WASHINGTON, D.C. — Jamaica's Ambassador to the United States, Her Excellency Audrey P. Marks, has reiterated the importance of building on the important political, economic and other relations the Caribbean nation enjoys with the United States, at all levels.
Speaking to the 141-member Maryland House of Delegates in the Maryland state capital, Annapolis, on Wednesday, March 30, Ambassador Marks stressed that part of her mission was to focus on increasing trade and investments between both states.
Jamaica’s imports from the United States currently amount to $3.5 billion, she told the Maryland lawmakers gathered at their 428th session. In terms of developing trade with Maryland, the Jamaican diplomat declared that, while a figure has not been settled on, “we are working to ensure that that is a strong trading relationship."
Ambassador Marks went on to share other aspects of the historically strong ties between Jamaica and the United States, noting sterling contributions to the building of “this great country, the United States of America,” by generations of immigrants from Jamaica, famously beginning with one of the early Jamaican immigrants, John Brown Russwurm, one of the first black graduates of a U.S. college.
“We have had great immigrants from Jamaica making outstanding contributions to the human capital of this country,” the ambassador added, citing retired General Colin L. Powell, a former U.S. Chief of Staff and Secretary of State who is the son of Jamaican immigrants.
The Maryland House of Delegates honoured Ambassador Marks with a proclamation, recognizing her as the first female Jamaican ambassador to the United States. The proclamation was presented to her by the Speaker of the House, the Hon Michael E. Busch, after being piloted by Jamaican-born majority whip and chair of the appropriations committee, the Delegate Shirley Nathan-Pulliam.
While in Annapolis, Ambassador Marks also addressed the Women’s Legislative Caucus of the Maryland House of Assembly, presided over by the Delegate Susan Lee. She congratulated the Caucus on being the first legislative Caucus, and commended their tremendous strides in attaining over thirty percent membership in the House.
The Ambassador’s visit to Maryland was part of her ongoing efforts to strengthen relations between Jamaica and the U.S. federal government and state officials. Two weeks ago, she visited Virginia and met with Governor Bob McDonald, as well as with the President of the Virginia Manufacturers Association.
Accompanying her to the Maryland House of Delegates was Minister-Counsellor at the Embassy of Jamaica, Franz Hall.
Editor’s note: The Maryland House of Delegates is the lower house of the General Assembly, the state legislature of the U.S. state of Maryland, and is composed of 141 Delegates elected from 47 districts.
John Brown Russwurm (1799–1851) was an American abolitionist from Jamaica, known for his newspaper, Freedom's Journal. He moved from the U.S. to govern the Maryland section of an African American colony in Liberia, and died there in 1851.
By Derrick A. Scott, JIS Reporter