Jamaica: A U.S. Ambassador’s Apology and One Convoluted Story About That Twitter Wrestling


The Twitter Wrestling news out of Jamaica continue to distract us from our never ending woes, (see Top US Diplomat in Jamaica Wrestles With Random People on Twitter).  The tweets have now been deleted with no explanation.
We have it in good authority that the Jamaicans were plenty upset about this. The Twitter spectacle apparently resulted in a telephone call between the Jamaican Foreign Affairs Minister, Kamina Johnson Smith and Ambassador Tapia.  The Foreign Minister also tweeted “I have spoken with the Ambassador and he is aware that the engagement was not appropriate for a diplomatic representative.”
Ambassador Tapia on the other hand has now given an interview to Cliff Hughes Online where he said “I take full responsibility for what took place”  but that it wasn’t him who did the wrestling on Twitter.  That sounds a lot like “I take full responsibility. It’s not my fault” doesn’t it?   It wasn’t the intern either, thank goodness! The ambassador, a political appointee, also told the interviewer that the individual, (a he) will be “leaving shortly, because it was inappropriate” according to the interview with Cliff Hughes Online posted here.
In that interview, Ambassador Tapia discussed the employee who purportedly sent the offensive tweets under his account and was asked “What do you mean by rotating him out?”
Ambassador Tapia responded with extreme helpfulness (pardon our attempt at transcription, the zigzagged response made us frankly, dizzy):
“Which means that he will be leaving by going back to the U.S.”
Then Ambassador Tapia added, “He just got here, just about 3 or 4 weeks ago …. so he will normally stay …. he’s married … he goes home … we tried to rotate him every two months so that he can go home and be with his family but he will be, I will say he will be leaving sooner than the rotation.”
What the what?
So we are to believe that a Public Affairs officer (typically in charge of media), a career employee trained in media and public relations just decided one day to throw his career to the Caribbean winds, and go on an insult spree directed at his host county nationals?
Seriously? Why would he do that?
And that now this purported rogue officer is to be rotated out? Rotated out after four weeks in country?
If the employee assigned to Embassy Jamaica just got there 3 or 4 weeks ago and is now directed to return to the United States, that’s not called a rotation. That’s a curtailment, a shortening of the assignment, and presumably an involuntary one.  An ambassador can initiate that if he/she declares loss of confidence on any employee.
How it is that this employee just got to post 3 or 4 weeks ago, but that they  also “tried” to rotate him every two months so that he can go home and be with his family? How did that work?  And pray tell, what kind of employment schedule is this?
We’re not liking this story one bit, folks; it’s not hanging well together even at the thin seams.



Top US Diplomat in Jamaica Wrestles With Random People on Twitter

US Embassy Jamaica Shows How to Do Public Communication During a Pandemic

On March 11, US Embassy Kingston released an official response to Reports of U.S. Embassy Personnel Testing Positive for COVID-19. See US Embassy Jamaica Employee Reportedly Tested Positive of COVID-19, Routine Consular Services Suspended
On March 16, the Government of Jamaica announced a mandatory self-quarantine effective March 18: “For all persons entering Jamaica from countries where there is local transmission of COVID-19, will now be required to self-quarantine for up to 14 days. This measure will take effect from Wednesday, March 18, 2020.”
On March 17, 2020, US Embassy Kingston issued an update on the status of the COVID-19 positive employee at post, the number of employees — fourteen (14) — placed under quarantine, decontamination efforts at the embassy and its work to provide assistance to its host country. The update has been released as a press statement and also released on Twitter. The US Ambassador to Jamaica Donald Tapia has also addressed the status of the embassy staffer on Twitter.

Kingston- On Tuesday March 10, the U.S. Embassy in Kingston received information that an employee was in isolation on suspicion of COVID-19. Out of an abundance of caution, the U.S. Embassy took the following appropriate mitigation steps. In alignment with Jamaican health authorities and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, the staff of the entire consular section where the individual works, and anyone who came in close contact with them were ordered to remain at home and notify the embassy and the Ministry of Health & Wellness immediately if they developed symptoms related to COVID-19.

As a preventive measure, within 24 hours of the incident, the Embassy flew in from Washington, DC a U.S. Department of State decontamination team that sanitized the affected areas of the embassy.

“Today, the employee is in good spirits and recovering well. There have been no reports of local transmission via contact to any U.S. Embassy employee. In addition to addressing the embassy case of COVID-19, the U.S. mission in Kingston continues its collaborative efforts with the Government of Jamaica (GoJ) to support its nation-wide efforts to respond to the pandemic.” says Ambassador Donald Tapia.

Following the initial precautionary steps taken, the Embassy attending physician, in consultation with other medical experts conducted assessments of the staff who were ordered to remain at home and made final determination on who to remain on home quarantine. A total of fourteen (14) individuals remain at home for the remainder of the 14 days which ends on March 24th and none has developed symptoms as of today.

In addition to taking care of our mission staff community, the Embassy is also working hard to provide support to the GOJ including: an offer to MoHW of support through Embassy staff physicians and other public health professionals who can provide assistance in the areas of contact tracing, data management and clinical care if needed. The embassy is also in the process of acquiring resources from U.S. government agencies for support in the areas of medical equipment, PPE, and testing kits, to supplement GoJ’s efforts.

Tapia states, “We want to congratulate the GoJ and the Health and Wellness Ministry for its timely reporting of COVID-19 cases and aggressive containment strategy. The ministry has shown that one of the best defenses is appropriate public sensitization on preventative methods and the importance of early case recognition.”

Fighting this pandemic requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. We remind all persons to follow the guidance given through the Ministry of Health and Wellness. Those who suspect that they have had exposure to COVID-19 and are displaying symptoms to self-isolate immediately and contact the Ministry of Health & Wellness at 888-ONE-LOVE (663-5683) or 888-754-7792 for further instructions.

US Embassy Jamaica Employee Reportedly Tested Positive of COVID-19, Routine Consular Services Suspended


Local media in Jamaica reports that the second COVID-19 case in the island is a U.S. Embassy Jamaica employee who recently returned from the UK.  Jamaican Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. Chris Tufton tweeted confirmation of the second case on March 11.
The US Embassy released a statement acknowledging the media reports but cites “privacy concerns” in declining to share additional information. It has, however, announced the suspension of routine consular services until further notice and that the “Embassy is in the process of sanitizing the premises to prevent further outbreak.”

Kingston, Jamaica – We are aware of reports of a COVID-19 case related to an Embassy Kingston employee.  Due to privacy concerns, we are not able to share additional information.

The U.S. Department of State has no greater responsibility than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas and locally-employed staff.

In coordination with Jamaican authorities, Embassy Kingston is implementing all appropriate measures to help control the spread of COVID-19.

The Embassy is in the process of sanitizing the premises to prevent further outbreak.

Our Consular Section will not be providing routine services – including visa processing and American citizens services – until further notice.  U.S. citizens who require emergency assistance should call 876-702-6000.

U.S. citizens who decide to travel to Jamaica  should review and follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for the prevention of coronavirus, read the Travel Advisory and Country Information Page for Jamaica on travel.state.gov, and enroll their travel plans in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP.state.gov).