GUEST OF HONOUR: The Leader of the Free World is coming! According to reports, US Commander-in-Chief President Barack Obama will be paying a state visit to the island April 9, on the eve of the Summit of the Americas, to be held in Panama from April 10-11. Terrific news. While in Jamaica, the US President will attend meetings with CARICOM heads for talks on a raft of pressing issues, not least among them security and trade. The CARICOM-US Summit will be co-chaired by President Obama and Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie, who is also the current Chairman of CARICOM. "We are confident that the visit will be marked by fruitful dialogue and exchanges," PM Portia Simpson-Miller has said, "that will serve to strengthen the close relations that exist at the bilateral level between Jamaica and the USA and between the USA and CARICOM." In 1982, Ronald Reagan was the first serving US President to visit Jamaica.
WORLD STAGE: To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a special meeting of the United Nations General Assembly is being convened on March 20. Jamaica's own Professor Verene Shepherd will be in attendance to deliver a keynote address at the special commemorative sitting. Observing the theme "Learning from historical tragedies to combat racial discrimination today," the special sitting coincides with the commencement of the International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024. The current chairperson of Jamaica's National Commission on Reparations, Professor Shepherd is a member of the UN Working Group of Experts of Peoples of African Descent."