Final Stop- Revolution
Thomas D Boswell and Dennis Conway in their 1992 Study titled ‘The Caribbean in the Wider World, 1492-1992’ wrote:
“The Caribbean is a region of small states, many of them dismissed as “micro-states.” Their maritime accessibility contributed to their incorporation into the Western world’s earliest mercantile empires in the sixteenth century, and their insular character both defined them as well as exposed them to external forces, external patterns of interaction and flows of capital, people and goods.
The contemporary (post-World War II) experience of Caribbean people reflects both a continuation of five hundred years of externally-dominated incorporation into a succession of metropolitan empires and domains, and a widely-differing record of contemporary changes in social, economic, and political system-interactions and evolutions in specific locales”.
There can be many arguments for and against this historical perspective but none would disagree with the conclusion and the fact that is very aptly described by Tony Thorndike in his 1988 work titled: ‘The British Caribbean Dependencies: Prospects and Possibilities’ says
“Region-wide, European hegemony gradually gave way to North American and especially United States’ hegemony, completing the transfer of this “backyard, Mediterranean sea” region to the external domination of the United States.
This geo-political manoeuvre was invoked when the Monroe doctrine ruled the hemisphere’s waves in the nineteenth century; gained currency with the acquisition of Caribbean dependent territories – Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands – and assumed a neo-colonial garb, as Britain finally walked away from its Caribbean colonial responsibilities and acquiesced to North American (Canadian and US) geo-political leadership in their ex-colonial domains.”
In this very modern era where Caribbean citizens are all struggling to identify themselves with their historical and cultural roots, specifically defining who they are and where they came from, have tools at their disposal to research and explore such details at a click of a button, however their post colonial psychological state of mind still wanders to their ex masters or those deemed more powerful.
Is it not the case that they are in awe if the US President throws crumbs at them in the form of ‘visiting’ a small Island nation with a ‘day long’ visit or the nod of approval that is so cherish in the form of the “Queen’s Certificate” or an OBE or even a mere invite to the Governor’s Tea Party. Why does all this give meaning to Caribbean citizens’s self-esteem or identity?
The region’s significant historical events should be taken into account, that the Haitian “independence” in 1804 preceded United States’ hegemonic overtures. France, on the other hand, retains her Departments D’Outre Mer, Martinique, French Guiana and Guadeloupe and dependencies. The Netherlands has not formally relinquished their colonial ties with Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, and St Maarten. The British sovereignty still persists over Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands (BVI), the Cayman Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI).
The politically independent countries, such as the Dominican Republic and Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, saw their incorporation into the US geo-political sphere become the prevailing reality of their interdependent status: politically, economically, even culturally.
In a comprehensive historical work titled, ‘Post integration Development in the Caribbean’ written in 1995 by Maribel Aponte Garcia and Carmen Gautier Mayoral states:
“The troubled times of the 1980s, a world recession and massive indebtedness as the optimistic development plans of many of the region’s politically independent states were stymied, and the international financial community sought succor in IMF- and World Bank imposed “conditionalities,” burdening the relatively powerless debtors with the costs and the pain.
The ensuing re-structuring of the global capitalist project saw the ascendance of international corporate capital as the neo-liberal hegemony of the Americas: overseeing US and UK’s Banking “national” capital interests’ dominance, while at the same time reliant on its allegiance. Globalisation beget neo-liberalism in North American and British relations with the hemisphere, and Caribbean affairs, and political economic relations, were now more often subordinate to wider hemisphere and global issues. In essence, the Caribbean small states became even smaller geo-political players in this globalising world.”
As an example the petro-dollar flushed small Island states of the Middle-East yielding the financial power, are now becoming embroiled in regional and sectarian wars imposed by the western powers who sell billions of dollars worth of arms and ammunition to both warring sides.
The fundamental question is that, what is then the agenda of these hegemonic powers that are meddling in the global affairs, for the small Island states of the Caribbean?
On the micro-level faced with socio-economic issues such as marginalisation and discrimination against the native population by forcing the locals to adapt to the so-called emancipation policies, such as opening up immigration, allowing the UK and US dominated corporations taking-over the small local businesses and virtually forcing the locals to conform to the choices of economic direction chosen by the corporate interest groups.
The local legislations and infrastructure are completely transformed and created to accommodate the business interests of the corporate world. The local identity and culture is only worth showcasing as a “tourism product”.
The main stream media in the Cayman Islands has constantly defended liberal immigration policies, while ignoring the physical realities of limited land mass and small economies of Island states such as the Cayman Islands.
Generally in the Caribbean, whenever a small Island state’s indigenous population raises the issue of migration and of other nationalities taking-over the socio-economic reigns of their small Islands, the owners of the local main stream media jump to defend the liberalisation of work permits and awarding citizenships while trying to silence the local population’s genuine concerns with their loud noise.
Socio-Economic scholars such as Conway, 1989; Marshall, 1982; Patterson, 1987; Richardson, 1983, 1992; Thomas-Hope, 1992 , in their historically factual work on the issue of migration in the Caribbean, unanimously declare the following:
“The migration colonised the region’s islands, and colonial enclaves. Convict deportations, the forced mass transfers of the slave trade and the recruitment via indentured contracts ensured a trans-oceanic supply of plantation labour as well as bringing a global cultural and ethnic plurality of peoples into the region.
