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JM | Oct 29, 2020

US Ambassador apologises to Jamaican Twitter

/ Our Today

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Tapia promises person responsible for “inappropriate” tweets to be sent home early

United States Ambassador to Jamaica Donald Tapia (Photo: Contributed)

United States Ambassador to Jamaica Donald Tapia has apologised to users on Twitter for “inappropriate” tweets made from a social media account connected to him and declared that the individual responsible will be sent back to the US earlier than anticipated in response.

Tapia, speaking to journalist Cliff Hughes on his Nationwide News Network talk programme, Cliff Hughes Online, took responsibility for the posts from his official Twitter handle, @AmbassadorUS_JA, but claimed he did not make the posts himself.

He said the person who made the posts had arrived in the island just about four weeks ago, and was due for rotation out of the country, but that rotation would take place earlier and he would not be coming back.

The tweets, posted on Tuesday, came during a heated back and forth between Tapia and several Jamaican Twitter users who were upset over his warning of possible sanctions if Jamaica were to engage with China on the setting up of 5G network infrastructure in the island.

In a move uncharacteristic of a diplomat, posts were made from Tapia’s Twitter handle insulting several users, suggesting one was on “too much ganga” and that another was sounding angry and “must have been turned down” for a US visa.

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, while speaking to Hughes, Tapia said he recognised he was a guest of Jamaica and that the tweets were unacceptable.

“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.”

Kamina Johnson Smith, minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade

In a Twitter post earlier in the 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 Twitter row exploded in responded to comments made by Tapia last week when, in speaking about the idea of Jamaica working with Chinese companies on 5G infrastructure, he 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.”

The ambassador had 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.

Subsequent to those comments, the Chinese Embassy in Kingston had said it firmly rejected and condemned the remarks.

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