- The Simón Bolívar Cultural Centre was officially opened today (September 6), standing as another symbol of the bonds of friendship between Jamaica and Venezuela.
- Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller and President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, His Excellency Nicolás Maduro, cut the ribbon at the ceremony held at the facility’s North Parade location, downtown Kingston.
- Its opening symbolises 50 years of diplomatic relations between Jamaica and Venezuela.
The Simón Bolívar Cultural Centre was officially opened today (September 6), standing as another symbol of the bonds of friendship between Jamaica and Venezuela.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller and President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, His Excellency Nicolás Maduro, cut the ribbon at the ceremony held at the facility’s North Parade location, downtown Kingston.
A gift to Jamaica from the Government and people of Venezuela, the centre is named in honour of South American Liberator and Venezuelan Revolutionary Leader, Simón Bolívar, who, while exiled in Jamaica 200 years ago, wrote the famous ‘Carta de Jamaica’ or Letter of Jamaica.
Located in close proximity to the Princess Street building where Simón Bolívar stayed in 1815, the facility is intended to promote and develop cultural programmes for both children and adults, to help raise awareness of and appreciation for Latin American culture and of the ideals of the Liberator.
Its opening symbolises 50 years of diplomatic relations between Jamaica and Venezuela.
Mrs. Simpson Miller, in her remarks, said Jamaica is honoured that Simón Bolívar sought and received refuge in Jamaica, noting that his brief sojourn of seven months “became the foundation for the historical and unbreakable bonds of friendship between Jamaica and Venezuela.”
She thanked the Venezuelan President for the gift of the centre, noting that present and future generations of Caribbean people will also learn about the life and contribution of the great Liberator.
“Like our Marcus Garvey, whose philosophy of cultural identity and self-confidence has ignited the world, the ideas and principles of this outstanding freedom fighter of Venezuela will be kept alive in Jamaica,” she said.
The Prime Minister further noted that Simón Bolívar’s legacy to Latin America and the Caribbean has been preserved in history by the Jamaica Letter. “Today, his importance to the life and culture of our region is being enshrined in this cultural centre named in his honour,” she said.
She said the Government of Jamaica is committed to ensuring that the centre helps to bridge the barrier of language; increase hemispheric co-operation in the arts; and further Caribbean and Latin American civilization.
In an impassioned speech, the Venezuelan President said the centre’s opening is a “very moving occasion, which is of great significance to all.”
Describing Jamaica as a “magical land, a land filled with energy, of spirituality,” the Venezuelan President noted that Simón Bolívar, during his time of solitude and defeat, drew on the strength of Jamaica, penning the letter which was the road map that led to victory “of the great American cause.”
The President noted that on this the 200th anniversary of the writing of the letter, Simón Bolívar’s legacy lives on in the annals of Jamaica’s history, pointing out that through this letter, “this man has not been forgotten, his cause has not been forgotten, and his struggle has not been betrayed.”
During the ceremony, Simón Bolívar’s sword, which symbolizes hope for a brighter future, was presented to Mrs. Simpson Miller by President Maduro. A plaque was also unveiled at the front of the facility, which details a brief history of the centre.
The centre was renovated by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) and handed over to the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) on Thursday, April 2, 2015, for its management and operation.
The space contains a library, an interpretation room, a language laboratory, a multi-purpose room for lectures and performances, and administrative offices.
Prior to the ceremony, a floral tribute was held at the statue of the South American Liberator located at National Heroes Circle.
President Maduro was in the island for the 10th Anniversary Commemorative Summit of the PetroCaribe Agreement, which was held in Montego Bay on September 5.
Heads of Government and State, Energy Ministers and other Ministers of Government form Latin America and the Caribbean, who participated in the Summit meeting, also travelled to Kingston for the symbolic opening.
The Summit included a Commemorative Ceremony and a Plenary Session, which examined the activities and achievements of PetroCaribe over the past decade, while agreeing on decisions going forward.