Guide to Citizens’ Rights and Responsibilities

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Governments of the World
A Global Guide to Citizens’ Rights and Responsibilities
■ ■ ■

E D I T O R   I N   C H I E F
C. Neal Tate
Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science and Professor
of Law, Vanderbilt University
C. Neal Tate is Chair of the Department of Political Science at Vanderbilt
University. Previously, he was Dean of the Toulouse School of Graduate Studies
and Regents Professor of Political Science at the University of North Texas.
He has published widely on comparative judicial politics and international
human rights. Professor Tate has been Director of the Law and Social Science
Program of the U.S. National Science Foundation; President of the International
Political Science Association’s Research Committee on Comparative Judicial
Studies; President of the Southwest Political Science Association; and is
President-Elect of the Southern Political Science Association.
A S S O C I AT E   E D I T O R S
Martin Edelman
Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, University at Albany,
State University of New York
Stacia L. Haynie
Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science, Louisiana State
Donald W. Jackson
Professor, Department of Political Science, Texas Christian University
Mary L. Volcansek
Dean, AddRan College of Humanities and Social Sciences and Professor,
Department of Political Science, Texas Christian University
■ ■ ■

Governments of the World
A Global Guide to Citizens’ Rights and Responsibilities
V O L U M E   3

J A M A I C A t o P O L I T I C A L   P R O T E S T
C. Neal Tate, Editor in Chief
■ ■ ■

Governments of the World: A Global Guide to Citizens’ Rights and Responsibilities
C. Neal Tate, Editor in Chief
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Governments of the world: a global guide to citizens’ rights and responsibilities /
C. Neal Tate, editor-in-chief.
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Located in the northwestern Caribbean, Jamaica is the third largest island in
the Greater Antilles. It is located 145 kilometers (ninety miles) south of Cuba and
some 161 kilometers (100 miles) west of Haiti. Jamaica is a mountainous island
with a relatively narrow coastal plain. Much of its interior spine, stretching
225 kilometers (140 miles) from east to west, is above 457 meters (1,500 feet).
The highest reaches are in the east, where Blue Mountain Peak extends some
2,255 meters (7,400 feet) above sea level. 
Jamaica is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the
Organization of American States (OAS), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
and numerous other international and regional organizations. Jamaica is a par-
liamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy. Despite its independence
from the former colonial power Great Britain, the Queen of England remains
head of state. However, her powers are largely ceremonial and are undertaken
by her local representative, the governor-general, who is appointed by the
Queen under the advice of the prime minister in consultation with the leader
of the opposition. Real power resides with the prime minister, who is elected
as a member of the House of Representatives in general elections for sixty
constituency-based, single-member seats.
Elections are normally held every five years and the prime minister is appointed
by the governor-general, based on the confidence of the House majority. The
leader of the opposition is chosen based on an ability to command a majority of
those in the House who do not support the government. In this and other ways,
even though parties are never mentioned, the two-party system is informally
entrenched in the Jamaican constitution to the relative exclusion of third parties.
The party system also is recognized in the upper house or Senate, which
consists of nominated members. Thirteen members are nominated by the
prime minister and eight by the leader of the opposition.
For more than half a century, Jamaica has had an admirable electoral
system based on universal adult suffrage. The entire adult population, without
■ ■ ■  
G O V E R N M E N T S   O F   T H E   W O R L D

