In the aftermath of this week’s verbal Twitter battle between United States Ambassador to Jamaica Donald Tapia and Jamaicans on the social media platform, the Government has declared that it has been assured it will never happen again.
In a Twitter post this morning, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith said she had spoken to Tapia about the “inappropriate” comments that emanated from his Twitter account.
“I am aware of certain inappropriate tweets made from the twitter account of the US Ambassador which have been deleted,” Johnson Smith said.
“I have spoken with the Ambassador and he is aware that the engagement was not appropriate for a diplomatic representative. He assured me that it will not recur.”
The Ambassador had been trying to defend comments he made last week warning the Jamaican Government against partnering with Chinese firms in the establishment of 5G infrastrucure on the island.
The argument had started after a Twitter user appeared to question whether Tapia considered himself the “Governor of Jamaica” as the user responded to a news article posted on the platform about his concerns.
The comment was followed by several other tweets from Jamaicans suggesting Tapia should “mind his own business”.
But in a move uncharacteristic of a diplomat, Tapia, or the handler of his social media account, jumped headfirst into the discussion.
“You have a prime minister not a governor. You don’t know who runs your own country,” Tapia tweeted.
In reaction a user tweeted: “Anyone afraid to tell Tapia to mind his own business? Or are they afraid lose their visas?”
Tapia in turn responded: “You must have been turned down, sounds like your angry”.
The exchange was followed by Tapia responding to several other tweets as well, including suggesting that one person was on ‘Too much Ganga’ (a mispelling of ganja).
Responding to another Twitter user who accused the ambassador of “drinking rum or red bull or your trying to make a joke of me”, Tapia said: “I don’t drink and you are a joke”.
After another user wrote: “I don’t drink American made vodka”, Tapia said: “You can’t afford it, you drink the cheap stuff.”
Addressing another Twitter user, the ambassador said: “Only countries we sanction are Totalitarian governments, I know that’s a big word for you.”
Yesterday, responding to Johnson Smith’s tweet, Twitter users were unwilling to let up on their criticisms of the ambassador, with one individual declaring: “It’s always good to know the character of the people we have to work with, especially when the stakes are so high”.
Jamaica’s regulator of mobile technology, the Spectrum Management Authority, is currently laying the groundwork for the onset of 5G services locally. The SMA is now researching and putting in place new monitoring tools available for 5G technologies given the need for additional monitoring tools and adjustment to its monitoring techniques.
In speaking about the idea of Jamaica working with Chinese companies on 5G infrastructure, Tapia had last week said: “You either have to look to the East to the two-headed dragon, or you’re gonna have to look to the North. It’s a decision your Government will have to make.”
He further added that if Jamaica should work with Chinese firms it would have negative consequences for the country’s banking sector and financial transactions as well as aid granted after natural disasters.
Subsequently, in addressing those comments from Tapia, the Chinese Embassy in Kingston had said it firmly rejected and condemned the remarks.
“Ambassador Tapia’s allegations about China and Chinese enterprises are filled with Cold War mentality and hegemonistic mindset, which fully expose the consistent US practice of arbitrarily interfering in other countries’ domestic and foreign policies and forcing small and medium-sized countries to choose sides,” the Chinese Embassy said.
With his controversial tweets now deleted, Tapia, up to the time of this article, had yet to post any new response to the public on the matter.