JIS News

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Dr. Kenneth Baugh, has suggested that Spanish be made a second language in Jamaica, in light of the shifting dynamics of the hemisphere.
“I think Jamaica has to make Spanish a second language,” Dr. Baugh told JIS News in an interview.
He said that the developing relationship between the Caribbean community (CARICOM) and Latin American nations; the Dominican Republic’s desire to join CARICOM; the fact that Jamaica is surrounded by Spanish speaking countries; and the move for a borderless hemisphere which will open up markets and opportunities, showed an urgent need for Jamaicans to become proficient in Spanish.
“There is no question in my mind now that Jamaicans have to acquire the ability to speak other languages: Spanish, French and Portuguese, certainly beginning with Spanish. We are surrounded by Spanish speaking countries and all of them are anxious to enter into closer co-operation agreements with us,” Dr. Baugh said.
He noted that Costa Rica wants to do business with Jamaica, as is the case with Columbia, Panama and several other countries.
Dr. Baugh added that CARICOM, as a region was looking forward to integrating with Latin America and, eventually, it will be Latin America, the Caribbean and North American integration as one common space.
He noted that while Jamaica is developing relationships with South America and Central America, it has also started negotiations with Canada for a free trade arrangement and looks forward, down the road, to one with the United States.
“So it is a process that is developing, where we are going to have very large markets into which we can export our goods and services. It’s very good for the Jamaican economy,” he commented.
Jamaica is to host a 3-day conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Latin America and the Caribbean (CALC) on Integration and the Rio Group, November 4-6, at the Rose Hall Resort and Spa Hotel in Montego Bay St. James.
An air services agreement is expected to be signed between Jamaica and Mexico during the meeting. This will, in the long run, open up opportunities for more Jamaicans who speak Spanish.
“One has got to accept that the wider horizon of Latin America and the Caribbean integrating economically and in trade, is offering a much larger opportunity to Jamaica. It means that enterprises in Jamaica will need to expand and increase exports that will increase revenues for the country. I think all Jamaicans, all schools and teachers, have to become conscious that there is a desperate need for us to become Spanish speaking,” he said.

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