Why are Jamaican migrants the harshest critics of the island?

I have been thinking about this for quite a while now. I know that Jamaicans claim to be very patriotic. Therefore, they will let everybody know that they are Jamaicans, especially during the Olympics or when we are doing well on the international stage. Also, I notice that some of the harshest criticism comes from Jamaicans overseas. Some will even discourage people from visiting and make it seems like the island is the worse place on the planet. What causes this bitterness? Let's have a discussion.

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Jamaicans are not shy to express there opinions, usually in a very emotionally powerful way. It comes across as “harsh” but it actually comes from a different place: “love”.

Jamaicans universally love their country and identity. When they migrate and begin to understand what is truly possible in Jamaica, they feel disappointment/frustration/anger about what might have been, and even what could be with a change in policies and attitudes.

Jamaica is extraordinarily blessed with resources and a very hard working population. From the point of view of migrants and expats, all that’s needed for positive change is political and cultural desire and will. The harshness comes from the same place a mother’s harshness towards her children comes from: Love and a desire for the child to reach its full potential.


Every day I ask myself why Jamaica is a developing country. Others don’t have half the resort, nor our talent, yet they are more advanced. Some actions by our leaders make you wonder if they intend to hold the nation back.


I don’t live in Jamaica and have only ever visited, but I do come to the island for the people. They are the most genuine and real people I’ve ever met. They pull no punches and make no excuses for their lot in life and work hard to provide for their families.

Having said that, you also have to remember that the country was founded on colonialism, racism, and part of the slave trade. There will be an undercurrent of keeping the oppressed down for quite some time even within people’s own skin color. It’s not white vs black/brown, as much as it’s exploitive vs exploitable. The low level of overall wealth of the citizenry only adds to the corruptibly of regular citizens, law enforcement, and officials.

I love the island and love the people but try to understand the political / social environment as much as I can.


While colonialism, racism and the slave trade are real and their effects still felt, I cannot them as explanative for Jamaica’s struggles, and I think most Jamaicans would bristle at the suggestion.

If Singapore, Hong Kong (before absorption into China proper) and India can overcome their colonial heritages and create unique identities for themselves while increasing their people’s general well being, their’s no reason Jamaica couldn’t do the same.

In all fairness, Jamaica achieved independence less than 100 years ago. Essentially last week from a historical perspective.


You can’t see those reasons as the effect for Jamaica’s struggle? Do you need to be reminded that the Taino indigenous people that lived on the island are essentially extinct and the majority of today’s Jamaican populace are either a product of the slave trade or colonialism (whites that moved to the island to control agriculture and industry)?


Solving the constant inflation of the Jamaican Dollar would be a great start. It works as a hidden tax which falls heaviest on the poor, wage earners and landless classes.

Find a way to lower the cost of all types of energy. Oil should only be imported where absolutely necessary. Transportation should be gradually converted to all electric as much as practicable. Electricity costs in general should be reduced to <$.10/kWh, even less for industrial and commercial purposes. None of this should be accomplished through Government subsidies, except as necessary to finance short-term transition costs.

This would result in many millions of dollars staying in the pockets of ordinary Jamaicans, which would result in the raising of the general quality of life and a lifting of the overall standard of living over time.


That sounds goodMaybe you should try joining parliament or at the very least try to have a sit down conversation with them and make them see sense. (I’m not joking at all. I mean it in the most genuine of ways)


No because it’s more complicated than that. Our struggles are mainly political and started with Manley when he implemented socialist policies which still affects us today. If we didn’t gain independence and we still ran our country like a capitalist/free market one with a less corrupt government we wouldn’t be struggling half as much.


Well, if they are are talking about socialism in the way that workers own the means of production, pretty sure there are hundreds of not thousands of privately owned hospitality and industrial businesses that operate on the island.

But I welcome a response to to clarify their earlier comment.


- High taxes; 25% corporate tax, 30% income tax on salaries $6 million jmd +, 15% gct/sales tax and more on other items, up to 100% import duties + gct on importing items + gct again if you’re a store trying to sell said items so you’re triple taxing the same good which makes it hard for the local market to do well.

- The ability to capture and own land that isn’t yours.

- All the bureaucracy that makes it hard to conduct business in Jamaica; needing a JP to sign documents, and overall it takes forever going through a governmental agency to get approved for anything which leads to inefficiency and corruption.


