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Busta and Manley — no one pen could hold these two bulls

Tuesday, March 11, 2014    

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Dear Editor,

I heartily endorse your editorial of Sunday, March 9, 2014, noting the pragmatism which informed National Hero Sir Alexander Bustamante's famous "We are with the West" declaration of Jamaica's foreign policy.

Quite apart from being a rare instance when a leader has reduced foreign policy to words that the man-in-a-rum-shop could understand, it also spoke to the geographical imperative which, sadly, did not inform Michael Manley's unnecessary anti-US rhetoric. A small island, 90 minutes away from the US, with so many of its nationals living and studying there, linked by trade, language and culture could hardly afford to have any other policy, especially during the cold war. Now that remittances account for so much of our foreign currency reserves, one shudders to think what would have happened had we chosen some other course of attaining Independence.

But Bustamante was also prescient. His equally pithy observation that the European Economic Community (now the European Union) was "a dagger thrust at the heart of the Commonwealth" has sadly become reality.He foresaw the disappearance of all those Commonwealth trade preferences on bananas and sugar we once enjoyed. The Commonwealth is now little more than an increasingly irrelevant talking shop.

As for the current controversy about whether we would have been better off had he joined with Norman Manley in a pro-Independence party, this 'what if' is so far-fetched it hardly merits serious discussion.

Bustamante ("The Chief" ) was a populist and an autocrat who gave his name to a labour union and was effectively its president for life. Manley was an Oxford-educated barrister and democrat. One political party would not have been a pen large enough to contain these two bulls for longer than five minutes.

Errol W A Townshend

Scarborough, Ontario

Canada

ewat@rogers.com

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