January 31, 2023

Dishonoured – Jamaican residents rue use of Bolivar’s Princess Street dwelling

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Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 8.18.48 AMBy Kimmo Matthews From Jamaica Observer

History was in the making in the country’s capital city of Kingston yesterday as Jamaicans joined leaders from the Caribbean, Venezuela and other South American countries to remember the man who was known as the ‘liberator’, Simón Bolívar, with the official opening of a cultural centre in his honour at North Parade.

The event was also used to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Jamaica Letter, a document that was penned by Bolívar and cited as the philosophical underpinning for the formation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.

Bolivar wrote the letter while exiled in Jamaica for close to nine months and living on Princess Street, considered part of Kingston’s inner city.

But, yesterday, as officials from the region celebrated, ordinary Jamaicans living in the area decried the fact that they were not aware of Bolívar’s place of residence and criticised the Government for not doing more to preserve this and other sites of heritage and historical value across the island.

Bolívar’s former residence appears to be occupied by a wholesale.

“I never know that this was where he was living. That is sad. This is a place rich with history and it is sad to see how authorities have allowed it run down,” Johnathan Samuels, a resident of Princess Street told the Jamaica Observer during a visit to the site, yesterday.

He made the comment few hours after the Simón Bolívar Cultural Centre was opened.

“It’s true, more needs to be done to a place with so much rich historical background. It should not have been allowed to run down like that, and there are many other historical sites like that that needs to be repaired and preserved,” said Simone Bernard, another resident.

“I know that place, but I never know it have so much history,” another female said when she heard about the history of the place.

“This is a place where a monument of some sort should have been built,” said one man who identified himself as Rohan.

Damion Williams, another resident, added: “To move forward, I believe we have to know about the past and put things in place so that others, the children can grow up to learn about it. Look how long I live close to here and never know, and to make matters worse, nothing is in place to inform anyone about the history.”

Yesterday Nicolas Maduro, president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, in his address to leaders of the region at the opening said the Caribbean was blessed.

“Bolívar, in 1815 -1816, was here at the very heart of the Caribbean in Jamaica in Haiti, and it is from here that he went from defeat and solitude to the victory of the great American cause…Jamaica is a land filled of energy, of spiritually, of magic, the birthplace of Marcus Garvey, Michael Manley, Bob Marley, and so many others. Bolivar came here. Bolivar walked through here to take this spiritual strength. Through Jamaica and Haiti he found the right moment for the counteroffensive for liberation,” said Maduro.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, in her address, said she was honoured to be part of the moment to mark the special occasion.

“It is my honour and privilege to be here to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Jamaica letter,” said Simpson Miller.

“The Jamaica Letter also provides important lessons in history and sets out clearly Bolivar’s vision of a free independent new world uniting the countries of Latin America,” she continued.

At yesterday’s event there was the laying of Bolivar’s sword, that symbolised hope for a brighter future.

IMAGE: The Stella Maris Dance Company does a cultural piece at yesterday’s opening of the Simón Bolívar Cultural Centre. (PHOTO: LIONEL ROOKWOOD)

For more on this story go to: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Dishonoured_19227598

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