Princeton University Library Catalog

Between the Third World and the Whole World: Manley's Doomed Campaign for Economic Independence and Change in Jamaica, 1972-1980

Wisdom, Lacey-Ann [Browse]
Senior thesis
Adelman, Jeremy I. [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of History [Browse]
Princeton University. Program in Latin American Studies [Browse]
Class year:
Summary note:
In the 1972, Jamaica elected its second Prime Minister, effectively initiating the first change in government since the country had gained its independence from the British in 1962. During the 50’s and 60’s, Jamaica had experienced significant growth in GDP due to the profitability of its bauxite industry and continuing productivity of the agricultural sector. Despite the island’s growth in prosperity, the country’s wealth distribution remained gravely unbalanced and upward social mobility difficult to attain. This caused many Jamaicans to begin to clamor for change and an improvement in their situation. The man who came to symbolize that change was the People’s National Party (PNP) candidate Michael Manley, who pledged that “better must come” for all Jamaicans. After he was elected in 1972, Manley quickly moved to dismantle the exploitative model of development that characterized many developing nations at the time. He instituted a new economic program called “democratic socialism,” which strove to nationalize Jamaica’s assets and help the island regain control over its own resources. However, the tinge of socialism, paired with Manley’s close relationship to Fidel Castro and expansive Jamaica-Cuba Cooperation Program in the late 70’s, had the effect of putting Jamaica at the center of the Cold War struggle between Cuba and the United States. Communist hysteria paired with the fear of losing profits due to increased regulation and nationalization, led the US to wage an intense destabilization campaign on the PNP government. While, scholarship often portrays Michael Manley’s failure to gain economic independence for Jamaica in the 1970’s as a series of missteps that were magnified by unlucky timing and his government’s radicalism, in this thesis, I challenge these interpretations of Manley’s inability to bring change. I argue that while timing was important, his government’s failure amounted to a combination of poor fiscal decisions, a questionable policy of alignment with Cuba, and rampant political violence. All of these factors were identified and manipulated by the US and JLP in order to remove Manley from power.