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VOL. 25 NO. 3 SEPTEMBER, 1979
Copyright reserved and reproduction without permission strictly forbidden.
1 The Rodney Affair
25 Guyana: Socialism and Destabilization in the Western Hemisphere
Ralph R. Premdas
44 The Caribbean in Emerging World Political/Economic Trends
Vaughan A. Lewis
63 The Williams Thesis: A Comment on the State of Scholarship
Roderick A. McDonald
70 Mi Caan Believe It
73 Contemporary International Relations of the Caribbean edited by
Basil A. Ince
reviewed by Aggrey Brown
76 The Press and the Law in the Caribbean by Dorcas White
reviewed by Howard Fergus
80 Notes on Contributors
81 Books Received
82 Publications of the Department
83 Information for Contributors
UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES
Hon. R.M. Nettleford, O.M., Professor of Extra-Mural Studies (Editor)
Uoyd Braithwaite, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, St. Augustine, Trinidad
Sir Sidney Martin, Pro-Vice- Chancellor, Cave Hill, Barbados
Roy Augier, Pro-Vice- Chancellor, Mona, Jamaica
G.A.O. Alleyne, Professor, Department of Medicine
Lloyd Coke, Department of Botany, Mona
Neville McMorris, Department of Physics, Mona
Janet Liu Terry, Associate Editor
All correspondence and contributions should be addressed to:
Department of Extra-Mural Studies,
University of the West Indies,
Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica.
We invite readers to submit manuscripts or recommend subjects which they would
like to see discussed in Caribbean Quarterly. Articles of Caribbean relevancy will be
gratefully received. Authors should refer to the section on Information for Contributors
Subscriptions (Annual) Price Postage
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Exchanges are conducted by the Gifts and Exchange Section, Library, University
of the West Indies, Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica.
Information for back volumes supplied on request. Volumes 1-18 of Caribbean
Quarterly are available in microfilm from Xerox University Microfilms and in book form
from Kraus-Thomson Reprint Ltd.
Subscription orders may be forwarded to the Editor or the Resident Tutor at the
University Centre in any West Indian Territory served by this University.
The post-colonial Caribbean is a gift for analysis, speculation and prophecy. This
issue of Caribbean Quarterly seeks to focus attention on aspects of the dynamics of
change in the inescapable search for strategies that some believe will result in the
transformation of the internal social order bequeathed by a history of slavery and
colonialism as well as socio-cultural and economic dependence. The contributions
which follow deal with the social protest of the late sixties manifest in the so-called
Rodney Affair in Jamaica, the commitment to a socialist solution heralded and
embraced by the Guyana of Forbes Burnham and Cheddi Jagan, as well as the geo-
political implications of all this in a hemisphere which recent history has virtually
made the 'province' of one of the two superpowers.
It is Vaughan Lewis who, in his article The Caribbean in Emerging World Political/
Economic Trends, outlines the impact and influence that the general "trajectory of
radicalisation of domestic and foreign economic/political policy" among certain
Governments of the Third World Caribbean countries have on the United States'
perception of the Caribbean. The adoption of a domestic socialist policy and the strong
ties established by the governments of Jamaica and Guyana with Cuba, an ally of the
Soviet Union, have received close and contentious monitoring from the United States.
The attendant geopolitical anxieties and panic in the relations between Washington
D.C. on the one hand and Kingston and Georgetown on the other is put into
perspective by Dr Lewis who offers the reminder that the Soviet analyst, Ulyanovsky,
has since the early 1970s argued that "given that certain domestic conditions are
fulfilled, Third World countries can effectively trade and obtain aid from both 'world
systems' a condition of existence which many post-colonial Caribbean citizens see
as both the pre-requisite for and the occasion of their liberation' from the inheritance
of cultural and economic dependency.
The US response to such an aspiration constitutes to many, the dialectical frame-
work of current Caribbean politics and Ralph R. Premdas in Guyana: Socialism and
Destabilisation in the Western Hemisphere asserts that the United States Central
Intelligence Agency was responsible for the destabilisation of the Jagan Government
in Guyana. He writes: "The excuse of Western Hemisphere security, legitimate by the
Monroe Doctrine has been repeatedly invoked by the United States to intervene in the
domestic affairs of Caribbean and Latin American countries. The Chilean example is a
recent reminder that while 'gun-boat diplomacy' has been suspended, more direct,
brutal and effective methods of intervention have been devised to compel independent-
minded countries to operate within the confines of the United States interests. ..
combinations of economic, political, and social tactics are utilized, with the aid of
certain local citizens, to render a country not only dependent on US and Western
sources for its survival, but to elect politicians who are willing to co-operate in facilitat-
ing this process." He argues the case by way of analysis of the major crises which lent
themselves to full-scale destabilisation. He sees a continuing vulnerability to external
manipulative forces but speculates on the possibility of this being less effective in the
face of some measure of partial reconciliation, if not full consensus, between the rival
communal leaders in Guyana.
The dynamics of internal politics in the post-colonial Caribbean took on a new and
significant stance in Jamaica in 1968 when the then Government of Jamaica banned
Dr Walter Rodney, the young history lecturer at the University of the West Indies,
from Jamaica. This stirred up a great deal of controversy not only among the student
body on the Mona campus of the University but also among sections of the Jamaican
community. It was clear even then that the central concerns of nationalism self-
government and national emblems to signify the achievement of independence had
shifted to matters of fundamental social and economic change within the society, and
specifically in the interest of the large mass of traditionally poor and deprived people.
The author of The Rodney Affair, which opens this issue of CQ, was at the ttme of
the "Affair" the President of the Guild of Undergraduates and actually led the
demonstrations into the city of Kingston. This eye-witness account (told from the
position of a now committed new-breed Caribbean socialist) comes from someone
who was at the heart of the matter and is therefore of real importance to the history
of the Affair. The Rodney Affair is seen by many social commentators and especially
those of Dr Gonsalves' generation, as a watershed event in contemporary Caribbean
politics and change. Out of these events (which compared somewhat with protest
movements in the United States and Western Europe at the time) arose, in the words
of the author himself, "a core of students dedicated to fundamental change. They
formed the basis of the protests later that year against the British invasion (sic) of
Anguilla and racism in Canada as manifested in the Sir George William University
crisis. Many of these have since joined the bourgeois-reformist governments of the
region but a substantial number are still involved in revolutionary struggle having
understood that 'defeated armies learn their lessons'." "To the extent that the Rodney
Affair advanced the democratic and revolutionary struggles of Caribbean peoples,"
concludes Dr Gonsalves, "to that extent it is a lasting success."
The inclusion of Roderick A. McDonald's contribution entitled The Williams
Thesis: A Comment on the State of Scholarship may seem out of joint But the burden
of the argument of the article relates to the self-perception of Caribbean peoples in
terms of their own history and experience a matter which underlies the entire ques-
tion of political change and economic development in the post-colonial era. Walter
Rodney's own deep concern with the restructuring of the black man's history as a
desideratum of his total liberation shares with Eric Williams' now well known assertive
scholarship on West Indian slavery, the urge to pose what, Dr McDonald feels, is "a
fundamental challenge to both Western historiographical tradition and Western values."
It is this challenge to question the inherited ethos of dependency as part of a value
system which sees a section of the world as superordinate and other parts as subordi-
nate that motivates a good deal that is now evident in Caribbean political life -
whatever may be the rhetoric, labels, or tactical postures assumed.
THE RODNEY AFFAIR AND ITS AFTERMATH
The author was the President of the Guild of Undergraduates at the time of the
Rodney Affair and led the demonstration into the city.
In this paper the names of a number of students who made important contributions
to the struggle during the Rodney crisis are not mentioned so as to save them possible
embarrassment in their present occupations. There are many interesting little incidents
which have been left out of the narrative but their exclusion in no way detracts from
On October 15th 1968 Dr Walter Rodney, a Lecturer in the Department of History
at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies was banned by the Jamaican
Government from re-entering Jamaica. The next day the University students led what
was intended to be a peaceful protest march against the Government's decision. That
march, however, was transformed into something much bigger and triggered off a
series of events which collectively have been called "the Rodney Affair", lasting for
just over a week.
Although our analysis would proceed in a largely chronological manner it would
involve the following considerations: the social and political context of the disturb-
ances; an identification of the leaders and participants of the "Affair"; a description
and analysis of the events of the period October 16th to October 28th 1968 and the
consequences of that protest.
The Background to the Rodney Affair
By October 1968, independent Jamaica was only six years old. It was bequeathed
some major social and economic problems by its colonial and capitalist past which
were driving the society towards self-destruction. Unemployment was estimated at
some 30 percent of the labour force; 67 percent of the workforce earned less than $10
per week and 80 percent earned under $20 per week; there were nearly 100 strikes
that year including a few at the time of the October crisis; housing, social services and
social legislation were highly inadequate; the two party system and the companion
unions appeared undemocratic and unresponsive to the needs of large sections of
workers and peasants; the means of production, including land, were unequally
distributed: corruption in government compounded its mis-directed policies; a Euro-
centric cultural bias and open racism against the 90 percent black section of the
population generated considerable racial tension which ran counter to the official
motto "Out of Many, One People." In addition, the Jamaican political system was neo-
colonial in the same sense that although the government was elected and serviced by
the indigenous peoples, the policy-direction came from foreign capitalists and their
local counterparts. Foreigners controlled the major sectors of the economy: mining,
tourism, banking, insurance, agriculture and public utilities. [Girvan (3), Jefferson (6),
Munroe (8)]. To a greater or lesser extent it is these same factors which precipitated
the 1938 uprising and periodic riots up to 1968.
Thus, in 1968 the basic structural ingredients were there for a social explosion. But
every uprising, protest or riot needs a spark to ignite the combustible social material.
In the upheaval of October 1968 the personality of Walter Rodney and the University
students provided the spark.
Dr Rodney, a Guyanese by birth, was an outstanding student at the Mona Campus
of the University of the West Indies. On graduation he enrolled as a doctoral candidate
in African History at the University of London. On completion of his graduate studies
he lectured at the University of Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania before taking up a lecture-
ship in the Department of History at UWI in January 1968.
He soon plunged himself into political activity and controversy on the campus and
in the community outside by his espousal of a Black Power philosophy. In fact,
Rodney was the first West Indian to articulate in any coherent manner the philosophy
of Black Power since Marcus Garvey. For Rodney, Black Power in the West Indies
meant three closely related things:
(i) the break with imperialism which is historically white racist; (ii) the assumption
of power by the black masses in the islands; (iii) the cultural reconstruction of the
society in the image of the blacks. [Rodney (9), p. 28].
Black Power in the Caribbean was thus seen as containing a mixture of socialist and
black racial consciousness. He utilised this ideological frame to inculcate in black
Jamaicans, especially in the urban area, a sense of racial identity, culture and revolu-
tionary spirit designed to restructure Jamaican society. In this way he called on black
peoples to "throw off white domination and resume the handling of their own
destinies." [Rodney (9), p. 24].
The response to this message by the urban youths, the unemployed and the
Rastafarians was overwhelming. In nine months from January to October 1968,
Rodney traversed the Jamaican landscape with eloquence, fervour and dynamism,
calling the oppressed black man to realise his state of dispossession and act upon it.
The success of Rodney could be guaged in part by the decision of the Government to
declare him persona non grata because of the threat which he posed to the status
quo. In the House of Representatives, the Minister of Home Affairs, Roy McNeill,
In my term of office and in reading of the records of problems in this country,
I have never come across a man who offers a greater threat to the security of this
land than does Walter Rodney. [Hansard (5), p. 394].
That Rodney had an impact on the student body at Mona cannot be denied. At
first, many of them were bewildered by his philosophy of Black Power. But gradually
it was understood and even if not accepted wholeheartedly, it clarified for them a lot
of misconceptions about race, culture, politics and economics.
Around the same time, a new leadership of the Guild of Undergraduates the
students' organization was elected for a term of office beginning August 1968. The
Guild President was elected on a platform of student power by an overwhelming
majority and was agitating for student representation on relevant University bodies. A
brand of petit-bourgeois radicalism was being articulated with a strong nationalist and
democratic tendency. This ferment must also be seen within the international context
of student agitation. These trends in student politics were seen by Norman Girvan as
having an important effect in generating a quick response to the Government's ban on
Rodney. [Girvan (4), p. 60].
Thus, all the ingredients were present for a spontaneous outburst to what the
students perceived as an arbitrary and high-handed action on the part of the Shearer
Government to ban Rodney. The student leadership was militant; most students were
outraged at the Government's action; the personality, ideas and activity of Rodney
himself had a mobilising effect; and there was a feeling of unrest generally in the
As it transpired, the Government was planning for several weeks to get Rodney out
of the country. Their strategy, however, was to push the University into doing it for
them. The Minister of Home Affairs informed the House that he had summoned the
Vice-Chancellor, Sir Philip Sherlock, eight weeks previously to bring to his attention
"the serious activities that were being conducted in this country by Rodney."
[Hansard (5), p. 394]. On Monday 14th October, the Cabinet invited the Vice-
Chancellor to discuss the matter with a view to having him terminate Rodney's
contract of employment. The Vice-Chancellor informed the Government that this was
not possible since there were no professional grounds for Rodney's dismissal and
moreover that the authority in these matters rested not on him, but on the Appoint-
ments Committee. At this point, the Vice-Chancellor volunteered that the Government
had ample authority to get rid of Rodney if it wanted. Prime Minister Shearer
presented this latter fact in a manner which suggested that the Vice-Chancellor gave
the impression that he would acquiesce to any banning of Rodney a contention
which Sherlock hotly denies. The Vice-Chancellor argued instead that he was given an
undertaking to have time to discuss the matter with his senior colleagues before any
governmental action was to be taken. As it turned out, Sherlock was denied that time
as the Government banned Rodney the following day on the ground that it was urgent
to do so. It seems clear, however, that Shearer, having failed to obtain Sherlock's
agreement to fire Rodney decided to act promptly when he learnt that Rodney was
outside the country.
The "Affair" Begins
The aircraft which brought Rodney back from Montreal where he was attending a
Congress of Black Writers landed at 2:20 PM on Tuesday 15th October. However, it
was not until 9:00 PM that the students learnt that he was refused re-entry and
confined to the aircraft. Immediately, the Guild President contacted the Vice-
Chancellor for his reaction but the latter declined to comment until he knew the facts.
Soon thereafter a meeting of students on the campus was advertised for 11:00 PM. in
Mary Seacole Hall. The meeting of some 900 students unanimously accepted a resolu-
tion to march the following day on the offices of the Minister of Home Affairs and the
Prime Minister and to deliver two petitions. It is important to note that there was no
intention to march from Mona but that buses would convey the students to specific
points in the city from which they would converge on the ministerial offices. To this
end Messrs McCauley were contacted to provide the necessary transportation but when
they failed to turn up at the agreed time (7:00 AM ) on Wednesday 16th the students
decided to proceed on foot.
On the night of Tuesday 15th after the students' meeting there was much activity
in preparation for the march. A brief meeting of the Guild Executive was held to
discuss the details of the march and to arrange speakers for a public meeting in the
city. The petitions to the Ministers were drawn up. a pamphlet was printed urging
students to be disciplined. The pamphlet states, inter alia, that:
This is a serious demonstration. It challenges the Government of this country and
consequently places us all in danger. If we wish to make this protest for Dr Rodney
effective and if it is important that discipline and order be maintained throughout,
each student is asked to pay very strict attention to the following instructions.
[Students' Pamphlet (11)].
Among the instructions were obedience to identifiable marshall, the wearing of
gowns, the possession of a damp rag for protection against tear gas, the non-provocation
of the police and the observance of order generally.
On that night the law in relation to marches was discussed by telephone with two
lawyers, one of whom was the then Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Huntley
Munroe, who was contacted through a family acquaintance. The students therefore
had some understanding as to when a march was legal or not. Large numbers of
students were engaged in preparations either through the making of sandwiches and
posters, the printing of pamphlets or performing some other task.
When all other arrangements were completed for the march, the Guild President,
Arnold Bertram (now a Minister) and a graduate student went into Kingston at about
3:00 AM to map out the points at which the buses would deliver the students and to
trace the route for the march to the Ministry of Home Affairs on Duke Street.
Somehow Prime Minister Shearer learnt about this innocent visit to the city and
weaved it into his bizarre theory of the march by suggesting that its purpose was to
summon Rodney's followers to action.
From that very night it was evident that it would not be possible to isolate the
importance of Rodney's ideas or the race question from the march. At the students'
meeting that night racial slurs were hurled at a white American student by someone
who turned out not to have been a student. The American girl accompanied by some
of her white and brown Jamaican friends including Rachel Manley, grand-daughter of
the then Leader of the Opposition, called on the Guild President urging that the race
issue be kept out by the demonstration a question over which no one had any real
On the morning of Wednesday 16th October, the students gathered at the Registry
building at the University from which they proceeded in single file along Mona Road.
The students were stopped on that road by a cordon of policemen armed with guns,
batons, tear gas bombs, aerosal cans of a gas believed to be "mace" which was in
frequent use against civil rights marchers in the USA. Machine guns were later
mounted on the aqueduct above Mona Road.
When stopped, the students committed no acts of violence and reasoned with the
police about the right to peaceful protest. The female students were vital at this
point for a breakthrough of the cordon. Many of them walked up to the policemen
with seductive dances and amorous strokes. Taken off guard in this manner the
police were unable, tr.mporarily, to prevent one section of the protesters breaking
through the cordon. Accordingly, the police were forced to chase the students and re-
grouped at a lower point along the Mona Road.
At this stage some students wanted to return to the campus and occupy the offices
of the University administration. Two left-wing lecturers urged this course of action
upon the Guild President but it was rejected out-of-hand by him and the majority of
the students on the ground that they had no dispute with the University authorities.
It appeared too, at the time, that there was some division in the ranks of the police as
to which course of action they should take. The officer-in-charge of the police along
the Mona Road was clearly intent on stopping the students but a superior officer who
was driving along advised an opposite tactic. It seemed as though conflicting orders
had come from the Prime Minister and from the Police High Command.
While the two officers conferred the female students again used their feminine
charm on a group of policemen who were themselves uncertain for the last time as to
the measures to be adopted against the privileged sons and daughters of the middle
class. Again the students broke through the cordon running down the road towards
Matilda's Corer or through Wellington Drive off Mona Road over barbed wire fences,
through gullies and a nearby swamp to avoid the police. At Matilda's Corner, sympathe-
tic conductresses allowed many students to board the JOS buses free of charge.
The march at this point was temporarily broken up. One contingent of the
marchers went down Hope Road past the Prime Minister's residence and another
along Old Hope Road to Cross Roads. They were to meet again a couple hours later in
front of the Ministry of Home Affairs on Duke Street.
At the corner of Wellington Drive and Mona Road the police showed its first real
sign of viciousness. John Ribero, a first year student, was tear-gassed at close range by
a policeman. He fell and had to be assisted by his colleagues. From that point onwards
police brutality was one of the main features of the day's events.
At Jamaica House a tear gas cannister was thrown at the feet of Pat Rodney,
pregnant wife of the banned lecturer, who was easily identifiable by her placard
"Where is my husband?" Bunny Cunningham, a young Jamaican student, was beaten
by a policeman with a baton.
Meanwhile, the students' cause was attracting considerable sympathy from ordinary
Jamaicans along the way. They offered words of encouragement; they provided water,
soft drinks and damp rags for protection against tear gas. At Cross Roads the marchers
were joined by students from the Theological Seminary and other educational institu-
tions. This constituted a major morale booster in the face of an increase in the size of
the police detachments and the mobilization of the army.
Around 10:00 AM the students arrived at the Ministry of Home Affairs by foot,
car and bus. A public meeting was held in the street outside the Ministry at which the
Guild President, the two Vice-Presidents, Dr Norman Girvan and Mrs Rodney, spoke.
Each speaker highlighted the inhuman manner in which the Government had banned
Dr Rodney without allowing him time to settle his family matters, especially since his
young son and pregnant wife were in Jamaica. The Guild President argued that the ban
constituted "a serious breach of academic freedom", and called on the Government to
lift the ban and put the issue before the judiciary for an impartial hearing. The most
touching statement was made by Mrs Rodney who tearfully recounted the activities of
her husband which may have led to his exclusion from the country. She stressed that
he was not a violent man and had only presented the plight of his black brethren as he
saw and understood it.
Much drama was present at this public meeting. Roy McNeill, the Minister of Home
Affairs, appeared at the gates of his Ministry well guarded by the security forces, and
was subjected to much verbal abuse by the crowd, which was now well over 2,000 a
number of unemployed youths, workers and Rastafarians having joined the protest.
The officer-in-charge of the police ordered the Guild President to request the dispersal
of the crowd on pain of the Riot Act being read. The officer was ignored on the
advice of a number of Rastafarians and workers who flanked the Guild President and
offered protection. Fearing that an arrest of the student leader may have sparked off a
bloody conflict between the crowd and the police, the officer withdrew and joined
McNeill at the gates.
