Jamaica’s Portia in prime time leadership

Prime Minister Portia Lucretia Simpson-Miller of Jamaica inherited leadership late last year and has had to proceed at warp speed in order to maintain the hectic calendar demanded by the 2012 milestone anniversary.

In the first three months of leadership, the nation’s first female head of government met with CARICOM leaders and U.S. President Barack Obama; impressed her nation by welcoming Prince Harry, Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson and assured her population of a more transparent administration than the one that preceded her governance.

Now in the sixth month of her People’s National Party rule, the seventh prime minister of the island is immersed in fulfilling campaign promises regarding domestic demands and last month appeased diasporan residents of New York by visiting Brooklyn, home to the largest immigrant community from her country.

While here, Simpson-Miller was presented a replica of the oldest suspension bridge in the United States.

Generously gifted by Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn Borough president, the Brooklyn Bridge seemed a significant keepsake for the first-time visit since her January inauguration.

She accepted the miniature replica of the 129-year-old, steel suspension and national monument at a church in the Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

In addition, Markowitz signed a proclamation declaring April 25, 2012, “Jamaica 50 Day in NYC.”

Jamaicans showed up in numbers to greet the leader.

They reportedly drove from Massachusetts and Connecticut to encourage leadership and demonstrate goodwill for the country.

Simpson-Miller was also presented a huge canvas bearing a portrait of her likeness.

The artistic design displayed the nation’s national symbol of hummingbird as well as lettering marking the historic Jamaica 50 signature year.

Reportedly, the gift was from members of the Jamaica Progressive League in Hartford, Connecticut.

It was unveiled by Arthur Lawrence.

Along with an address to nationals, the PM introduced the new consul general to the city. She endorsed the appointment of Herman G. Lamont saying “inclusiveness” is the aim of the new consul.

“He will work with all Jamaicans and maintain an open door policy, one of inclusiveness,” she said. She predicted “he will do a great job.”

Along with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and an impressive list of 100 distinguished world figures, Simpson-Miller was voted among the most influential names by Time Magazine.

The next six months will find the third female prime minister from the Caribbean rooting for her favored team of athletes to the summer Olympics in London.

As Jamaica’s minister of sports she seems particularly intent on seeing the athletes win more gold medals than the impressive cache they carted away from Beijing, China after the last Olympic competitions.

Simultaneously, she will be embroiled with celebrating the biggest island event since attaining independence Aug. 6, 1962.

First of the English-speaking CARICOM nations to attain independence, the island helmed by Simpson-Miller will be in the spotlight as it marks 50 years of self rule.

“We are a nation on a mission,” she said.

Nicknamed ‘Sister P’ the two-time prime minister seems to be unifying her nation.

Joining the ranks of pioneering, Caribbean female leaders — Dominica’s Eugenia Charles and Guyana’s Janet Jagan — she first led the country after being named to succeed retiring PM P.J. Patterson.

The politician earned her position when elections were called a second time after her party demitted office.

A violence-free election pitted her against a young and emerging opponent named Andrew Holness who succeeded Bruce Golding the victor in a previous campaign.

Golding declined a second term in office enabling an opportunity for the youthful candidate.

But his bid was derailed when Simpson-Miller snatched a landslide victory on Dec. 29, 2011.

On Jan. 5, 2012 during her inauguration speech she promised a down-sizing of government, transparency, to curb corruption and to unify the people.

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