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10 Big News Stories

Published:Wednesday | August 6, 2014 | 8:00 AM
The house in Braeton, St Catherine, where seven young men were fatally shot by the police 13 years ago.-Ian Allen/Staff Photographer
Zinc sheets were lodged in this tree, a common sight throughout Kingston in the aftermath of Hurricane Gilbert.
Christopher 'Dudus' Coke
Former Prime Minister Michael Manley
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller
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These are 10 big news stories since Independence.

1. ISLANDWIDE STRIKE

The largest industrial strike in Jamaica's post-Independence history took place in 1986. All major trade unions, including the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), under the leadership of former leader Hugh Lawson Shearer, took part in the strike.

The BITU later withdrew from the strike, but industrial action continued. It was not a riot, and there was no bloodshed whatsoever. No roadblocks were mounted, and people stayed home, so there was no need for the security forces to be called out.

2. 1997 - REGGAE BOYZ QUALIFY FOR WORLD CUP

Jamaica made history when its football team, the Reggae Boyz, qualified for the 1998 World Cup in France. Jamaica became the first English-speaking Caribbean nation to qualify for the World Cup finals on November 16, 1997 - the day the Reggae Boyz drew 0-0 with Mexico at 'The Office'.

Immediately following Jamaica's qualification, then Prime Minister P.J. Patterson declared a public holiday for November 17. Jamaica also made a commemorative Reggae Ball for $9 million. Jamaica, who were placed in Group H of the World Cup, finished 22nd out of 32 teams.

3. 2008 - USAIN BOLT'S WORLD-RECORD RUNS AT BEIJING OLYMPICS

At the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, the world's greatest sprinter and fastest man, Usain Bolt, set the world's first triple world records at any Olympics in the 100m and 200m sprints, and 4x100m relay. He won the 100m sprint in 9.69 seconds; the 200m in 19.30 seconds; and along with teammates Nesta Carter, Michael Frater, and Asafa Powell, the 4x100m relay in 37.10 seconds. Bolt remains the reigning Olympic champion in these three track and field events.

4. 1978 - GREEN BAY MASSACRE

On January 5, 1978, a covert operation allegedly carried out by special forces in the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) resulted in what is known as the Green Bay Massacre. Reports are that with the promise of guns and jobs in the military if they co-operated with the Government, 14 men were lured into an ambush at the Green Bay Firing Range in St Catherine, allegedly by members of the Military Intelligence Unit. Five of the men were killed, and the remainder fled to nearby bushes. At least one entered the bay and was rescued by a passing fishing boat. The men were all from the Jamaica Labour Party stronghold of Southside in central Kingston. An official report from the JDF said the men were shot dead after they were surprised by soldiers doing target practice at the JDF firing range.

5. 1976 - STATE OF EMERGENCY

In January 1976, in anticipation of the upcoming general election, violence flared in sections of Jamaica. To stem the violent uproars, a state of emergency was declared by then Prime Minister Michael Manley in June. Five hundred persons, including some prominent members of the opposition Jamaica Labour Party, were accused of trying to overthrow the Government and were detained, without charges, in a specially created prison at the Up Park Camp military headquarters in St Andrew.

The election was held on December 15 while the state of emergency was still in effect. The People's National Party won the election.

The state of emergency lasted for one year, ending in June 1977. Extraordinary powers granted to the police by the Suppression of Crime Act of 1974 continued to the end of the 1980s.

6. 1980 - GENERAL ELECTIONS

The general election of 1980 resulted in a historic landslide victory for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), which whipped the People's National Party (PNP) 51 seats to nine. This has been the biggest margin of victory in any general election since Jamaica gained Independence from Great Britain in 1962.

This ended Michael Manley's eight-year tenure as Jamaica's fourth prime minister.

Edward Seaga was sworn in as Jamaica's fifth prime minister on November 1. One of his first acts was to expel the Cuban ambassador to Jamaica, Ulises Estrada, and sever diplomatic ties with Cuba.

It was the bloodiest election in the country's history, resulting in the deaths of close to 900 persons that year, including Roy McGann, the PNP's candidate for East Rural St Andrew, and his bodyguard, acting corporal Errol White, who were killed in Gordon Town.

7. 2006 - PORTIA SIMPSON MILLER'S VICTORY AS PNP PRESIDENT

Portia Simpson-Miller became the first female president of the People's National Party (PNP) on February 26, 2006, after the party's internal elections for a successor to P.J. Patterson, who was prime minister at the time.

Holding the office of PNP vice-president from 1978 to 2006, Simpson Miller received 1,775 votes, while her nearest rival, Dr Peter Phillips, took 1,538 votes. She garnered approximately 47 per cent of the delegates' votes, making her the first PNP president to be elected by less than half of the eligible delegates.

8. 1988 - HURRICANE GILBERT

On Monday, September 12, 1988, the fiercely powerful Hurricane Gilbert swept across Jamaica, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. Making landfall as a Category Three storm at 10 a.m., it later intensified to a Category Five. It was the most severe storm since Hurricane Charlie in 1951.

Devastating all sectors of the society and the economy, damage was estimated at US$4 billion, with the destruction to agriculture accounting for more than 40 per cent of this total. Forty-five persons reportedly lost their lives.

9. 2010 - WEST KINGSTON INCURSION

In May 2010, the Jamaica Defence Force and the Jamaica Constabulary Force carried out a police-military operation in Tivoli Gardens, west Kingston, in search of wanted fugitive Christopher 'Dudus' Coke. The United States had made a request for Coke's extradition.

During the three-day operation, more than 70 persons were killed, including at least one member of the security forces. Approximately 500 arrests were made.

Coke was captured almost a month later and extradited to the United States.

10. 2001 - BRAETON SEVEN KILLINGS

In March 2001, members of the Crime Management Unit swooped down on a house on Seal Way in Braeton, St Catherine, killing seven persons.

The police claimed they identified themselves as police officers and asked the occupants to open the door but were greeted with heavy gunfire.

They said they returned the fire, which resulted in the deaths of seven persons; however, relatives and residents of the community denied reports of a shoot-out. This led to a nationwide outcry.

On October 3, 2002, the jury at a Coroner's Court Inquiry into the killings returned a split decision (6-4) that no one was criminally responsible for the deaths of the seven.

The police said they recovered four firearms, including a home-made gun, three .38 revolvers, along with ten 12-gauge cartridges, fifteen 5.56 rounds, nine .38 rounds, and eight spent shells at the house.

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