Meanwhile efforts were being made by the students to meet McNeill. He refused,
but an audience was arranged for the Guild President and his adviser, Dr Girvan, with
the Permanent Secretary and other officials. It was decided that the Prime Minister
would meet these two representatives from the University community on Friday
18th October. In the event, that meeting never materialised, although it was confirmed
by an official ministerial telegram. The Prime Minister had a change of heart and
informed the House of Representatives on early Friday morning that:
I will have to re-examine the question of the composition of the deputation if they
want to see me. This is a matter affecting Jamaica... I do not see myself discussing
the matter with anybody other than Jamaicans. [Hansard (5), p. 410].
This was a pointed reference to the fact that the Guild President was a non-
Jamaican, although a West Indian.
Shortly after the meeting with the officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the
demonstrators proceeded up Duke Street on their way to the Prime Minister's office
at East Race Course. When they arrived in front of the headquarters of the Bustamante
Industrial Trade Union (BITU), the union affiliate of the then ruling Jamaica Labour
Party (JLP), a clash ensued in which stones, bottles and miscellaneous missiles were
flung on both sides of the street. A detachment of the police intervened with batons
and tear gas to disperse the crowd. A few people were injured in the process including
a policeman. Several cars were destroyed.
The BITU claimed that the attack was engineered by supporters of the opposition
Peoples' National Party (PNP) from the Central Kingston constituency posing as
students, and some workers from Alpart who were involved in an industrial struggle
on the side of the National Workers' Union against the BITU. While it is difficult to
ascertain the accuracy of BITU's allegation, it is clear from eye witness accounts that
whoever led the assault they were not bona fide students of the University.
The attack in front of the BITU headquarters and the subsequent police interven-
tion forced the demonstrators to beat a hasty retreat down Duke Street. A large
number found sanctuary in the nearby St George's School. From there the decision
was taken to march peacefully down Duke Street, across East Queen Street, down
King Street and across Harbour Street where the demonstrators assembled in front of
the old Gleaner building. By this time several army helicopters were hovering around
and the police were visibly reinforced. There was much chanting but no major incidents
At this gathering a most important decision was made by the Guild President so as
to avert unnecessary bloodshed. Many left-wing members of the University staff and
some students advocated a procession through West Kingston to bring out, according
to one of them, "the dispossessed" of that area. Most students were afraid of the
potential consequences of such a diversion especially when it was realized that the
army and police were preparing for precisely such an eventuality.
The protagonists of "the move to West Kingston" were clearly adventurists since
they were ideologically, organizationally and militarily unequipped to face the com-
bined strength of the security forces and the thugs. Accordingly, the Guild
President announced that if the march proceeded' to West Kingston it would do so
without his sanction or approval of the student body. Given the violently dramatic
turn of events, many students, especially from the Eastern Caribbean, expressed a
desire to discontinue the protest. The Guild President informed those who were so
inclined to return to the campus but nevertheless urged that they continue with the
main body of marchers up to East Race Course to protest in front of the Prime
Some have subsequently argued that the refusal of the Guild President to go into
West Kingston was an abdication of leadership. In retrospect, however, his decision
seems to have been the correct one. The move to West Kingston would surely not have
advanced the cause of the protest and would most likely have resulted in the death
and maiming of many people including students. His responsibility to protect the
students from undue recklessness was a critical consideration against an option which,
although emotionally attractive in the heat of battle, was potentially suicidal.
Taking the Guild President's advice, the march proceeded up Orange Street to
George VI Memorial Park. In the forefront at this point were a number of University
lecturers including Dr George Beckford who addressed the gathering which was now
several thousand strong. On the way the crowd behaved, in the main, with restraint.
There was much chanting but no cars or buses were destroyed and no stores were
looted. However, several incidents of a racial-class nature occurred. Several brown
people, at the mercy of the non-student marchers, pleaded for their safety. One non-
student opened the door of a large slow-moving car, pulled out a brown Jamaican
woman and slapped her thoroughly. The lady cried hysterically for some while
At the George VI Memorial Park, Dr Beckford urged non-violence. The police had
other ideas and were now under clear instructions to stop the march at all costs. They
charged, swinging batons and throwing tear gas cans. As a result, there were several
clashes with the demonstrators. In one tussle, Dr David Beckles, a University lecturer,
fell and in attempting to recover his spectacles was pounced upon by three policemen.
He ended up with a broken arm. Several other demonstrators were beaten especially
those who had taken up a position opposite to the Prime Minister's office. The
police, who had been stationed there since 10:00 AM, acted with evident brutality in
an apparent attempt to impress the Prime Minister, who in all probability, had given
The Vice-Chancellor arrived on the scene about 1:00 PM from a conference with
the Prime Minister and sought to get the students back on campus. He was greeted
with a resounding "NO!" amidst other shouts of "Black Power" and "We want
Shearer." In keeping with that latter demand the crowd surged forward but was beaten
into retreat by a strong police contingent. Some regrouping by the demonstrators took
place both in front of the Prime Minister's office and that of the neighboring
Ministry of Finance, but they soon scampered away under a hail of tear gas with the
police in hot pursuit. Many demonstrators were beaten when attempting to clear the
fences which surrounded the park.
This signalled the end of the student march and many protesters ran off in different
directions seeking refuge where possible. From around 2:30 PM the students began
their disorganized trek back to the campus. Many headed towards the direction of
Torrington Bridge where it was learnt that clashes had taken place between policemen
and the striking firemen at the York Park Fire Brigade. In retreat, a few youths pulled
a policeman off his motorcycle.
After the students had left the city, unemployed youths and workers gave the
events a new turn. For them the protest was not so much about a lecturer who was
banned however influential he might have been but about the inequalities stem-
ming from the class and racial oppression in the country. More than likely, criminal
elements also took advantage of the commotion to loot and plunder. There was
widespread smashing of windows along Harbour Street between King Street in the
west and Fleet Street on the east. Big businesses, both foreign and local, were
attacked. They included Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Bank of London and
Montreal, Pan American, Air Jamaica, Kingston Ice and Commodity Service, Wool-
worth, North American Life and Bata Shoe Store. On Orange Street Marzouca's
Building was damaged; Royal Bank of Canada's Manchester Square Branch was stoned
and so was the Jamaica Public Service Station at Gold Street. Significantly, 53 JOS
buses were burnt or otherwise damaged and this was clearly related to the fact that the
fares had been increased recently. Conductresses on the buses were also robbed of their
cash pans. Looting continued at many stores in the city and on Spanish Town Road
throughout the night of October 16th. The damage was estimated at over 1 million.
Three persons were reported killed in incidents related to these disturbances.
To assist the regular security forces, the National Reserve was called out. On the
following day the Custos of Kingston summoned all Justices of the Peace and owners
of rifles in the Kingston and St Andrew area to a meeting the purpose of which
remained undisclosed. Before the end of the week over 100 persons no students
among them were arrested.
On the evening of October 16th, Prime Minister Shearer made a short radio and
television broadcast to the nation promising that he would have more to say in the
House on the following day. For the first time he informed the country that Rodney
was banned because he was an undesirable foreigner and that under no circumstances
would the exclusion order be revoked. He rapped the Opposition Leader, Norman
Manley, for making "irresponsible statements"; he accused Vice-Chancellor Sherlock,
who had made an earlier broadcast, of committing "a grossly improper breach of
convention by making public the discussion which took place with him in the Cabinet
on Monday." [Daily Gleaner, 17th October 1968]. He saw the protest as being anti-
Jamaican and, as a prelude to a line he was to develop later, he placed the burden of
the demonstration on the shoulders of "non-Jamaican agitators" and a few
"misguided" Jamaicans. He classified the students as "hooligans" and warned that
they would be dealt with as such.
In his earlier statement the Opposition Leader, N.W. Manley, called the Govem-
ment's ban on Rodney "an arbitrary use of power", a "plain denial of the rule
of law", and "a monstrous breach of human rights." He argued further that this action
was "calculated to damage the University, inflame the students and intensify every-
thing which we are seeking to avoid." In a damning indictment he suggested that:
Before we know where we are the Government will be treating our students with
tear gas and violence because of lawful demonstrations made by them and proving
that we are unworthy to be the home of a West Indian university. [Gleaner, 17th
The Vice-Chancellor, Sir Philip Sherlock, made it plain in his broadcast that he had
no knowledge of the exclusion order as the Government had suggested. According to
him he was given the undertaking at the Cabinet meeting on Monday 14th that he
would have more time to discuss with his senior colleagues the Government's position
on Rodney before any final governmental decision was to be made. Sir Philip
emphasised that there were no professional grounds on which Rodney's contract of
employment could be terminated and in any case he had no sole authority to do so.
He argued that the manner in which the Government carried out the ban on Rodney
was "inhuman" especially since his pregnant wife and small child were in Jamaica. The
Vice-Chancellor stressed that:
Even if there were any grounds for action against Rodney, the way in which action
has been taken is open to the most serious question. If action can be taken against a
member of staff, obviously it will make intellectuals think twice about coming to
Meanwhile on the campus there was a flurry of activity. The Finance and General
Purposes Committee of the University met and suspended all classes and lectures until
further notice a decision which merely formalised the action which the students
had already taken. Some sections of the academic staff, including very reputable and
normally sober people, were enraged at the Government's response to the march and in
their rage adopted adventurist postures. Others were much calmer and sought to assist
in analysing the events and set up machinery to disseminate information. At this
point the right wing among the academics remained silent only to emerge openly a few
On that evening October 16th a public meeting was pre-arranged by some
senior academics for 8:00 o'clock at the Registry building. However, when a massive
crowd assembled, among them a large contingent of Rastafarians and unemployed
youths, the senior academics with the exception of Professor Douglas Hall, chickened
out and left it to the Guild President to conduct the meeting. It was decided there that
meetings would be held daily throughout the crisis where the issues could be clarified,
information disseminated, proposals made and action taken.
On the next day Thursday, October 17th three signals indicated that the
Government and its allies were prepared to crush the students into submission and even
the University itself, including the Vice-Chancellor. The first concerned the position of
the Daily Gleaner, the leading newspaper at the time. Having among its major share-
holders the Ashenheim family, one of whom Sir Neville Ashenheim was a Minister of
State in the Shearer Government, the Gleaner became the official organ of the
Government on the Rodney Affair. The second was the mass mobilization of the army
and police which encircled the campus. The third was the Prime Minister's televised
speech from the House of Representatives that day which laid an effective propaganda
framework designed to divide students and mobilise public opinion against the
University community. Shearer was to inform the Guild President by phone in late
November that his purpose through the crisis was to crush all student opposition.
The students and the University community as a whole were, as Girvan puts it, in
"a state of almost complete paralysis" [Girvan (4), p. 62] with little or no machinery
for the communication of their side of the story. However, even if they had, there
were clearly physical risks in distributing pro-student material. As such, the most the
students, staff and administration did was to sit and talk among themselves.
On the morning of October 17th, the Daily Gleaner headlined its story on the
Rodney crisis as "Campus Row Brings Out Vandals", "Airport Exclusion of Security
Risk", "Hooliganism, Marches, Fires, Thugs on Rampage Menace Capital." The story,
while containing a semblance of accuracy, gave distorted accounts and interpretations
of the march. For example, there was no mention of students being beaten or injured;
nor was there any report of the effects of tear gas on the demonstrators. Mention was
made only of police casualties. It was left to a student, Martin Mordecai, to correct in
part, the distortion in the University publication, Comment, as follows:
Then the police dropped the tear gas. Nothing like this had happened before in
comfortable, residential St Andrew. The peaceful, middle-class thoroughfare ..
was suddenly turned into a battleground... Apologetically, students invaded lawns,
asking for the use of water taps for damping gowns and handkerchiefs ... Students
jumped over barbed wire fences into open lots and gullies, half-blind, weeping
and spitting and dribbling down their fronts like untrained children. [Comment,
12th November, 1968].
In its editorial entitled "Cave Mona" the day after the march, the Gleaner lashed
out at N.W. Manley and Vice-Chancellor Sherlock, the University and the students. It
argued that "Mr N.W. Manley from semi-retirement has made a party issue out of
national security." This it claimed was "perhaps the worst effect of the protests" and
called his statement "a betrayal of good government." It attacked the "illusiveness" of
the Vice-Chancellor. On the position of the University it argued that:
The late Prime Minister sowed the seeds of campus folly when he gave it almost
extra-territorial rights. This clearly has come to an end. . Mona must not be
allowed to be a cave for robbers of peace and plotters of disorder.
Sensitive to the potential of Rodney's Black Power teachings it claimed that the
expulsion was not a "black issue."
The Prime Minister's Speech and the Response
On Thursday 17th October, the Prime Minister led the debate in the House of
Representatives on the Rodney crisis. The nation listened through radio and television.
His speech was essentially an expansion of his previous day's broadcast. It was clear
that it was designed primarily for propaganda purposes. He quoted at length a report
from the Government's security authorities on Rodney. In part the report stated that:
Rodney first came to security notice while he was a student at Mona in the summer
of 1961. At that time he was chosen as a delegate to an International Union of
Students' Congress in Moscow, Russia. He did not attend on this occasion, but in
August, 1962, he in fact attended a subsequent meeting of this organisation in
Leningrad, Russia. This organisation, the International Union of Students is a well
known notorious communist front organisation. Between then and October 1963,
when he left Jamaica after graduating. . he made no secret of his extreme com-
munist views. On two occasions in 1962 he visited Cuba. . In January 1968 he
returned to Jamaica. . He lost little time in engaging in subversive activities...
[He] closely associated himself with groups of people who claimed to be part of
the Rastafarian movement and also with Claudius Henry who was convicted in
1960 of Treason Felony. [Hansard (5), p. 392].
The intonation of Shearer's voice on the words "Russia" and "Cuba" left no one
in doubt that he wanted to raise the communist bogey of the cold war days. He
proceeded to argue that Rodney was a violent Black Power fanatic, an advocate of
Castorite revolution, and a racist who proposed the destruction of white and brown-
skinned people. According to Shearer "in recent months Rodney stepped up the pace
of his activities and was actively engaged in organising groups of semi-illiterates and
unemployed for avowed revolutionary purposes." [Hansard (5), p. 392].
To bolster his claim Shearer quoted a snippet of a speech which he alleged that
Rodney had made at the University. According to him, Rodney said:
Revolution must come. We must be prepared to see it through. We must stop.talk-
ing and indulging in academic exercises and act. Who will be the first to come with
me down-town and take up a machine gun. [Hansard (5), p. 392].
Shearer then launched a divisive attack on the students. His argument was that out
of the top five student leaders only the treasurer of a non-financial Guild was a
Jamaican. He saw the Jamaicans as being misled by the non-Jamaican student leaders
and Rodney. He quoted a seditious pamphlet entitled Tactics, Tactics, Tactics which
he alleged was published and distributed by the students. The pamphlet called for the
burning of the University, the harassment of the security forces, and the making of
"molotov" bombs. He contended that the whole "toll of yesterday's rampage of
destruction" was planned by the students. In his words:
The whole pattern of destructive campaign shows real evidence of careful planning
beyond the capacity of the hoodlums or the usual subversive groups with which the
Government has had to deal in the past... It is obvious that premises attacked were
not done at random but on a careful pre-designated plan. [Hansard (5), p. 392].
He concluded with a chilling warning that "the police and military forces have been
given definite instructions to take all necessary action for the effective maintenance of
law and order throughout the country." [Hansard (5), p. 393]. It was a performance
which rescued Shearer from immediate political challenge within his party over which
he had been exercising indecisive and shaky leadership.
The students on the campus viewed the Prime Minister's performance on television at
a public meeting called at Mary Seacole Hall to discuss the previous day's events.
Their response was one of collective outrage at the deception and distortion by the
Prime Minister. Yet at the same time he created doubts in the minds of some and fear
on the part of many non-Jamaicans.
The students, academics and the opposition PNP hammered at the lies and incon-
sistencies in Shearer's speech. However, they were either speaking to themselves or to a
country which by and large had rallied around the nationalist, anti-communist flag
which the Government had raised.
The University community rebutted Shearer as follows: (i) that to ask the Vice-
Chancellor to dismiss Rodney was a cowardly act designed to take the blame of getting
rid of Rodney from the Government's hand; (ii) that Rodney's attendance at student
conferences in no way implied that he was a communist as Shearer had suggested.
Moreover, it was legitimate for one to hold whatever political views he wished and that
there was nothing illegal in visiting communist states; (iii) that Rodney's association
with Claudius Henry proved nothing since there cannot be guilt by association;
(iv) that to quote incoherent bits of speeches which were purported to have been made
by Rodney were meaningless especially if taken out of context. Besides, the students
argued that what a person said and what he is represented as saying are two different
things; (v) that the Prime Minister's allegations about students' involvement in a
campaign of pillage, looting, destruction of cars and abuse of decent citizens were not
supported by eye-witness accounts. Even the Daily Gleaner of Thursday 17th October
said that the "widespread vandalism" developed after the students had left the city.
Indeed, many government speakers in the debate in the House contradicted the Prime
Minister on this question; (vi) that the pamphlet Tactics, Tactics, Tactics was not
published or distributed by the Guild of Undergraduates. In fact, the student leaders
had denounced its publication; (vii) that it was untrue to say that non-Jamaicans
engineered the march or that they dominated the Guild Executive; and (viii) that the
representations made of Rodney's philosophy were either false or distorted. [Comment
1st November, 1968; Scope Extra October, 1968].
The last two rebuttals need some more analysis since they relate to questions on
which the Prime Minister placed great emphasis. As regards the alleged dominance of
the Guild Executive by non-Jamaicans it should be noted that in 1968/69 only 50
percent of the 26-man executive were non-Jamaicans. It is true that the President
and the two Vice-Presidents were non-Jamaicans but they were elected with substantial
majorities (700 to 326 in the case of the Guild President) against Jamaican candidates
on a campus where well over 50 percent were Jamaicans. In the previous year 15 of the
26 Guild Councillors were Jamaicans. There have been several Jamaican Guild
Presidents before and after 1968. At best petty nationalism has played only a marginal
role in student politics.
As to the question of the non-Jamaican instigators of the march Arnold Bertram, a
Jamaican student, wrote the following:
Jamaicans need no prompting to recognize. . arbitrary and inhuman conduct,
neither does someone need to incite us to act on our convictions. As such,
Jamaicans not only played heroes in organising, but also persuaded many of their
peaceful counterparts to join them. . In a country that has produced a Bogle, a
Garvey, a Henry, does he think we lack revolutionary fervour? So Mr Prime
Minister, to set the record straight, we are one on this campus. There is complete
solidarity on this issue. [Scope Extra (10)].
The representations made by the Prime Minister as regards Rodney's political ideas
were distorted to a remarkable degree. The charge that Rodney was a racist was
totally unfounded. That he was a black nationalist cannot be denied but that was
not the same as being racist. Not only did he reject the charge of racism, he also left
open the possibility of whites being part of the Black Power movement. In a speech
delivered at the UWI campus in 1968 entitled "Black Power Its Relevance to the
West Indies", he urged that:
It is not for the Black Power Movement to determine the position of the browns,
reds and so-called West Indian whites the movement can only keep the door
open and leave it to those groups to make their choice. [Rodney (9), p. 29].
Additionally, he expressed the view that:
Black Power is not racially intolerant. It is the hope of the black man that he
should have power over his own destinies. This is not incompatible with a multi-
racial society where each individual counts equally. [Rodney (9), p. 29].
While Rodney's philosophy at this time may have had areas of vagueness,
ambiguity and even confusion, it was clear that he was committed to genuine racial
equality. What he urged, however, was for the black man to assert himself culturally,
politically and economically, proportionate to his numbers in West Indian society.
According to him:
There must be no performance to impress the whites, for those whites who find
themselves beside us in the firing line will be there for reasons far more profound
than their exposure to African history. [Rodney (9), p. 50].
The Shearer Government also misunderstood and misrepresented Rodney's view of
violence in the politics of liberation. As a historian he indicated that he knew of no
revolution which was effected without violence. He argued that fundamental change
would always be resisted institutionally and violently by the entrenched ruling class.
Thus to wrench power from them he advocated ideological and military preparation.
Indeed, many humane historical figures including Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Camilo
Torres, Frantz Fanon and Amilcar Cabral have adopted that line. The Government
chose to ignore the basis of Rodney's argument and instead presented him as some
sort of homicidal maniac.
In accordance with the Prime Minister's speech, Roy McNeill, leader of the House
of Representatives, moved a resolution which was unanimously accepted calling for
the approval of the action which the Government had taken in relation to Rodney.
The Opposition's attempt to amend the motion was defeated. This amendment which
consisted of an addition to the motion read as follows:
Nevertheless this House regrets the failure of the Government to take more
appropriate action at an earlier stage and deplores the inept and provocative
manner in which action was taken. [Hansard (5), p. 398].
The Opposition's critique in the House dealt firstly with the ban on Rodney which
it considered inhumane given the circumstances of his family. It argued further that
the Government behaved in a cowardly fashion by not allowing Rodney an opportunity
to answer the charges before an impartial tribunal. Another argument as embodied in
the amendment took issue with the Government's claim that the situation required
urgent action. Norman Manley put the latter point this way:
Let me bear in mind that the Government has known this man to be a security risk
for nearly ten months; they have been fumbling over the question of time.
