These Covid 19 ‘support measures’ have the effect of deepening the debt crisis in the region. In fact, they go in the opposite direction to the statement of Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the United Nation's Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), speaking at a meeting of Caribbean Heads of State and Finance Ministers with ECLAC, at the end of April. In her statement to the meeting, Bárcena declared that since the Caribbean is the world's most highly indebted region, “borrowing is not the answer to confront this crisis. Caribbean countries need grant support fast.” She further added that the region also requires debt relief. Addressing the same meeting, Antigua's Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, stated that “the economic burden for our countries has been unsustainable because of the high levels of debt. We don’t have the capacity for printing money and our policy instruments are very limited."
It was neither charity nor philanthropy which pushed the situation forward but our ancestors’ resilience, indefatigable and indomitable quest to resolve the situation in our favour which achieved liberation and resulted in emancipation. Whilst the oppression evolved from involuntary to voluntary servitude, then to colonial structures and now to new forms of exploitation prolonging our current status as wage slaves the struggle for complete liberation continues. The workers struggles of the 1930s, the achievement of formal independence in most states and ongoing efforts to create societies that meet people’s needs continue.
Based on the above, it can be seen that the Emancipation of the slaves was nothing short of a dialectical process in which the two competing classes – slave owner and slaves, battled with each other for the achievement of their own class agendas. It was therefore colonialism and chattel slavery that caused the enslaved African to be imbued with a nature of militant resistance which was inextricably necessary to achieve the Agenda of Freedom. This however did not negate passive and other forms of resistance including “temporary accommodation” which contributed to the achievement of the agenda.
Emancipation, while carrying society to a more advanced level, did not solve the basic contradiction of West Indian history: the capital-labour contradiction. It simply placed it on a new footing. The resolution of that contradiction lies solely in the hands of the modern working class. That is our historic mission. Let us make haste and complete the unfinished revolution that our ancestors began.
The U.S. imperialists militarily occupied Haiti 105 years ago and has never left. Most recently in 2020, the U.S. collaborating with Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, was involved in the creation of a regrouping of criminal armed gangs to perpetuate a new dictatorship. This has been preceded by decades of other interference in Haiti. Canada, a long-time appeaser of U.S. imperialism, has also been directly involved in the oppression of the Haitian people through the 2004 coup and other nefarious activities.
The Garifunas are descendants of an Afro-indigenous population from the Caribbean island of St Vincent. During the late 18th century their ancestors were transported by the British colonialists and abandoned on the Honduran coast. At least five Garifuna leaders have been killed since September 2019, according to the United Nations high commissioner for human rights (OHCHR) in Honduras.
A problem to be taken up for solution is that Tobagonian civil society - rather than operating as individual silos, fragmented and atomized, doing their own thing - needs to be activated and empowered as such. Working out how to empower the civil society with decision making power is a big challenge.
In a World Food Programme survey conducted across 19 Caribbean countries in April, nearly three-quarters of respondents indicated that they had experienced disruptions to their livelihoods in the previous two weeks. About half reported job losses or reduced income, with business owners, workers in petty trades, and casual labourers suffering the greatest impact. Young people also have experienced a disproportionate impact, with 61% of 18-25 year olds reporting job or income loss.
Historical analysis of the late 18th and early 19th century era of revolutionary change reflects the contrast in approach towards the American, French and Haitian episodes. All could be said to have ushered in a new society, even a new era of political and economic development following rupture with the ancien regime. Yet Haiti, which brought the representatives of the enslaved people to power and codified that, is scorned at worst, patronised at best. Compare with the American and French episodes which explicitly ended feudalism and monarchical rule (as did Haiti) and brought a new class to power, personified in the US version by white men of property - and explicitly codified as such. Both are extolled as historical beacons.
Forty-two years ago, five young Saint Lucians joined thousands from across the Caribbean and the rest of the world in a 10-day event that forever shaped ties between Saint Lucia and Cuba and further cemented the growing ties between Cuba and the English-speaking Caribbean. Today, those ties are threatened like never before and the Caribbean is being challenged to either stand with Cuba, or submit to external pressure and throw Havana under the American bus.