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<ul><li><p>The Quest for Independence in the CaribbeanAuthor(s): Colin G. ClarkeReviewed work(s):Source: Journal of Latin American Studies, Vol. 9, No. 2 (Nov., 1977), pp. 337-345Published by: Cambridge University PressStable URL: .Accessed: 13/03/2012 10:59</p><p>Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms &amp; Conditions of Use, available at .</p><p>JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact</p><p>Cambridge University Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Journal ofLatin American Studies.</p><p></p></li><li><p>i. Lat. Amer. Stud. 9, 2, 337-345 Printed in Great Britain 337 </p><p>Review Article </p><p>THE QUEST FOR INDEPENDENCE IN THE CARIBBEAN </p><p>Territorial fragmentation and small size destined the Caribbean archipelago to a long history of colonialism and metropolitan rivalry. The partitioning of the region between the Spanish, French, British, Dutch and Danish dur- ing the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and United States interven- tion in the Greater Antilles since the nineteenth, culminating in the annexa- tion of Puerto Rico in I898, have ensured that each territory's connexions - political, economic, and intellectual - have been forged almost exclusively with the major countries of Western Europe or North America. </p><p>Seventeenth-century colonialism dictated the mode of Caribbean produc- tion - the cultivation of sugar and lesser primary products on plantations manned by unfree labour. Moreover, European imperialism created a Creole system of colour stratification in which whites dominated brown freemen and black slaves. After slave emancipation in the British West Indies in i834-38, indentured workers were imported from Madeira, China, and especially India. The system of East Indian contract immigration continued until 19I7 and was crucial to the development of plantation economies in the most recently acquired British Colonies, Trinidad and Guyana. </p><p>External influences and internal developments are inextricably interwoven in Caribbean affairs. The islands have always been affected by the climate of ideas developed in metropolitan countries, and the French Revolution, the United States' sense of 'manifest destiny', and Cold War geopolitics have all at one time or another impinged on the decolonization process. Nevertheless, pressure for self-government within the Caribbean units has been intense. The quest for political freedom has frequently led to social conflict, and in several instances racial hostility, even genocide, has occurred. </p><p>Interplay between metropolis and colony, between ideals of liberty and equality and the realities of Caribbean social inequality unite all the books reviewed in this article. Nowhere have these themes been more clearly expressed than in the earliest successful attempt to secure autonomy in the Caribbean - the Haitian Revolution of I789-I804. </p><p>L.A.S.-IO </p></li><li><p>338 Journal of Latin American Studies </p><p>Revolutionary Independence Social and racial strife was the salient feature of the labyrinthine course </p><p>of the independence movement in Saint Dominique. By the late eighteenth century the social hierarchy was composed of 24,000 whites, an almost equal number of free coloureds, and a slave population of 408,000. Tensions existed between bureaucrat and grand blanc, grand and petit blanc, white and mulatto, mulatto and black, black and white. Beginning with the French Revolution in 1789, each played a vital role on the Haitian stage. Between 1789 and I79I the grands and petits blancs created an explosive situation with their intra-caste struggle; from I790 to 1799 the mulattoes sought elevation to white status, yet ignored slave pressure for freedom and citizenship. </p><p>Ott's 1 scholarly account of the Haitian revolutionary wars shows that the blacks were ultimately the chief beneficiaries of the warfare. To further their own ends whites and mulattoes triggered, but failed to control, slave rebellion and thus set the blacks on a course for freedom and independence which otherwise, he argues, might have been beyond their awareness and ability to achieve. Haitian scholars will reject this interpretation, preferring to stress the active role of the slaves. Yet they will probably agree that important though the French Revolution, key personalities, and foreign intervention were to the detailed course of events, these factors should be considered subsidiary to the process of social and racial conflict which cul- minated in the expulsion and massacre of the whites by Dessalines. In a wide-ranging conclusion, Ott extends his discussion into the post-revolu- tionary period. He emphasizes the influence of the protracted period of armed conflict on the subsequent pattern of militarism and dictatorship; and he traces black-mulatto rivalry through to the Duvalier regime. </p><p>A larger time-scale than Ott's provides the framework for Jonathan Brown's account of Santo Domingo, first published in two volumes in I837.2 It eschews Ott's sympathetic treatment of the black revolutionaries and lacks his voluminous documentation. However, Brown's concluding chapter, despite the tincture of color prejudice so common among whites in his day, offers an interesting eye-witness account of Haitian life in the I830s: he documents administrative malpractice and judicial ineptitude, ecclesiastical anarchy, the decay of the plantations, and hostility between mulattoes and blacks. 