Obviously it is not a matter of urgency that it has to be dealt with. And when the
Vice-Chancellor comes to the Cabinet what is he asked? To terminate this man's
employment. [Hansard (5), p. 397].
The second line of opposition criticism concerned the manner in which it dealt with
the marchers, the Vice-Chancellor and the dividing of students between nationals and
Essentially, the Opposition began to backtrack from the position of the initial
outright condemnation of the Government. It now believed Shearer's arguments against
Rodney and supported the decision to ban him but only questioned the methods used.
Realising that he was out on a limb, Manley sought to crawl back to political safety as
best as he could.
The Government lost no opportunity to score party political points against the
Opposition. McNeill claimed that the PNP Government had banned no less than 180
persons in its 7% years in office as compared with 33 for the JLP since 1962. Among
the PNP banned list were West Indians including University personnel. As to the
question of the inhumane treatment meted out to Rodney, McNeill illustrated the
lack of sensitivity of the Government by arguing that:
Niceties and humanities. .. are completely subordinate to the major responsibility
of the Government to the maintenance of security of the country it has pledged to
uphold. [Hansard (5), p. 394].
It was a principle which to a large measure informed much of the JLP's policies
which in the end led to its electoral defeat in 1972.
The Week after the Shearer Speech
After the Prime Minister's address in the House on Thursday 17th October, the
student gathering at Mary Seacole Hall discussed it and issued a detailed denunciation
of it. Members of staff present contributed to the debate although one got emotionally
carried away and advocated the setting up of commando units to go back into the
city. In fact, earlier that day a similar proposal was made privately to the Guild
President by a group of students but was rejected out of hand for the very same
reasons that he did not sanction the move to West Kingston the previous day.
Meanwhile, a series of meetings were being held by a joint staff-student policy
committee; the student leadership was also involved in meetings with the Academic
Board. At the end of each of these meetings the student leadership kept the students
informed through the daily public meetings. Invariably, there was considerable feed-
back to guide the leadership. The joint policy committee was concerned primarily with
the maintenance of staff-student solidarity and the establishment of machinery to
publicise the position of the University community. To the latter end the first
issue of Comment came out on November 1st. The students' decision to accept the
invitation to participate in the deliberations of the Academic Board was based on the
belief that some influence could have been exercised on the administration's policies
through that forum.
While all that was going on, the student leadership arranged through the Director of
the Guild Press a Barbadian student to publish a special issue of the student
paper, Scope, which appeared on Friday 18th. Additionally, some progressive academics
began publishing mimeographed Free University Bulletins. Copies of Scope and the
Bulletins were slipped through the police and military security at the gates for distribu-
tion outside. But the circulation was limited and the impact of the Bulletins have been
grossly exaggerated by Girvan himself a contributor to the Bulletins. [Girvan (4),
Subsequently, Girvan has also criticised quite incorrectly the position of the student
leadership on Thursday 17th October. He has argued that:
Neither the Administration nor the student leadership recognized the inherent
value of the entire student body thinking and acting together in assembly. .. The
mass of students and staff hardly kenw what was going on. [Girvan (4), p. 63].
It was clearly unfair to attack the student leadership on these eiounds since it had
initiated daily public meetings and had in fact kept the students informed. On the
other hand, it can be fairly stated that several staff members sought to misinform and
spread confusion among the students: the right wing pushed for a return to classes and
an adventurist wing tried to use students as fodder for Shearer's army and police. To
be sure other staff members made vital contributions but they were unable to negate
the disastrous work done by their colleagues. Equally true was the fact that many staff
members were peeved at the Guild President for suggesting that nothing would be
published in Scope unless approved by his Director of Guild Press.
For historical accuracy let it be said that those academics behind the Free Univer-
sity Bulletins, while being progressive, made no real attempt to organise, guide or
direct their colleagues or students in any coherent manner. They published a few
bulletins and that was all. On the campus, it was primarily the series of student
assemblies, and to a much lesser extent, the publication of Scope, which kept alive any
hope of not being completely overwhelmed by the Government and the media -
access to which was denied the students.
On Friday, October 18th, the Gleaner gave prominence to the details of the
"Castro Plot" in which Shearer had implicated Rodney. Editorially, the paper called
for increased expenditure on defence, spying and other security measures. In Kingston,
the city was reportedly coming back to normal although there were a couple of
isolated incidents of looting.
On the campus, the students were in a state of siege. Few persons were allowed by
the security forces to enter or leave the campus. Among those allowed entrance were
the vans delivering milk, bread, meat or other supplies for the Halls of Residence.
Information meetings were held by students and Scope was being distributed. When
it was realized that Scope was taken off campus the police and military brought rein-
forcements to close off five of the six entrances to the University and restricted
further any passage through the gates.
By this time a dangerous tendency was developing which contributed considerably
to the division of the students. This concerned the concerted attempt by senior right-
wing academics especially from the Faculties of Medicine, Natural Sciences and
Education, to get students to approve "a return to classes." One Professor went so far
as to misquote deliberately the minutes of the Academic Board so as to give the
impression that the Guild President had agreed to an opening of the Library. Although
this professor was denounced at a student assembly and the students warned about
professional subterfuge, the trend persisted with great success. In an authoritarian
situation many students were simply afraid to buck the wishes of their senior teachers.
The more militant students sought to counter the senior academics by closing or
threatening to close any Faculty offices which were opened.
On Friday morning of the 18th October the students were surprised to learn that
Dr Girvan had given up his place to Dr Aub the non-progressive President of the
West Indian Group of University Teachers on the two man delegation to see Shearer
that day. As it turned out, it was of no real consequence since the meeting did not
take place but it was a clear indication that the progressive academics were unable to
prevent the right-wingers coming to the forefront.
On Saturday 19th the basic pattern of activity followed that of the previous day:
student meetings on campus, committee meetings, tight security at the University
gates and the attempt by senior academics to sow seeds of dissension among students.
One dramatic episode occurred on that day when the Vice-Chancellor suffered the
indignity of not being allowed by the security forces to leave the campus.
At the big Saturday meeting Mr Hugh Small, a barrister and Extra-Mural tutor in
Law, analysed the legal aspects of the march and the Government's response to it. All
along students were led to believe that the march was illegal; now they were being told
that it was a subject of much legal uncertainty. In any case the violent response of the
police and the use of the military under non-emergency conditions were seen as
illegal and unconstitutional. These submissions rekindled the students' enthusiasm and
renewed their conviction that they had been terribly wronged by the Government.
Unfortunately, it was an enthusiasm which had to come down again since the students
were ideologically and organizationally unprepared for battle and moreover had no
adequate means to prepare themselves to meet the propaganda and military strength
of the Government. Frustrating as it was, the students were boxed in by the structural
factors of the situation which neither a speech nor a few bulletins could have broken.
It had become simply a war of attrition which the Government seemed destined to win
but which the students nevertheless had to continue for as long as possible.
By Saturday 19th a number of students, especially from the Faculties of Medicine
and Natural Sciences, many of whom supported the ruling JLP, with the backing of
some senior academics, pushed openly for a return to classes. At the Saturday meeting
one prominent medical student sought to prepare students for this by accusing the
Guild Executive of having voted for "social revolution" a few nights previously. He
was forced to retract the accusation and this temporarily halted the shift to the right.
It was at the same time a vote of confidence in the Guild President and his policy of
staying away from classes.
Meanwhile the Gleaner continued its campaign against the University. In its editorial
on Saturday 19thOctober entitled "The Task" it argued that:
On campus, Jamaica is still a colony ruled by the mystique of a region with which
it is still not at ease; and constantly being indoctrinated under hypnosis by the
Eastern Caribbean. A Jamaican youngster going to Mona is going to a foreign land,
as strange as any campus overseas. We shall need to take over the University and
soon so that its energies and emotional power and study can become a genuine
Jamaican motivation and manifestation for change and progress.
On Sunday, 20th October a reactionary posture developed from inside the Univer-
sity spearheaded by the Vice-Chancellor. In retrospect it is clear that the senior
academics and administrators were preparing for this by trying to persuade students -
often by unorthodox and totally reprehensible means to push for a return to classes.
On Sunday night the Vice-Chancellor addressed the student assembly at Mary Seacole
Hall and announced that he would address them again the following day.
Norman Girvan has accurately described the Vice-Chancellor's effort by arguing
By coming to speak to the students. .. the Vice-Chancellor showed recognition of
the political importance of the student body; the tone of his address was in all
probability deliberately designed to dampen the students' fire. More specifically, he
banned all meetings on the campus not held by the formal University bodies and
publicly rebuked the activities of the Free University Press. He thus attacked those
very activities which had grown up since Wednesday's demonstration, as effective
means of continuing the protest. [Girvan (4), p. 65].
His speech was a signal to the reactionaries to intensify their campaign both within
and without the University.
On Sunday the Gleaner carried an article on its centre pages entitled "The
University, Subversion and Jamaican Politics" by the Political Reporter. It was a
sycophantic rehash of the Government's position which again indicated that the
Gleaner and the Government were at one on this issue. On Monday 21st, it brought the
story back to its front page in an effort to strengthen the hand of reaction inside the
University. It inaccurately reported that there was a Jamaican move to return to
classes which was opposed by the non-Jamaican student leaders and outside agitators
it claimed that more demonstrations were planned another inaccuracy and
frightened the University and non-nationals by stating that the Cabinet was meeting
that day to consider further action.
Meanwhile, given the increasing divisions among students over the question of the
continuation of the protest, the student leadership agreed to put the issue to a ballot
on Tuesday 22nd. On Monday the joint policy committee of staff and students agreed
that conditions for the resumption of classes must include the withdrawal of the
security forces and the establishment of means to publicise the case of the University
In view of the students' decision to ballot on Tuesday, the Guild President saw the
Vice-Chancellor and his confidante Sir John Mordecai around noon on Monday to
urge that no back-to-classes order should be given in his scheduled speech that after-
noon until the students had debated and balloted on the question. The promise was
extracted from the Vice-Chancellor that no such order would be given although it was
clear that Sir John was unhappy with the undertaking. In the event the Vice-
Chancellor welched on his promise, much to the surprise of the student body.
In his address that afternoon Sir Philip Sherlock put the issue as follows:
Let me tell you bluntly, if our proposals are to stand any chance of sympathetic
consideration by the Council of the University you should return to classes without
delay. This is the first prerequisite. I understand that some of you may wish to lay
down conditions for this. I understand that one of the conditions is the withdrawal
of police and troops. This cannot be. The University cannot arrogate to itself the
right to lay down conditions to any supporting government.
Accordingly, in an authoritarian manner the Vice-Chancellor ordered a resumption
of classes for Wednesday against the views of the Joint Policy Committee and counter
to his promise to the Guild President. The Gleaner applauded, including the reactionary
columnist, Thomas Wright.
The decision of the Vice-Chancellor, however, was in keeping with the undemocra-
tic way in which the University was organized. The autocratic colonial character of the
University had not changed since its founding in 1948 to meet the challenges and new
circumstances of the 1960s. In fact, it was very resistant to change. In addition, the
Vice-Chancellor feared that if he did not find a way out of the deadlock, the Gleaner
and the Government would have stepped up their campaign for the destruction of the
University as a regional institution. Moreover, Sir Philip and his advisers were schooled
in bureaucratic ways and felt uncomfortable with a protest which they could not
adequately control. Ultimately, their positions as well as those of the Gleaner
establishment and the Government were threatened if the forms of protest which the
students and the public had adopted were to gain increased acceptance. To that extent
the University administration, the Gleaner and the Government all shared a common
desire to end the crisis as speedily as possible.
On Tuesday some 850 students attended the meeting called to ballot on the
question of whether or not to return to classes. The meeting began without the
Guild President who was physically exhausted and confined to bed by his doctors.
However, he had to be rushed from his bed to calm the confusion raging at the
meeting and to persuade the students not to return to classes. A resolution was put in
two parts: (i) "That classes be not resumed before the persons of both military and the
constabulary forces be removed from encircling the University"; (ii) That as a
condition to return to lectures and classes "the University student body state its case
through the press and/or radio or any effective means." The first part of the resolution
was defeated 536 to 290 votes; the second was accepted 484 to 389. Accordingly, the
students had voted in the second part to stay away from classes. However, many who
wanted to return did so on the basis of the Vice-Chancellor's instructions. On the
advice of the student leadership some 500-600 waited until the following Monday
October 28th after the Gleaner had accepted and published a series of statements
from the students on Sunday, 27th October.
After the week or so of protest, reaction was triumphant both within the University
and the country generally. Lenin tells us in "Left Wing" Communism An Infantile
Disorder that after a rebellion or protest fails, reaction temporarily sets in, as was the
case after the 1905 "dress rehearsal" revolution in Russia. The events immediately
after the Rodney crisis showed generally the soundness of Lenin's proposition. He
The years of reaction (1907-10), Tsarism was victorious. All the revolutionary and
opposition parties were smashed. Depression, demoralisation, splits, discord, defec-
tion and pornography took the place of politics. There was an even greater drift
towards philosophical idealism; mysticism became the goals of counter-revolutionary
sentiments. At the same time, however, it was this great defeat that taught the
revolutionary parties and class a real and very useful lesson, a lesson in historical
dialectics, a lesson in an understanding of the political struggle, and in the art and
science of waging that struggle. It is at the moments of need that one learns who's
one's friend. Defeated armies learn their lesson. [Lenin (7), p. 521].
On Monday 21st October, the Vice-Chancellor had announced that an emergency
meeting of the University Council would be held on November 12th, 1968. Two
papers were up for consideration by Council, one entitled "Security Issues as they
Affect both Staff and Students" and the other a "Code of Professional Conduct for
Members of the Academic Staff." There was even the suggestion that a "Code of
Behaviour for Students" should be drawn up. The purpose of these two papers was to
satisfy the West Indian governments that the University would put its house in order
so as to prevent the University being used for "subversion." It is true that these ques-
tions were under consideration prior to October 16th for eighteen months according
to the Vice-Chancellor but they were hastily brought out of cold storage. Indeed,
the paper which was laid before Council on the "Code of Professional Conduct" was a
hurriedly drawn-up document which capitulated to the most backward prejudices of
the Shearer Government. Moreover, a certain lack of courage developed among the
representatives of the academic staff, for at the November (1968) and February
(1969) meetings of Council only two dared to rebuke the Jamaican representative and
questioned the severity of the Code. The student representatives urged caution in the
adoption of the Code for academics and opposed outright any such Code for students.
Prior to the November meeting, Edward Seaga made a blistering speech on Novem-
ber 2nd accusing the University of "emasculating Jamaican nationalism." He carried
this perspective into the Council meeting and when challenged by Professor Douglas
Hall he angrily requested and obtained from the Vice-Chancellor an adjournment so
that he could return to answer the Government's critics. At the same time he secured
an undertaking from the Vice-Chancellor that no responses to his exposition would
be tolerated. It was a remarkable show of political strength. The Guild Presidents of
the three campuses attending their first Council meeting were bewildered at the lack
of guts of the academic community.
Other than recounting the Government's position, Seaga provided minute details
of small meetings which were held in the Guild President's flat during the crisis and
verbatim reports of a speech made by one academic. It was clear that there was
massive spying and/or bugging of the meeting places. It appeared as though the
Orwellian 1984 had arrived.
A section of the student body and some academicians tried to counter the
continued propaganda against the University. The Guild of Undergraduates through
Scope, its speaking programme TUSS, its External Affairs Committee and an independ-
ent student weekly Rising Star, carried the brunt of the rebuttal along with Comment,
of which four issues were published. Professor Douglas Hall gave a brilliant and well
publicised reply to the Government in a speech to the Kingston Kiwanis. In addition,
a public debate on the regional character of the University was arranged by the
Outside the University, the Youth Forces for National Liberation (YFNL) and its
journal Unite, carried the message of the political significance of the crisis for the anti-
capitalist and anti-racist struggle. Many human rights groupings and individuals took
up the legal and civil rights aspect of the "Affair."
Of greater significance, however, was the founding of the "Abeng movement" from
disparate opposition groupings outside the mainstream of Jamaican politics. It was
comprised of New World people, Rastafarians, Garveyites, Black Muslims, Marxists,
and prominent individuals in the human rights movement. From the composition it
could be readily seen that Abeng had no coherent philosophy. It was a populist
movement with Black Nationalist, anti-imperialist and democratic tendencies. It
published a paper called Abeng and held public meetings throughout the country. The
group disbanded after nearly two years as a result of internal dissension and govern-
mental pressure. From it emerged several groupings including a Marxist-Leninist
organization comprised in part of the few Marxist-Leninists who had resisted in Abeng
the shift towards "philosophical idealism" and "the mystic goals" of counter-
Despite the flurry of rebuttals by students and the founding of Abeng, there were
no coherent attacks on the Government. The progressives were very small in number
and in the main operated with no sense of political direction. A depression had
temporarily set in and escapist political ideologies became attractive. Out of that
depression and demoralisation, however, more disciplined revolutionary groups
Within the area of student politics attempts were made unsuccessfully to pass a
vote of no confidence in the progressive, though by no means revolutionary, President
of the Guild. A number of JLP students sought to use the refusal of the Guild
President to meet the Prime Minister in late November to oust him. They were
particularly incensed by the abrupt nature of the Guild President's telegram to the
Prime Minister which read: "Sorry cannot meet you tomorrow; probably some other
time." The Prime Minister had earlier torpedoed the possibility of a meeting by
writing a letter to the Guild President which contained unfounded accusations about
the students' behaviour at the time of the Rodney crisis.
For its part the Government basked in its temporary popularity. At the same time
it tightened its security internally and embarked upon an anti-communist, anti-poor
people crusade as was reflected in its policies. On the University campus the Govern-
ment increased its security surveillance in the months after. Attractive and sexily-
attired young women were used by the security forces to seduce prominent student
leaders in the hope of learning about personal details or any relevant general strategy.
Insulting and threatening telephone calls were placed to student leaders and their girl
friends. A number of persons under the guise of Rastafarianism were used to gain the
students' confidence and obtain information. Students even spied on each other. It
was all so bizarre and useless since nothing of magnitude was being planned to interest
the Government. Regionally, the Jamaican Government along with other Caribbean
governments and the American CIA held a security conference in Guyana in August
1969 to discuss the Rodney crisis among other things.
Narrowly speaking, the Rodney crisis was a triumph for the Government in the
sense that it was the opposition forces students, unemployed youths, Rastafarians
and progressives generally who retreated. Indeed, it would have been surprising had
the result been different. After all, the protesters were ideologically unprepared and
organizationally weak as compared with the Government and its allies, especially the
press. The latter, of course, played a most sinister and partisan role which made
a mockery of its ideas of honest reporting and press freedom. To a large extent the
weakness of the protest lay in its spontaneity but at the same time this was also part
of its strength in that it shocked the regime in a way in which memoranda would not
It is true that the students had a powerful moral case but this was insufficient when
confronted with the military and propaganda machinery of the Government. To be
sure, the student leadership and other protesters made tactical errors, but it is unlikely
that they were in the end responsible for defeat. Ideological unpreparedness, lack of an
adequate vanguard organization, the absence of organised working-class support and
the lack of military personnel and equipment were the basic reasons for the protesters'
In a broader context, however, the Rodney Affair was a resounding success for
revolutionary and democratic peoples in the Caribbean. It undoubtedly marked the
watershed of the new politics for change in the region. New political groupings of a
democratic or revolutionary character mushroomed or gathered strength as a result
of the crisis. In Jamaica there was Abeng; in Trinidad Tapia, National Joint Action
Committee (NJAC), Moko, Union of Revolutionary Organization (URO) and others;
in the Windward Islands several Forum Groups emerged; in Antigua, the Afro-Carib-
bean Liberation Movement (ACLM); in Guyana, Ratoon; and in Belize, Amandala.
Clarification of the ideological issues began in earnest. Black Power, Black
Nationalism and New Worldism were questioned and Marxism-Leninism posed as a
From the experiences of the Rodney crisis arose a core of students dedicated to
fundamental change. They formed the basis of the protests later that year (1968-69)
against the British invasion of Anguilla and racism in Canada as manifested in the Sir
George William University crisis. Many of these have since joined the bourgeois
reformist governments of the region but a substantial number are still involved in
revolutionary struggle having understood that "defeated armies learn their lesson."
To the extent that the Rodney Affair advanced the democratic and revolutionary
struggles of Caribbean peoples to that extent it is a lasting success.
Comment, (four issues November-December, 1968).
Daily Gleaner, (October 16th-November 13th 1968).
Girvan, Norman, Foreign Capital and Economic Underdevelopment in Jamaica, UWI: ISER, 1971.
- "After Rodney The Politics of Student Protest in Jamaica", New World Quarterly,
VoL 4, No. 3, 1968.
Hansard, Jamaica: "Proceedings of the House of Representatives", Session 1968-69, VoL 1, No. 1,
March 28, 1968-October 22, 1968.