discrimination, has reasonable access to the vote. There has
been a history of relatively peaceful electoral change in which
the opposition party has repeatedly taken power. The Jamaican
press is free by any standard, and criticisms of the government,
the opposition, the police, and private sector leaders are rife on
daily talk shows and in leading newspapers. Jamaica also has
managed to retain, though under severe economic constraints,
a relatively adequate universal health system, comparatively
high levels of literacy, and a reasonably high level of post-
primary education.
On the negative side, the survival of Jamaican democracy
has been severely tested. This was evident in the widespread
electoral violence of 1980, and in the 1983 elections that were
boycotted by the major opposition party. Jamaica has a modern
history of political violence, augmented by domestic and drug-
related violence, that severely undermines security, the climate
for investment, and the perceived quality of life. There also have
been constant and disturbing cases of alleged extrajudicial
violence and murder carried out by the police force. The judicial
system, while apparently free of widespread corruption, has
been chronically slow in delivering justice. Within the inner city
there are a number of communities and districts, commonly
known as “garrison communities,” where illegal voting and
voter intimidation are common. Finally, there is a constant
threat to the deterioration of public facilities, such as schools,
hospitals, roads, and the transportation system, as the weak
economy and often flawed economic policies have led to a massive internal
debt, absorbing in recent years some 60 percent of the fiscal budget.
Before the arrival of Europeans, the island known as Xaymaica was settled
by the Tainos, a people who migrated up the Antilles from their origins in north-
eastern South America. Columbus first landed in 1494 and claimed the island for
Spain. By 1524 the Taino population had been decimated, either by death
through forced labor or from exposure to new diseases. Spanish domination of
Jamaica lasted for 150 years, until England captured the island in 1655.
English rule lasted for three hundred years, ending in 1962 when Jamaica
gained independence. Under England, plantation agriculture thrived. By the mid-
1700s Jamaica’s economy—based on slave labor and geared primarily toward the
cultivation of sugarcane—made it England’s most valuable overseas possession. 
England brought constitutional government to the island, but it was an order
founded on the dispossession and disenfranchisement of the vast majority of the
population. The system included a governor who represented the king, and a leg-
islature that was elected on a highly restricted property-based 
. West
Indian plantation society bred a racially based and 
social order. At the
base were the vast majority of black slaves, brought forcibly from West and Central
Africa in deplorable conditions across what became notoriously known as the
Middle Passage. In Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean, Africans from numerous
nations forged their own distinct culture. A medley of continental retentions and
eighteenth-century British borrowings, this highly adaptive Creole culture—best
exemplified in modern-day reggae music—has persisted and remains the vibrant
and dynamic culture of contemporary Jamaica.
G O V E R N M E N T S   O F   T H E   W O R L D
J a m a i c a
franchise: a right provided by statutory
or constitutional law; to give such a right
hierarchy: a group of people ranked according
to some quality, for example, social standing
■ ■ ■  
C a r i b b e a n
S e a
C a y m a n
T r e n c h
Hope Bay
Alligator Pond
Black River
Port Maria
St. Ann's
Morant Bay
Harbour Bay
50 Miles
50 Kilometers
10 20 30 40
10 20 30 40
Blue Mt. 
7,402 ft.
2256 m.

Modern Jamaican politics began with a labor rebellion in May 1938, when
riots broke out for better working conditions in the west. These soon spread
to the capital city of Kingston, where dockworkers went on strike, and then
to towns and estates on the rest of the island. The Jamaican uprising, accom-
panied by similar events in most of the other British Caribbean possessions,
signaled the existence of deep dissatisfaction with the social and political
order. A commission set up to examine the causes of the unrest, headed
by Lord Moyne (Walter Edward Guinness, 1880–1944), concluded that a cen-
tury after emancipation, the lot of the poor, black majority remained mired
in poverty. 
Among Jamaica’s middle classes, a growing nationalist fervor led to the
formation of the People’s National Party (PNP) in 1939. Led by the barrister
Norman Washington Manley (1893–1969), the PNP sought to forge a peaceful
and constitutional anticolonial mass movement guided by moderate 
principles. Manley, who came from a rural family, was a decorated World War I
veteran. He returned to Jamaica with his artist wife Edna, where he forged an
impeccable reputation as a trial lawyer.
Early PNP efforts to build a popular base were stymied by the presence of
another popular leader: Manley’s cousin, William Alexander Bustamante
(1884–1977). A moneylender and adventurer, Bustamante had won the confi-
dence of the popular majority when he stood with them in the streets during
the 1938 riots. He formed the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), to
which the vast majority of workers soon belonged. At first there was an alliance
between the PNP and the BITU, but Bustamante, following his detention by the
British during World War II (1939–1945), broke with the PNP and formed his
own political party, the Jamaica Labor Party ( JLP). 
In the first elections under universal adult suffrage (1944), the JLP defeated
the PNP, with Manley himself losing his seat. From then until 1989, electoral
politics followed a pattern dominated by these two parties, with one winning
for two terms and then alternating with the other. Since 1989, the pattern has
shifted, with the PNP winning successive elections in 1994, 1997, and 2002.
In 1960 the West Indies 
was formed, bringing together twelve
British colonies in the Caribbean in an arrangement that was seen as the prelude
to self-rule. Norman Manley, then premier of Jamaica, strongly supported the fed-
eration. Although Bustamante was at first supportive, he later changed his posi-
tion, arguing that it was against the island’s interests and proposing that Jamaica
should move to independence as a single nation. In 1961 a 
was held
and Bustamante’s position won out. In new elections a few months later, the JLP
won and Bustamante led Jamaica into independence on August 6, 1962.
P O S T- I N D E P E N D E N C E   P O L I T I C S
Jamaica’s post-independence history can be divided into four periods. In the
first (1962–1972), the JLP—under the leadership of Bustamante, followed by
Donald Sangster (1911–1967) and then Hugh Shearer (1923–2004)—sought to
establish a political and economic path closely allied with the West. By the late
1960s, however, in the face of rising unemployment, there was frustration with
what was perceived by many as the failed promises of independence. This came
to a climax in 1968 around the Rodney incident. Walter Rodney (1942–1980), a
young Guyanese historian at the University of the West Indies, had been banned
from returning to Jamaica after a trip abroad. Hundreds of students protested,
and when the police sought to break up the demonstrations they were joined by
thousands of the disgruntled urban population, causing significant property
G O V E R N M E N T S   O F   T H E   W O R L D
J a m a i c a
socialism: any of various economic and polit-
ical theories advocating collective or govern-
mental ownership and administration of the
means of production and distribution of
■ ■ ■  
federalism: a system of political organiza-
tion, in which separate states or groups are
ruled by a dominant central authority on
some matters, but are otherwise permitted
to govern themselves independently
referendum: a popular vote on legislation,
brought before the people by their elected
leaders or public initiative

