Mon | Sep 24, 2018

It happened this week in 1981

Published:Tuesday | January 19, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Bruce Golding
Edward Seaga
Hugh Shearer
Florizel Glasspole
Ronald Reagan
George Price

Sunday, January 18

n The United States and Iran completed negotiations for releasing the American hostages, and all that remain is for an agreement to be signed. However, the Algerian plane which will fly the 52 Americans out of Iran had not yet left Algeria, sources said. It was revealed that the last details of the agreement had now been worked out. The next step was to secure the signatures of the parties and to complete translation of the text. The agreement was in English, with French and Arabic translations. The delicate diplomacy of Algerian intermediaries had been crucial to bringing the hostages to the brink of freedom.

Monday, January 19

n Police Commissioner Wilbert Bowes said that the Jamaica Constabulary Force has imported M16 assault rifles to assist in its crime-fighting operations. He said more of such type of weapons will be imported if the situation warrants it. Bowes declined to give information on the size of the shipment of M16. A programme was undertaken within the force to train policemen to use and care the weapons.


January 20

n Iran's 52 American hostages were released after 444 days in captivity, reaching freedom at the frontier with Turkey. United States Air Force fighter planes swept in to escort the two Algerian airliners that carried them. They touched down for their first stop in Greece, where the planes refuelled at a US Air Force base on the way to Algiers. From there, American hospital planes took them to West Germany. The hostages, 50 men and two women, most of them diplomats, were in generally good health, according to an Algerian doctor who saw them before departure. By the bargain that freed them, their safe passage out of Iran would have touched off a multibillion-dollar financial transaction, freeing impounded Iranian funds which had been placed under Algerian control before the planes took off from Tehran.

n Ronald Reagan succeeded Jimmy Carter as president of the United States in a solemn inauguration marked by tension over the Iranian hostage crisis. President Reagan did not mention the hostages in his 20-minute inaugural address, which he used to urge Americans to begin "an era of national renewal" in economic strength and world leadership. However, about an hour after taking office, he told the public that Iran had freed the 52 hostages. "Both planes are airborne," he told reporters at a party, giving Americans watching on television the first official word that the captives, held for 444 days, had been released.

Wednesday, January 21

n Premier George Price of Belize arrived in Jamaica to finalise arrangements for his country's long-awaited independence, with the British Minister of State in the Foreign Office, Nicholas Ridley. The British minister will be in Jamaica for three days, during which time he will meet with Governor General Florizel Glasspole, Prime Minister Edward Seaga and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Shearer to sign a programme loan agreement.

n Prime Minister Edward Seaga was invited for an official visit to the United States by President Ronald Reagan. The two leaders will discuss bilateral relations and relevant issues affecting the Caribbean. A release issued by the American Embassy in Kingston stated: "The Embassy of the United States in Kingston was informed that at the invitation of President Ronald Reagan, Prime Minister Edward Seaga will visit Washington on January 28. The official visit will provide the two leaders an opportunity to discuss relations and relevant issues affecting the Caribbean. Prime Minister Seaga will be accompanied by Mrs Seaga. This will be the first official visit of a foreign head of government under the administration of President Reagan."

Thursday, January 22

n The current affairs section of the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation's news, sports and current affairs division was scrapped by the interim board. Head of the section, John Maxwell, along with staff members Tony Bogues, producer of the call-in programme 'Public Eye', and Brian Meeks, television host, were made redundant. Other staffers represented by the National Workers Union responded to the dismissals by voting at a meeting to take industrial action to mark their disagreement with the board's action.

n "School's closed, no teachers, school closed". This sign, painted in bright red, greeted some 500 students at a senior secondary school in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, and set the tone for the rest of the country as teachers at the estimated 251 government senior, junior and primary schools called in sick to press demands for the speedy official recognition of their union.

Friday, January 23

n The governments of Jamaica and the United Kingdom signed a £6-million (J$25,747,500) loan agreement which will be made available immediately. The signing took place at Jamaica House. The agreement was signed by Prime Minister Edward Seaga and British Minister of State in the Foreign Office Nicholas Ridley, on behalf of the British government. The loan is for 25 years at six per cent interest, including a three-year grace period.

n Minister of Construction Senator Bruce Golding said that the Jamaica Labour Party Government is not going to tolerate the continued existence, within the public service, of a political machinery that was "so decisively rejected" last year. Golding told audience at a Masterbuilders Association's annual dinner: " ... those at JBC who believe that this Government can be threatened and blackmailed, I only ask of you, and we propose, if necessary, to ask all Jamaica to be prepared to do without television for a while if it becomes necessary." Golding was given a standing ovation for his statement.

Saturday, January 24

n Britain's Opposition Labour Party decided to give trade unions the biggest share of votes in electing its leader, a move which could provoke a deep split in the party between its Left and Right wings. A special conference rejected the advice of party leader Michael Foot and opted to give trade unions 40 per cent of the votes in the new electoral college system of choosing a leader. Party activists will have 30 per cent and Labour members of parliament, who until now had the sole right to elect the leader, will also have 30 per cent. The decision was a major victory for hard-line labour Socialists in their long-running battle with the Right for control of the party.