Jefferson, Owen, The Post-War Economic Development of Jamaica, UWI: ISER, 1972.
Lenin, V.I., Selected Works, London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1969.
Munroe, Trevor, The Politics of Constitutional Decolonization, Jamaica, 1944-1962, UWI: ISER,
Rodney, Walter, The Groundings with my Brothers, London: Bogle-L'Overture, 1969.
Scope Extra, (Guild of Undergraduates, Mona, 1968).
Students' Pamphlet, "Demonstration by the Students against the Unjust Treatment of Dr Rodney
who has been banned from re-entering Jamaica", Mona: Guild of Undergraduates, mimeo.,
GUYANA: SOCIALISM AND DESTABILIZATION IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE
In a speech to the Non-Aligned Conference at Algiers in June 1976, Guyana's Foreign
Minister, Fred Wills, made direct and explicit charges that his country was the target of a
destabilization campaign. Said Wills:
"Mr. President, those of us in Latin America who have opted for non-alignment
have been exposed to dire consequences because of the exercise of this option.
There is a concerted attempt to destabilize the government of non-aligned countries
in Latin America. More particularly, in the Caribbean-Guyana, Jamaica and
Barbados-have been subjected to the full fury of insidious techniques aimed at
procuring their alignment, deliberate and well orchestrated attacks in the media, the
selective sale of arms and so-called defence services, the promotion of intra-regional
conflicts, the fomenting of internal unrest, the manipulation of pliant surrogates-
all these and more have threatened the uneasy peace in our hemisphere and retard-
ed the economic development of its peoples." '
The statement does not name the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency as the source of the
threat, but the inference could not be clearer. The excuse of Western Hemisphere security,
legitimatee" by the Monroe Doctrine, has been repeatedly invoked by the U.S. to inter-
,vene in the domestic affairs of Caribbean and Latin American countries. The Chilean
example is a recent reminder that while "gun-boat diplomacy" has been suspended, more
indirect, brutal and effective methods of intervention have been devised to compel
independent-minded countries to operate within the confines of U.S. interests. Direct
methods such as the insertion of U.S. marines in the Dominican Republic in 1965 are not
permanently eliminated from the repertoire of techniques for the removal of undesirable
.governments. Rather, they are relegated to a lower rung of application so as to avoid
international embarrassment and censure. In their place, combinations of economic,
political and social tactics are utilized, with the aid of certain local citizens, to render a
country not only dependent on U.S. and Western sources for its survival, but to elect
politicians who are willing to co-operate in facilitating this process.
Fred Wills's statement is remarkable for its explicitness in describing the methods of
'destabilization. The reasons behind the alleged destabilization campaign fall within a pre-
dictable pattern. Guyana has declared itself a co-operative, socialist republic, inspired
doctrinally by Marxism-Leninism. All significant foreign firms ranging from the bauxite
companies to banks have been nationalized. Close collaborative trade and diplomatic links
have been established with the People's Republic of China, Cuba, North Korea, etc. Cuba
Ihas granted its highest award, the Jose Marti award, to Prime Minister Forbes Burnham.
EFinally, ex-Premier Cheddi Jagan, whose open espousal of Marxism led to his eviction
from office, has pledged "critical support" to the Burnham regime. Clearly, these acts
contravene the unwritten rule that U.S. hegemony in the Western Hemisphere must be
unchallenged. Events in Guyana can be conveniently construed as a threat to U.S. security.
The rigidity of the US anti-communist foreign policy orientation in the Western
Hemisphere has led to the enthronement of some of the world's worst dictatorships.'
Widespread poverty, illiteracy, and disease among the 250 million people in Latin America
and the Caribbean are evidently deemed insignificant as compared with the necessity for
extirpating anything that showed the slightest sign of left-wing influence. However, the
politico-military security rationale for intervention, advanced by the U.S., is but a screen
to protect a major source of raw materials exploited by American business interests. The
economies of these countries have been converted into mono-crop, primary-producing,'
low-priced, export-oriented enclaves that depend heavily on North American markets for
their survival. Linkages of these foreign firms with the domestic economy are weak; even
elementary food needs have to be imported. Apart from a small middle class that profits
from these foreign firms and identifies with the culture of their foreign beneficiaries, the
rest of the people succumb to a pattern of persistent poverty.
Reformers who have sought to ameliorate the depressed conditions of the masses are
indiscriminately dubbed "communists". Even where their programme seeks only limited
patch-work changes without threatening to alter the fundamental capitalist structure of
the economy, they are eventually eliminated. A modern political history of Latin America
and the Caribbean is substantially a story of suppressed popular needs in the name of
eliminating communist influence and the acquisition of power by right-wing military and
civilian groups that received the support of foreign interests.
The arrival of yet another left-wing government in the Western Hemisphere seems then
as merely a temporary aberrant feature in a pattern that anticipates its elimination in the
near future. Yet the Guyana case may well defy this pattern and follow the Cuban
example instead. In either case, an intense struggle is on.
Techniques of destabilization, however universal in use, must be applied to the
peculiarities of the local context. This study inquires into the manner in which communal
loyalties and other factors peculiar to the Guyana case can be manipulated by external
forces to destabilize a left-wing or socialist government in a multi-ethnic society. The
Guyana case provides abundant data for such a study in raw power. In 1962 and 1963
when Marxist Cheddi Jagan was in office, externally-financed strikes and demonstrations
destabilized and toppled his government. In this article, we shall examine the events
associated with the removal of Jagan from power to decipher not only the methods of.
destabilization used, but how the features of the communally-based, mono-crop, export-
oriented society may still be vulnerable to external intervention. Can the socialist govern-
ment of Prime Minister Burnham be destabilized?
Background to the Burnham Government
Guyana obtained her independence from Britain in May, 1966, after nearly a decade
of inter-communal conflict between East Indians and Africans who together constitute'
over 90% of the total population. The political parties are organized around the ethnic
cleavages; race is the determinant of party affiliation? The post-World War II independence
struggle did not begin this way however. The original nationalist movement was spear-I
headed by a mass-based, multi-racial party, the People's Progressive Party (PPP), formed
in 1950 and led by Cheddi Jagan and Forbes Burnham. The PPP succeeded in setting in
motion the independence struggle, but before it could achieve its objective, the two
communal leaders, Jagan and Burnham who represented the Indian and African commun-
ities respectively, quarrelled and parted company over differences regarding strategy and
tactics of the movement. These events occurred in 1955. In 1953 the PPP had won 18 out
of 24 seats in the colonial legislature, but was evicted from office six months later by an
arbitrary suspension of the country's constitution. The British inserted troops into the
colony because of alleged communist infiltration of the nationalist government? There-
after, the PPP leadership, thrown into disarray, debated the causes of their sudden loss of
Subsequent to the internal PPP schism, each leader established his own party which
persists to the present. But each party is fundamentally different from the original multi-
racial PPP Jagan's new party, the PPP (using the name of the original party) and Burn-
ham's new party, the People's National Congress (PNC), represent almost exclusive solid
racial blocs. Intense elections fought in 1957, 1961 and 1964 witnessed covert but
systematic appeals to communal instincts at the grass-roots, although each party sought
to camouflage its uni-ethnic composition by displaying its few cross-ethnic adherents to
the public. The upshot was the exacerbation of communal distrust that spilled over into
open physical violence in 1963 and 1964.4 More exclusive Indian and African voluntary
associations exist than before, and Indian-African contact continues to be characterized
by conflict and competition.
The manner in which the major parties evolved to organize the interests of their con-
stitutents, capitalizing for political gain on the social and political differences between
Indians and Africans, frustrated the development of a body of national consensual values
and institutions. Further, the democratic institutions adopted from Britain and steadily
engrafted onto the Guyanese social system since 1953 have had little time to be assimil-
ated as the legitimate means by which political conflicts can be resolved and government
functions performed. More importantly, given the disparate immigrant political values
existing in Guyana, no common political sub-culture evolved which could be substituted
readily for the parliamentary form of government when Britain abandoned the colony.
The social and cultural dissimilarities between Indians and Africans derive from the
colonization of Guyana. Africans were brought as slaves for European plantations; after
slavery was abolished in 1831, Indians were brought from India as indentured labour-
ers. Indians lived predominantly in rural areas, while the emancipated slaves gradually
abandoned the plantations and drifted to urban centres. From the very inception,
Indians came into collision course with the African community. The Indian presence
triggered off two immediate reactions. First, it diluted the bargaining power of those
ex-slaves who wanted a higher remuneration for their work on the plantations. Second,
Indians performed the degrading plantation tasks that the ex-slaves refused to do,thereby
incurring their contempt. Over the next hundred years, separate job categories were
occupied by Africans and Indians while their rural-urban residential pattern reinforced
the prejudices that separated them.
In the absence of any broad base of fundamental unifying values in any political
system, challenges to the social and political order are likely to be recurrent. However,
the fervour of the independence movement temporarily submerged the cultural and social
differences between Indians and Africans, and more importantly, those between Jagan
and Burnham. From 1955 onward when Jagan and Burnham parted company and formed
their own racially-based parties, the suspicion that long separated the two communities'
intensified. The impact on political stability was underlined in subsequent years when
both the PPP and PNC took turns in running the government. Crises and violence followed
each other. The PNC refused to accept the legitimacy of the PPP government, resorting to
violence in 1962 and 1963. For its part, when Burnham acceded to power, the PPP J
initiated a massive nation-wide strike to bring Guyana to a standstill. Africans would not
recognize a PPP government and Indians would not accept a PNC government.
The following discussion focuses on two major crises that occurred during the Jagan
administration (1961-64) partly to illustrate how the social and cultural features of a
communal society such as Guyana can be manipulated by external interests to frustrate a
socialist government. A number of critical points must be set forth before discussing the
two crises. One must remember that by 1961 the PPP and PNC had succeeded in organiz-
ing nearly all Indians and Africans respectively behind them and, consequently, that these
parties were recognized universally as de facto racial groupings. The promise of independ-
ence within a short period after the 1961 elections had special meaning to the PPP and
PNC. Both parties recognized that the victor in the 1961 elections would most likely lead
the colony into independence. This is a most crucial fact since the party in power after
independence was won would be responsible for administering the next election and
therefore possibly all future elections. In a sense, this guaranteed that the party in power
could remain in power indefinitely. For this reason, the stakes during the 1961 elections
were extremely high. For the African sector and Indian sector, the 1961 elections could
mean the indefinite domination of one group by the other.
In anticipation of the high stakes involved in the 1961 elections, another party called
the United Force (UF) representing mainly the Portuguese, European, Mixed Race, and
Amerindian groups (together constituting about 9% of the population) was formed and
led by wealthy Portuguese businessman Peter D'Aguiar. The UF represented mainly the
traditional privileged groups (except the Amerindians) who benefited from the colour-
class stratification system that accorded the greatest reward to those with white and
near-white pigmentation. Consequently, the UF propounded a programme that advocated
the free-enterprise system and the protection of private property. The UF was well organ-
ized and financed, and attracted even a number of middle-class Indians and Africans.
Jagan's PPP won the 1961 elections. Significantly, however, the accession of Jagan to
power coincided with radical transformations occurring in Cuba. U.S. fear of communism
was exacerbated by the Cuban case; renewed efforts with a vengeance were now made to
prevent a repetition of the Cuban example. Jagan had profusely praised Fidel Castro as
one of the world's greatest liberators. While nearly all the Latin American and Caribbean
countries yielded to Caribbean pressure to sever diplomatic and trade links with Cuba,
Jagan established cultural and economic relations. It is in this defiance of American will
that the 1962 and 1963 crises must be interpreted.
In summary, then, three forces at the outset exposed the PPP regime to destabilization.
First, the non-Indian community feared discrimination from the PPP government. This
communal factor should be seen more accurately as the consequence of a colonially
created immigrant society without a common unifying will. As such, the dissensus in
social structure invites intervention by manipulating the fears of one group against an-
other. Second, local capitalist and middle-class groups represented by the UF feared for
their economic future. Third, the leadership rivalry between Jagan and Burnham permitted
private ambition to be manipulated to the detriment of the objectives of the independence
B. Analysis of two Crises
1. The 1962 Crisis.
During the 1961 election campaign, both the PNC and the PPP, and even the UF had
predicted victory for themselves. While the outcome of the elections was still to be
decided, the parties did not indicate what they would do if they did not win. After the
elections were over, however, all the fears of the "out" parties were vented openly and
the fundamental fissures which underlaid the sector-ridden Guyana social system were
resurrected. The UF in particular became hysterical. During the 1961 elections it had
made communism a major issue. It brought into the campaign literally tons of anti-
communist literature and obtained the direct and open help of the Christian Anti-
Communist Crusade Movement based in the U.S., and the Catholic Church in Guyana.
The UF painted a picture of "atheistic Communism" in Guyana under Jagan.s The PPP
government was an ominous threat to the security of UF supporters and to private
The PNC did not react as hysterically to the PPP victory as the UF, particularly since
the UF had called both the PPP and PNC communist parties. But the PNC was very
worried. During the 1957-61 PPP regime, Mr. Burnham's party had protested vigorously
against the "agricultural bent" of the PPP's development plan, charging the PPP with run-
ning a "Coolie Government" or "Rice Government".6 Now that the PPP was in power
again, and this time with independence probably imminent, the PNC saw its prospects of
ever governing Guyana diminishing rapidly-unless something was done.
With an intense interest in keeping the PPP out of power permanently, the UF in
particular awaited an occasion to bring the Jagan government down. One way to do this
would be to create enough disturbances in Guyana to prove that the PPP could not
govern the country and that an independent Guyana under Jagan would be highly un-
stable. If this could be done, Britain might be persuaded to postpone independence for
Guyana indefinitely. The occasion for the UF to initiate its disruptive tactics was present-
ed when the PPP announced its annual budget for the fiscal year 1961-62. This budget
was known as the Kaldor Budget, after its formulator, the distinguished Cambridge econ-
omist, Nicholas Kaldor, whose services were acquired by the Jagan government through
the UN. It attempted to raise funds for economic development mainly through tapping
domestic sources of capital. Specifically the budget attempted (a) to close tax loopholes
which traditionally have been exploited by businessmen; (b) to establish exchange con-
trols in order to prevent massive outflows of capital, and (c) to impose a compulsory 5%
savings on all incomes which were above $100 (BWI) per month. These savings were to
be invested in Government bonds which were redeemable in seven years at 3o4% interest.
No taxes were to be levied on the interest obtained for these savings.
The reaction of the UF to the Kaldor Budget was described by Professor Peter Newman
... there was no real basis for the storm of virulent criticism which the United
Force let loose on the Budget. Mainly through the medium of his newspaper, the
Chronicle, d'Aguiar and his followers went to extravagant lengths in their denuncia-
tions, claiming that the new taxes and savings levy seriously attacked individual
freedom and would drastically reduce the workers' standard of living. A 'vindictive
and malicious spirit .. prowls through the Budget .... The Budget's tax reform
proposals are merely the transcription of doctrinaire Marxism into the fiscal policy
of this poor country,' said the Sunday Chronicle's editorial of 4 February. In the
next ten days the criticism mounted to increasingly hysterical levels, and it became
clear that the UF was seizing the opportunity that the Budget had presented to
force the PPP government from power by the wave of 'popular' anger over the new
taxes. By 15 February the Daily Chronicle was saying that 'The Government must
create the climate for restoring the nation's normal life by resigning. This is the
only way out-the safe way for the workers!' 8
The PNC joined the UF's attack on the Budget.
The PNC was at first reluctant to be associated wholeheartedly with the UF's
anti-Budget struggle, in which many of the local shopkeepers actively encouraged
and paid their workers to go out on strike, but eventually joined in for fear of not
being thought sufficiently anti-Jagan and probably because it too saw a chance to
topple the Government; the leaders Burnham and D'Aguiar were photographed
ostentatiously shaking hands with each other, after jointly leading an illegal
procession around the Government buildings.9
The Civil Service Association (CSA) and the Federation of Unions of Government
Employees (FUGE) which were African-dominated and represented civil servants called a
strike, and joined the PNC and UF in demonstrating and protesting against the Jagan
regime. Finally, the disturbances culminated in widespread violence and arson on
February 16, 1962, in Georgetown. When local police were unable to restrain protesters,
British troops were called in to maintain basic law and order. When "Black Friday" came
to an end, the toll read as follows: five men killed, eighty injured, and over $11% million
(B.W.I.) worth of property was destroyed in the business centre of Georgetown. More im-
portantly, the biggest damage was done to the PPP regime which was unable to maintain
elementary ordei in Georgetown with its own domestic resources.
Following "Black Friday" several events occurred that partially fulfilled the aims of
the UF and PNC during the February riots. First, a Constitutional Conference which was
scheduled for May, 1962, to discuss and fix the date of Guyana's independence was post-
poned to October, 1962. The reason given by the Colonial Office was that a Common-
wealth Commission of Inquiry was to be sent to Guyana to investigate the February riots.
The second aim that the riots fulfilled was to open the new Constitutional Conference to
a discussion not only of the date of Guyana's independence, but also of matters regarding
Guyana's future stability, given the leadership of the PPP in the government.
The Commonwealth Commission of Inquiry conducted extensive hearings in Guyana;
it submitted its report in October, 1962. The basic findings of the Commission under-
scored the ulterior political motives of the UF's and PNC's reaction to the Kaldor Budget.
On Mr. Burnham's participation in the riots, the Commission commented:
The real motive behind Mr Burnham's assault was a desire to assert himself in
public life and establish a more important and more rewarding position for himself
by bringing about Dr Jagan's downfall.'0
On Mr D'Aguiar's role, the Commission said:
The view taken by Mr D'Aguiar was that it was not enough to make any modifi-
cations in the budget and the only course open to the Premier was to resign. He in-
tended to use every means to bring down the government.11
Finally, commenting on the role of the unions in striking against the government, the
There is very little doubt that, despite the loud protestations of the trade union
leaders to the contrary, political affinities and aspirations played a large part in
shaping their policy and formulating their programme of offering resistance to the
budget and making a determined effort to change the government in office.12
The Commission's report submitted and published, the postponed Constitutional Con-
ference was held finally on October 23, 1962. For Dr Jagan, the primary business of the
conference was to set an independence date and to agree on a constitution for Guyana.
The PPP leader argued that by virtue of winning the 1961 elections his party was entitled
to lead the country into independence, since during the 1961 electoral campaign, "the
opposition parties in appealing to the electorate made it clear that whichever party won
the elections would be leading the country to independence." 13
Mr Burnham and Mr D'Aguiar disagreed with this, however. Not only were new elec-
tions demanded by the two opposition leaders but, equally important, they insisted that
the elections should be held under a new voting system. They supported proportional
representation instead of the first-past-the-post procedure which had given the PPP a
majority of seats in the 1957 and 1961 elections despite not polling a majority of votes
cast. One must recall that in 1957 the PPP obtained nine out of the fourteen seats in the
legislature although it received only 47% of the popular vote, and in the 1961 elections
the party won 20 out of 35 seats when it obtained only 42-6% of the votes.
In response to the demands of the opposition parties for proportional representation,
the PPP not only pointed out that no colony the British gave independence to was ever
put under this electoral system, but offered a counter-demand. Dr Jagan suggested that
under a new constitution the suffrage should be extended to persons eighteen years old.
The aim of the counter-demand was to neutralize the effects of proportional representa-
tion, if it should be granted, by allowing Indian youths, who greatly outnumber African
and Portuguese youths, to vote in all foreseeable elections.
The upshot of the diverse demands offered at the London Conference was a stalemate.
No agreement could be reached unanimously (the Colonial Office insisted on unanimity
to validate final decisions reached at the Conference). The Colonial Secretary, Mr Duncan
Sandys, dismissed the conference as deadlocked, with no decision made on (a) future
elections, (b) independence date, (c) proportional representation, and (d) voting age.
The 1963 Crisis: The Eighty-day Strike
The fear that a Jagan government might lead Guyana into independence, and conceiv-
ably remain in power for many years, did not abate after the London Conference.
One of the most crucial lessons that the PNC and UF learned from riots of Black
Friday was the vulnerability of any PPP government, because of its location in George-
town, the capital city. Overwhelmingly, the PPP supporters were Indians who resided
rural areas, while PNC and UF supporters were urban residents who lived mainly i
Georgetown. Further, by striking in February, 1962, the CSA and FUGE demonstrated
the crippling effects on a government when civil servants cease to work. Together these(
two factors- location of the government in Georgetown where PNC and UF supporter:
predominate and the strategic position of the CSA and FUGE vis-a-vis the continued
operations of the government-provided the opposition parties with potentially
crippling artillery against any government that the UF and particularly the PNC opposed
These basic facts of political power emerged even more clearly in the 1963 strike.
The return of Guyana's political leaders to Georgetown after the London Conference
was followed by a very brief period of relative peace. Within four months the peace was
broken and a new strike called against the PPP government. This time racial animosities,
particularly between Indians and Africans, soared to unprecedented heights. For all
practical purposes, over a period of eighty days basic law and order broke down in
Guyana. The present study cannot review all the details of the eighty-day strike, which
could easily fill several volumes, but will restrict itself to outlining the main features of
the event, emphasizing the role of the opposition parties in the holocaust.
