Ask any middle aged or elderly Jamaican and they will tell you that the early to mid 70s were the best of times for Jamaica. Just a decade after gaining her independence from the British, she was well on her way to great heights. Her bauxite industry was booming, farming was very strong and tourism which has remained strong until today was doing very well also. The high grade marijuana was also growing lush and green from Westmoreland to St. James, and if tourism was booming, then it goes without saying that the marijuana farmers were doing very well.
During this time the Jamaican Government bought a lot of unused land and distributed it to those who wanted to farm but did not have land of their own. The country also had a thriving educational system for her youths. They had some top learning institutions with high schools like Cornwall College, Kingston College, Calabar, Jamaican college and many others. For higher learning, the main campus for the University of the West Indies was right there in Jamaica. For the adults that did not get an eduction under the British system the Jamaica Movement for Adult Literacy (JAMAL).
Jamaica was feeling irie from corner to crevice even though the slogan “Jamaica No Problem” was still a work in progress but for the most part, it was a positive vibration in the little island. Ska was fading but roots reggae was taking on life, so the joy of music was flooding the country. Picture Jamaica in these times to be something like the Harlem Renaissance right before the crack epidemic took its toll. “Ain’t no stopping us now” or so it would seem.
There were great pain and destruction awaiting this small tiny Island though. The then prime minister, Michael Manley, was a socialist who was very close to Fidel Castro of Cuba. For America that was much too close for comfort. This was also about the time when South Africa invaded Angola and Cuba decided to intervene. The United States knowing the close relationship between Jamaica and Cuba sent the then National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger to Jamaica to get Michael Manley to convince Castro to not get involved in Angola. It is interesting that the United States had no problem with apartheid South Africa invading Angola, but that’s another topic for another day. Michael Manley refused and Cuba would eventually defeat the South African invasion of Angola. Then to make matters worse, Michael Manley felt like Jamaica needed to make more profit from her natural resources and therefore established a levy on her bauxite. With a lot of American companies mining bauxite in Jamaica, this wouldn’t sit well with the American Government.
So with a socialist Government, close relationship with Cuba and a bauxite levy on American companies, you could guess what was next for Jamaica; American CIA intervention. One thing Jamaica probably should have done, but did not do, was after her independence she should have imitated parts of the American constitution while she was writing her own. Specifically the part about having to be born in the United States to be a U.S president. You don’t have to be born in Jamaica to be the country’s prime minister. So there was room for the foreign born Edward Seaga or has some call him “Edward CIAga” or “Edward See the hag ya” to try and push Michael Manley out of Power at America’s request. Edward Seaga by the way was born in Boston Massachusetts to Lebanese parents. In all honesty, if not Edward Seaga, the American CIA would have found someone else, maybe even a Jamaican to head their campaign of destabilizing Jamaica (Remember Grenanda and Maurice Bishop).
When America saw that Michael Manley would not be their puppet they turned to the Bostonian Seaga and Jamaica has never been the same since. In came the guns from America to arm Jamaicans to kill other Jamaicans. Another thing Jamaica would have done well imitating from America, is the fact that despite how the Democrats and Republicans hate each other, they don’t kill each other. Sadly, that’s a lesson Jamaica never learned.
There are some who believe that the shooting of Bob Marley was done by Edward Seaga’s Party as Bob Marley was considered an ally of Michael Manley. Members of the Manley lead People National Party (PNP) could not venture on the Seaga lead Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) territory and vice verse. Political violence ripped through the heart of Jamaica and has a result there was a tremendous brain drain as thousands of Jamaicans migrated to England and the United States to get away from the violence. With the ongoing violence and the most educated Jamaicans leaving the country, the country was left in despair.
So because of a close relationship with Cuba, a socialist Government and a levy on her own resources Jamaica has had to bear some tremendous pain, which she continues to bear even today. Michael Manley was not innocent of the political violence. It was not just JLP killing PNP, they were killing each other. It is interesting, however, that the violence was lead by an American born politician who with the support of America would become prime minister of Jamaica, when at the same time, no foreign born national could have become president in America. What was good for the goose was not good for the gander.
America completely took control of Jamaica with a puppet JLP Government. They pretty much killed the farming and turn completely to tourism so they could bring in American Companies to reestablish legal slavery on the island.
Now there is a lot more to Jamaica’s demise, i.e. the role the World Bank and IMF played but that is for another blog and another time. It would take a very long essay to get into details of all the issues surrounding Jamaica’s demise. Hopefully some of you will add some of the parts I left out in your comments.