Overall the government needs to open up the market & make it easier and cheaper to conduct business in Jamaica with less government approval and bureaucracy and that’s when we will grow and no longer remain a undeveloped country.


Manley implemented free tertiary education, and that is one of the policies that commenter is criticizing, I’ve already gotten into it with that specific commenter. They are lost, and don’t understand Jamaica is currently a free market, hyper capitalist country, yet somehow offering free education over 40 yrs ago is their reasoning why Jamaica is the way it is, and not that we have unregulated capitalism, that allows those with money to exploit those who need to survive.


Jamaica is many beautiful things, but imo and from my observation hardly free market and/or hyper capitalist.

Capitalism and money aren’t primarily responsible for people exploiting others. Whether the system is socialist or capitalist there will always exist innumerable ways and means of exploiting others.

While I prefer capitalism and consider myself fundamentally libertarian politically, I firmly believe the economic system matters little of the people running it lack ethics, morality, uprightness and the courage to do the right thing regardless of personal cost or benefit.


Hyper capitalist? We are the furthest thing from a free market.

In Jamaica the amount of hoops you have to jump through to get a legal firearm for example. They’ve wanted to open a casino in Jamaica for decades now and still trying to go through governmental approval hahah. Marijuana is just now legal and only medically, prostitution still illegal etc etc.

I don’t think you guys understand what it means when people speak of the free market, it simply means the government needs to get the F out of the way and let our people conduct commerce without having to jump through hoops and pay exorbitant fees.


>If Singapore, Hong Kong (before absorption into China proper) and India can overcome their colonial heritages and create unique identities for themselves while increasing their people’s general well being, their’s no reason Jamaica couldn’t do the same.

All those places had a cultural identity long before colonialism, colonialism was but a blip in their heritage. Jamaica’s native population was basically eradicated, the slaves were from different tribes and therefore different cultures which were stripped, beaten andd raped out of them. Once colonialism ended Jamaica had nothing to fall back on except what was left.

It’s not even remotely similar situations, India, Singapore and Hong Kong, the inhabitants of those place were seen and treated as people, they had architecture, art, literature, language and clothing long before the British Empire existed and so their culture was fetishized, and appreciated in some aspects.


It sounds like your saying the black Africans that were brought to Jamaica were little more than brute savages up until independence, no intelligence or intelligent thought, little to no internal culture, basically ignorant animals, and they’ve had to literally discover fire and invent the wheel since emancipation and independence.

But I’m sure that’s not what you meant at all.


It sounds like you can’t read

“slaves were from different tribes and therefore different cultures which were stripped, beaten andd raped out of them”

Take your straw man argument else where…absolutely despicable.


The resorts are part of the problem.

No country gets rich for building resorts. Tourism can be good but can also block developmemt of industries and conditions economic diversification; it is a non-productive industry which exploits local resources and labour force; it deprives local citizens of access to places and to the coast; it empowers drug trafficking and gambling; it creates powerful lobby over politicians on behalf of a problematic industry; and the biggest part of the profits do not end up within Jamaican borders, rather filling the pockets of big stakeholders abroad. Tourism CAN be exploitative and actually take more money than it brings. Jamaica has potential and a right to be developed, but don’t think that abundance of resourts is a sign of that potential.

Unless, of course, you meant “resources”…..


It’s true some Jamaican people are not open-minded; we judge before trying to understand. You could never tell the coldest killers on the island that you don’t believe in God. You would surely get a cuss out.


The lord doesn’t exist so I’m good. The unsolicited preaching is another thing I’ve always despised. But it ties in with the hypocrisy. Going around telling people Jesus loves them while practicing the most vile homophobia, creating kids you couldn’t care less about, and taking joy in the fact that people who don’t believe the same thing you believe will be punished - it’s psychotic. Really glad I don’t associate with your kind anymore ❤️


Something related that I have noticed - Jamaicans overseas can end up with increasingly distorted negative views of the country as time goes by and they’ve been away for longer. I think a big part of it is that most of them get most of their information from relatives still on the island… and those relatives often exaggerate how bad things are to push for bigger remittances.

I’ve definitely had relatives tell me they are scared to visit me in Kingston… and I find out that it’s because of other relatives telling them all kinds of wild and exaggerated things.


Maybe they are just angry that they had to leave their home and do things they wouldn’t do in Jamaica to survive. Perhaps if they could see how they could earn a decent living, they wouldn’t have migrated. Sometimes what they expected going to foreign in reality is the polar opposite.


