The Jamaica Letter – Simon Bolivar

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The Jamaica Letter is Simon Bolivar’s reply to a letter to a gentleman of Jamaica. By writing the letter, Bolivar seeks to respond to concerns and questions raised in a letter by the Gentleman of Jamaica. Bolivar admits being in a state of conflict regarding having to provide answers to the questions posed because he does not have the information needed to respond to the queries satisfactorily. He, therefore, chooses to use conjecture and approximations from the examples of other nations’ history and politics. In so doing Bolivar states his convictions and ideas.

The statement “that wicked stepmother is the source of all our suffering” is about Spain. This is because Spaniards have exposed Jamaicans to suffering, for example, threats of death, dishonor, and harm. Bolivar further states that that some enemies seek to enslave their country again pointing at the emerging forms of re- and neo-colonialism.

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Bolivar is also interested in the idea of liberty. In his letter, it is clear that he stands for the independence of all nations notwithstanding their economic strength, for example, Lima and Chile. The common interests that previously bound South America and Spain have, according to the letter, been changed for good because Spain has turned to military force as a means of exerting its authority on the South Americans. This has caused the people from these two nationalities to have very strong negative feelings towards each other which would make it almost impossible for them to reconcile. As a result, strong feelings of antagonism and conflict characterize Bolivar’s letter.

For emerging nations in precarious situations like South American states, Bolivar avers that the party spirit that characterizes unstable nations would increase if power were to be centralized. Leaders of the different states would not readily accept others from different states because they would view them as tyrants who are only eager to exert their authority on their nations. Such a merger between nations would therefore fall apart.
Concerning the intervention of nations into each other’s affairs, Bolivar says that other European countries had a responsibility to intervene and help Latin American countries against Spain. Bolivar opines that throughout history, societies that are founded on the values of justice, liberty and equality have helped other less stable countries to achieve happiness and peace through calculated interventions.

For emerging democracies, tyranny is the easiest form of government even though it might not be the most desirable. Nations grow from a point if weakness and domination by foreign powers and hence the leaders who stand out strongest to oppose the dominating powers most likely end up in positions of leadership. From tyrannical rule, the nations can then evolve into democracies through the implementation of the ideals of democracy.

Bolivar is not hypocritical in becoming a dictator, and neither is this inconsistent with his ideology. His position is that nations should adopt the system of government that is more likely to succeed. However, some contextual contradiction appears in that when explaining about the government systems of Europe, he says that they are founded on the principles of democracy, which he have served European nations well and catapulted them to greatness.

Latin Americans should celebrate Columbus who is credited with having “discovered” America. This, in Bolivar’s opinion, is the right thing to do because it demonstrates their gratefulness to Christopher Columbus. It is not contradictory to call a new state Columbia after Columbus provided the honor accorded to the discoverer does not reach fanatic levels. Such a name would act as a reminder of the history of the origin of the nation.

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