In Manley's time
I read a letter online on August 23, "Michael Manley's policies were ruinous", but while reading I wondered who could have written the piece. I then realised it was written by Delano Seiveright, the former G2K president. I found the article a bit shortsighted and pedestrian.
Manley set the stage with his social change because at the time this was very important and therefore at the top of his agenda. The economy would follow, but was sabotaged by inside and outside forces. Sometimes people look at a situation and comment only on the end result but refuse to find the real cause: I am talking about Michael Manley's leadership between 1972-1980. There is an article written by Abbie Bakan which illustrates the case for the period 1972-1980.
As a young man growing up in St Mary, I recall the rumours about the CIA, et al, interfering in Jamaica's affairs. Then, every Sunday morning, family, friends and I would go to the beach, and one morning we noticed a truck dumping foodstuff in the Haughton River. But we were not aware of what was really happening. It took us years to realise that a merchant was hiding food to help bring down the government.
When Manley refused to adhere to the repressive terms and demands of the IMF, he said, "We are not for sale," and when he announced a plan to alter the system of tax breaks offered to some foreign-owned bauxite companies, a well-documented destabilisation campaign followed.
Local businesses, which had gone part-way with Manley on the nationalisation of foreign businesses, buckled and found common cause with their international allies.
Lay-off of workers and soaring price increases set off an inflationary spiral which wiped out previous wage increases. Foreign inflows plummeted and the CIA became involved with fomenting local political rivalries.
A terror campaign was unleashed as some people found ready access to weapons in a gun-for-ganja trade.
When Manley refused to adhere to the IMF, lay-offs increased, interest rates skyrocketed, and everything, from soap to canned fish, was in desperately short supply.
Now, Mr Seiveright, if you choose to quote Lee Kuan Yew about practicality of a position then, it seems you don't know from which angle he was speaking. Manley was not looking at a dictator model as he believed in freedom of speech and movement. So don't give us the end result. Tell us the whole truth and nothing but the truth - that is, if you know it.