Jamaican political conflict

The Jamaican political conflict is a long standing feud between right-wing and left-wing elements in the country, often exploding into violence. The Jamaican Labor Party and the People's National Party have fought for control of the island for years and the rivalry has encouraged urban warfare in Kingston. Each side believes the other to be controlled by foreign elements, the JLP is said to be backed by the American Central Intelligence Agency and the PNP is said to been backed by the Soviet Union and Fidel Castro.[1]

Jamaican political conflict
Part of Cold War
Date1943 – present
Parties to the civil conflict

Jamaican Labor Party

Supported by:
 United States (Accused)

People's National Party

Supported by:
 Cuba (Accused)
 Soviet Union (Accused)
 Russia (Accused)



By 1943 the JLP and PNP had established themselves as Jamaica's main rival political parties coming out of the recent Caribbean labor unrest. After the election of 1944 violence became a common aspect of their rivalry. Alexander Bustamante began to encourage the attack of PNP sympathizers, claiming they were communists.[2]


Political violence had become commonplace in Jamaica. Political parties began paying off crime bosses for local gang support. Assassination threats and attempts also starting becoming more frequent.[3] Sporadic political violence would evolve into outright urban warfare after a series of violent outbursts. The Henry rebellion, the Coral Gardens uprising, the anti-Chinese riots of 1965, the state of emergency of 1966-67, and finally the Rodney riots. These events sparked an emerging ethnic nationalist element to the political conflict and increased partisan warfare.[4]

By the 1976 election over a hundred had been murdered during the conflict and political parties began forming paramilitary divisions.[5] In 1978 five JLP supporters were massacred by official Jamaican soldiers.[6] Reggae music became a voice for peace in the country and the landmark One Love Peace Concert was held in hopes of peace. By the 1980 election 844 people were murdered in political violence preceding the vote.[7]

Recent developments

Despite many peace accords it is still common for political parties to pay off criminals for support and encourage paramilitary garrisons.[8]

See also


  1. ^ "Jamaica's Political War". Washington Post. September 5, 1994.
  2. ^ Williams, Karen. "The Evolution of Political Violence in Jamaica 1940-1980". Columbia University.
  3. ^ "Assassination plots and the birth of political violence in Jamaica". Jamaica Observer.
  4. ^ Lacey, Terry. "Violence and Politics in Jamaica, 1960-70: Internal Security in a Developing Country". Jamaica Observer.
  5. ^ Fisher, Trey. "Political Violence in Jamaica". Washington State University.
  6. ^ Gunst, Laurie. Born Fi' Dead. Canongate Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1841953861. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  7. ^ "The bloody general election that changed Jamaica". Jamaica Observer.
  8. ^ "Evolution Of Garrison Politics". Jamaica Gleamer.
Colony of Jamaica

Jamaica was an English colony from 1655 (when it was captured by the English from Spain) or 1670 (when Spain formally ceded Jamaica to the English), and a British Colony from 1707 until 1962, when it became independent. Jamaica became a Crown colony in 1866.

Colony of Santiago

Santiago was a Spanish territory of the Spanish West Indies and within the Viceroyalty of New Spain, in the Caribbean region. Its location is the present-day island and nation of Jamaica.

Green Bay massacre

The Green Bay Massacre was a covert operation on 5 January 1978, in which five Jamaica Labour Party supporters were shot dead after being lured into an ambush at the Green Bay Firing Range by members of the Jamaica Defence Force.

History of Jamaica

The Caribbean island of Jamaica was inhabited by the Arawak tribes prior to the arrival of Columbus in 1494. Early inhabitants of Jamaica named the land "Xaymaca", meaning "Land of wood and water". The Spanish enslaved the Arawaks, who were so ravaged by their conflict with the Europeans and by foreign diseases that nearly the entire native population was extinct by 1600. The Spanish also transported hundreds of West African slaves to the island.

In the year 1655, the English invaded Jamaica, defeating the Spanish colonists. Enslaved Africans seized the moment of political turmoil and fled to the island's interior, forming independent communities (known as the Maroons). Meanwhile, on the coast, the English built the settlement of Port Royal, which became a base of operations for pirates and privateers, including Captain Henry Morgan.

In the 18th century, sugar cane replaced piracy as British Jamaica's main source of income. The sugar industry was labour-intensive and the British brought hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans to Jamaica, so that by 1850 black Jamaicans outnumbered whites by a ratio of twenty to one. Enslaved Jamaicans mounted over a dozen major uprisings during the 18th century, including Tacky's revolt in 1760. There were also periodic skirmishes between the British and the mountain communities, culminating in the First Maroon War of the 1730s and the Second Maroon War of the 1790s.

Pre-Columbian Jamaica

Around 650 AD, Jamaica was colonized by the people of the Ostionoid culture (ancestors of the Taíno), who likely came from South America. Alligator Pond in Manchester Parish and Little River in St. Ann Parish are among the earliest known sites of this Ostionoid culture, also known as the Redware culture. These people lived near the coast and extensively hunted turtles and fish.Around 950 AD, the people of the Meillacan culture settled on both the coast and the interior of Jamaica, either absorbing the Redware culture or co-inhabiting the island with them.The Taíno culture developed on Jamaica around 1200 AD. They brought from South America a system of raising yuca known as "conuco." To add nutrients to the soil, the Taíno burned local bushes and trees and heaped the ash into large mounds, into which they then planted yuca cuttings.Taíno society was divided into two classes: naborias (commoners) and mitaínos (nobles). These were governed by chiefs known as caciques (who were male), who were advised by priests/healers known as bohiques. Caciques enjoyed the privilege of wearing golden pendants called guanín and sitting on wooden stools to be above the guests they received. Bohiques were extolled for their healing powers and ability to speak with gods.

The Taíno had a matrilineal system of kinship, descent and inheritance. When a male heir was not present, the inheritance or succession would go to the oldest male child of the deceased's sister. The Taíno had avunculocal post-marital residence, meaning a newly married couple lived in the household of the maternal uncle. He was more important in the lives of his niece's children than their biological father; the uncle introduced the boys to men's societies.

Most Taíno lived in large circular buildings (bohios), constructed with wooden poles, woven straw, and palm leaves. These houses, built surrounding the central plaza, could hold 10-15 families each. The cacique and his family lived in rectangular buildings (caney) of similar construction, with wooden porches. Taíno home furnishings included cotton hammocks (hamaca), sleeping and sitting mats made of palms, wooden chairs (dujo or duho) with woven seats, platforms, and cradles for children.The Taíno played a ceremonial ball game called batey. Opposing teams had 10 to 30 players per team and used a solid rubber ball. Normally, the teams were composed of men, but occasionally women played the game as well. The games were often played on courts in the village's center plaza and are believed to have been used for conflict resolution between communities. The most elaborate ball courts are found at chiefdoms' boundaries. Often, chiefs made wagers on the possible outcome of a game.Taino spoke an Arawakan language and did not have writing. Some of the words used by them, such as barbacoa ("barbecue"), hamaca ("hammock"), kanoa ("canoe"), tabaco ("tobacco"), yuca, batata ("sweet potato"), and juracán ("hurricane"), have been incorporated into Spanish and English.

Jamaican political conflict
Frozen conflicts
Foreign policy
See also
East and
South Asia
West Asia

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