Tue | Dec 1, 2020

Tapia should have been reined in earlier, says Ambassador Ward

Published:Saturday | October 31, 2020 | 12:13 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

Former ambassador and deputy permanent representative of Jamaica to the United Nations, Curtis Ward, said United States top diplomat Donald Tapia’s “constant meddling” in the country’s affairs should have been nipped in the bud and not allowed to fester until now.

Tapia was embroiled in controversial tweets last Tuesday where he insulted Jamaicans. Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Kamina Johnson Smith rebuked Tapia for his remarks and the diplomat has since apologised.

Tapia suggested the tweets were in fact released by his assistant.

“His response to the criticism is very weak. He can’t blame a junior staff for his tweets. As an ambassador, he is responsible for everything that goes out of the embassy and even more so for his tweets,” Ward asserted.

He pointed out that there were a number of occasions when Johnson Smith should have summoned the ambassador to the ministry and lay down the gauntlet in relation to Jamaica’s sovereignty and its capacity to make policy decisions beneficial to its people.

It is no secret the US Government, including President Donald Trump, remains suspicious of Chinese technology such as 5G, citing national security risks as its main talking points, which was the basis for the ambassador’s tweets.

Tapia has been outspoken on the issue and has repeatedly spoken of his unease and has even warned the Jamaican Government of (hidden) Chinese intent in the affairs of the country.

His latest salvo of tweets was subsequently deleted.

Ward said if a Government shows weakness and civil society acts the same way, the people should not expect any other outcome.

An attempt by The Gleaner to solicit a comment from Tapia on the matter was rejected.

It is not the first time that Tapia has got himself in hot water over comments he has made.

It is not the first time he has made inappropriate statements on Twitter. In June, Tapia roiled up locals in the heights of the Black Lives Matter protests across the US and other countries, over comments about African American George Floyd, who died while being apprehended by police and that Floyd “should not be martyred”, drawing some scathing rebuke from the public at large.

paul@gleanerjm.com