan building.
“I am grateful for your support and I look forward to working with you, the men and women of Jamaica’s Diaspora,” she told the crowd. “I accepted the position of high office of Prime Minister with a profound sense of obligation. I plan to facilitate change especially among the poor and oppressed.”
Her remarks were met with a thunderous applause from the mixed crowd of native Jamaicans, descendants and friends of Jamaica.
“I have a great feeling that some great things are about to happen,” she said.
In her March 30 inaugural address, Prime Minister Simpson Miller explained some of those great things.
“Today is a truly historic day in the life of this nation. A girl from Wood Hall in deep rural St. Catherine has become Prime Minister of Jamaica, a true manifestation of the Jamaican Dream,” she asserted. “The first pledge to the Jamaican people is to advance human rights and individual liberty. Each individual life is sacred, none more important than the other. Money should not make one person more important than the other. Learning should not make one person more important than the other, nor should class, color or gender. We are all equal in the sight of God.”
She continued, “We cannot build the harmony and peace that this society so desperately needs unless all Jamaicans know that they will be treated with dignity and respect.”
Prime Minister Simpson Miller, president of the ruling People’s National Party, replaces Prime Minister P.J. Patterson who served for 14 years and becomes the third female head of government in the Caribbean, following Eugenia Charles of Dominica and Janet Jagen of Guyana.
“This is very significant,” explained Newton Gaynor, a personal mortgage banker for Global Mortgage Financial. “Jamaica is blazing. Our politics is very old and traditional. It’s a good ole boy network. Unless you’re born into certain families, you couldn’t rise in politics. She’s been a part of the political scene for a very long time.”
Prime Minister Simpson Miller came to politics in 1976 representing South West St. Andrew in parliament. She has served as the Minister of Labor, Welfare and Sport and Minister of Tourism and Sports. Prior to her election as Prime Minister she served as the Minister of Local Government and Sport since October 2002. She was also Vice President of the Peoples National Party from 1978 to 2006.
“Eternal Father, Bless our Land, Guide us with thy mighty hand, Keep us free from evil powers, Be our light through countless hours, To our leaders, great defender, Grant true wisdom from above, Justice, truth be ours forever, Jamaica, land we love, Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica, land we love.”
Those are the words to the first verse of the Jamaican national anthem. It was sung reverently as Prime Minister Simpson-Miller came into the room. There was pride in the voices and a great love for their motherland.
“Ladies and gentleman, there is nothing that can withstand the force of an energized, confident, united, determined and visionary people. The Bible says without vision the people perish. If we embrace one vision, not an uptown or downtown vision; not an urban or rural vision, but one Jamaican vision, then we will deal with our challenges as a nation,” she said. “Together, we can make it.”
Mid-Atlantic Regional Minister Abdul Khadir Muhammad was deeply impressed with her remarks. “We are honored to be here with the first female prime minister of Jamaica,” he said. “This demonstrates to the world that women can lead as well as men.”