Carta de Jamaica
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The Carta de Jamaica (Letter from Jamaica) was written by Simón Bolívar in response to a letter from Henry Cullen, in which he put forward the reasons that caused the fall of the Second Republic of Venezuela within the context of the independence of the nation.
When Bolívar arrived in Kingston in 1815 he was 32 years old. At that time, he had been leading the fight for independence for barely 3 years, which had begun with his Cartagena Manifesto on December 15, 1812. During this period it had developed into an intense military activity.
Beginning in 1813 with the Admirable Campaign that took him very rapidly in just a few months to Caracas on August 6, 1813, to try to re-establish the Republic, which enterprise ended in failure before the troops of José Tomás Boves, in 1814. After this failure he returned to New Granada to attempt to repeat the Admirable Campaign's great exploits, but his followers refused to back him. Feeling misunderstood in Cartagena de Indias, he decided to take his way into exile to Jamaica, on May 9, 1815, aspiring to reach the English-dominated world to win its co-operation with the ideal of Latin American independence. He lived in Kingston from May to December 1815, time he dedicated to thinking and pondering on the future of the American continent given the situation of the world's politics.
The letter's contents
The Carta de Jamaica was finished on September 6, 1815, in Kingston. In it, Bolívar began by analyzing what until that time had been considered the historical successes in the struggle for liberty in the Americas. In general terms, it was a balance of force achieved by the patriots in the years from 1810 to 1815. In the middle part of the document are expounded the causes and reasons that justified the "Spanish Americans" in their decision for independence, followed by a call to Europe for it to co-operate in the work to liberate the Latin American peoples. In the third and final part, he speculated and debated on the destiny of Mexico, Central America, New Granada, Venezuela, Río de la Plata, Chile, and Peru.
Finally, Bolívar ends his reflections with an imprecation that he would repeat until his death: the necessity for the union of the countries of the Americas. Even though the Carta de Jamaica was nominally addressed to Henry Cullen, it is clear that its fundamental objective was to gain the attention of the most powerful liberal nation of the 19th century, Britain, with the aim that it would decide to involve itself in American independence. However, when Britain finally responded to Bolívar's call, he preferred the help of Haiti.
- "Reply of a South American to a Gentleman of this Island" An English translation by Lewis Bertrand in Selected Writings of Bolivar. New York, The Colonial Press, 1951.
- The full text of the letter in Spanish can be found at Wikisource