"January 4: The Us secretary of State, Henry Kissinger , left Jamaica , unsuccessful in his mission to dissuade Manley from supporting the presence of Cuban troops in Angola. Despite this failure, he assured Manley that there was no CIA interference in Jamaica, but did not add that the CIA station in Kingston had just been strengthened by the arrival of a new chief, Norman Descoteaux, a man with recent field experience in Argentina and Ecuador where it was thought other destabilisation campaigns had previously taken place. "
I wasn't going to post today. But as I sit here in the comfort of my Northeast Philly home, one eye on my phone, and the other on CNN, I am scared for my country, my family, and my friends that are down in Jamaica. Hurricane Dean is making a bee line for the country I love like no other. It is intent on a path of destruction and mayhem. I am not a praying person, but for those of you who are;please do what you do and send up a request to whatever god you happen to believe in.
I was also thinking about something my man Chris-that increasingly angry black man, and Princeton grad-said in the comments section of my last post. Chris waxed poetic about the poverty and lawlessness which is at times prevalent in the island, and the politicians there who far too often line their own pockets at the expense of the masses. I am here to tell you that some of what Chris said is actually true. I am sitting here lamenting over 260 murders in Philly, a city of 1.5 million people, when I know damn good and well, that just recently, the murder count in Jamaica topped 1,000. And Jamaica is a country of about 3 million people. And I am, also aware of the gap between the have and have nots in Jamaica, which clearly makes it a Third World country.
But I have to respectfully disagree with Chris about all the real causes for Jamaica's problems, because I think that I am in a unique position to address it. In the mid seventies, I was a youngster growing up in Jamaica. I lived through the brain drain and the flight of the islands wealthy, and powerful financial class. Honestly, my family could have left too, but we didn't. Primarily because of my father's commitment to his work, and his love for his island home. But I saw it first hand. The destabilization, the CIA supplying guns and ammo to the gangs of the opposition Jamaica Labor Party, and the IMF's cruel, impractical, and unrealistic demands on the Jamaican banks and its government.
"But field why would the U.S. care about destabilizing the Jamaican government and bringing it to its knees? Isn't Jamaica just a happy go lucky tourist destination where we go to hear some reggae music, and if you are so inclined smoke a little ganja every now and then?" Good question, but the answer is a rather simple one. Ideology. You see, the leader of Jamaica at the time, was a man by the name of Michael Manley. A man, who contrary to what Chris alleged about the typical Jamaican politician, actually cared about his people, and their plight. Michael Manley was; gasp, a Socialist! He believed that the islands wealthy class should pay more taxes, and things like literacy training, and proper health care should be made more affordable to all Jamaicans. He believed that Jamaica should work closely with our neighbors to the North, the Cubans. He believed that Fidel Castro and the Cubans, actually had some good ideas that the Jamaican government should adopt. He cross trained Jamaican dentist and doctors in Cuba. (free of charge thanks to the Cuban government) With the help of the Cuban government micro dams were built, agricultural schools were started, and many of Jamaica's poor actually started to see their lives improve. But alas, America could not have that; nope, not another Socialist country so close to our shores. Michael Manley had to be stopped. So what did Washington do? Well, not only did they, along with the other G7 countries and the IMF, put some draconian policies in place to control the Jamaican governments spending, but they unleashed the CIA and its agents like Phillip Agee on the Jamaican political scene, and they wreaked their havoc from a street level. What followed were political gang wars and fighting of unprecedented proportions. Chris, I know of what I speak, I lived through it. Honestly, it's what shapes my views of politics to this day. The term politics is a "blood sport" takes on a literal meaning for me.
"In Washington they just looked at us and said, 'No, no, no. Your inflation last year was 18% and we are not allowing you to lend to your farmers at 12%. You must charge 23%.'" That's what Michael Manley said at the height of his frustrations with Washington. His hands were tied, and Washington wanted it that way.
So as another hurricane goes barrelling towards Jamaica to do unprecedented damage, let's not forget another metaphorical Hurricane that hit my Island home about thirty years ago. With all due respect to the National Hurricane Service, I will call it Hurricane Sam, as in Uncle Sam. We still haven't recovered from that one, and it's effects will be felt long after the clean up from Dean is over.
Thank you Mr. Kissinger.