On the other hand, sometime at the behest of international capital, but often as not stimulated by declining circumstances in the islands, and primed by the skillful exhortations of overseas recruiters the indigenous population’s best talents sought better opportunities “off the island”, either within the region, or beyond in the American hemisphere, or in European “mother countries”.
The systemic out-ward migration of brains and skills from the indigenous Islands population coupled with inward migration of western capital with their team of legal experts to dictate and manipulate the local legislations also brought in cheap migrant labour from elsewhere to further marginalise the locals.
The challenges for small Island states like the Cayman Islands would have been less profound if the ‘mother country’ would play by the rule book of international laws, but unfortunately the colonial mind-set is not satisfied with just socio-economic marginalisation of the ex-colonies.
The empire established a system of financial annihilation that would ensure that small island states such as the Cayman Islands, BVI, and TCI, which upgraded from being a colonial-outpost to a British controlled Overseas Territory (OT), must perform certain ‘services’ that would justify the attachment to the mother country.
The 1960’s ‘Off-Shore’ financial status was the ‘service’ chosen for the OT’s such as the Cayman Islands. These OT’s were to become a Laundromat for the third leg of the economic system set-up since the ‘Opium Wars’ in Indo-China by the British empire.
The global economies of modern day G-8 and OECD were reluctant to expose their ‘democratic and civilized’ societies to the ills of drug and blood money openly, where as the proceeds from their long-established global drug cartels were still very much pouring-in and at a faster rate for the empire to launder and flush in its ‘legitimate’ banking system.
The plus side of this arrangement was that the OT’s would be duped to believe that they were independent in charting the course of their future, yet covertly by manipulating a portion of the indigenous population, that was still loyal to the empire could be given a piece of the pie while elevating them socially with titles such as ‘OBE and MBE’ and the population in general could be ruled effectively from within.
Robert Watson in his 1995 book titled, ‘Latin America and the Caribbean in Transition’ writes:
“Never mind that today in the 1990s neo-liberalism reigns supreme: scarcely challenged globally, reluctantly embraced regionally, and resignedly patronised in social science commentary. In part because of the apparent strength and power of the globalisation message, and in part as a response to ‘rational’ arguments that point to the powerlessness of Caribbean small states, their structural limitations and their political economic shortcomings”.
The scholars with any semblance of integrity and media houses with any sense of journalistic justice long recognised the colonial and imperial designs of the UK and the US in the Caribbean. The sole purpose of establishment of these smaller OT’s without any trade or natural resources could serve the empire through their ‘Off-Shore’ Financial centre status.
The empire’s ‘experiment’ with the smart use of drug and illegal money from tax evasion and the like, would become legal, once laundered through a loosely structured banking regime in these OT’s, protected by the Crown’s decree of assigned secrecy.
The system was envisioned as legitimate enough to be branded as a legally and legislatively prudent financial regime that would pass all the financial stress tests. The laundered proceeds under the guidance of the Bank of England would proceed to the financial centre of London and New York. The story of HSBC Cayman, Leman Brothers, UBS, Carlyle Group is all intertwined in this morbid colonial scheme.
Benedict, B in his 1967 work on the Caribbean financial sector development and its long-term socio-economic impact on small Island states such as the Cayman Islands wrote in his book titled, ‘Sociological aspects of smallness’:
“The colonial office (now called the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)) administrators also found the infrastructural facilities inadequate, and yet they planned extensive road and power networks, they envisaged growth and territorial coverage of public utilities, and approached this development initiative in terms of state enticements, viewing the state as “facilitator” of western private enterprise initiatives in the newly established Caribbean Financial centres.
Most uniform of the practices of Colonial Offices region-wide to view the inflow of foreign capital as coordinated and directed through their offices. The level of development attained would be directly attributable to the amount of foreign capital invested, or directed to projects within each Island Financial Centre’s domain.
The assessment of viable projects is to be guided by Colonial office permission, and funded by grants or state-facilitated private ventures, and often such projects were merely adequate, scarcely ever forward-looking or expansive vis-à-vis the indigenous population. For example, some of the smallest Windward Islands were not deemed “developable”. The same was argued with respect to up-grading port-facilities, upgrading communications networks, and developing health care facilities: simply providing the most basic facility with the most limited technological equipment was considered “more than adequate”.
This analysis by Benedict done in the 1960s still possibly holds true within the realm of the realities facing the Cayman Islands today. From the antiquated airport, to the insufficient and neglected port facilities, to the monopolised utilities supply, to the horrific healthcare system, whereby all these matters along with the local legislative assembly are focused on serving the one and only master, the FCO.
Until and unless the people of the Cayman Islands do not examine the events that take place within their society in the legal-justice system, legislation, infrastructure development, education and job opportunities without the tainted view of the official policy statement led by the FCO and the local main stream media funded by the corporate dollars, indigenous Caymanians shall continue to be disenfranchised in their own homeland.
In a country where the Governor, the higher judiciary, the legal fraternity, the senior civil service advisors, the ombudsman, the police commissioner, the senior bankers, the partners in financial firms, the real estate firms, the service providers, all of which are majority expatriate held and staffed, are fully under the thumb of the empire and have a unified vision with overt and covert ambitions to rule the Cayman Islands as their little kingdom.