Today in History: Jamaica Severed Ties With Cuba Reply

Prime Minister Michael Manley’s close contact with Cuba was a key main issue in the 1980 election campaign. That October, Edward Seaga won a landslide victory after charging that Manley’s close relationship with Cuba resulted in Cuban support to leftist terrorists in Jamaica. In addition, Jamaican security forces had discovered large amounts of small arms ammunition in the aircraft bringing Cuban diplomatic missions to Jamaica. Concurrently, Jamaican youth sent to Cuba for vocational training returned to Jamaica reported that they also received political indoctrination and military training.

Following their victory, the newly elected Jamaican Labour Party (JLP) quickly moved to distance itself from Cuba. In January 1981, Kingston ended the “brigadista” program – a Cuban initiative wherein roughly 1400 Jamaican youths were trained to become construction workers. Jamaica ordered its remaining students to return. The JLP administration warned Cuba to cease its involvement in Jamaican affairs. At the time, Cuba had 15 Intelligence Officers assigned to its Embassy in Jamaica. Jamaica broke relations with Cuba on October 29, 1981.

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