Because Jamaica was not my home, I grew up in abject poverty, I was going to be sold off as a postal bride because I went to a “good school”, and had a “decent face” while my family was struggling to make ends meet.

No matter how well I did in school, I wasn’t smart enough to get higher education, I did very well in CSEC and CAPE (literally didn’t have to take university math in the USA because I did well in CAPE math). My family was too poor and had no connections willing to help.

My dad sacrificed his freedom, to make enough money to migrate his immediate family here to the US.

Why shouldn’t I criticize an island that has no protection for their most vulnerable members of society? An island where I saw 2 dead bodies, not at a funeral? An island where I watched a conducter chop up a man with a rusty machete in half way tree, and the police did nothing? An island where I witnessed a rape victim running out of the cane fields butt naked? An island where I had to run carrying my toddler sister as a shoot out happened when we were playing outside? An island where I had to save my sister during a home invasion? An island where I had to save my sister from the neighbour’s dog who was attacking her, while the neighbour watched? And island where same neighbour poisoned 2 of our three dogs?

The island is dangerous, offers no social mobility, and I was considered the dregs of society due to my socio-economic class. Yet here I am in the USA, am a senior software engineer, first in my family with a degree, married and own a home. I suffered physically and mentally living on that island, and we all know how Jamaica ignores mental illness.


That isn’t very comforting for a small nation not having a civil war. The funny thing is that for some people on the island, these murder stats could be someplace in Africa or Asia because it doesn’t affect them. They have never seen someone getting killed hearing gun shoot unless they are at the range or bird shooting. They get the stats and news just like those in foreign, but they do not have that experience. At the same time, others live it every day. Maybe that’s why those who can make change are not doing anything because it doesn’t affect them or the people in their circle.


I still live in Jamaica and always lived uptown and it affects us, it affects everybody in Jamaica.

Houses get broken into even in Cherry Gardens, Norbrook etc on a regular basis- nobody is safe. There’s a reason why all the windows are grilled even in the safest neighbourhoods, why we have private security like guardsman etc and huge guard dogs on every premises.

You will also never see anybody from uptown walking around as they drive everywhere which is not typical in developed, safe countries. There’s a reason why you will see random white people(tourist) walking around and taking public transport when they travel here while you would never see uptown Jamaican people do this because they know better.

There are ways to safeguard yourself from the crime and violence and it cost $ which is why the upper class are more safe and less affected, however, they’re in no way completely safe, just not as vulnerable as people who are forced to live in crime infested areas.


In my experience with some folks in the diaspora, foreign just get to them head. Some of them have valid criticisms but others just don’t follow certain nuanced news in Jamaica so they just believe Jamaica is static.

That’s why I don’t love spending time with diasporans sometimes especially the ones who migrated long time ago because when you tell them jamaica has developed in someways now it’s either they don’t believe or belittle the development.

I recently bought some art work from a local animator in Jamaica and one of my relatives who was visiting Jamaica literally told me how “Jamaican animator a nuh all that and nothing of much” the reason why this person said that was because in his mind only Americans are good at animation.


Jamaica consistently ranks in the top 3 homicide rates in the world so I think that should speak for itself. Minimum wage/ salaries are horrendous relative to most other countries in the western world thereby standard of living / quality of life is low and persons resort to crime and violence just to get by. Public services and amenities are also really lacking or poor which exacerbates an already stressful environment to live in. Corruption in government is widespread and is basically accepted by all the citizens. They feel as if they have no voice and have no power to effect change although Jamaica is supposed to be a democratic nation. The government has sold most of the country off to foreign entities in exchange for fattening their own pockets while their own people see no benefits trickle down to them. Family values are almost non-existent and the culture is overall a dog-eat-dog one where everyone is mistrusting of their fellowman. I lived there for near a decade and am married to a Jamaican. Most Jamaicans jump at the chance to migrate.


Jealousy!!! we miss our beautiful, warm sun shine. Our very loving and caring neighbors. We miss the peace that we feel when we are home. Jamaica is a friendly, peaceful place where everyone looks out for each other. It’s crime free, you could leave your doors open at night. You don’t need burglary bars and high fences with bad dogs. Your children are free to go out by themselves, there’s always someone looking out and protecting them.


I meant to say resources, not resort. Your comment is accurate; foreigners own most big resorts. So the money doesn’t stay and circulate on the island. They discourage their guest from leaving the property when they leave; they only go to certain places. The small business people in the community don’t benefit.

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