Several Jamaicans staged a demonstration on Sept. 26 near the United Nations headquarters in New York to register their opposition to potential mining activities in the island’s Cockpit Country.

The protesters who bore placards started at 47th Street before moving to the Jamaican Consulate on Third Avenue. The protest was led by the Council of Overseas Maroons.

The gathering was the second such initiative in New York explicitly designed to coincide with Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ trip to address the United Nations on climate change.

Another demonstration was held earlier in that week at the same location.

The Jamaican government is the majority shareholder in the Noranda Bauxite Co., owning 51% while private owners have the rest. Opponents of the mining operation said it would threaten the Cockpit Country and other Maroon territories, which are mostly underdeveloped agricultural regions with about 73,000 residents.

Sophia Walsh, a St. Catherine resident, spoke to the The Gleaner about the reason for the demonstrations.

“We are an organic, spiritually led gathering, and we are here to bring attention to our concerns about bauxite mining in the Cockpit Country,” she said.

“Mining there will adversely affect the water supply, the environment, the flora, the fauna, and the cultural heritage of the Maroons, and any such plans must be scrapped immediately,” the cultural activist added.

The Jamaican contingent was one of several international groups protesting various issues outside of the United Nations on Sept. 26 amid ramped up security presence in Manhattan. Many stakeholders — residents, environmentalists, and supporters — have rejected the government’s Cockpit Country Protected Area boundaries, saying that it leaves out a large section of the biodiverse region, which is a major water source for western Jamaica.

— (The New York Carib News)

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