The US ambassador to Jamaica, Donald Tapia, deleted a series of insulting posts on his official and verified Twitter account after engaging in a row with some Jamaicans on the social media platform on Tuesday.
The back and forth started after the ambassador shared a link to an interview he granted warning the Jamaican government about alleged dangers involved in implementing a 5G mobile network by Chinese companies, Huawei and ZTE, Loop Jamaica reports.
The United States government has long claimed Huawei can use its technology for spying purposes as it can reportedly access mobile-phone networks of its users through “back doors” that were created for law enforcement agencies. The Chinese technology giant, however, denies those allegations.
Following the post, Tapia, a wealthy Republican donor, philanthropist, and Trump supporter, was accused by some Jamaican social media users of poking his nose into the affairs of the Caribbean nation. The ambassador responded to critics in a series of tense exchanges.
When a user responded to Tapia’s post by reminding him of a New York Times report that claimed Trump had a Chinese bank account, the ambassador replied: “Too much Ganga.” The “ganga” was in reference to “ganja”, the local slang for marijuana in the island nation.
After a different user asked: “So what is he now? The Governor of Jamaica”, Tapia replied by tweeting: “You have a prime minister not a governor. You don’t know who runs your own country.”
Another user who asked if people were “afraid” to tell the ambassador to “mind his own business” out of fear of losing their visas, was told by Tapia: “You must have been turned down, sounds like your afraid.”
When a different user said Tapia was “drinking rum or red bull or your trying to make a joke of me”, the ambassador responded by tweeting: “I don’t drink and you are a joke.”
When another user also tweeted: “I don’t drink American made vodka”, Tapia told the user: “You can’t afford it, you drink that cheap stuff.”
Following the outbursts, Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson-Smith, shared a tweet on Thursday saying she had spoken with Tapia over his “inappropriate tweets”, and the ambassador assured her it won’t happen again.
“I am aware of certain inappropriate tweets made from the twitter account of the US Ambassador which have been deleted,” Johnson-Smith tweeted. “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.”
I am aware of certain inappropriate tweets made from the twitter account of the US Ambassador which have been deleted. 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.— Hon. Kamina J Smith (@kaminajsmith) October 29, 2020
Tapia also issued an apology in an interview on Nationwide News Network. He, however, denied he was behind the tweets.
“I take full responsibility for what took place. I believe the individual will be leaving shortly, because it was inappropriate … I don’t know what was actually tweeted out, I have not looked at it,” Tapia said.
“To the people that were involved on Twitter, I have to apologise to them, very deeply … I’ve always said that I’m here as your guest and guests don’t talk or act in that matter. I stand by that today as I did the day that I arrived here.”