The eighty-day strike stemmed from the introduction during March, 1963, of a Labour
Relations Bill into the legislature by the PPP. This piece of legislation was similar in
nearly every respect to the Labour Relations Bill proposed by the old PPP in 1953. At
that time, Mr Burnham and Dr Jagan were co-leaders of the PPP, and Mr Burnham had
been one of the chief party spokesmen on behalf of the Labour Relations Bill. The Bill
attempted to resolve jurisdictional disputes between unions by submitting the claims of
contending labour organizations to an industry-wide poll which would decide which
group would represent the workers. The Trades Union Council which was a federation of
several of Guyana's unions, but African-dominated, came out against the Labour Rela-
tions proposal. It claimed that the Bill placed too much power in the hands of the Minister
of Labour and that there had been a lack of consultation between the government and
the TUC on the Bill.14 Consequently, the TUC called a strike against the government.
Strong ulterior political motives underlay the PNC and UF opposition to the Labour
Relations Bill. Mr Burnham confirmed this point of view himself when he said that the
Labour Relations Bill was not the causa belli, but the casus belli, of the strike. s As in the
February riots of 1962, the PNC and UF were not so much interested in the particular
issue that triggered off the 1963 strike as in disrupting and possibly overthrowing the PPP
government. As in 1962, the 1963 incident was aimed at demonstrating the inability of
the Jagan regime to govern Guyana, and to postpone independence, change the electoral
system, call new elections, and ultimately remove the PPP government from power. In all
of this, as would be shown later, they would be assisted by external interests.
In the 1963 crisis, the forces that were arraigned against the PPP regime were formid-
able. First, the TUC called a general strike in which the CSA and FUGE participated. The
second force that opposed the PPP regime was the ICFTU, ORIT, and AIFLD, described
as follows by Arthur Schlesinger in his book, A Thousand Days:
The ICFTU, ORIT, and AIFLD are a series of interconnected international trade
unions which have official links with the TUC in Guyana. The International Con-
federation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) was formed in 1949 as a break-away
splinter union from the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU). The ICFTU
was constituted as a separate trade union movement after the WFTU was divided
into Communist and non-Communist blocs over guerilla insurgency operations in
Malaya. The ICFTU has since been recognized as the Free World counterpart of the
WFTU, the so-called Communist international trades' union movement. The Ameri-
can Federation of Labour (AFL) in the United States is one of the largest affiliates
of the ICFTU. The Guyana Trades Union Council is also an affiliate of ICFTU. The
Inter-American Regional Organization of Workers (ORIT) is a regional branch of
the ICFTU associated with trade union movements in the Caribbean. The Guyana
TUC is affiliated with ORIT. Finally, the American Institute of Free Labor Develop-
ment (AIFLD) was formed in 1962 to aid Latin American and Caribbean unions in
their "development". On the surface, this union was subsidized by labor and busi-
ness in the U.S.16
The Guyana TUC was an affiliate of the ICFTU which sympathized with the strike by
organizing a general blockade of air and sea traffic to Guyana. Ships carrying food to
Guyana from Caribbean ports ceased coming to Guyana, as did all the airlines, which the
ICFTU threatened with boycotts if they did not co-operate!7 Food became scarce in
Georgetown, and in the absence of oil, vehicular traffic virtually came to a standstill
throughout Guyana. Furthermore, without oil several governmental operations were in
danger of breakdown. During the strike, the AIFLD supplied money and food to the
strikers which aided in prolonging the strike.'8 Under these circumstances, the Jagan
regime solicited the help of the Cuban and Soviet governments. A Cuban vessel with oil
arrived to break the blockade and later a Soviet vessel with wheat followed. These two
events created rumours of a Communist takeover, triggering full-scale violence in Guyana.
In Georgetown Indians were beaten and killed, while in rural areas Africans were subject-
ed to similar treatment. Shootings and bombings became commonplace.
The third force that opposed the PPP government was the Georgetown Chamber of
Commerce (GCC) and the foreign-owned sugar and bauxite companies. All three of these
groups closed their stores and manufacturing operations during the strike. In the case of
the GCC and the sugar companies, when workers refused to strike the companies simply
closed operations. These groups represent the traditional status quo interests in Guyana.
Finally, the police force, overwhelmingly staffed by Africans, refused to enforce the law
impartially. Janet Jagan, who was then Minister of Home Affairs and therefore in charge
of internal security, resigned during the 1963 crisis, charging that the police refused to
co-operate with her. At several critical points in the early period of the strike pleas by the
PPP government for British troops were turned down. Those pleas became especially des-
perate after the entire Indian community in Wismar-Mackenzie, a bauxite town with a
predominance of Africans, was brutally uprooted.
The strike came to an end on July 7, eighty days after it started. The British TUC was
called in and successfully mediated the dispute. The Labour Relations Bill which triggered
off the strike was lapsed in Parliament on June 18, when the Premier prorogued the legis-
lature after a parliamentary dispute. The continuation of the strike until July 7, nearly
three weeks after the Labour Relations Bill was thrown out, is another indication of the
political nature of the strike.
In terms of the topic of the present study, note should be taken of the following
salient points. First, the 1963 strike must be conceived as an extension of the political
opposition by the PNC and UF to the PPP regime, which began in 1962. The objective of
demonstrating to the Colonial Office the inability of the PPP to govern Guyana underlay
the strike tactics of the opposition parties. Second, the participants in the strike were
almost exclusively non-Indians. This fact points to the role of both parties in mobilizing
their racial blocs for political ends. Third, the length and vigour of the strike could not be
sustained by the domestic resources of the TUC. External aid from ORIT, AIFLD, and
the AFL was required.
The colony-wide civil strife brought Mr Duncan Sandys, the British Colonial Secretary,
to Guyana. From his visit, Mr Sandys was persuaded to hold another independence con-
ference. The Guyanese leaders, Dr Jagan, Mr Burnham and Mr D'Aguiar, attended the
conference, which was held in October, 1963, and repeated the arguments made at the
1962 conference. This time, the PNC and UF based their demands for proportional repre-
sentation and new elections before an independence date was set on the incidents of 1963
which shook the Jagan government. Now, no one could ignore their arguments.
As in 1962, the conference was deadlocked and about to be dismissed again. On this
occasion, however, the Colonial Office persuaded the three leaders to sign a document
that would entitle the British government to arbitrate the issues which arose at the con-
ference. All three leaders attached their signatures to the document, which stipulated that
whatever decision the Colonial Office made was binding on all parties. When the Colonial
Office announced its decision all the demands of Mr Burnham and Mr D'Aguiar were
conceded, and none of Dr Jagan's requests was granted. The British government stipulated
that (a) new elections were to be held, (b) a new conference subsequent to the elections
would be convened to decide on the independence date, (c) proportional representation
was granted, and (d) the voting age remained at 21. The decision infuriated the PPP, which
charged the Colonial Office with a breach of faith.
A Brief Analysis of the Intervention Process
The preceding description and analysis indicate only partly the hand of an external
destabilizer that sought to manipulate communal distrust and communist fears in the
1962 and 1963 strikes. Although the PPP had claimed that it was the victim of external
intervention, its protests appeared partisan and consequently were not credible. It was
not until after the Burnham-D'Aguiar coalition government acceded to power that
authoritative evidence came in to verify the direct presence of an external manipulative
force. The evidence came from Arthur Schlesinger Jr. who was a presidential adviser to
John Kennedy. Said Schlesinger:
".. as I reported to the President, an independent British Guiana under Burnham
(if Burnham can commit himself to a multi-racial policy) would cause us many
fewer problems than an independent Guiana under Jagan. And the way was open to
bring it about because Jagan's parliamentary strength was larger than his popular
strength. He had won 57% of the seats on the basis of 42-7% of the votes. An
obvious solution was to establish a system of Proportional Representation. This,
after prolonged discussion, the British Government finally did in October, 1963. An
election held finally at the end of 1964 produced a coalition government under
Burnham ... British Guiana seemed to have passed out of the communist orbit."19
The major instruments through which the destabilization occurred were: a) the trade
unions which were communally-based, and b) the UF and PNC in which personal,
communal, and ideological interests were manipulated. The trade union connection in the
destabilization process has now been well documented. In essence, the American AFL
was used as the conduit through which funds were channelled to AIFLD and ORIT and
finally to the TUC in Guyana to finance the strikes. In turn, this financial aid was physic-
ally supplemented by an air and sea blockade. The strike action was decisive in disrupting
the Jagan government because:-1) it involved FUGE and CSA which were dominated by
African civil servants, 2) the foreign-controlled sugar and bauxite companies which pro-
duce over 80% of Guyana's foreign exchange and dominate the economy co-operated
with the strikers, 3) the government had to operate out of Georgetown, the capital city,
where its opponents were concentrated, 4) the coercive machinery of state dominated by
Africans provided minimal assistance in preserving law and order, and 5) the removal of
Jagan promised Burnham and D'Aguiar the acquisition of power.
When the new PNC-UF coalition came to power after the 1964 elections, it received
lavish aid from the U.S. In turn, the Burnham-led government severed connections with
Cuba, and after independence in 1966, voted consistently until 1969 against the seating
of Mao's China in the UN. In addition, it explicitly espoused an economic policy based
on the free enterprise system that sought foreign investment. A national security law was
passed under which large numbers of PPP activists were jailed without trial. In effect, the
left-wing Jagan government, like other similar aberrant regimes in the Caribbean and
Latin America, was removed from power and its leading supporters suppressed.
C. Burnham Turns Socialist
The partnership between Burnham and D'Aguiar was never a comfortable arrangement,
especially for Burnham who saw in D'Aguiar's party the representation of the old colonial
privilege and racism. Jagan never permitted Burnham to forget that in terms of what the
latter professed to believe, the United Force was anathema. A few months prior to the
1968 general elections, Burnham with the aid of certain PPP defectors in parliament,
wrested control of the government from D'Aguiar. The PNC then proceeded to reconsti-
tute the Electoral Commission with party sympathizers and tamper with the electoral
machinery. Consequently, the PNC won sole control of the government in the 1968 elec-
tions?0 Like the Indians before, now D'Aguiar's ethnic supporters were alienated from the
government. After 1968, Burnham clearly had in this racially plural society the support
of less than 40% of the population. He moved to consolidate his power to prevent pos-
sible disruption, by purging the army and police of practically all non-African elements,
for the coercive state became critical in maintaining the regime in office.
By 1969, the PNC had undisputed control over the government which charted a course
consonant with overall U.S. wishes and the free enterprise system. How, then, did the
PNC regime in less than three years after decisively "winning" the 1968 elections make
such a radical ideological change of position? Burnham is known as an ambitious man
who craves the recognition of the Third World's progressive leaders. While practically
muted at home, the Jagan forces were effective abroad in disseminating information that
linked Burnham to the CIA. Burnham's collaboration with Washington became an embar-
rassment; the stigma of CIA intervention in 1964 and rigged elections in 1968 severely
tarnished his international image. Perhaps no other single factor explains the ideological
change in Burnham than this obsession with his international reputation.
Objective factors that led to the radical changes in Guyana were also at play. Indians
who dominated the rice and sugar industries dragged their feet. Rice production fell from
the 1964-65 level of 101,424 tons to 48,651 tons in 1973-74. The contribution of rice to
Gross Domestic Product plummetted from 5.7% in 1966 to 2.9 in 1971, to 2.1 in 1973.21
For the first time, Guyana faced food shortages and the threat of a famine. Chronic
strikes on the sugar belt led to unpredictable sugar exports. Skilled non-African govern-
ment employees emigrated from Guyana as racial discriminatory practices intended to
consolidate PNC control over the civil service became open and widespread. Adding to
the economic depression was a simultaneous inflationary rate that averaged between 20
to 30% annually. Private foreign investment fell dramatically from $17-$18 million (U.S.)
in the late 1960s to about $7 million (U.S.) in 1972.22 Unemployment especially in the
urban areas averaged about 20% while underemployment was about 36%. The main
sources of revenue from rice, sugar and bauxite were not enough to meet the needs of an
increasingly expectant African population. Simultaneously, other industries such as live-
stock, fishing, forestry, food and tobacco contributed about the same 15% to 16% of the
Gross Domestic Product in 1971 as in 1966 although the population grew about 3%
annually. Foreign aid and loans were not only difficult to obtain especially given a weak-
ening domestic economic base, but interest rates on Guyana's previous aid programme led
Burnham to describe aid as a form of "raid". With Jagan ostensibly reduced to an insigni-
ficant force, the so-called communist menace in Guyana no longer provided Washington
with incentive to continue lavishly financing the Burnham government. The civil service
alone consumed nearly 50% of the annual budget and it was already overstaffed with
political appointees. And the more the government neglected agriculture, the more urgent
became not only the revenue and unemployment situation, but also the food supply
problem. A vicious circle of poverty was created by a pattern of polarized and unstable
ethnic politics compounded by the country's relative unattractiveness to investors. The
implications were clear. The coercive state machinery, employed liberally to suppress the
non-African population, would have to be applied increasingly against frustrated African
sympathizers. African trade unionists who went on strike were already the first victims.
Strike frequency increased from 126 in 1969 to 190 in 1971.
In summary, then, the factors-Burnham's craving for international approbation, the
increasing unavailability and high cost of foreign aid, and a stagnant to deteriorating
economy-constituted the forces that contributed most to the radical changes that were
about to occur. The country's economy based on sugar, rice and bauxite and oriented for
export at fluctuating world market prices had to be altered. Further, economic recon-
struction, regardless of the choice of strategy, could not be achieved when more than the
majority of the population did not co-operate with or boycotted government policies.
Burnham was presiding over an increasingly impoverished society whose political and
economic image was being compared to Papa Doc's Haiti.
For a number of years, the PNC's New Nation carried articles in praise of socialism,
but no one believed them because the government continued its dependency on the U.S.
and United Kingdom for its markets and aid. Further, no attempt was made to challenge
or restructure the capitalist economy inherited from the days of colonialism. But by 1971,
the government was beset by grave economic difficulties and needed revenues to stay in
power. It needed revenues to service its overstaffed bureaucracy which could not be re-
trenched, to pay interests on overseas loans from public and private creditors to preserve
the country's credit-worthiness, to pay for food imports to avert large-scale food short-
ages, and to pay the police and military upon whose loyalty the regime's survival depend-
ed. The image of a poor, dependent Guyana, run by a dictatorship that pitched one non-
white group against another, was inconsistent with Bumham's ambition for international
recognition as a progressive leader.
Between 1971 and the present, the government nationalized all the major foreign firms
in Guyana ranging from the bauxite industry to the foreign banks. There was no explicit
plan or policy on nationalization. The first occurred almost by accident and the others
followed on an erratic and uneven schedule." But once the first was nationalized and
yielded revenues, the others soon became victims, as the domestic economic situation
worsened, because of the Arab oil boycott and the accompanying exorbitant price of fuel.
And so it was that nationalization proceeded in Guyana, not by long-term design inspired
by a socialist philosophy but by financial necessity. This is not to suggest, as we shall
argue, that the socialist principles so opportunisitcally seized upon did not assume a sub-
sequent determining role in economic policy. Repeatedly invoked and recited, socialist
slogans would soon be sincerely adopted by its symbol swayers and become the ideo-
logical map inspiring the direction of the government.
D. Reconciliation With Jagan
Any development of the Guyanese economy that sought to eliminate dependency on
food imports and maximise domestic self-sufficiency, must entail the support of rural
dwellers. Significantly, even though Burnham controlled the government, Jagan remained
the most powerful rural figure. In essence, if Burnham's anti-imperialist rhetoric against
dependency were to be realized, Indian support was indispensable.
Throughout the previous ten years, the PPP initiated a boycott against the government's
self-sufficiency programme charging that surplus profits were extracted to finance the
civil service. Rice production fell to unprecedented levels and the sugar industry was
plagued by chronic strikes. During early 1975 alone, the government admitted that it lost
about $100 million (G.) in foreign exchange.4
Indian alienation and animosity, then, was the primary obstacle that frustrated Burn-
ham's plan to mobilize the entire population to fulfil socialist principles which had begun
to play not merely a post facto justifying function, but had assumed a guiding, determin-
ing role in the PNC government. Consequently, Jagan became indispensable to Burnham's
designs. However, it would be inaccurate to assert that Jagan had nothing to gain from
Burnham's new socialist image.
Visits by Castro, Nyerere, Bandaranaike, etc,challenged Jagan's exclusive claims to the
socialist anti-imperialist ideology in Guyana. Further, he could not continue his unquali-
fied criticism of Burnham when the latter was implementing the very policies advocated
for twenty-five years by the PPP. In effect, while Burnham needed Jagan's co-operation,
Jagan in turn had sufficient reasons of his own to reciprocate.
Jagan announced his change of attitude on the 25th anniversary of the PPP in August
1975. Speaking to the PPP's annual convention, Jagan said:
"The fact is that the changes, though compromised, have the effect of weaken-
ing imperialism. If we are to arrive at our goal of socialism, imperialism must first
be destroyed. And whoever helps must be praised. We must continue to apply
pressure on the PNC government and also take our own initiatives in this direction.
The situation now therefore demands a more flexible approach on the part of the
PPP. The party had previously declared that it does not have a monopoly on social-
ism, that it is prepared regardless of ideological and tactical differences to work
with others if they are interested in building socialism in Guyana. And this includes
the PNC. Our political line should be changed from non-cooperation and civil resist-
ance to critical support." 2s
Clearly, Jagan was not moving one hundred and eighty degrees to accommodate the PNC.
What, then, was the extent of his support? Said Jagan:
"Critical support does not mean unconditional support. It means just what it
says-giving support for any progressive measure, opposing any reactionary moves
and criticizing all shortcomings." 26
Elaboration of the terms of the agreement was worked out in private sessions between the
two leaders. The main concessions by Burnham related to the sugar industry. For as long
as Jagan was active in Guyanese politics beginning in 1946, he had insisted on the nation-
alization of the foreign-owned sugar plantations.
E Destabilization of the Burnham Government
It was suggested earlier that although left-wing governments in the Western Hemisphere
are eventually dislodged, the current Guyana case may depart from this pattern and
follow the Cuban example instead. The forces and structures that were present when
Jagan was in power have either been modified, re-aligned or eliminated so that external
intervention is improbable at least from within Guyana. We shall isolate these factors
separately and discuss each in turn to evaluate the potential for destabilization. The
factors will be divided into two categories: a) internal, and b) external.
a) Internal Factors
i) Communal conflict: This factor continues today with pervasive Indian-African dis-
trust and malaise. The major difference from 1962 and 1963 is that the PPP and PNC
have a limited agreement derived from Jagan's "critical support" posture to contain the
expression of racial sentiment. Indian-African animosity cannot be exploited with PPP
assistance to disrupt the Burnham government.
ii) Elimination of Formal Colonialism: Guyana became independent in 1966 and in
1970 declared itself a Republic so that Britain's Privy Council no longer serves as a court
of final appeal for domestic cases. The significance of independence is that the Burnham
government cannot be manipulated out of office by an arbitrary re-arrangement of the
country's constitution as occurred during the Jagan period.
iii) Leadership Split and Personal Ambition: Jagan and Burnham still head separate
racially-based parties. Although out of office, Jagan has derived immense gratification
from the wholesale adoption of his party's programmes by the ruling PNC. He enjoys high
prestige and a revitalized international recognition for his persistence in maintaining his
ideological position. At one point, it seemed that the two leaders might have formed a
coalition government, but Jagan has indicated that he is not interested in office, but in
iv) Trade Unions: The trade unions which served as the main instrument of destabiliza-
tion have now practically eliminated all their affiliations with ORIT and AIFLD. The
unions remain preponderantly communal in membership however, but their loyalties are
either with the PPP or PNC both now committed firmly to an anti-imperialist stand.
v) The Coercive Forces: Both the Guyana Defence Force and the Police Force are
almost completely under African domination. They are highly politicized and closely
aligned to the PNC. The loyalty of the military is difficult to assess however. They are
deployed for border patrols; grow their own food; engage in civic projects such as road
and bridge-building, and are well paid. However, the loyalty of the military is never a
vi) Foreign Economic Interests: The most dramatic success of the Burnham regime is
in the nationalization of foreign firms. Today, nearly 80% of the economy is in govern-
ment hands. No means exists today by which a major foreign firm can domestically dis-
rupt or destabilize the government as happened in 1962 and 1963.
vii) Domestic Economic Interests: Such groups as the Chamber of Commerce that
agitated against Jagan are impotent. Peter D'Aguiar as a private citizen continues to
operate his beer factory; his party, the UF, now has only two seats in the 52-seat parlia-
ment. Many of the businessmen and business interests that acted against Jagan have either
left Guyana permanently or are quiet. The Catholic and Anglican churches that supported
the UF's anti-communist crusade against Jagan have now lost all their schools (via nation-
alization in 1976) which dominated the Guyanese educational system. They can no
longer use this powerful base to mobilize support or disseminate propaganda against the
The remaining domestic sources of counter-revolutionary significance are: i) the
propertied middle class and ii) the new middle class that is likely to be created from the
many para-national corporations established to run the state-owned industries. The former
group, consisting of both Indians and Africans, has been diluted and diminished signi-
ficantly by mass migration to Canada and the U.S. While enfeebled, the residue of this
group is difficult to evaluate. Some have conveniently offered their skilled services to the
government, while others simply have adopted a seemingly passive posture. The latter
group is perhaps the most potent. Jagan has warned that "under the umbrella of national-
ized and public sector enterprises, there can develop a whole new mediatoryy bourgeoisie'
-neo-comprador, reactionary, bureaucratic, cooperative-capitalist contractors, who will
try to turn the anti-imperialist process to their own advantage.7 Again, this group's avail-
ability for mobilization against the government is difficult to assess. There is no reason at
the present to doubt their loyalty.
viii) The Slow Pace of Domestic Socialism: The internalization of socialism remains
the main task of the Burnham regime to establish unequivocally its bona fide socialist
credentials. Specifically, the pillars of PNC power namely the African-dominated civil
service, and the police and military forces, will have to be reorganized. The government's
socialist philosophy requires that it abandon its racially-oriented recruitment procedures.
