Jamaica History

Jamaica History

Jamaica is an island and country of the Greater Antilles, 240 km long and a maximum of 80 km wide, located in the Caribbean Sea. It is 630 km from the Central American subcontinent, 150 km south of Cuba and 180 km west of the island of Hispaniola, which includes Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Kingston is the capital city of Jamaica according to simplyyellowpages.

The first settlers of the island were the Arawaks and the Tainos, who arrived on the island between 1000 and 400 BC. They remained on the island until the arrival of the British.

Jamaica was a Spanish possession after Christopher Columbus arrived on the island in 1494. Columbus used the island as a mini-state for his family. English Admiral William Penn and General Robert Venables took the island in 1655. In its first 200 years of British rule, Jamaica became the world’s largest sugar exporter, producing 77,000 tons a year between 1820 and 1824. This productivity would never have been achieved without the slave labor brought in from Africa.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the great dependence on slavery of the British Empire meant that the population of African Americans on the island was 20 times that of whites, a situation that constantly threatened riots and conflicts. After a series of revolts, slavery was officially abolished in 1834.

In the 20th century, Jamaica was gaining independence from the United Kingdom, in 1958 it became a province of the Federation of the West Indies, achieving its total independence on August 6, 1962.

Last ten years in 1972 triumphs Party National People of Jamaica (PNP) and in the elections of December of 1976, the PNP itself won a landslide victory that cemented its parliamentary majority. With renewed impetus, Manley spoke out for socialism within the current constitutional framework.

Jamaica began to have a more active voice in the Non-Aligned Movement and adopted positions of solidarity with the African anti-colonial movements. This introduced tensions in relations with the United States; the mining transnationals reduced their production, and transferred the operations to other countries. Consequently, export earnings fell, and with them, funds for social projects.

In 1979 Manley sat down to negotiate with the IMF, in 1980 he suspended the talks, pointing out that the conditions imposed by the credit organization implied a drastic fall in the standard of living of the population. Manley called early elections in 1980. The elections were marked by the destabilization generated by the right-wing opposition, which later obtained a great victory. The new government of Edward Seaga of the PL expelled the Cuban ambassador and imposed a policy of total openness to foreign investment. The result determined the increase in unemployment and the external debt doubled between 1981 and 1983.

In 1983 Jamaica joined the small group of Caribbean countries that gave diplomatic backing and symbolic military cooperation to the US invasion of Grenada. A month later, encouraged by the favorable political moment, Seaga anticipated the parliamentary elections. The PNP boycotted the elections; the governing party was the only one that presented candidates and kept the 60 seats.

In 1989, the PNP came to power again, strengthened by its victory in the 1986 municipal elections. The government program, very different from that of 1976, was based on economic liberalism and on preserving good relations with the United States. Manley also resumed relations with Cuba. Although he announced that the agreements with the IMF would be respected, the prime minister also clarified that he would not admit that inequalities would worsen: his objective was to maintain economic growth and a better distribution of wealth.

In April of 1992, Percival James Patterson, known as PJ Patterson was appointed prime minister instead of Manley, who resigned from office after a long illness. Promising labor guarantees, in 1992 the government began the privatization of nearly 300 companies and public services. The package included the entire sugar industry.

In March 1993 Patterson was reelected. Labor – again led by Seaga – refused to participate in the 1994 by-elections in disagreement with the electoral system. The defeat precipitated the party’s fracture and the National Democratic Movement was formed from the split. Patterson’s policies were maintained, adopting measures in accordance with multilateral credit organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank.

During the campaign for parliamentary elections in December of 1997 violence it reached such levels that determined the mass resignation of candidates. Jamaica withdrew from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1998, as a result of its opposition to the death penalty, a practice used by this and other Caribbean countries.

In 1999 the army took to the streets to control the riots that caused the price increases (for example, fuel had increased by 30%). In 2002, the 40th anniversary of independence, Patterson was again elected for his third consecutive term as Prime Minister. This time the elections were relatively peaceful. Patterson continued with the policy of economic liberalism, which involved an initial boom in the financial sector that later faded. In foreign policy, Patterson appealed for autonomy and in 2003 proposed a constitutional reform to turn Jamaica into a republic, and cut ties with the colonial past.

In September 2004, due to the passage of Hurricane Ivan, several towns suffered floods and mudslides. In several localities, basic services such as energy, drinking water supply and the telephone were interrupted. Thousands of people sought refuge in the rest of the island and the government declared a state of emergency to prevent any situation of public disorder.

The 30 of March of 2006, Portia Simpson Miller, of the PNP, he became the first Jamaican to hold the office of prime minister. Miller replaced Patterson after winning his party’s election. Shortly thereafter, the PL leader, Bruce Golding, offered a series of proposals to address human rights, direct the national economy and carry out a constitutional reform.

The 2006 Amnesty International Report placed Jamaica on the list of countries in which the police used excessive force to combat crime and public disorder, and of those in which a large number of human rights violations were verified. humans.

Miller announced in July of 2007, the holding of elections by the end of August. If successful, Miller would guarantee his full term of office.

The original capital of Jamaica was the Spanish town of Saint Catherine, the former colonial capital. The Spanish renamed the city as Santiago de la Vega. In 1655 when the British took the island, most of the capital was burned by British troops. The city was rebuilt and called Spanish Town, it remained the island’s capital until 1872, when Kingston became the capital.

Jamaica History