Theme 9: Movements towards Independence and Regional Integration up to 1985

Topic What was the role of the right Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante on Jamaica’s Move toward independence?

Rationale In today s Jamaica, it is often Said That Jamaica would be better off under B ritish rule, rather than under its own government, This statement begs the quest ion “Was Jamaica actually ready for independence from the British empire in 1962 ?” To answer this question the social and economic state of Jamaica between 19 30 and 1962 as well as the life and works of a significant role playing social a nd political contributor and leader at the time were both researched and analys ed during the making of this project.

Introduction The Right Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante was chosen, for this project, a s the most Prominent contributor to Jamaican independence. He was selected beca use he had the privilege to be elected as the first prime minister of independen t Jamaica and the first Jamaican to receive the Order of National Hero within H is lifetime. These great Honours Surely were not bestowed upon him by chance, b ut by the works he did and the influence he possessed to make a difference in t he state of Jamaica and the life of Jamaicans back then. Jamaica, like the rest of the British West Indies, in the 1930 s was in the m idst of a labour unrest stirred up by wide spread poverty, underpayment and une mployment in an atmosphere of racial tension. In a population of approximately 1,121,823 between 1935 and 1938 (“The politics of labour in the British Caribbea n”, source) it was estimated that some 404,000 were wage earners 231,000 of whic



h were only dependent unpaid or underpaid. here were some amount thirty years of the

on wage income in a colony where wage earners were either Jamaica was in need of a dramatic labour reform. Though t of labour reform organisations in Jamaica during the first twentieth century there was none that was lasting.

According to the author of “Jamaican Politics a Marxist Prospective in Trans ition” Trevor Monroe “Labour had long craved a Messiah; Bustamante became the me ssiah for the under enfranchised, the unemployed, the underemployed and the unde rpaid.” Alexander Bustamante formed the first lasting and influential labour uni on, namely the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) and was the one of the Patriarchs of the two major political parties in Jamaica.

Bustamante s Early life The Eldest son of an Irish planter and property overseer ,Robert Christine Cl arke and a Jamaican Mother, Mary Clarke ; William Alexander Clarke (Alexander Bu stamante) Was born in Blenheim , Hanover , Jamaica on the 4th of February 188 4 . He migrated to Cuba at the age of Twenty-one as a clerk and then a Tram car Inspector. He joined The Cuban Police force in 1920. After He Migrated to new York where he became a dietician and then a money lender where he became moderat ely wealthy following the stock market crash of 1929. Alexander Bustamante retur ned to Jamaica in 1932 setting up a money lending business. He was weary of the poor working conditions and poverty of the working class which deeply concerned him an eventually caused him to act. Along with the assistance of persons such a s St. William Grant He began to speak out, Write letters organize protests and riots in Support of the worker s struggles. These activities sometimes took him to other British Caribbean territories. By 1937 He had become the treasurer of the Jamaica Workers and Tradesmen s Union (JWTC), lead by Allan George St. Claver Coombs. His Charismatic Style of s peaking drew Large Audiences at meetings. He began visiting the scene of labour disputes across Jamaica and acted as a mediator between workers and employers.

The Rt. Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante From www.EncyclopediaBritannica.Com

The labour Wars Frome Sugar factory, Westmoreland From • Rising tensions




A series of violent demonstrations erupted in 1938 against working conditions. Wages had taken a retrograde step to 1 shilling and 6 pe nce; the same rate at which they were in emancipation in 1838. May of the same year saw riots at the Frome sugar factory which left eight dead and over eleven wounded. Martial law was declared following the incident giving the security forces unrestricted power. These riots M arked the beginning of the road to independence. • Actions Taken

On May Fourth Bustamante denounced Governor Denham at a mass meetin g in Kingston; Blaming him For Misinforming Britain on the labour cri sis In Jamaica. On the Twenty-third of May, the he called for a stri ke at the waterfront by wharf workers and marched a crowd through the city. They where violently dispersed by the local by the local polic e and British military troops stationed in Jamaica. Bustamante and St. William Grant were arrested for sedition and inciting unlawful assembl y. Before 1938 the impact of trade unionism was virtually nonexistent; But in that same year Bustamante established the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union and was hailed “the People s champion” and “labour leader ”. In 1939 Bustamante called For an Island wide Strike, but received support only from Banana and waterfront labourers. The following year, 1940, a State of Emergency was declared as the British Empire entered World War 2. Bustamante along With other Trade Unionist of The TUC where detained at Gibraltar Camp (now Up park Camp) as a security t hreat to the defence of the realm of Jamaica. The remaining member o f The BITU and the PNP tried to negotiate his release.

Outcome taken by Bustamante was of critical importance in forming an influential leader. His active charismatic speeches and strikes Brought the both the needed attention of the pu unwanted attention from the authorities. called by Bustamante the waterfront was rende city of Kingston tense. This as well as the the attention of not only the local governm situation in Jamaica.

