The following is the full text of the letter to Dr. Munroe from "Bongo Man" :
Dear Dr. Munroe, Greetings to you and your family!
Ordinarily, I don’t respond to personal tributes that are extended by individuals to personalities that have passed on from this life.
However, I have decided to respond to your tribute to the late PM Edward Seaga because neither you or the late PM are ordinary individuals. Both of you have been important political leaders in your respective rights in our country, you the leader of the Workers Party of Jamaica or WPJ and he, the Prime Minister of Jamaica and leader of the Jamaica Labor Party or JLP.
As such and with all due respects to you and the late PM, I feel compelled to respond to your tribute to Mr. Seaga for three main reasons. First, I believe that a tribute to anyone whether deceased or living should reflect honestly and impartially a person’s life work and so should their legacy.
Second, I also believe that your tribute to the late PM of our country patently failed to achieve my first reason for responding to your tribute.Thirdly, I also believe that you therefore failed to use your tribute to the late PM as a vehicle to provide a balanced political education of his role and legacy to our people and more so particularly our youths who are less familiar with his political role and impact in our country.
Consequently, though I am clearly not telling you what you should have included in your tribute to the late PM, I believe that I have earned the right by dint of my active political participation in our country’s contemporary political history in the 1970s and 1980s to suggest what I believe you excluded from it.
First, I believe that it’s important to acknowledge like you did in your tribute that the late PM and political leader had an impact on Jamaica’s political, cultural and economic development. However, it’s reasonable to ask, how could he not, after actively participating in our country’s life for over 60 years?
How could he not, when he was PM of our country for nearly a decade from the very turbulent elections of the 1980s, which his Jamaica Labor Party or JLP won until 1989, when he lost the elections in that year to the Peoples’ National Party or PNP of Michael Manley?
How could the late PM not have had an impact on our country’s institutions when he led the JLP for nearly 45 years and was a MP for almost 50 years?
Consequently, I don’t believe the issue is whether the late PM had an impact on the country’s institutions and development, on the contrary, I believe that the real issues are two fold.
First, what’s the nature of his impact on our country’s development ie is it primarily positive (ie beneficial) impact or is it a primarily negative ( ie costly) impact for our people particularly those at the socio-economic bottom of the society ie the super-poor and vulnerable Jamaicans as opposed to those at the top ie the super-rich and privileged classes.
Second, to what degree has his impact persists in plaguing the growth and development of our country in all dimensions of its development.
In this context, as you well know PM Seaga’s government dismantled PM Manley’s modest but significant democratic socialist policy reforms in his “deliverance” of our country to US imperialism between 1980-1989.
Thus, I strongly believe, that as the former leader of the communist Workers Party of Jamaica or WPJ, you did not use your tribute to clarify for the Jamaican people the character of the class impact of the policies of the late PM not only on the institutions of the country but more importantly on the quality of their lives and the development of our country.
As such, Dr. Munroe, I believe you failed decidedly in your tribute to educate the public about the class interests of those institutions that the late PM built and those he helped to build.
So as the former communist and labor leader it seems to me that it was by choice that you excluded the fact that Mr. Seaga’s institution building was done not exclusively or even primarily for Jamaica’s “national interest” but more so for the consolidation of the class interests of the dominant ruling classes that the institutions he built were meant to serve.
Further, as the brilliant and able political scientist you are, I don’t have to tell you that the institutions built in any social system are used to reinforce the power of the dominant classes in who have state power.
Clearly, it is not the workers and poor people in our country who control these institutions that Mr. Seaga built. On the contrary, it is the bourgeoisie and their representatives who do.
For example, it’s pertinent to ask, how many workers, peasants, women, students and poor people sit on the governing bodies of the EAC/ECJ, UDC, the Jamaica Stock Exchange, HEART, CARIMAC and all the other institutions built by Mr. Seaga? How are decisions made and by whom are these decisions made in all of these institutions that you attribute to the vision of the late PM?
Unfortunately, I believe that your tribute displays a distinct trait of“class peace”not only with the late PM who for all his life has waged class war through his policies and rhetoric against the working and poor people and on behalf of the rich and powerful in our country and globally.
Likewise, I believe that your tribute and your post-communist transformation appear to suggest that you are also at peace with the powerful and dominant social classes that the late PM so staunchly defended and that you unflinchingly opposed in yonder years.
Sadly, your tribute failed to posit as an integral and lasting part of the late PM’s legacy his unapologetic and sometimes violent defense of the superich and dominant classes in our society.
Second, it’s beyond dishonesty to pay tribute to the late PM without even a mention of his very active and leading role in providing political leadership to the local capitalist classes particularly the oligarchy and the US imperialists in their vicious campaign of destabilization of the Jamaican economy aimed at bringing down the constitutionally elected government of PM Manley.