damage in one day of intensive rioting. The Rodney riots signaled the death knell
of the Shearer-led JLP government. 
The second period began in 1972, when a renovated PNP under the lead-
ership of Michael Manley (1924–1997) Norman’s son, swept the polls and ini-
tiated the most tumultuous decade in Jamaica’s modern history. Developing
his populist skills in the National Workers Union (NWU)—the trade union
arm of the PNP— the younger Manley soon gained and perhaps exceeded the
popularity of either Bustamante or his father.
Michael Manley’s policies were reformist and extensive. A successful attempt
was made to renegotiate the earnings from Jamaica’s chief mineral exports of
bauxite and alumina. Policies were implemented to provide free education up
to university level for all students. A new and expansive housing program began
to address the housing shortage in the inner city and elsewhere.
However, some of the policies were more controversial. The attempt to
institute a 
national youth service program upset the conservative
middle and upper classes. Even more alarming to them, and to Jamaica’s tradi-
tional allies, was the new government’s emerging foreign policy. Manley sought
to balance Jamaica’s unreserved commitment to the West with new initiatives
involving the social democratic countries of Western Europe, the recently inde-
pendent countries of the 
Nonaligned Movement
, the Soviet 
, and most star-
tlingly, with Cuba.
On its newly developed platform of “democratic socialism,” the PNP was
reelected in 1976 with an increased majority. Almost immediately thereafter,
the government’s popularity was undermined, leading to electoral defeat at the
hands of the JLP in 1980, then under the leadership of Edward Seaga (b. 1930).
In January 1977, following the December election, Manley announced that the
national coffers were empty. In March, a loan agreement was signed with the
International Monetary Fund. The initially mild terms of the loan were hard-
ened after Jamaica breached the agreement in December 1977. From then until
1980, a spiral of increasing prices, layoffs, and shortages of basic goods caused
public opinion to shift away from Manley and toward the more conservative
Edward Seaga.
The descendant of Lebanese immigrants, Seaga portrayed himself as the
militant right-wing alternative to what he saw as the PNP’s incipient 
and its close relations with Cuba.
Seaga won even more support amidst a deteriorating security situation.
From the mid-1970s on, a spiral of violence initiated by gangs linked to the two
political parties afflicted Jamaica. In his reminiscences of the period, Manley
argued that the violence was part of a planned program to destabilize his
government. Though there was no decisive proof, it is evident that the violence,
alongside the deteriorating economy, served to undermine confidence in the
PNP’s ability to govern.
A third period of post-independence began when Edward Seaga came
to power in 1980 on the promise that he would “deliver” Jamaica from the
leftist policies of the Manley regime and reinstitute a policy of attracting
foreign investment. To this end, he formally subscribed to the emerging
U.S. consensus on the central role of the market, the limited role of the state,
and the need to promote production for export as opposed to the earlier
notion of import substitution as a stimulus for growth. Despite significant
political goodwill from the United States in the first years of his regime
there was very little new investment. Growth remained minimal, and unem-
ployment levels high.
G O V E R N M E N T S   O F   T H E   W O R L D
J a m a i c a
compulsory: mandatory, required, or unable
to be avoided
Nonaligned Movement: an organization of
countries, formed in 1961, that did not con-
sider themselves allied with either the western
or the eastern blocs
bloc: a group of countries or individuals
working toward a common goal, usually
within a convention or other political body
■ ■ ■  
communism: an economic and social system
characterized by the absence of class struc-
ture and by common ownership of the means
of production and subsistence

