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Jamaica's Honourary Consul to Atlanta steps down

Vin Hazel Martin

Washington DC, Derrick A Scott - Jamaica’s Honorary Consul to Atlanta Georgia in the United States, Mr. Vin Martin is calling it quits after serving in that post for 16 years. He will demit that office at the end of June.

Mr. Martin, in a letter to Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency Stephen Vasciannie, said his decision to step down at this time was a personal one and was based on family commitments.

Mr. Martin said, “Being selected as one of a small cadre of individuals to have served among Jamaica’s elite Honorary Consular Corps is truly a privilege for which I am most thankful.  In fact, to have been an Honorary Consul for such an extended period confirms my commitment to serving my countrymen and my country. 

For me, being an Honorary Consul is a special honor for which I will be eternally grateful, especially to Ambassador Richard Bernal who was instrumental in my being selected to this position.   If I learnt one thing from this experience it is that to perform in this high visibility position takes dedication, commitment and a steely resolve to place country and countrymen above one’s self.”

The outgoing Honorary Consul pointed out, “In 1997 when I was installed as Jamaica’s third Honorary Consul in Atlanta by then Governor General Sir. Howard Cooke, I had no idea that I was embarking on a long term service to my country and the Jamaican citizens in Atlanta.  In fact, I had no idea that the Jamaican community which was estimated to be approximately eight to ten thousand just after the 1996 Olympic Games would have grown to over fifty thousand such residents at this time. 

I say this to say that the workload has grown astronomically as the years have progressed with a commensurate increase in the time required to serve this community efficiently.”

Mr. Martin, in reflecting on his16 years as the leader of the Jamaican community in Atlanta said, “I can think of no greater period than 2012 when, as a community, we organized over 9 separate events to celebrate Jamaica’s 50th Anniversary of Independence.  While there were many challenges, to have helped to organize and execute these events was truly one of the most gratifying periods of my service.”

The outgoing Jamaica representative in Atlanta pointed out, “To have served my country in this distinguished capacity will be one of the most memorable and satisfying experiences in my life. Indeed to have been given the opportunity to provide this service, albeit in an honorary capacity, is one of the highest honors that could have been bestowed upon me.”

In reacting to Mr. Martin’s announcement, prominent Jamaican resident in Atlanta and Dean of Emory University's School of Theology, The Rev. Dr. Noel Erskine said, “Mr. Martin served the Jamaican community as Honorary Consul with distinction in the southern states of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee over a period of 16 years. He is a transformational leader who always places the interests of Jamaica above political and factional ideologies. Jamaica gave Vin Martin to the United States and he gave to thousands of Jamaicans in the Diaspora a sense of destiny and a stake in their homeland. His legacy will endure for many years.”

He is the country of Jamaica’s lead representative in the Atlanta area and meets regularly with both Jamaican and local government officials on matters pertaining to the interest of Jamaicans. Among his consular duties, he acts as the liaison between the Jamaican government and the local Governments in the State of Georgia and is responsible for identifying trade opportunities between Georgian and Jamaican companies.

President of the Jamaica 50th Atlanta planning committee, Ms. Heather Potter said that

Mr. Martin leaves behind big shoes to fill as he worked tirelessly for the Jamaican community here in Georgia and was never being too busy to represent Jamaica at the many functions that are put on by the Caribbean community here. Mr. Martin always exemplified grace and wisdom and was a wonderful ambassador for Jamaica here in Georgia and the United States.

Mr. Martin is the Chair of the Atlanta-Montego Bay Sister Cities Committee, an organization that has for over twenty years led a medical team of dentists, nurses, doctors and other volunteers to serve the City of Montego Bay. This Committee is an affiliate of Sister Cities International, an international organization which controls sister cities relationships worldwide and whose honorary chair is the President of the United States.

The outgoing Honorary Consul has received several honors over the years from the Atlanta community as well as from Jamaica and the Consulate community. In 2006, Mr. Martin was appointed by Georgia Governor Sonny Purdue to serve as Board Member of Hemisphere, Inc., Mr. Martin is also the three times recipient of the Phoenix Award, this is the highest civilian award given by the City of Atlanta, from several Mayors, including Andy Young, Bill Campbell and Shirley Franklin and his the recipient of the Key to the City of Montego Bay.