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Caribbean Islands

Relations with Communist Countries

Jamaica had no formal relations with any communist state until Manley's government opened ties with the Soviet Union, Cuba, and China in 1972. The Manley government later developed diplomatic ties with Eastern European countries. In addition to his ideological sympathies with the socialist world, Manley sought new relationships of trade, technical assistance, loans, and direct aid from communist countries. He made his first visit to the Soviet Union in April 1979. While there, he signed a long-term agreement for Jamaican aluminum exports, as well as joint accords on sea navigation and fisheries. In addition, Moscow granted Jamaica a long-term loan to finance the purchase of Soviet goods. Manley also signed trade agreements with Hungary and Yugoslavia and established diplomatic and commercial relations with Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania, and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).

Manley's government developed particularly close relations with Cuba during the late 1970s. Manley visited Cuba in July 1975 and sent a PNP delegation to the First Congress of the Cuban Communist Party in Havana that December. Cuban President Fidel Castro reciprocated Manley's visit by going to Jamaica in October 1977. Numerous Jamaicans, including members of the Manley government, were sent to Cuba for ideological indoctrination and paramilitary training as members of "brigadista" groups. According to the State Department, by 1980 nearly 500 Cubans were working in Jamaica.

Having made Jamaica's relations with Cuba a major issue during the 1980 election campaign, Seaga, in his first official act as prime minister, terminated the "brigadista" program with Cuba in January 1981. He also expelled most of the Cubans, including Ambassador Armando Ulises Estrada, identified by the State Department as a Cuban intelligence operative. Although the Seaga government stopped short of severing diplomatic ties with Cuba at that time and allowed a few Cuban Embassy officials to remain, it broke diplomatic relations with Cuba on October 29, 1981, in an unprecedented move of major significance in Jamaica's foreign relations. Havana's refusal to extradite three Jamaicans wanted on murder and other charges served as an apparent pretext. In a speech to Parliament on November 1, 1983, Seaga announced the expulsion of a Cuban journalist and four Soviet diplomats, whom he identified as operatives of the Committee for State Security (KGB), for espionage and conspiracy to murder a protocol officer at the Jamaican Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Jamaican-Cuban relations have remained severed under Seaga's government.

The Seaga government has maintained correct but limited relations, mainly of an economic nature, with other communist governments, mostly with the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and China. The Soviet Union and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) have maintained embassies in Kingston. Under Seaga Jamaica has not had any military relations with communist countries.

Data as of November 1987