Jagan continues to pressure the government to draw up and implement socialist pro-
grammes "before talking about having a socialist state."28He charged that the PNC had a
"rightist base" which "does not want to take positive steps that will result in socialism."29
Further, he pointed to the "corrupt bureaucratic system that had developed in Guyana
and that some people who were enmeshed in this corruption were opposed to further
In stark power terms, the problem concerns the sharing of strategic positions with the
previously excluded group. Should socialist principles be implemented, Burnham may
witness not only a dilution of his power base, but may encounter acts of sabotage and
rebellion from those PNC party people who rose to prominence by skillfully manipulating
racial symbols in the past. In essence, the greatest vulnerability of the socialist intentions
of the PNC resides within its own ranks.
ix) Ideological Differences Between the PPP and PNC: Finally, note must be taken of
the ideological differences that separate the PNC and PPP leadership. Both groups are
at present engaged in a vigorous discourse over their relative Marxist-Leninist purity.
Burnham refers to his brand of socialism as "cooperative socialism" indicating that the
cooperative will be the foundation of economic organization in Guyana. Jagan refers to
cooperativism as a "false ideology" charging that "turning over nationalized enterprises
into cooperatives ... is the way to construct a new form of capitalism."31Similar ideo-
logical differences over strategy and tactics contributed to the fateful split of the inde-
pendence movement in 1955 between the Jagan and Burnham factions. Today, significant
doctrinal differences exist, with Jagan a staunch Moscow adherent and Burnham a China
supporter. Currently, the ideological differences are submerged under the concerted
efforts by Jagan and Burnham to prevent externally-inspired destabilization efforts from
succeeding. Jagan has described the PNC regime as anti-imperialist, but withholds the
socialist label until domestic socialist practices are implemented.
b) External Forces:
While the levers of internal power have been neutralized or transformed into instru-
ments loyal to the present regime, the external means of destabilization remain available
for use by the government's enemies.
i) Borders: Guyana shares borders with Surinam, Brazil and Venezuela. The greatest
fear of destabilization among the PNC and PPP leadership is invasion from Brazil. Although
Venezuela claims about a third of Guyana's territory, its oil wealth makes it less depend-
ent on the U.S. The Brazilian military regime is heavily dependent on the U.S. for its
foreign investment, trade, and general well-being and consequently is potentially the tool
most likely to be employed to dislodge the Burnham government. Guyana received the
first application of this indirect pressure during the Angolan crisis.
During the Angolan civil war, the Guyana government was charged with allowing its
airport to be used by Cuban troops on the way to Conakry, Africa32 Rumours were also
spread by a Brazilian newspaper, O Estado do Sao Paulo,and a Venezuelan newsmagazine,
Resumen, that several thousand Cuban and Chinese troops were training paramilitary
forces in Guyana.33 The government responded that it was a victim of a destabilization
campaign. Burnham attributed the false rumours to "some elements that see our relation-
ship with Cuba as too close... who don't want to see a little country on the road to
socialism succeed."34 The government warned of the possibility of an invasion by Brazil.
Jagan pledged support to the government indicating that "the PPP has a patriotic duty to
defend Guyana's sovereignty, independence and integrity."35 Further, he called on the
Burnham government to establish closer links with the socialist republics as a counter-
vailing measure against American pressure. What the Angolan case does indicate, however,
is Guyana's geo-political isolation in the Western Hemisphere, and her vulnerability to
indirect pressure, brought to bear by countries like Brazil.
ii) Regional Association: To counter its isolation, Guyana has vigorously pursued an
economic and political policy of closer association with its Caribbean neighbours (notably
Jamaica and Cuba), the U.S.S.R., and the People's Republic of China. Foreign Minister
Wills explicitly referred to attempts at instigating disunity in regional associations as a
means to destabilize a country. Guyana has tried to establish a strong economic trading
bloc in the Caribbean, called CARICOM, incorporating mainly the former British colonies.
In addition, special trade and political linkages have been established with Cuba, Guyana's
most vibrant supporter in the hemisphere. However, the economic and political support
from countries like Jamaica and Barbados is less reliable, because unlike Cuba, these
countries are heavily dependent on the U.S. for the marketing of their primary products
(bauxite, bananas, sugar, tourism) which sustain their economy. The destabilization cam-
paign carried out against the Manley government in Jamaica, sympathetic to Burnham
and Castro, illustrates these points. Overall, regional association is one of the more
vulnerable areas of the Guyana government.
iii) Economic Boycott and Sabotage: Unlike Cuba where a blanket economic quaran-
tine was imposed, Guyana suffers fewer drastic measures against her by international
financial institutions influenced by the U.S. The World Bank continues to give loans to
Guyana, but aid and trade with the U.S. have practically dried up37 Nevertheless, Guyana
still depends on certain Western sources including Canada and Britain for a substantial
part of its market in sugar and bauxite. A vigorous attempt is made to diversify the coun-
try's economy and to align its trade and aid links with the Caribbean and the socialist
countries. Fortunately, the domestic abundance in food makes these shifts in economy
easy to cushion. Nevertheless, it is clear that Guyana's economic well-being continues to
rely on a few primary products (sugar and bauxite in particular) and that its markets
remain heavily in the hands of others to manipulate. Guyana's good fortune to this point
has been its diplomatic skill in altering its trading and alliance structure without creating
mass protest or resistance at home. Domestic solidarity has been partially achieved;
survival in the Western Hemisphere remains the main problem.
Summary and Conclusion
Guyana's adoption of a socialist framework by which to accord its citizens the
maximum opportunity for a better material, cultural, and spiritual well-being, challenges
U.S. hegemony in the Western Hemisphere. Will Guyana's socialist government be elimin-
ated by external intervention like similar regimes in the Caribbean and Latin America?
Significant alterations in the domestic economy and a partial reconciliation of the two
major communal leaders suggest that this is not likely to happen from within Guyana at
present. However, geographically isolated from sympathetic and fraternal socialist sys-
tems, it is vulnerable geo-politically to destabilization from within the Western Hemi-
sphere. One can expect a variety of indirect pressures, not necessarily short of Brazilian
military invasion, to be applied to either force a conversion of the Burnham regime or to
facilitate its liquidation.
RALPH R. PREMDAS
1. "Stand Firm-Evil Forces at Work", Chronicle (Guyana), June 2, 1976, p. 20.
2. See Ralph R. Premdas, Party Politics and Racial Division in Guyana (Denver: University of
Denver Press, 1973).
3. Ashton Chase, 133 Days Towards Freedom in Guyana (Georgetown, N.D.); see also R. Premdas,
"The Rise of the First Mass-based, Multi-Racial Party in Guyana", Caribbean Quarterly, Jan.
4. See R. Premdas, "Elections and Campaigns In a Racially Bifurcated State: The Case of Guyana",
The Journal of Inter-American Studies, August, 1972.
5. See C. Paul Bradley, "The Party System in British Guiana and the General Elections of 1961",
Caribbean Studies, Oct. 1961, p. 17.
6. Ibid., pp. 14-16.
7. For a description of the Kaldor Budget see Report of a Commission of Inquiry into Disturbances
in British Guiana in February 1962. (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, and 2849,
1965), Appendix VI, pp. 75-76.
8. Peter Newman, British Guiana: Problems of Cohesion in an Immigrant Society (Oxford Univer-
sity Press, 1964), p. 93.
9. Ibid., pp. 93-94.
10. Report of a Commission of Inquiry...... p. 19.
11. Ibid., pp. 27-28.
12. Ibid., p. 64.
13. Report of the British Guiana Conference of 1962 (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office,
Cmd. 1870, 1962), p. 6.
14. Why did the Talks Breakdown? (Georgetown: Trades Union Council, 1963).
15. Ashton Chase, A History of Trade Unionism in Guyana (Georgetown, 1964), p. 296.
16. For a discussion of the role of AIFLD, ORIT, and the ICFTU in the strike of 1963, see:
N. Sheehan, "C.I.A. Men Aided Strikes of 1963 against Dr. Jagan," New York Times, Feb. 22,
1967; D. Pearson,"U.S. Faces Limited Holding Decision," Washington Post, May 31, 1964;
S. Lens, "American Labor Abroad," The Nation, July 5, 1965.
17. Chase, A History of Trade Unionism in British Guiana, pp. 286-297.
19. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., A Thousand Days (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1965), p. 779.
21. See Economic Bulletin No. 8 (Bank of Guyana, Oct. 1974), Table VIII, 6.
22. See J. Mandle, "Continuity and Change in Guyanese Underdevelopment," Revista Inter
Americana, forthcoming, 1977.
23. Ralph Premdas, "Guyana: Socialist Reconstruction or Political Opportunism." Mimeo Paper
presented to the Caribbean Studies Conference, Port of Spain, Trinidad, Jan. 1977.
24. See "GAWU Gets Desperate," New Nation, Nov. 16, 1975, p. 1.
25. "Dr. Jagan's Address," Sunday Mirror, Aug. 17, 1975, p. 9.
27. M. Hamaludin, "PPP's Attitudes Today," Sunday Chronicle, Sept. 12, 1976, p. 11.
28. "Jagan Guyana not yet a Socialist State," The Weekly Gleaner, Sept. 19, 1976, p. 7.
31. "Dr. Jagan's Address," op. cit., p. 10.
32. J. Joanne Omag, "U.S. Blamed For Campaign to 'Destabilize' Guyana," The Guardian
(London), March 21, 1976, p. 17.
33. See "United We Stand," Latin America (London), June 4, 1976, p. 1.
34. Omag, op. cit., p. 11.
35. Hamaludin, op. cit., p. 11.
36. See "Guyana: Wider Markets," New York Times, Jan 28, 1972, p. 66.
37. "World Bank Used For U.S. Protest," New York Times, June 28, 1971, p. 47.
THE CARIBBEAN IN EMERGING WORLD
The end of the 1960s and certainly the first years of the decade of the 1970s
witnessed a generalization, in various countries of the South American continent
and of the Caribbean, of trends already prevalent in the Third World, (of assertive
political and, more importantly economic, nationalism). The nationalization of Ameri-
can multinational holdings in Peru and Chile was paralleled by the nationalization of
Canadian/American holdings (bauxite) in the recently independent state of Guyana.
The explosion of petroleum prices in and after 1973 was followed by the nationaliza-
tion of American petroleum holdings in Venezuela, the imposition of extensive
taxation (the bauxite levy) on the Canadian/American bauxite transnationals, and the
stated intention of the Government to participate (along the lines of the earlier
Chilean and Zambian examples) in the industry.
All these events, and fears of similar ones, gave rise in the United States to the
perception of a simultaneous political/economic "threat from the Third World",1 to
use a now famous phrase coined in 1973 by an international economist at present a
member of the Carter Administration. Within the United States, however, there were
differing levels and types of responses to the particular actions emanating from these
Western Hemispheric countries. The immediate hostility of the US companies and
Government to the Peruvian and Chilean expropriations had, as is now well known,
quite different denouements.
The response to the Guyanese nationalizations and to the Jamaican bauxite levy
was made in terms of what appears to have been an American perception of a general
trajectory of radicalization of domestic and foreign economic and political policy on
the part of the governments of these countries (though the acts of the two govern-
ments were separated in time). The response appears therefore to have been one of
deciding to be generally unhelpful with regard to providing American official economic
assistance, encouragement of private foreign investment, and American influence in
official international aid institutions. Until 1974 Jamaica, in particular, had been
crucially dependent on American private foreign investment for the substantial
development of its economy in the 1960s.
On the other hand, both the American Government and private enterprise deemed
the Venezuelan nationalization of oil and iron ore facilities to be generally acceptable
and as part of an inevitable trend in the OPEC countries. The Venezuelans, had, of
course, engaged in extensive preparatory diplomacy, giving assurances of reasonable
compensation, of a continuity of petroleum supply, and of a continuing place, at a
different level of operation, for the American multinationals.
Finally, Mexico under the Government of Echevaria appeared by 1974 to be
reinforcing the trend in Latin America towards the non-alignment and economic
radicalism stances of the Third World, and thus away from the traditional Latin
American separatism vis-a-vis the post-war new nations. Echevaria's radicalization of
Mexican domestic and foreign policy was taking place parallel in time to that occurring
in the Caribbean, and particularly in Jamaica.
The events of October 1973 and afterwards in the international economic
system had in fact a dual effect on the Caribbean countries. First, for most of these
countries with the exception of Trinidad and Tobago and the other non-oil
producing countries, the hike in oil prices was to have seriously deleterious effects on
their balance of payments and general financial situations. This led to an immediate
search, from wherever possible, for short-term financial support. For Trinidad and
Tobago, however, the increased petroleum prices had the beneficial effect of
rescuing the country from an increasingly perilous up to 1973 foreign exchange
and financial situation which had already been a contributor to domestic, economic
and political dislocation. In terms of regional (CARICOM) political/economic
relations, this increase in foreign exchange resources for Trinidad, of an order
hitherto unknown, initiated an eventual change in status-ranking among the
constituent countries. Where there had been relative equality in the status and con-
tributions of the two pivotal states of the system Jamaica and Trinidad there now
gradually occurred an imbalance in bargaining and therefore in general diplomatic
capabilities between them, as the financial strength of one (Trinidad) persistently
increased and that of the other (Jamaica) persistently declined.
Then there was the other side of the duality of effects reference to which has
already been made. For in a sense the real effect of the petroleum price increases was
for countries like Jamaica, Barbados and Guyana, a delayed one. As is well known, the
petroleum increases both followed and were the precursors of substantial rises in the
prices of a number of commodities located in both the industrialized and developing
countries. These stemmed also from a particular pattern of behaviour of the Western
industrialized countries and the centrally planned economies in particular the
Jamaica benefited from this by the opportunity to increase foreign exchange
revenue by increased taxation on the bauxite levy, but also by the rises in free market
sugar prices in 1975. Guyana, Barbados and Trinidad also benefited from this latter.
These countries, of course, all have under-developed economies which though small,
are, unlike many Third World countries, characterized by a certain diversity of
It was, I suggest, the very severity of the situation induced by the oil price rises on
the one hand, and the possibilities for exploitation of the resource-dependence of the
industrialized countries at a particular juncture, on the other, that provided the occa-
course, engaged in extensive preparatory diplomacy, giving assurances of reasonable
compensation, of a continuity of petroleum supply, and of a continuing place, at a
different level of operation, for the American multinationals.
Finally, Mexico under the Government of Echevaria appeared by 1974 to be
reinforcing the trend in Latin America towards the non-alignment and economic
radicalism of the Third World, and thus away from the traditional Latin American
separatism vis-a-vis the post-war new nations. Echevaria's radicalization of Mexican
domestic and foreign policy was taking place parallel in time to that occurring in the
Caribbean, and particularly in Jamaica.
The events of October 1973 and afterwards in the international economic
system had in fact a dual effect on the Caribbean countries. First, for most of these
countries with the exception of Trinidad and Tobago and the other non-oil
producing countries, the hike in oil prices was to have seriously deleterious effects
on their balance of payments and general financial situations. This led to an
immediate search, from wherever possible, for short-term financial support. For
Trinidad and Tobago, however, the increased petroleum prices had the beneficial
effect of rescuing the country from an increasingly perilous up to 1973 foreign
exchange and financial situation which had already been a contributor to domestic
economic and political dislocation. In terms of regional (CARICOM) political/
economic relations, this increase in foreign exchange resources for Trinidad, of an
order hitherto unknown, initiated an eventual change in status-ranking among the
constituent countries. Where there had been relative equality in the status and con-
tributions of the two pivotal states of the system Jamaica and Trinidad there now
gradually occurred an imbalance in bargaining and therefore in general diplomatic
capabilities between them, as the financial strength of one (Trinidad) persistently
increased and that of the other (Jamaica) persistently declined.
There is then the other side of the duality of effects reference to which has already
been made. For in a sense the real effect of the petroleum price increases was for
countries like Jamaica, Barbados and Guyana, a delayed one. As is well known, the
petroleum increases both followed and were the precursors of substantial rises in the
prices of a number of commodities located in both the industrialized and developing
countries stemmed also from a particular pattern of behaviour of the Western
industrialized countries and the centrally planned economies in particular the
Jamaica benefited from this by the opportunity to increase foreign exchange
revenue by increased taxation on the bauxite levy, but also by the rises in free market
sugar prices in 1975. Guyana, Barbados and Trinidad also benefited from this latter.
These countries, of course, all poorer economies which though small, are, unlike many
Third World countries, characterized by a certain diversity of resource bases.
It was, I suggest, the very severity of the situation induced by the oil price rises on
the one hand, and the possibilities for exploitation of the resource-dependence of the
industrialized countries at a particular juncture, on the other, that provided the occa-
sion and the necessary legitimacy for Jamaica to initiate the implementation of the
idea of a collective bargaining institution for bauxite the International Bauxite
Association and to gain the necessary confidence not simply for imposing the bauxite
levy; but subsequently for engaging in a wide sphere of international diplomacy in
respect of the re-organization of the international economic system which other
Third World countries had previously been proposing. Note should be taken however,
that the IBA is not a simple Third World or underdeveloped country cartel, being
composed of industrialized and underdeveloped, communist and free market countries.
It is, too, within this general climate of flexibility induced by international econo-
mic instability or uncertainty that Caribbean countries participated and took, in
certain instances, leading roles in the concerted diplomacy vis-a-vis the European
Community that led to the so-called Lome Agreement in 1975.
But while concentrating on the impetus gained for the assertion of political/
economic nationalism, from the dynamic character of the international environment,
some attention should be given to the impetus from the countries' domestic socio/
political systems. The events of social rebellion in Trinidad in 1970, the persistent
push for nationalist and socialist measures from the Opposition Party in Guyana, and
the increasing unemployment and social disequilibrium (in spite of sustained economic
growth in the 1960s) leading to change of regime in Jamaica in 1972, all suggested to
the political elite the need for re-consideration of the strategy of economic develop-
ment being undertaken by the Caribbean countries: a strategy based on welcoming
extensive foreign investment in, and ownership of mineral resource locations, and
industrialization on the basis of import substitution, again through the medium of
private foreign investors. The policy, as is well known, failed from the point of view of
employment creation in the face of declining agricultural production, to keep pace
with population growth, hence, the rise in the Caribbean, too, of populist nationalism,
insisting on the indigenization of, in particular, natural resource ownership, compar-
able to trends in other Third World countries, and legitimized, at the level of the
international system by the United Nations Declaration on Sovereignty Over Natural
Global Political/Economic Changes
From the point of view of the Caribbean countries, the tendency towards normali-
zation of political relations (detente) between the United States and the Soviet Union
in the latter stages of, and after the Vietnam War, had two effects: one general and the
other more specific. The more general, having meaning in the context of Caribbean
radicalization of policy, was the appearance of a certain restraint on the part of the
United States in respect of overt intervention in the Hemisphere (the Congressional
revelations concerning Chile further exacerbated this).
The second specific effect related to the suggestion of a normalization of the
United States' relations with Cuba, in the wake of (a) increasing mutual acceptance on
the part of the US and USSR of certain rules of behaviour at least in respect of their
claimed fundamental spheres of interest, (b) substantial economic relations between
the two major powers, and (c) the American diplomatic opening to China and the
unpredictability of expectations and role behaviour that this created for America's
small allies. All these left open the possibility of sudden changes in American hemis-
pheric policy, leaving the Caribbean, or other Hemispheric countries, in the lurch,
hanging on to an American Cold War policy now discredited by the United States her-
At the level of changes in global economic arrangements and stances (that is, from
the point of view of the diplomacy of international economic change), we can perceive,
especially after 1973, a dialectic between Third World demands for a New Inter-
national Economic Order (NIEO) and the response of the industrialized North to
these. From the Caribbean perspective, there were initially two diplomatic thrusts
relating to this: first and more autonomously inspired, their continuing integration
into the Non-Aligned Movement, and acceptance through Guyana of responsibility for
organizing the elaboration of the Movement's Action Programme for Economic.Co-
operation. Secondly, there was the diplomacy of the eventual Lome Agreement
involving, in co-operation with the African and Pacific countries, the re-organization of
the framework of their traditional imperial or metropolitan economic relations.
