Alexander Bustamante Biography

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Biography Part 7 - Life as Prime Minister

During Alexander Bustamante's first term in office he also held the position of Mayor of Kingston (from 1947 to 1948) Bustamante's JLP also won Jamaica's second general election (held in 1949).

In 1953 the title of Jamaica's head of government was changed from Minister of Communication to Chief Minister. Bustamante held this title until 1955 when the JLP lost the election to Norman Manley's PNP, leaving him as the leader of the opposition.

As leader of the government, Bustamante worked towards closer relations with the USA and land reform programs. Later that same year he was knighted by the Queen of England with the title of Knight Batchelor conferred upon him he became officially named Sir Alexander Bustamante.

The JLP also lost the 1959 elections, leaving the PNP to establish Jamaica's place in the newly formed Federation of the West Indies. The Federation was an alliance of British colonies within the West Indies which was established to give the islands some degree of freedom from Britain whilst working closely with other islands experiencing similar issues. Bustamante was originally a supporter of the Federation, however, over time he feared that Jamaica would not benefit from being a member and that it was an unnecessary stage on Jamaica's road to independence. He applied great pressure on the government to withdraw Jamaica from the federation and announced that the JLP would withdraw Jamaica if they won the next general election. The chief minister of the time, Norman Manley, was a great supporter of the federation but conceded to allow a public referendum on whether Jamaica should remain a member. The Jamaican public voted for Jamaica's withdrawal, soon after Jamaica exited Trinidad and Barbados followed suit and the Federation collapsed.

Bustamante was one of the people who helped to forge Jamaica's independence agreement and on 10 April 1962 Jamaica gained independence from Britain. The JLP also won the 1962 elections, held on 10 April, making Alexander Bustamante the first prime minister of the newly independent Jamaica.

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Next: Retirement, Death and Legacy

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