Jamaica Elects a Woman Prime Minister

Jamaica’s first female prime minister, Portia Simpson Miller, was sworn in on March 30, with plans to decrease the countries high crime rate, which reached a record of 1,671 homicides with a population of 2.6 million, according to cnn.com

“The first pledge I make as prime minister is to advance human rights and individual liberties,” said 60 year-old Simpson-Miller.  “I pledge to work tirelessly to end all corruption and extortion. Both of these diminish our economic potential and I will do everything in my power to break the power of the criminals.”

Simpson-Miller has been vice president of the People’s National Party since 1978 and president of the PNP Women’s Movement since 1983.  As a member of Parliament she represented some of Jamaica’s poorest cities neighborhoods.

The Washington Post explained that former prime minister, PJ Patterson’s administration was filled with “scandals” and “accusations of corruption.”  It was also reported that he did little to improve the economy.  He was Jamaica’s prime minister for the past 14 years.

Some supporters were urged not to have high expectations of Simpson-Miller so early in her term and were advised not to expect things to change quickly.  Spokeswoman of the Jamaica Women’s Political Caucus, Joan Browne, told the Washington Post that, “People think that come Monday morning they’ll have a job and good schools and everything will be alright. These expectations are really dangerous because there’s no way she can do all that.”

Some leaders of the Jamaica Labor Party are not too optimistic about Simpson-Millers plans.  Secretary of the Jamaica Labor Party, Karl Samuda, described it saying “It’s just the same car with a different driver.”

Simpon-Miller, also known as Sista P, spoke in front of millions of supporters and leaders from  Caribbean countries, the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan, and editorial director of Essence magazine, Susan Taylor.  Organizers also expected a representative of the U.S. Congress led by Rep. Charles Rangle, D-New York, according to cnn.com.

She also told Jamaica-gleamer.com that she would like the church community to form a partnership with her administration.  “I am taking the church seriously,” she said.  “I hope the churches will take the government seriously because I could not have become Prime Minister if it was not the will of the Almighty.”