The question of normalization of global political relations needs examination. The
Caribbean countries (through the Prime Minister of Trinidad at an OAS meeting in
Venezuela in 1970) had been early proponents of the so-called normalization of Cuba's
relations with the countries of the Hemisphere. This reflected a concern not only to
ensure a controlled normalization parallel to that occurring at the level of the
Super-powers, but also to establish some system of diplomatic order among countries
of the Caribbean archipelago, in the light especially of increasing popular awareness of
the so-called Cuban development option, and a concern to consolidate the incipient
effort at harmonization of relationships among the countries of the post-1968
Commonwealth Caribbean integration endeavour.
Then as an aspect of the post-Vietnam Nixon/Kissinger Doctrine, emphasising a less
overt American security presence in the Third World, there was the United States'
search for regional proxies, including proxies in the South American zone. This
impinged on the Commonwealth Caribbean countries to the extent that two probable
candidates for the 'proxy' role, Brazil and Venezuela, exist on the fringes of the
Caribbean Community system (and both have muted boundary problems with either
Guyana or Trinidad). The increasing prominence of Brazil and Venezuela coincided,
especially after 1973 with, on the one hand, Trinidad's concern with Venezuela's
desire to define for herself a legitimate economic and diplomatic role in the Caribbean
Basin (reflecting an old concern with the area) and, on the other, a desire on the part
of the post-1972 Jamaican (Manley) regime to accept the validity of, and to diplo-
matically relocate herself in, the (more extensive than the archipelago) Caribbean
Basin system. Thiswas seen as following the logic of Jamaica's geographical location.
When coupled with a certain, especially during the major part of the era of
Kissinger's influence, US insouciance in respect of Latin American international
economic concerns, the import of all this is a degree of loosening of US-Latin
American relations, leading to possibilities for new alignment efforts with other Third
World and European countries. Peru's emergence as a centre of non-aligned action
allowed for Guyana's connection with a more radical Latin American country. Then in
the latter part of the 1970s, with a greater Guyanese concern with domestic affairs,
Jamaica began to assert herself in this direction vis-a-vis Mexico and Venezuela in
particular. Jamaica's main concerns were with collective negotiation and the formation
of government multinational companies as possible counters to the private enterprise
This observation of economic concerns allows more discussion of changes in global
economic arrangements. The Third World, and therefore Caribbean, trajectory can be
traced through the Action Programme for Economic Co-operation that was a signal to,
but had little resonance with, the industrialized countries, and the Algerian and post-
OPEC inspired Special Sessions of the United Nations General Assembly on the
programme for a New International Economic Order which the majority of Caribbean
Community countries supported. These Sessions and the Resolutions emanating from
them have to be seen as creating normative legitimacy for these desired Third World
demands, rather than as having short-term operational (material) significance as far as
developed country responses are concerned.
The Lome negotiations of ACP-EEC countries, on the other hand, were concerned
with short-term material benefits as well as the longer term, and allowed the Caribbean
countries to cement relations with a wide variety of African and Pacific countries on
specific, practical issue areas. Certainly, a country like Jamaica would have hoped that
it is within what might be called the "Lome perspective" of pragmatic, issue-oriented
diplomacy, would have fallen the Conference on International Economic Co-operation
(CIEC) in which she (Jamaica) was a participant. This conference was another
example of North-South negotiation, borne of the 1973 events, but in which, unlike
the Lome negotiations, the major power of the Western world participated. But the
apparent capacity of the industrialized countries, in the years that followed, to absorb
the effects of increased prices and to accommodate, at the same time the increased
flow of petro-dollars in the international monetary system, reduced the already luke-
warm Western acceptance of the need for a conference of this type, with the result
that little has been produced by the CIEC.3
Subsequent doubts about the real benefits from Lome, when placed alongside the
failure of the CIEC, raise to the Third World and therefore Caribbean mind, the
question of the operational relevance of the theme of interdependence. This phrase, an
important American diplomatic slogan, can be said to have been given recognition by
Third World countries in the manner of their participation in the ACP-EEC and CIEC
Conferences, and is to be counterposed to what Western diplomats and scholars will
have tended to see as the diplomacy of confrontation characterizing the UN Special
Sessions and in some measure the UNCTAD Conferences.
The point of relevance here is, that the relative failures of the diplomacy of inter-
dependence revert, in some degree, to a situation of North-South stalemate and
relative Western indifference concerning Third World objectives on international
economic issues that was characteristic of the pre-1973 period: a stalemate that was
only broken by the diplomacy of confrontation of that year. This present situation
of stalemate, if correctly perceived by the author, may now be exacerbated by a
feeling in the North that the bargaining capabilities of a number of important Third
World countries (their capacity for exercising influence in what one writer has called
the context of international civil power) are not as substantial now as they may have
been in the 1973-76 period. Some reasons are suggested for this as far as the Caribbean
countries are concerned in part of what follows. Many of the Caribbean countries,
which have recently played not insignificant roles in both arenas of confrontation and
interdependence, now suffer from crucial capability weaknesses.
Caribbean Domestic Politics And World Ideological Trends
The recognition of apparent failures of political economy in the Caribbean by many
of the political elite by the beginning of the 1970s, when coupled with the effects in
the Caribbean of global detente, made for a search for alternative solutions albeit
ones appropriate to the framework of competitive party politics. This led, in conse-
quence, and in spite of that country's political framework, to the increasing visibility
and debate on the assessment of, the social arrangements of revolutionary Cuba. This
visibility was assisted by Cuba's own renewed attention to normalizing her relations
with the Latin American countries and, by extension, the countries of the Caribbean
sub-region. The proffers of increased diplomatic contact by Cuba were reciprocated
by the CARICOM, as by other Latin American countries, and, sealed by diplomatic
recognition, official visits to Cuba of the Prime Ministers of Trinidad, Venezuela and
Guyana,4 and favourable statements on their part concerning some of the Cuban social
arrangements. With a certain popular legitimacy growing for socialism, an increasing
rhetorical commitment on the part of the political elite to the ideology of socialism,
of one or other variant, became apparent in a sense a reversion to a trend in commit-
ment to socialist ideology that had characterized the politics of anti-colonialism of the
English-speaking Caribbean countries in the late 1940s and 1950s. It might be noted
that this ideological commitment was coinciding with the countries' increasing move-
ment into the international politics of non-alignment where many leading Third World
countries had been for some time protagonists of socialism and of closer relations
with the socialist bloc. In a sense, then, the domestic commitment to socialism also
had an international relations function and rationale.
On the other hand, it can be seen that the ideological choices of particular
countries in the Region were based on specific domestic characteristics and elite
perceptions of resource availability for development. Neither in Trinidad in the
CARICOM area, nor in Venezuela, beneficiaries of the petroleum price increases, was
there a rhetorical turn to socialism (as with say, Guyana and Jamaica), although their
consequent economic development programme envisaged substantial public sector
expansion. Trinidad's vain attempt to enter OPEC, in addition, did not conduce to a
turn to non-alignment in tandem with other CARICOM countries; while Venezuela,
seeking to initiate a diplomatic opening to the Third World (undoubtedly sensitive
to Mexico's movement in that direction), attempted to elaborate an emphasis on the
economics of non-alignment, with as little as possible of the usual accompaniment of
anti-Americanism. The Venezuelan emphasis on a Latin American place in the
Socialist International should however be noted.
Herein lay the difference between these countries and those like Jamaica and
Guyana which accepted, at the level of public policy statements, the theses of Third
World dependency, American transnational distortion of Third World countries'
potential for development; the possibility of American 'destablization' (after the
Chilean pattern) of 'progressive' Third World states and Third World inter-state
relations the implication here being these Governments' relations with Cuba in
It needs to be emphasized that such perceptions marked a new turn in Common-
wealth Caribbean countries' official perceptions of the workings of the American-
dominated Hemispheric system, even though they may have been previously prevalent
elsewhere. This rhetorical stance, which developed some popular resonance, was now
accompanied by a widening of the countries' diplomatic contacts and relations with
the major and other countries of the Socialist world. When linked to the new interest
specifically in Cuba, this orientation raised the question of the possibilities of aid
from the socialist bloc, and the extent to which certain domestic and external political
orientations might be pre-requisites to the receipt of socialist bloc assistance.
The Era of International Economic Instability
The Nixon-Ford-Kissinger regime adopted in the 1975/76 period and in the face of
such developments, a policy that might be mildly described as one of general unhelp-
fulness as the economies of these increasingly vociferous Caribbean countries began to
falter under the combined strain of foreign-exchange deficiencies and mass demands for
increased welfare; but so in large measure, if for different reasons, can the response
also of the socialist bloc countries be described at least as far as the Caribbean
countries' short-term requirements for economic assistance were concerned. There does
not appear to be much evidence that Caribbean governments had done much systema-
tic preparatory exploration of the socialist bloc countries' position on the question of
economic aid to Third World countries through the existing international institutions.
These two conjunctures of "unhelpfulness" (including US hostility in international
financial institutions) constrained the two countries propagating forms of socialism -
Guyana and Jamaica to stand their rhetoric on its head and subordinate themselves
to the International Monetary Fund. This reversal mirrored the situation elsewhere in
the Caribbean Basin in Mexico, where Echevaria had attempted a similar radicaliza-
tion of policy; and in the wider Latin American region in Peru. It suggested
(suggests) that the structural interlock into the Western international system in which
the Caribbean countries have historically been placed remains the central parameter of
policy-making. It might be suggested in turn that the notions of the countries' size,
location and ascribed significance in the context of detente would not, in the near
future, induce assistance of a substantial kind from the socialist world. This seems to
be the import of policy and rhetorical statements emanating from both Guyana and
Jamaica even after the demise of the Ford regime and the advent of a Democratic
Administration. It is instructive that apart from assistance under severe conditions
from the IMF and allied institutions, the donors of substantial assistance of a short-
term nature came from countries within the Caribbean Basin Venezuela and
US Response: The Carter Administration
In an environment of constricted financial resources, the Caribbean countries now
attempt a dual approach: the search for short-term assistance together with the
attempt to devote diplomatic resources to participation in the demand for reform of
international economic relations: the NIEO and in more specific, immediate terms, the
UNCTAD Conference. The US Administration's views and policies in respect of both
of these approaches will obviously be an important determinant of their evolution. As
far as such views and policies have a bearing on the Caribbean, three broad trends can
(1) At the level of a developing policy theme with increasing academic
legitimacy,5 though not a formally enunciated policy line, the view that Latin
America, and by extension the Caribbean sub-region, although an area of special
interest and influence of the United States, has economic growth problems which,
insofar as they are amenable to external solutions, should be the subject of 'global'
approaches by the United States. In this regard, there should be no special hemispheric
policy, since neither problems nor solutions are specific to Latin America.
(2) That in the face of Third World and 'liberal' American demands for an increase
in United States official assistance (as a percentage of GDP), the role of private foreign
investment as the motive force of development should be stressed. This expression of
the American view can be seen in a statement, in July 1977, by Richard Cooper, US
Undersecretary of State for Economic Affairs, and previously an eminent academic
I shall argue today that the closer we look at the evidence the more firmly we
remain convinced that a liberal international economic system, permitting broad
flows of foreign investment across national boundaries according to economic
forces, offers the best hope for stable economic growth in the Third World, in
other developed countries, and in our own society.
. Let us reaffirm that international financial markets, multilateral lending
agencies, and foreign aid disbursements cannot, and never will be able to, provide
the talent and the skills that only the international business community can.
Department of State Bulletin, 25 July 1977.
(3) Thirdly, there is the effort at rationalization of official assistance by bringing
this within a coherent multilateral strategy based on the OECD countries. Though the
element of bilateralism would be maintained at the specific donor-recipient level.
This appears to have been the premise of the recent formulation of a Caribbean Group
for Co-operation in Economic Development, though contributions from the OECD and
other countries involved have not been forthcoming to the extent expected by the
American proposers of the system.
The policy implication of these three broad trends appears to be, from a metro-
politan point of view, that there is a necessity for Caribbean countries to concentrate
not on the NIEO as an alternative to prevailing arrangements, but on a recognition of
the geopolitical framework of likely substantial transfers (private and public) to these
countries, and on the interdependence of the elements within this framework.
The appearance of these general trends have coincided with the failure of economic
policy in Jamaica, Guyana and Mexico and their forced recourse to the IMF. Within
the Caribbean itself, Cuban concern with the rationalization of her own economy
after the post 1975/76 drop in sugar prices also, in spite of other types of technical
assistance that she possesses, substantially focused her resources on her domestic
economic policy. The country's intervention in Africa does not negate this concentra-
tion, though on the other hand it may certainly have slowed the process of normaliza-
tion of her relations with Caribbean Basin countries.
Diplomacy in the Non-Aligned and NIEO Arenas
The economic weakness of Caribbean countries, when taken together with the
stance of relative inactivity on the part of countries like Trinidad and Mexico which
possess substantial financial resources, will certainly affect negatively their activist
behaviour in both the Non-Aligned Movement and the search for the NIEO. In the
Caribbean, this has already been affected by the fact that Cuba has assumed a leading
role in trying to shape the Non-Alignment Movement, precisely at the time that she
has assumed an activist role in the liberation movement in Africa, opposed by the
In the context of this Cuban role there are signs that the United States seeks to
weaken Cuban/USSR support for regimes and movements at another level. It
appears that it is being decided to attempt a strategy of diplomatic intervention in
an area where Cuba has gained a certain legitimacy in recent times: in the Third World
movement. This takes the form of capitalizing on those currents in the movement
which seek to de-legitimise Cuba as a non-aligned country.
This has an obvious importance at the political level. But it also has another
rationale. For Cuba is known to be active in the Non-Aligned Movement not simply at
the political, but also at the economic level: that is, at the level of supporting Third
World countries' diplomacy for a change of the international economic order. For the
Cubans, this has two aspects: (a) change of Western capitalist/Third World country
relations, but also (b) a change of relations within the Third World so that countries
with a new-found wealth adopt new policies concerning the allocation and disposi-
tion of financial and material (oil) resources. If Cuba can be de-legitimised, both of
these, thrusts, and in particular the second, will be weakened. It will be recalled that,
also from the Caribbean, Manley had put forward at Algiers in 1973 a plan for a
Third World Fund to be drawn from the resources of the financially rich Third World
countries themselves, thus lessening non-oil producing countries' dependence on
Western countries and Western-dominated international financial institution.
So a de-legitimization strategy, deriving its motivation from a concern with Cuban/
USSR support for regimes in Africa, comes to have a direct link with non-aligned
countries' plans for a NIEO for which Cuba provides important support. One can be
sure that in the course of elaboration of this strategy in the Third World, the United
States will use both the political and economic instruments of diplomacy available to
it. This is important for countries like Jamaica which, while being currently economi-
cally weak and dependent on the United States and US dominated financial institu-
tions, are necessarily susceptible to differing forms of American pressure to act as
"moderating influences" in the Non-Aligned Movement.
There are generally, two lines of strategy on this question of an NIEO. One which
was more prevalent in the early post-1973 period speaks of a fundamental re-
structuring of international economic relations. A second which may now well be
the prevailing line speaks of seeking United States and Western receptivity to a
re-organization and adaptation of international economic relations to give Third World
countries a better chance of attaining more stable and profitable gains from trade and
production in systems dominated by the West (hence an emphasis on removal of
tariff and non-tariff obstacles to trade, a commodities buffer stock, compensatory
financing, etc.). This constitutes, fundamentally, the diplomacy of UNCTAD. Cuba
is one adherent of the first line of strategy, countries like Nigeria and Jamaica are
more prone to the second though with differing emphases. Some countries see the
second line of strategy as a principled, long-term one for gaining a better place in the
Western dominated system; others see it as a tactical line to be applied for a certain
length of time, in the present circumstances.
The link, however, between the two lines can be said to lie in the important ques-
tion of control and sovereignty over strategic natural resources in Third World
countries, giving as it would to Third World countries a right and a certain flexibility
in the use and disposition of such resources. But this link is an ambiguous one since
sovereignty and control are taken in Third World countries generally to mean different
things complete ownership on the one hand, partial ownership at various levels on
In the face, then, of trends outlined above, we conclude that the possibilities for
any substantial benefits from pressures for NIEO for the Caribbean countries are not
encouraging; the optimism of a few years ago that the financial and strategic com-
modity power of certain Third World countries would induce changes in Northern
development policies, is certainly now not warranted. In addition, at the level of
regional and sub-regional collective policies for economic development and harmoniza-
tion, the instabilities induced by the uncertainties of the movement of the inter-
national trading and financial systems, have had distorting effects on the capacities of
countries, including those of the Caribbean sub-region, for systematic co-operation.
It is, therefore, necessary to turn to a more specific discussion of the American
policies and attitudes which are observed as constituting the parameters that in turn
constitute the environment of policy behaviour of Caribbean countries.
Political Parameters of American Policy Towards the Caribbean
During the 1974-1976 period, the United States, flush from the successful liquida-
tion of the Chilean attempt at socialism, and consumed increasingly by the Watergate
crisis, seemed to have had a general line of confidence towards its relations
with the Caribbean countries. This, it should be recalled, was a period when at least
two of these countries, Jamaica and Guyana, had enunciated policies of domestic
socialist construction, non-alignment and diversification (towards socialist countries)
of their international relations.
The general American attitude of the time is, however, best demonstrated by the
testimony to an American Congressional committee of the then Deputy Assistant-
Secretary for Inter-American Affairs, William Luers, in the middle of 1976. Luers
argued that the United States Government did not consider that the leftward trend
of these Caribbean Governments could constitute a threat to the national security of
the United States, and that:
We have been able to adopt this approach because we no longer perceive as we
once did, that an extra-hemispheric power will be able to mount a significant threat
to our own vital interests in Latin America or to the stability of the Latin American
It can be assumed that, in general, this attitude remains with the onset of the
Democratic Carter Administration. The visits to the Caribbean in 1977 of a number of
high American officials (Vance, Todman, Philip Habib) suggest this. And as a New
York Times editorial put it in August of 1977:
There now seems to be a general appreciation, not only in Washington but in the
country at large, that short of offering military bases to foreign powers, virtually
nothings that happens within the Caribbean states can threaten the security of the
This general line of strategic confidence ought, of course, to be understood in the
context of an American tendency to believe that in these "open" economic and politi-
cal systems various forms of diplomatic pressure can be exercised at various points; and
it should be qualified somewhat by cognisance of the fact that recent American
Administrations have not been faced with what they would consider a real crisis in
the Caribbean since the events in the Dominican Republic of 1965. For the instinctive
American response to such crises is open intervention.
The Carter Administration, coming into office after the traumas of the Vietnam
War, has made a series of verbal commitments to revising policy in the direction of
anti-military intervention, and even in the direction of being anti-political intervention,
of the type and scale as occurred in Chile. In this context, policy towards the Carib-
bean and Latin America is to be taken as exemplary indicating the general American
attitude towards the Third World. In spite of these commitments, it is useful to note
that the American foreign policy bureaucracy does have a continuing existence (what-
ever the upheavals that occur with each change of Administration) and a sense of
policy continuity which Presidents may attempt to deflect or amend, but with the
established policy lines of which they have to contend.
As a general principle, then, and taking into account the established policy lines,
the traditional rationale of military intervention remains. Thus, Carter's observation
that "if. [an] altercation was internal, a struggle for control of the Government, I
can't envision any circumstances under which I would send troops", but that,
There may be times when I would send military planes into a national capital to
evacuate American nationals whose lives were endangered or send a ship into port
to perform an evacuating process, so there are some circumstances in which I would
certainly use our military forces.8
These remarks, though made during his election campaign in 1976, appear to consti-
tute Carter's continuing approach.
While, however, a general line of policy towards the Caribbean and Latin America
area may be set, any American administration deals with a particular country in terms
of, first, what it perceives to be the requirements of that country from the United
States at a particular point in time; and secondly, in terms of its own assessments of
the degree of domestic support that the Government has in making its demands, and
the Government's capacity for attaining its requirements from other sources. Between
these two factors lies the sphere of potential exercise of US diplomatic as distinct from
military intervention and influence.
This has been most clear in the relations, for example, between the United States
and Jamaica during the Carter Administration. The Administration will certainly have
become aware of the differing options available to it by January, 1977 when the
extent of Jamaica's financial deprivation had become dear, as against the options
available to the Ford/Kissinger regime during Jamaica's halcyon post-bauxite levy
period of strong domestic support and diplomatic expansionism.
Once, in the case of Jamaica, it became clear that at least in the short term, the
major emphasis for the resolution of that country's economic problems had to be
placed within the ambit of the Western international economic arena, then the array
of possibilities for the exercise of certain types of American influence became clear.