1 Thomas, O. Ott, The Haitian Revolution 1789-i8o4 (Knoxville, University of Tennessee </p><p>Press, I973). Pp. x + 232. $8.50. 2 Jonathan Brown, The History and Present Condition of St Domingo (London, Frank Cass, </p><p>1972; first published Philadelphia, William Marshall and Co., I837). I, Pp. iv + 307; IT,. Pp. 289. $34.50. </p></li><li><p>The Quest for Independence in the Caribbean 339 For nineteenth-century whites, Haiti, the Black Republic, and the second </p><p>oldest autonomous state in the Americas, was a symbol of the dangers inherent in slave emancipation and coloured self-government. 'The fact is indisputable', Brown asserted, 'that as a nation the blacks of St Domingo are in a retrograde movement as regards intellectual improvement, and no obstacle seems to exist to prevent this descent to barbarism '. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that Britain imposed a century-long hiatus between emancipation and the granting of universal adult suffrage in its Caribbean colonies, and almost two more decades of constitutional decolonization were to pass before independence was finally achieved by the larger territories in the i96os. </p><p>Constitutional Decolonization It was never British policy to spawn a myriad of island states in the </p><p>Caribbean. In British eyes a federation of all the Commonwealth units was the ideal vehicle for decolonization and for the creation of a viable, demo- cratic and sovereign state. After more than a decade of negotiations, a West Indies Federation was inaugurated in 1958. The union included the 'big three' islands - Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados - together with the Windwards and Leewards. But such were the tensions between the con- stituent units that a Jamaican plebiscite in 1961 narrowly removed the island from the federation. Almost immediately afterwards Trinidad seceded from the rump federation, and both colonies became independent in 1962. </p><p>Trinidad and Tobago's involvement in the federal venture is briefly traced by A. N. R. Robinson,4 formerly a leading figure in the ruling Peoples' National party, and an erstwhile Minister of Finance. However, the greater part of his book is devoted to reforms of tariff, banking, insurance, tax and budgeting procedures since Trinidad became independent. Little significance can be attached to this disappointing, disjointed, modern history of Trinidad and Tobago, which completely fails to reflect the author's deep involvement in national politics. </p><p>Robinson's book symbolizes the West Indian politician's preoccupation with legislation as distinct from other aspects of innovation. The quest for constitutional panaceas persists, however, and Robinson ends with a plea for Caribbean collaboration. 'A decade ago we witnessed the futility of half-hearted union. Now we are experiencing the futility of separateness, </p><p>3 Ibid., II, 288-9. 4 A. N. R. Robinson, Patterns of Political and Economic Transformation in Trinidad and </p><p>Tobago (Cambridge, Mass., Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 197I). Pp. xiii + 200. $8.95. </p></li><li><p>340 Journal of Latin American Studies </p><p>however purposeful. To seize and maintain the better future that can be ours, we must impel ourselves towards purposeful union. We must build up the nation of the Caribbean in our own likeness.' 5 </p><p>But Caribbean identity is riven by race as well as by insularity. Robinson, with Creole sleight of hand, disregards the East Indian segment in Trini- dad's society. However, black-East Indian relations are the focus of two of the three books which deal with Guyana, Trinidad's sociological 'twin' on the mainland of South America. </p><p>Vere Daly has written a slight, but clearlypresented, textbook that chronicles the development of Guyana within the context of European exploration and colonization.6 He describes the establishment of European hegemony in Guyana, the creation of sugar plantations and the system of black slavery, the dyking of the coastlands, British annexation in 1814, the free village movement among the emancipated slaves, and the settling of indentured East Indians. Yet the involvement of race in national elections is glossed over, and political issues are confined to boundary disputes, inde- pendence in 1966, and the creation of a Co-operative Republic in I970. Significantly, Daly has nothing to say about the West Indies Federation or Guyana's refusal