People power toppled Michael Manley

People power toppled Michael Manley

Monday, August 03, 2020

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Dear Editor,

It is often said that the power in people is stronger than the people in power. In socialist or Marxist circles they are usually referred to as the proletariat.

Delano Franklyn in a recent The Gleaner article alluded to this when he stated: “[Michael] Manley had become such a colossal on the international political stage and had gained such popularity in Jamaica that it took the combined efforts of local opposition forces working in tandem with international opposition forces to bring about his election defeat in 1980.”

If we never knew better one would get the impression that Manley was deposed by way of a coup d'état or some other sinister means. I have read and heard ad nauseam that the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was, to some extent, responsible for Manley's defeat. This may well be true. To my clear understanding, the presence of the CIA in this equation only provided a counterbalance to the not-so-clandestine influence Fidel Castro's Cuba was having on Jamaica and the region.

We must remember that in October 1962 the Cuban missile crisis threatened to start a world war but was averted when US President John F Kennedy insisted that Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev agree to remove 42 intermediate-range nuclear armed missiles from Cuba. The failed experience in Grenada and the ultimate fate of Maurice Bishop and his Marxist People's Revolutionary Government (PRG) in October 1983 are proof of what could transpire on our shores.

Despite all the good done by Manley, many of his policies and programmes proved unsustainable and resulted in immeasurable hardship on the Jamaican populace. There was a paradigm shift as the pendulum of popularity moved in another direction against Manley. It is this notoriety that led to his defeat in 1980.

History will recall that Manley, at a mass rally in Sam Sharpe Square in Montego Bay, St James, stated that “10,000 strong can't be wrong”. This was at a time when Carl Stone had been sounding the death knell of the party in his polls leading up to the general election, which showed that the People's National Party (PNP) would lose the election by 51 to nine seats. Manley promised that he would personally stuff the polls down Carl Stone's throat when he won the election. Manley was wrong on both counts, as the people power overwhelmingly voted against him in the 1980 election. He and the PNP learned then never to underestimate the power of common Jamaicans to assess and correct ills in this country by way of voting at election time.

Anyone wanting to write Michael Manley's memoirs truthfully must include among his achievements the pain and suffering of many from the things he did. Do not make the mistake of heaping accolades on the man and then blame others for his misdeeds.


Stephen Reid

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