Jamaica Will Aid Costa Rica’s Effort to Honor Marcus Garvey

According to Olivia Grange, Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the ministry has promised to help Costa Rica’s government to honor the life and philosophy of Jamaican National Hero Marcus Garvey.

At a virtual event held July 2, 2021, to celebrate the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of Diplomatic Relations between Costa Rica and Jamaica, Grange said that part of Costa Rica’s plan is the installation of a painting of Garvey in the nation’s National Parliament. Grange committed the Ministry to work with Costa Rica’s Ministry of Culture to bring the planned Garvey Project to reality as part of Jamaica’s celebration of its 60th anniversary of Independence and the 135th anniversary of Marcus Garvey’s birth. She added that Jamaica will also collaborate with the people and government of Costa Rica to rehabilitate Freedom House in 2022 when the nation’s Diamond Jubilee is marked. Grange plans to consult with the Foreign Ministry and the Costa Rican Ambassador to determine who best to collaborate on the projects in 2022.

It is not well known that Marcus Garvey left his home in Jamaica in 1910 to work as a timekeeper on a United Fruit Company banana plantation. In Costa Rica and later on in Panama, his concern for the situation of Black people grew, and returning to Costa Rica on several occasions, Garvey established s successful Freedom Houses/Liberty Halls, Universal Negro Improvement Association headquarters, in the city of Limon, which had the largest population of Jamaican descendants in Costa Rica.

The two cultures combined as people intermarried, and ultimately, reggae music came to be associated with the Marcus Garvey Movement in Costa Rica. The presence of Jamaica in Costa Rican culture and society became greater and developed into the close diplomatic relations the two countries share today.

Grange expressed her pleasure at having the privilege to share the moment with Epsy Campbell Barr, Costa Rica’s vice president and the delegation from the country. As Campbell Barr is of Jamaican descent, Jamaica holds a particular sense of pride and admiration for her.

Grange ended her remarks at the virtual event, saying that she hoped the two countries would “feel at home in each other’s space” as they celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations. “Let us consider this vast expanse of the warm Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, as waters that unite, rather than separate us. We are, after all, all Caribbean people,” she concluded.