The stance is image as Organizing of blic and the

During the riots of 1938 red on shutdown and the strikes of 1939 brought ent but Britain to the

Bustamante was seen as a security threat and detained on two occasi ons. On his release he, along with others, Where seen as heroes by their supporters for their actions. Labour reform was a major outcome which came with the formation of th e BITU.

Political Moves toward Independence



As the BITU grew in strength and image throughout 1938, Norman Ma nley, Alexander s Cousin, decided to Launch his New political Party; t he People s National Party (PNP). The acquisition of political power w as of vital importance to the labour movement as it allowed them to legally challenge the authorities. Bustamante in turn became a strong political ing with Norman Manley, amongst others and gave People s National Party (PNP). In 1939 Bustamante wide Strike, but received support only from a Following the incident he resigned from the PNP from the Trade union council (TUC). •


Bustamante went on and successfully founded the Jamaica labour pa rty (JLP) in 1943; a rival to the PNP. In 1944 , the same year Bri tain granted Jamaica Universal adult suffrage, the first election was held. The JLP won twenty-two seats out of twenty six seats. Bustamante became the first leader of the executive council and took the post of minister of communications and works. In 1947 he was elected as mayor of Kingston and in 1953 the constitution was changed and Bustam ante became the first chief minister of the council of ministers. The JLP lost power to the PNP in the 1955 elections; But that same ye ar Bustamante was made Knight Bachelor ( an Order of the British Empir e) by the queen and Was now Sir Alexander Bustamante. The formation of the JLP as a rival to the PNP contributed to th e formation of a Bi-Partisan system , which is a key principle of demo cracy and is still in use in Jamaica to date. Insignia of the Knight bachelor From • FEDERALISM VS. INDEPENDENCE

In 1957, as an experiment in modified government , the British forme d the West Indian Federation . This was intended to unite various terri tories in the region ultimately leading to a “one region” independence. Sir Alexander Bustamante formed the Democratic Labour party to chal lenge the, Norman Manley lead, West Indian Federal Labour Party in the Federal Elections . Unfortunately for Sir Alexander Bustamante the JLP lost the next Jamaican election in 1959 And The DLP lost the Federal Elections. In 1960 the tide of Federal support by Jamaicans Had changed; Jamaic a , despite having the half the population of the Federation , held a minority of seats and felt that they were being misrepresented . Flag of the West Indies Federation From • INDEPENDENCE



figure and began work full support to the called for an Island minority of labourers. and withdrew the BITU


The JLP/DLP Withdrew federal support and forced the Government (PNP) to Call a referendum . On September 19, 1961 the JLP gained a majority of votes for National and not Federal independence. A delegation of both political leaders, Sir Alexander Bustamante and Norman Washington Manley , Went To London , England to negotiate Jamaica s Independence. On April 19, 1962 an election took place and Jamaican s Chose Who should lead the Nation to Independence. Jamaica Was Granted Independence On August 6, 1962 Under the leadership of The Right Excelle nt Sir Alexander Bustamante.

Flag of Jamaica From

CONCLUSION Jamaica was ready for independence in 1962. Jamaica between 1930 an d 1962 went through an economic and labour crisis of a region in rag e and was on the brink of revolt. The formation of the BITU and th e organisation of strikes “lent a note of urgency to those who had long felt that something had to be done about the condition of the colony” (Trevor Monroe, Author ). The strikes Lead to a regional inquiry by a royal commission in 19 40 granting Local political control in 1944 under Universal adult Suffr age; this gave rise to democracy and “ Ejected ” British imperialism in Jamaica. Bustamante was instrumental in the reformation of the working class, w hich greatly improved the economic and social welfare, and the formati on a major political party the Jamaica Labour Party which lead Jamaica through to its independence in 1962. Who better to lead Jamaica than a person who was held great influen ce in the hearts and minds of Jamaicans and was imprisoned for the s ake of Jamaican s rights; The Right Excellent sir Alexander Bustamante, National hero of Jamaica.



Sir Alexander Bustamante From

APPENDIX Sir Alexander Bustamante From I Insignia of the Knight bachelor From Alexander Bustamante showing JLP party sign From Frome Sugar factory , Westmoreland From The Rt. Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante From www.EncyclopediaBritannica.Com Official opening of the Bustamante museum in 2009 from Flag of Jamaica From Flag of The West Indies Federation From

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Sherlock , Philips; 1977 - “Collier s Encyclopaedia”; Vol.5, Bustamante, Alexand er WWW.EncyclopediaBritannica.Com (Encyclopaedia Britannica) WWW.ITZ WWW.JIS.COM (Jamaica information Service) (Kings House , Jamaica , Website) (new Zealand defence force) U.S. Library of Congress (Online source)