By 1983, it seemed apparent that Seaga would lose the next election, when
the Grenada event occurred. The Grenada Revolution took place in the eastern
Caribbean in 1979, when Maurice Bishop (1944–1983) and the New Jewel
Movement (NJM) overthrew the 
government of Sir Eric Matthew
Gairy (1922–1997). In October 1983, arising from a NJM leadership crisis, Bishop
was placed under house arrest by a faction of his own party, subsequently freed
by a crowd of supporters, and later executed by members of the Grenadian
military, many of whom were also members of his own party. A week later, the
United States, with the support of Jamaica and some eastern Caribbean coun-
tries, invaded Grenada and overthrew the revolutionary regime.
The fact of a leftist Caribbean regime destroying itself boosted Seaga’s pop-
ularity. Taking advantage of this, he called a snap general election. Manley
argued that there had been a solemn agreement that there would be no elec-
tion prior to reform of the electoral system and refused to contest. The result
was that the JLP contested without the PNP’s participation, creating for the first
time in Jamaica’s history a single party parliament with the JLP holding all seats.
Seaga’s victory gave him a second term in office, but the method of winning
served to undermine his credibility. The government’s economic performance
in its second term improved on that of the first. Growth occurred in the last
three years, though this was against the backdrop of significant increases in
Jamaica’s foreign indebtedness. Despite this, Seaga lost the 1989 election, and
the PNP and Manley were back in power. 
Michael Manley’s return to office signaled the beginning of the fourth post-
independence period. It was very different from his first appearance. The PNP
in its new incarnation had accepted the U.S. consensus and, despite attempts to
retain some of the old social programs, seemed to adhere to the new market-
led policies even more thoroughly than did Seaga. Manley himself retired from
politics in 1992 and handed over power to P. J. Patterson ( b. 1935). Patterson led
the PNP to three successive electoral victories, making him by far the most
successful leader in Jamaica’s political history. However, the relatively weak
economic performance of the country stands in contrast to the achievements
of this period. Jamaica’s growth had been limited and fell behind most of its
immediate Caribbean neighbors.
The most serious economic problem faced by the Patterson regime was the
financial crisis of 1997. The deregulation of the financial sector led to a boom in
banking and real estate during the mid-1990s. However, this proved unsustain-
able, as there was very little new investment in productive enterprise and some
banks were accused of engaging in unprofessional and even illicit lending activi-
ties. The end result was the 1997 collapse of some banks and a bursting financial
bubble. The government, arguing that it was the only way to prevent a complete
meltdown, initiated a major rescue of the banking system, leading to a dramatic
increase in the country’s long-term debt.
After the PNP came to power, growth was very limited. Between 1990 and
1999 the annual growth rate of 
per capita
GDP was negative (-0.6%). Foreign
direct investment also was anemic; in 1990 it was 3.0 percent of GDP, though it
improved to 7.6 percent of GDP in 1999. The fiscal deficit mushroomed and,
perhaps most starkly, the Jamaican dollar moved from $J5 to $US1 in 1989 to
$J60 to $US1 in May of 2004. Despite the existence of an economic climate that
seemed ripe for political change, the PNP, in an unprecedented run, won four
successive elections against the opposition JLP.
The answer to this change in the normal routine of Jamaican politics is
perhaps to be found in the continuing domination of the JLP by Edward

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