to join this British-inspired institution unless independence was instantly granted </p><p>Guyana's road to independence was infinitely more tortuous than that of the larger British islands which were originally part of the Federation. iBasil Ince has charted Guyana's protracted struggle to escape the colonial fold by looking at the territory's social, political and economic evolution, and by setting its constitutional changes against the debate which was taking place contemporaneously in the Special Committee on Colonialism at the United Nations.7 </p><p>Ince locates the origins of the idea of self-determination in the American and French Revolutions, the Peace Treaties of I9I9, the Atlantic Charter of I94I, and the Cairo Declaration of I943. However, he attributes the practice, as distinct from the theory, of decolonization to the Cold War: the two major post-war powers, the United States and the USSR have been concerned with bloc-building and adding to their list of iclient states and satellites. 'Since suppressing colonial peoples' struggles for independence was not conducive to bloc-building, the obvious move was to support, will- ingly or unwillingly, the subjugated peoples' struggle for freedom'.8 </p><p>t, Ibid., p. I68. 6 Vere T. Daly, The Making of Guyana (London, Macmillan, 1974). Pp. vi + I28. /I-20. 7 Basil A. Ince, Decolonization and Conflict in the United Nations: Guyana's Struggle for </p><p>Independence (Cambridge, Mass., Schenkman Publishing Company, 1974). Pp. xiv + 202. $6.70. 8 Ibid., p. 2. </p></li><li><p>The Quest for Independence in the Caribbean 341 </p><p>Why then, was there so much opposition to Guyana's bid for indepen- dence in the I95os and early Ig6os? Ince plausibly argues that it was due to the Marxist ideology of the ruling Peoples' Progressive Party (the PPP). This party, led by Cheddi Jagan, came to power in i953, winning eighteen out of the twenty-four seats in the first Guyanese general election based on universal adult suffrage. After less than five months, the constitution was suspended. The British Government asserted that 'from actions and public statements of these extremists it is clear that their objective was to turn Guyana into a state subordinate to Moscow and a dangerous platform for extending communist influence in the Western Hemisphere'.9 Communist Guyana in the I95os might prove as infectious to South America as Haiti's independence a century and a half earlier! </p><p>British policy was initially to halt and later to proceed very gradually with Guyana's constitutional advance to self-government and independence until a more acceptable leadership emerged. After the Cuban Revolution in 1959 and the election of President Kennedy, strong United States support was given to British strategy. Through the CIA and the AFL-CIO the United States funded a strike in 1963 aimed at destabilizing the self-governing Jagan administration. A beleaguered Jagan joined opposition leaders in inviting the British colonial secretary, Duncan Sandys, to impose a con- stitutional settlement as a prelude to independence. Proportional representa- tion was introduced - the only instance of its application in the Common- wealth Caribbean - and Jagan was swept out of office at the general election in 1964. Support for Jagan at the United Nations from the Soviet bloc and from Afro-Asian countries failed to counter British and United States' machinations - a point which Ince takes three chapters to explore. </p><p>However, Ince correctly concludes that Guyana's plight in the early I96os was not due entirely to Jagan's ideological position or to Cold War tactics. Guyana's economic dependence - 80 per cent of its exports were provided by bauxite and sugar, both of which were exclusively owned by North Ameri- can and British companies - complicated the issue. More important still was the cultural plurality of the society and the sharp distinction between Africans and East Indians. This cleavage was prised apart by British and United States' policy to produce, temporarily at least, an ideologically more acceptable Guyanese government into whose hands independence could be placed. </p><p>The schism in Guyanese, society and the fluctuating relationship between race and electoral politics are the subject of J. E. Greene's careful and </p><p>9 Ibid., p. 39. </p></li><li><p>342 Journal of Latin American Studies </p><p>interesting study.10 Greene's research is based upon data collected from almost I,ooo respondents, though his sample material is not controlled by standard tests of significance. However, it is compared with electoral results, which provide a framework and historical basis for the book. </p><p>Greene shows that the Guyanese working-class party, the PPP, which came to power in the landslide victory of I953, was a coalition based upon the East Indian majority of the population and the large African minority. After the suspension of the constitution, Jagan, the East Indian leader, a...</p></li></ul>