Jamaica history continues as slaves were still allowed to work on the plantations but this time time they were paid…but not much.Just about this same time, Marcus Garvey’s was staking his claim in Jamaica history.
Though they were free, life was even harder because they had to fend for themselves and families.
By 1863, sugar production fell and so did Jamaica’s status in sugar production. New competition in Europe was churning out beet sugar.
The colonizers were now forced to turn to coffee and banana as the new source of income which worked well until the great depressions of the 1930’s.
Enter The 20th Century
He traveled around the world preaching his message of Black nationalism: self-government and self-help economics as the answer to worldwide existing racial discrimination against blacks.
He suggested that blacks return to Africa and create their own economy independent of the white man’s economy.
His effort would see the formation of the UNIA (Universal Negro Improvement Association) in 1914 as a mode to actually make it happen.
In 1916, he migrated to the United Sates still preaching his message, but was imprisoned and later deported.
In 1929, he found the PPP (People’s Political Party) ran in the national elections, but was unsuccessful.
In 1930, he migrated to England and continued his crusade. He died in 1940.
His message still resonates with blacks around the world. He is now officially recognized as one of the national heroes of Jamaica history
Alexander Bustamante came on the scene as a leader of the struggle against the existing colonial rule
In 1938, he lead workers in a strike against the the system.
Encouraged by results, he form the first trade union in Jamaica history, the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU).
…an organization designed to empower the workers.
His cousin Norman Manley also formed a new political party, the People’s National Party (PNP)in a move toward nationalism.
Bustamante did not agree with Manley on all fronts, so he in-turn formed the Jamaican Labor Party (JLP)in 1943.
Elections were held in 1944. JLP won 22 of the 32 available seats to become the most influential party on the island.
Meanwhile, tourism and bauxite had taken over from banana and coffee and drove the island economy to prosperity…this helped to stabilize the politics as everyone benefited.
Over time, JLP would adopted a capitalist philosophy while the PNP headed in a democratic socialistic direction…two contrasting political styles that would take turn leading the island and add some twist to Jamaica history.
After the first election, JLP stayed in power until 1955 at which time the PNP took over…
Under PNP leadership with Norman Manley at the helm, Jamaica became a member of the Federation of the West Indies in 1958, a move that was opposed by the JLP opposed but supported by the PNP.
To solve the disagreement, Manley call the first referendum in Jamaica history. Voting was held and the result was unanimous, the people wanted out of the federation and move towards independence.
Immediately thereafter, Manley appointed a committee to start working on a constitution for an independent Jamaica.
Later he led the charge in negotiating independence with the British and independence was granted on August 6, 1962.
An election followed, JLP won, and Alexander Bustamante was voted the first Prime Minister of the Island.
A period of prosperity followed as foreign investment increased in many industries.
The JLP stayed in power until 1972 at which time, Michael Manley, Norman Manley’s son stepped into power.
He worked to improve relations with Cuba, set a minimum wage, and helped the poorer classes…at a cost.Taxes were imposed on the the bauxite industry, production dropped, and the economy slumped.
In an attempt to make the country more self-sufficient, Manley proposed breaking alliances with the United States and aligning with socialist Cuba.
Economic sanctions were quickly imposed by the United States and things got even worse.
Opposition leader Edward Seaga the new JLP leader came on the scene and immediately started attacking the PNPs administration, and labeling it communist.
Despite the attacks and the political violence, PNP won the 1976 elections.
Hard Times in Jamaica History
Things got worse economically the next four year, and Manley proposed a military solution. Fear took grip of the island as many thought we would move toward communism.
I remember this very well. I was 18 years old at the time, just graduated from high school, and very very afraid of the unknown.
Elections were called (1980), Seaga promised freedom and prosperity and won by a landslide.
People were just happy not to have gone into communism. The word was out that men were being sent to Cuba to train as Brigadistas (Milita men) in a effort to ensure military control, if PNP had won.
After the election, Seaga renewed alliance with the United States, and drop the taxes levied against the the bauxiteindustry. Seaga’s promise of prosperity never materialized as things got worse.
Many were finding it hard to find employment and violence increased. Elections were called again in 1989 and Seaga lost.
Manley was back in power again.
This time however, Manley maintained relations with the United States and continued with the old capitalistic model.
In 1992 as his health faded, Manley was forced to resign.
P.J. Patterson, Portia Simpson and Bruce Golding
He was succeeded by P.J. Patterson, the first black Prime minister in Jamaica history.
Elections were held in 1993 and PNP won again.
P.J. Patterson stayed in power until 2006..at which time he stepped aside and handed power to the country’s first female Prime Minister, Portia Simpson.
Her tenure lasted just a little over a year as elections were called again which JLP won.
The party was now under new leadership, as Bruce Golding took over from Seaga in 2005 when he retired.
Golding has been in power ever since…
Since this article was written, Andrew Holness came into power after Golding for a short stint…but the People’s National Party Portia Simpson is back in again…and is currently the PM of Jamaica…