To my mind, as the leader of the WLL and the UAWU at the time it has to be your conscious choice to have left out of your tribute to the late PM, the fact of the empty supermarkets and grocery stores that suddenly had no foods, toothpastes, cooking oil, rice, flour, sanitary napkins and other basic consumer goods for our people.
It is also very sad that you conveniently excluded from your tribute, the gun terror and violence unleashed on our country by thugs paid by the CIA to scare the Jamaican people away from PM Manley and the PNP in the elections of October 1980. How many Jamaicans were murdered including the 150 old ladies who were burned to death at the Eventide Home just before the 1980 elections? How many were maimed? How many were tortured by these paid thugs?
As you well know, the late PM who you so graciously honor in your tribute never once reached across the political aisle to work with the PNP and civil society to stem the CIA terror and violence against our people particularly those of us who lived primarily in PNP working class and “ghetto communities” across Jamaica.
The terror was so deep and our fear so widespread that to go out with friends to a movie or a party or to assembly on a corner in one’s community could get you killed. I will always remember the massacre of youths like me and my friends by paid thugs at a dance in Duhaney Park.
I am very sure that you have not forgotten the thousands of political slogans supported by the late PM and his political party across the country such as “IMF = Is Manley’s Fault”and “ Socialism is hunger” which effectively blamed the economic difficulties and gun terror on PM Manley and Socialism.
Third, I don’t think that you would have betrayed Mr.Seaga’s legacy if you had included his divisiveness in your tribute to him particularly during the the 1970s and 1980s. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that the late PM was arguably the most divisive leader in the contemporary history of our country dividing Jamaicans along party lines as well as anti communist Cold War lines without any remorse and always for his class interests and those of his masters in Washington DC!
I could go on but I will end with one more of the late PM’s legacy, that you also excluded from your tribute to him, namely, his ardent and unapologetic opposition of the Grenadian Revolution and his subsequent unwavering support of the US invasion of Grenada to effectively put an end to the revolution after the Stalinists within the NJM government had by then mortally wounded it.
Mr. Seaga, then the PM of our country in 1983 unflinchingly supported the invasion and occupation of a sovereign Caribbean nation by the most powerful imperialist army on the planet thus effectively destroying the chosen path of development of the Grenadian people and killing hundreds of them in the process.
Isn’t this also a poignantly pertinent element of a tribute befitting of Mr. Seaga? Isn’t this a relevant and lasting element of his legacy? So why did you exclude it from your tribute to him and assign it to his earned legacy?
In closing, I am not saying that the late PM has not had second thoughts about many of his flawed and destructive policies for our country, indeed, it would be hard for him being the shewed politician he was not to have soul searched.
However, my contention is that, for you to have focused almost exclusively on Mr. Seaga’s “transformations” and contributions (except for his “authoritarian element” and his reporting to the police of criminals in his constituency over whom he had lost control etc) and to have excluded his profoundly unpatriotic actions against our country in the 1970s and 1980s is not only an explicit betrayal of his legacy but it is also a betrayal of our country’s contemporary political history.
Likewise, I believe that your tribute to Mr. Seaga is potentially therefore also a betrayal of the younger generations of Jamaicans who are less familiar with the political history of the 1970s and 1980s and Mr. Seaga’s role in it. In this regard, I strongly believe that you have done a disservice to our people particularly the youths, by failing to provide a more balanced tribute of Mr. Seaga’s legacy to our country’s contemporary development.
In this context, I would humbly suggest that as the former leader of the WPJ and the UAWU, you have manifestly demonstrated some of the same “deficiencies and one sidedness” that you have accused the left of in your tribute to the late PM on his retirement in 2005.
Though I am not suggesting that you should have included everything I have mentioned here, I don’t understand why you excluded at least some of them in order to provide a more objective and therefore less sanitized tribute of the late PM’s role in our country’s modern development.
The fact is Dr. Munroe, as you well know, Edward Seaga was the chosen leader of the US empire in Jamaica who was supposedly to save Jamaica from PM Manley and communism and for for it to remain in the “US’ backyard” in keeping with the Monroe Doctrine.
It was for the very same reason that Mr. Seaga supported the military invasion of Grenada made easier by the Stalinists in the NJM and in fact used as a pretext by US imperialism to smash the revolution. These facts will never change no matter the distortions and selective efforts of those in power to sanitize the late PM’s legacy!
The following questions should be asked:
Did the late PM ever apologize to the Jamaican people, his party and followers for his open and sometimes tacit support of the destabilization of the Jamaican economy and society?
Did the late PM ever apologize to the parents and loved ones of those Jamaicans gunned down by political mercenaries allegedly associated with his political party?
Did the late PM ever apologize to the Grenadian and Caribbean people for his support of the US empire and the US invasion of the sovereign Caribbean country of Grenada that he supported?
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