According to Countryaah, in 1942, huge deposits of bauxite were discovered, and the multinational aluminum companies ALCOA, ALCAN and Reynolds & Kaiser quickly penetrated the country. Sugar production was displaced to a second place.
The groups extracted the country’s minerals from the classic colonial scheme. The bauxite was exported in raw form without local machining. The companies made all decisions about production and paid only sparse customs duties.
After independence, a few factories were set up to process bauxite for aluminum, but most of the bauxite continued to be exported in crude form to the United States. In 1973, Jamaica was the world’s second largest exporter of bauxite, accounting for half of the country’s exports, but only 1% of the labor force was employed in this sector.
The PNP won the elections in 1972, and in 1974 new Prime Minister Michael Manley raised the tax on bauxite exports and entered into negotiations with the multinational corporations to gain state participation, regain control of the companies’ land (one third of the country) and a greater control over their activities.
At the same time, the PNP provided a strong impetus for regional Caribbean integration. Together with Venezuela, a joint bauxite trading company was set up and Jamaica joined the Caribbean’s multinational trading fleet. Together with Cuba and Costa Rica, policies were developed to prevent the penetration of the North American capital.
- AllCityPopulation: Find Jamaica demographics including latest population, life expectancy, age structure, and urbanization.
At the following elections in December 1976, the PNP achieved a crushing victory consolidating its parliamentary majority. With this broad support, Manley now declared that the country would embark on a socialist development within the context of the existing constitution.
Jamaica was now given a more prominent role in the Alliance Free Movement and effectively defended its support for the liberation movements – especially in southern Africa. This development created strong tensions with the United States, and the multinational companies reduced their bauxite production and moved parts of it to Guyana. As a result, export revenues fell, and the government’s social programs ended up without funding.