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News > Jamaica

Jamaica Celebrates 57 Years of Independence

  • Flag of Jamaica waving over the Caribbean Sea.

    Flag of Jamaica waving over the Caribbean Sea. | Photo: Twitter / @Peggie_mac

Published 6 August 2019

Its independence was a milestone in the fight against European colonialism in the XX century.

The Jamaican people celebrated Tuesday its 57th anniversary of their independence from the United Kingdom, an event which ended more than four centuries of colonialism, starting with the occupation of the island by the Spanish empire in 1509.


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While Jamaica's independence just was finally achieved in 1962, the island had been the scene of intense social struggles which began with slave rebellions.​​​​​​

When Jamaica came under English rule in 1655, the activism of Black and white abolitionists made revolts much more frequent on this island than in other British Caribbean colonies.

In the first decades of the twentieth century, a process of important political changes began. Journalist Marcus Garvey founded the Universal Black Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA) in 1914, a group that became a benchmark for the U.S. civil rights movement. He also founded the People’s Political Party (PPP) in 1929, the first formal political group created in Jamaica.

In 1938, colonial authorities harshly suppressed a sugar cane workers' protest. To stop this conflict, William Clarke, who became Jamaica's first prime minister in 1962, established a successful dialogue process with the British power.

As a result, the People's National Party (PNP) was created, a group that would play a decisive role in the Jamaican political life and in spreading socialist ideals.

Due to political differences with other PNP leaders, however, William Clarke founded the Jamaican Labor Party (JPL)in 1943.

Both the PPP and the JPL then led to a convergence between the struggle for independence and the struggle for workers' rights, which resulted in the “Black Nationalism,” a movement for which economic equality could not be achieved without also conquering racial equality.

After years of a struggle for independence driven mainly by those parties, Jamaica ceased to be an English colony on Nov. 20, 1944, and joined the West Indies Federation (WIF). In that year, the island acquired a new constitution, instituted universal suffrage and established the election of its parliament. ​​​​​​​

In 1962, the WIF was dissolved in May and Jamaica became totally independent from the U.K. on Aug. 6.

Regarding this historic date, Nicaragua’s Vice President Rosario Murillo sent Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness a message of congratulation.

"We wish to express to you, the people and the Government of Jamaica, our most sincere congratulations," Murillo said and recalled that both countries "share very strong historical and cultural ties," as the Nicaraguan Caribbean coast also remained under English rule during the First part of the 19th century.​​​​​​​

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