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International interest heightens as celebration of Bolivar visit nears

Published:Thursday | April 23, 2015 | 12:00 AMGary Spaulding
File Well wishers turn out for a floral tribute at the the statue of Simon Bolivar in Kingston as part of the celebration of Venezuela's 202nd year of Independence in 2013.

Jamaica is once again poised to take centre stage on the global platform with international focus aimed at the island.

Foreign Affairs Minister A.J. Nicholson has confirmed that preparations have commenced for the 200th anniversary celebration of the visit of Simon Bolivar to Jamaica, and much more in September.

This year also marks the 10th anniversary milestone of the signing of the PetroCaribe Agreement and the 50th year of diplomatic relations between Jamaica and Venezuela.

Apart from the refurbishing of the statue of the historic figure dubbed 'The Liberator', the Jamaican Government is aiming to once again present the City of Kingston as the prize of the hemisphere.

"It must be recalled that it is not only the 200th anniversary of the writing of the letter, but it is also 10 years since the PetroCaribe framework came into being," said Nicholson.

He added: "That is also to be marked, and also, it is 50 years of diplomatic relationship with the BolÌvarian Republic of Venezuela."

Successive administrations have maintained a strong relationship with Venezuela but, then again, the ties that bonded the two countries started a long time ago.

It was Venezuela's liberator, Bolivar, who dedicated his life to the independence of the then Spanish colonies and the dream of Latin American unity.

And it was while he spent time in Jamaica that Bolivar wrote the now famous 'Letter from Jamaica', in which he expressed his ideas for a republican government and Latin American unity. Widely recognised as an important political doctrine, the letter was actually titled: 'Reply of a South American to a gentleman of this island'.

In an interview with The Gleaner, Nicholson asserted: "So there are a number of things that are going to take place ... Jamaica is in a position once again to have on its shores a number of heads of state and government to mark these milestones."

Nicholson said that while the preparations are not fully in place for the triple bill, it was momentous that Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro has significant plans in store for Jamaica.

"It must be recalled that the original letter has been unearthed somewhere in South America and he will be taking that letter to Jamaica in September when the celebration is to take place," said Nicholson.


The minister stated that, for Jamaica, the significance of that commemoration is that it is in the island that the Liberator put on paper his view that the Americas should be one composite whole, speaking to its people to be developed to their optimum.

Said Nicholson: "He believed that there should have been several republics in the Americas that would be geared towards the development of the countries with people as the centrepiece, so Jamaica has reason to be proud of that historical fact of the Liberator Simon Bolivar writing that letter, as he was here in Jamaica."

It was Bolivar's lengthy response to a letter he had received from an unnamed Jamaican, who empathised with his struggle for South American liberation and indicated a desire to learn more about the politics and people of each South American province.

Specifically, the Jamaican gentleman asked Bolivar to explain such technicalities as whether each province desired a monarchy or a republic or to form one unified republic or one single monarchy.

This sparked the Spanish-American patriot and general to launch into his treatise, an extensive description of the history of the different provinces (including the present-day countries of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru) and an exploration of his own ideas for their political futures.