Cuban-Jamaicans offer hope to Jamaica

Jamaica’s Ambassador to Cuba Kathryn Phipps is urging local entities to look to the Spanish-speaking country for specialists and consultants.

Jamaica’s Ambassador to Cuba Kathryn Phipps

Scores of Cubans with Jamaican heritage have applied for their Jamaican citizenship and could provide a pool of highly-trained personnel to provide temporary solutions to several shortages in the island’s labour force.

While a shortage of nurses, doctors, medical personnel and specialists teachers for some subjects is public knowledge, Jamaica is also short of personnel in several other technical areas and the island’s recently appointed ambassador to Cuba, attorney-at-law Kathryn Phipps, believes the Spanish-speaking neighbour could provide the answer.

“Some of them (Cuban/Jamaicans) have very specialised skills, especially in the areas of science and technology. They love Cuba, but they could help in what would essentially be the development of Jamaica. It is not that they want to run away and leave Cuba, because Cubans love Cuba, but they would contribute to what they consider their heritage,” said Phipps, who made the transition to diplomacy just over a year ago.

According to Phipps, there are second and third generation Jamaicans who live in Cuba and love that country but who still feel a deep connection to the birthplace of their parents and grandparents and would be willing to help in the development of the island.

“A lot of Jamaicans went to Cuba in the 1930s and they’re very proud of their heritage. Through the Jamaican mission in Cuba persons have been able to access their Certificates of Citizenship for Jamaica.

“I think we are now in the region of more than 2,000 persons in Cuba who are recognised as citizens of Jamaica and what you will find is that if somebody is recognised as a citizen, the next thing they want to do is pass it on to their children,” Phipps said.

She underscored that most of these Cuban/Jamaicans are highly-skilled, well-trained and willing to pass on their knowledge.

“I mean, apart from teachers, nurses, doctors, you have people trained in neuroscience, in civil aviation, you name it, because school in Cuba is free and there is basically a school for every skill.”