These possibilities commenced with the preliminary agreement to establish a Joint
Jamaica-United States Economic Commission after the visit of Foreign Minister
Patterson to the United States in January of 1977.9 But it is a reality of the structure
of Western international economic relations that American political-economic influ-
ence can be (and is) exercised not only at the level of bilateral relations, public and
private, but at the level of the variety of multilateral economic institutions of the
Western world the International Monetary Fund to which the Government of
Jamaica (and subsequently that of Guyana) made specific and dramatic recourse in
1977, after a period of persistent hesitancy,10 the World Bank, Inter-American
Development Bank and the like.
It is within the context of American influenced multilateral institutions that we
must place the organization of the Caribbean Group of Co-operation in Economic
Development. This institution, originally, apparently, inspired by the Government of
Trinidad and Tobago as a mechanism for coping with the short and long term problems
of economic development of the Caribbean countries, was multilateralized in such a
manner by the United States (under the institutional aegis of the World Bank) that the
Prime Minister of Trinidad has claimed that it no longer represents in form, the original
concept.11 The translation of this concept into reality is an interesting example of the
limits of Caribbean national or regional influence vis-a-vis the United States, once the
Caribbean countries permit the structuring of economic solutions within the ambit of
Western hemisphere institutional systems. It demands separate analysis.
The central point, however, is that such forms of institutionalized economy under-
pinning, simply tend to reinforce the assumed broad contemporary stability of the
strategic (security) situation in the Caribbean to which reference has already been
made. This geopolitical reality, operating in the minds not only of American officials
but also of the Caribbean political directorate, was well expressed at the beginning of
1977 by the then Foreign Minister of Guyana, Fred Wills. Asserting the necessity to
"appreciate the strategic position of Guyana in the world", he argued that:
It is one thing to implement a scientific socialist philosophy and strategy of
development in Guyana, which is in the North American sphere of operation, and it
is another thing to implement that in Eastern Europe. It is one thing to be near
the military and political outreach of the Soviet Union and another thing to be
far from that position. It is one thing to have $1 US million spent per day to subsi-
dise a friend and to tell Allende, 'We cannot afford another Cuba'. .. The thing is
this: we have to live here and in every calculation, Cuba and Guyana and Jamaica
or even Chile under Allende contemplate that for every political decision canvassed
you have to take account of possible American reaction.2
This kind of statement suggests a continuing (and perhaps inevitable) discussion in
Guyana, and undoubtedly in other Caribbean countries as well, of the parameters of
American policy in the Region, as perceived both by Caribbean countries and by the
United States. We can here put forward that the strategic stability that it suggests is
qualified by only one but important variable, the behaviour of which is unpredictable.
This is the variable of populism that has resonance, and a potentially distorting effect
on the policies of both metropolitan country and Caribbean governments alike. The
still largely open channels for political expression, in an environment of high
unemployment, increasingly located in urban areas, ensure this.
A brief concluding discussion of the parameters of American policy is now
appropriate and is followed by an attempt to identify four of these, aspects of which
have already been implicit in the preceding discussion.
(1) The Need to Ensure 'Order' in the American Hemisphere, to which allusion
has already been made. 'Order' has two aspects, these involving (a) the relations
between the Hemispheric states, and (b) domestic order, the United States seeing
internal disorder as having the potential for international or regional disorder, and
thus for negative effects on her own security. These two aspects are, therefore, in the
American mind, inextricably linked, as American administrations have always shown
in their attitudes towards the older Caribbean states. The significance of this for
particular Caribbean countries varies, in some measure, according to location. Jamaica,
for example, is located among the countries of the Northern Tier of the Caribbean,
towards whose domestic behaviour the United States has always been particularly
sensitive, namely Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Along with the Bahamas,
which is also structurally integrated at the economic level with the United States, this
Tier is considered as a strategic sub-zone within the Caribbean region as a whole.
Although in this Tier the American Government has reluctantly accepted within
the policy of detente the elaboration of closer relations between Commonwealth
Caribbean countries and Cuba, it is undoubtedly the case that it is the content and
level of these relations with which she is concerned. Kissinger has attempted to clarify
this in 1976:
I'd like to make the distinction between Cuba's military and Cuba's diplomatic
activities. . Our concern is military infiltration and movement of Cuban troops.
And we have seen no evidence of Cuban organized military units within the
Kissinger was speaking here of "concern" requiring an American military response.
An inference from the practice of American diplomacy would be that other kinds of
Cuban presence broadly characterized as "diplomatic", would require other forms
of containment responses.
It is, in fact, in respect of this latter situation, that a particular line of economic
policy on the part of Caribbean countries might be of particular concern. The basis of
such concern would be the extent to which Governments were indicating populist
responses to local social and economic problems: responses which might lead to solu-
tions other than those normally accepted within the conventional intellectual and
political framework. This is the context in which the columnist James Reston could
write, in an article on "Castro and the [American] Election":
Now he is expanding his role to Africa and the world and exporting his troops to
help the revolutionary Communist forces wherever they are. This has clearly
created a new situation in the Western Hemisphere, and particularly in the Carib-
bean, where economic, social and racial problems are almost out of hand.14
(2) The Need to Treat the Caribbean as Exemplary, in terms of general American
policy towards the Third World. This is often stated by American administrations,
though often honoured more in the breach, and though it may be said to afflict
Democratic rather more than Republican administrations. The Carter administration
has emphasised this policy line; an emphasis which has been made partly in response
to the more visible Caribbean presence in forums dealing with the re-organization of
international economic relations, and to what is taken to be the search in this Region
for new solutions to local economic problems.
Clearly, the specific and operational modalities of the "exemplary" line of policy
have not yet been finalized, and is an aspect of future US relations with Latin America
as a whole. There would appear to be a strand of thinking, however, which would make
an appropriate American response to Caribbean requirements for economic assistance,
contingent on a 'proper' Caribbean political attitude and political response to what is
seen as a legitimate American presence in this part of the world. There appears to be
on the American side a sense that the gravity of Caribbean economic problems might
well induce 'appropriate noises'; but there will also be an awareness that such behaviour
is to some extent constrained by the volatility and increasingly populist character of
politics in these parts. (One American expert witness to Congressional Hearings in
1973, the academic Aaron Segal, described the Region as "too small islands with too
few resources and too many young people breeding too fast. That is what the
Caribbean is all about").
It is clear that the current discussions about bilateral vs. multilateral and regional
approaches to Caribbean problems are taking place within this context of the
"exemplary" approach. Clearly there will always be a bilateral aspect; but concentra-
tion on the multilateral and regional, gives the United States the opportunity to widen
the framework for the treatment of Commonwealth Caribbean problems both at the
geographic, economic and diplomatic level, bringing in the larger Basin states of
Mexico and Venezuela. The importance of this is that the scope and nature of relations
involving these Basin states is still a subject of confusion within the Caribbean
Community area itself. This, however, is something that requires a separate discussion.
(3) The Need to Contain the Negative Effects of Raw Material Dependency: This is a
parameter of policy that has been emphasised for the United States in recent years as a
consequence of the explosion of petroleum prices. But its particular Caribbean
reference has been, as is now well known, the Jamaican imposition of the bauxite
levy. There are, at least to this writer, indications of a US perception of a greater need
for diversification of bauxite-alumina imports, at the level of the policies of the multi-
national companies, if not directly at the level of Government. Observation has
already been made of the general sensitivity of Government to business in that system.
At the level of Jamaican Government policy, on the other hand, the re-organization of
ownership patterns in the industry (51% Government ownership along with assurance
of continuity of supply) can be read as an attempt not only to meet national yearnings
for "greater control of a wasting asset", but as an attempt to stabilize United States-
Jamaica relationships and expectations in respect of foreign investment, particularly
in an area where the United States recognizes a certain dependency on a strategic
Nonetheless, indications of a diversification strategy should be noted and are
here given. An article in the November 1976 issue of Fortune magazine suggests the
strategy, speaking as it does in relation to the International Bauxite Association of
"the impending backlash." After referring to possible upper limits of Jamaican taxes
and the possibility of substitution, the writer, Sanford Rose, remarks:
Yet the ultimate outcome of the Jamaican initiative cannot fail to diminish global
welfare. The world is engaged in a frantic effort to locate and mine more expensive
sources of bauxite. Although it is possible that Jamaica and the other IBA members
will benefit from this effort, while most of the rest of the world loses, the chances
are fairly good that, within five years, the bauxite cartel will collapse, in the process
reducing Jamaican revenues to a fraction of what they are now. Then everyone will
end up losing, and another southern strategy will have badly misfired. 15
This should be read along with recent statements of Charles Parry, Vice-President of
Alcoa, discriminating between Guinean prices and Jamaican prices (on the basis of an
Alcoa agreement with Guinea) and stating:
The recent history of the aluminium industry's relationships with bauxite-producing
nations is well known. That history has been largely written in the Caribbean. But I
want to remind you that the industry's relative dependence on bauxite from the
Caribbean is changing and changing fast. . the . trend is unmistakable. .
Recent increases in bauxite costs as well, have forced the ingot price to move closer
to where the bauxite alternatives can be competitive.16
Statements such as these, whatever their psychological war aspect, must be taken as
variables in the Jamaican discussion of its own diversification strategy.
(4) The Need to Elaborate a General Line of Trade and Aid Policy: This is, again,
an important part of US policy-thinking at the present time, spurred on by the more
radical initiatives of certain Third World countries, taking advantage of the effects of
the petroleum crisis and the general rise in commodity prices. In relation to the
Caribbean, the United States had already begun to take cognisance of specific Carib-
bean needs during the negotiations between the ACP and EEC groups. Given Jamaican
and Caribbean difficulties at the present time, United States policy on the question
of the possibility of new institutional relationships between the IMF, the World Bank
and American private foreign investment, takes on added significance. This is the
relevance of new notions of multilateral consortia, the possibilities for co-financing
between public and private institutions, and of (new for the Caribbean) Joint Econo-
mic Commissions. To revert to the earlier discussion, it is clear that, to the extent that
some "exemplary relationship" approach does materialise, it will be coloured by these
Within these broad parameters, then, is a willingness on the part of the United
States, to allow excursions into experiments in the economics and politics of social
democracy, partly because policy makers are cognisant of populist pressures in that
direction, and partly because a more substantial balance in world relationships permits
the availability of alternative sources of assistance to countries which, while nationalist,
are non-communist. In addition, most of the Caribbean economic systems, like those
of many Third World countries, are still market-oriented ones, though in varying states
of depression, in which both Government and private enterprises are avidly seeking
private capital inflows, however limited these may be.
The operationalization of social democracy in an underdeveloped country, as
Caribbean countries have learnt in recent years, is hardly the same as that in structured
societies such as those of the European countries; and it is the working out of the
dynamics of this, in response to which American policy will operate, within the broad
Can the United States tolerate a change in the balance (between private and public)
in the economic system of Caribbean countries? And if it can tolerate it, will it
willingly support it? The USSR, it should be noted, is not averse to US economic
assistance to countries in the Third World in which it is itself engaged in rendering
substantial amounts of aid. The Soviet analyst, Ulyanovsky, has for example, argued
since the early 1970s that given that certain domestic conditions are fulfilled, Third
World countries can effectively trade and obtain aid from both "world systems." The
assumption was made in some Caribbean countries in the early 1970s that environ-
mental conditions were permissive of such an orientation. Whether this assumption
still obtains, so as to be meaningfully operative, is an open one.
VAUGHAN A. LEWIS
Versions of this paper were read during 1978 at Florida International University and
at a Conference on "Democracy and Development in the Caribbean", sponsored by the
Centre for Inter-American Relations, New York.
1. See Fred Bergsten, "The Threat From the Third World", Foreign Policy, No. 11, 1973.
2. I have discussed the orientation of Jamaica's foreign policy in some detail in "Issues and
Trends in Jamaican Foreign Policy" forthcoming in C. Stone and A. Brown (eds.) Perspectives
on Jamaica in the 70s.
3. See Jahangir Amuzegar, "A Requiem for the North-South Conference", Foreign Affairs,
VoL 56, No. 1, 1977, pp. 136-159.
4. Various interpretations have been given of the reasons for recognition. See C. Parris, "Trinidad
and Tobago's Decision to Recognize Cuba: A Case Study" and H. Gill, "The Decision of
Guyana to Recognize Cuba." Papers Prepared for a Conference Sponsored by the Institute of
International Relations, UWI, May, 1977.
5. See, for example, A. Fishlow, The Mature Neighbour Policy: A New United States Economic
Policy for Latin America, University of California, Institute of International Studies, Policy
Papers in International Affairs, No. 3, 1977.
6. Quoted in Alan Howard, "Puerto Rico: Rising Tide for Independence", The Nation,
October 2, 1976.
7. "Warming Up to the Islands in the Sun", New York Times, 26 August, 1977.
8. New York Times, 7 July, 1976. Interview with Leslie Gelb.
9. For a discussion of the concept of the Joint Commission, see Stephen D. Hayes, "Joint
Economic Commissions as Instruments of US Foreign Policy in the Middle East", Middle East
Journal, VoL 31, No. 1, pp. 16-30.
10. See for explanations of the policy of this period A People's Plan. Transcript of An Address
by Prime Minister, Hon. Michael Manley, April 22, 1977.
11. For the Prime Minister's complaints in this respect, see Budget Speech, of Dr the Honourable
E.E. Williams, Friday 2nd December 1977 (Trinidad and Tobago: Government Printery 1977).
12. Text of a Speech Given by Cde. F.R. Wills, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Justice during the
Budget Debate in Parliament on 5 January, 1977, mimeo.
13. "Kissinger, in Mexico, Wary on Cubans", N.Y. Times, 12 June 1976.
14. New York Times, 3 March 1976.
15. "Third World 'Commodity Power' A Costly Illusion", Fortune, Nov. 1976.
16. Daily Gleaner, (Jamaica), 6 January 1977.
THE WILLIAMS THESIS: A COMMENT ON THE STATE OF SCHOLARSHIP
The historiography of slavery, especially in reference to the abolition of the slave trade
and emancipation, has traditionally laid heavy emphasis on morality as a motivating force
in destroying the "peculiar institution". In post-slavery western society, school-children,
laymen and scholars alike have had the contributions of major abolitionists such as
Wilberforce, Rush, Sharp and Benezet held up by tra(iional historiography as "burning
and a shining light to a' this place." '
This interpretation underwent serious attack in 1944 with the publication of Eric
Williams' Capitalism and Slavery in which the role "of mature industrial capitalism in
destroying the slave system"2 was emphasized. A second major thesis in this work which
stressed the contribution "of Negro slavery and the slave trade in providing the capital
which financed the Industrial Revolution in England"3 undermined the traditional inter-
pretation of the profitability of slavery.
The shadows of Adam Smith and Ulrich B. Phillips loom large and dark over the
profitability question, and their perspectives continue profoundly to influence the debate.
In the most recent responses to Williams by Robert Paul Thomas4 and Stanley Engermans
one can perceive the importance of ideas of free trade and alternative methods of capital
investment to their theses. Both Smith and Phillips have by general consensus been revised
to show that slavery and the slave trade were profitable: where their influence remains
important is in the determination of the margin of profitability. Thomas reflects the ideas
of Phillips in purporting to show that slavery was a poor investment yielding a low return
on capital. Engerman, inquiring as to the extent that overall investment in British society
was raised by the profits of the slave trade, also concludes that there was a low level of
I find both of these responses to the profitability question unsatisfactory. Engerman,
in what is meant to be "a Comment on the Williams Thesis", has handcuffed himself to a
methodology which in his own words is a "static neo-classical model".6 The inadequacy
of this methodology is shown by virtue of the fact that it can only disprove Williams'
thesis. This rather curious bias in methodology selection is recognized by Engerman; he
points out that "it is rather clear that [this] model cannot provide a favorable outcome
for arguments such as those as Eric Williams."7 One wonders why this methodology was
used if the only outcome could be a disproval of the thesis considered. Engerman's bias
in the selection of a methodology is reflected in his selection of the sources of data. He
consistently uses data taken from scholars such as Curtin, Anstey, and Thomas who are
part of the historiographical tradition which is opposed to Williams. Another scholar to
whom Engerman refers is Richard Pares; however he chooses to cite an early essay8 by
Pares which casts doubt on the generation of wealth in the West Indies and its amenability
to investment in the developing industrialism of Britain. Engerman did not choose to
refer to the later work of Pares, especially "Merchants and Planters"9 where Pares
indicates that not only was wealth created in the West Indies, but that it "found a per-
manent home in Great Britain."10 Pares does not indicate whether one of the homes was
in industry however, his level of profit returning to the mother country is much higher
than Engerman et al would be willing to concede.
Thomas' article is a red herring which feeds heavily on the Adam Smith theory that
the sugar colonies of the West Indies were a drain on the economy of Great Britain and
that the British venture into colonialism was a misallocation of resources which could
have been more fruitfully invested in some other (unspecified) venture in the empire. The
result of this sojourn into hypothetical, "what if" econometrics is a reassertion of the low
profitability thesis, on which Engerman drew for his refutation of Williams.
Engerman and Thomas, however, addressed only one of the thess in Capitalism and
Slavery. The other, that mature industrial capitalism destroyed the slave system, has not
been neglected by post-Williams revisionism. In "Capitalism and Slavery: A Critique""
Roger Anstey attempts to salvage the traditional perspective ofCoupland, MacInnes and
Klingberg in relation to abolition and emancipation by arguing that the fate of slavery
was sealed not by economic forces but by Christian and Enlightenment philosophy.
As with Engerman, I find Anstey's critique less than adequate. On the Emancipation
issue Anstey devotes one short paragraph in which he asserts that Williams' economic
interpretation though persuasive remains unproven. Similaziy, his position is unpersuasive
on one of Williams' most damaging attacks on the perspective to which Anstey adheres:
that of the stance adopted by the abolitionists on the 1846 Sugar Duties Bill. By removing
protection from sugar grown in the free British Caribbean, a tremendous fillip was given to
the sugar industries of the slave societies of Cuba and Brazil; by their acquiescence to this
equalization bill, the abolitionists succumbed to economic pressures and abdicated their
anti-slavery position. Rather than accept this attack on the motivation of the abolitionists,
Anstey tries to explain it away by reference to a curious dualism or Manicheism in their
ideology. This explanation claims that the abolitionists worshipped the two gods of free
trade and anti-slavery, each operating within its own sphere of action, and each having its
own criteria and compulsions. Thus in this case anti-slavery sentiment was not permitted
to impinge on economic orthodoxy.
Anstey does not completely close the door on Williams; at times his indictment is con-
fined to a request for more proof. Indeed, despite his personal proclivities, his critique
does little more than offer an alternative, although undoubtedly inconclusive. If I may be
forgiven an economic metaphor, "you pays your money and you takes your pick!"
The debate does not rest at this point however, and one is disturbed to find in a recent
overview of New World slavery, the perspectives of Anstey, Engerman and Thomas are
taken as the last word on the question raised by Williams.12 Rice's perspective is not an
isolated instance, there being a long and auspicious tradition within this school of historio-
graphy whose response has been similar; Frank Tannenbaum's Slave and Citizen, Herbert
Klein's Slavery in the Americas and Michael Ciaton's Sinews of Empire, to cite but three,
have all been critical of the Williams theses.
It would appear to me that what on the surface is a debate over cost-accounting and
parliamentary roll-call counts in essence is a fundamental ideological and philosophical
division within the historical profession over the dimensions of the problem of slavery in
western culture, the carpings of the Engermans, Ansteys and Thomases serving more to
conceal the real issue at hand than to illuminate it. Furthermore, despite the contentions
of Lord Acton to the contrary, the historian is inextricably involved with the world he
studies, and thus the debate over slavery transcends the boundaries of the historical
discipline. The rival schools of thought being considered here are more than the pre-
dilections of "ivory-tower" historians they are a reflection and verbalization of the
attitudes of western society.
The problems of slavery in the Americas did not disappear with the abolition of the
institution. The crucial dimension of this New World phenomenon, the enslavement of an
alien and socially visible group, continues to have profound ramifications for the character
and structure of American societies. I,of course,am referring to the problems of racism,
oppression, poverty, discrimination, all adversely affecting the population whose ancestors
were slaves. While not wishing to contend that history is the universal panacea for curing
all the racial ills of the Western World, I do feel that a recognition of the realities of the
American slave societies would certainly deepen our understanding of contemporary race
problems and potentially provide solutions to them.
With these caveats in mind one can I think see the real damage done by both the
traditional view of slavery from Long through Froude to Phillips emphasizing the positive
attributes of slavery, and the "nouveau traditionalists" from Tannenbaum to Rice who
wish to de-emphasize the entire historical phenomenon. Drawing heavily on Adam Smith,
they purport to show slavery's inefficiencies and inadequacies, dismissing it as an
aberration, a curious and almost inexplicable diversion from the development of main-
stream western culture and society.
The link between the traditionalists and the "nouveau traditionalists" is not as tenuous
as one may at first think. Compare the theories of the many planters and pro-slavery
defenders who stressed the positive good of slavery in civilizing and christianizing the
slave population with this statement made by Frank Tannenbaum: "The Negro race has
been given an additional large share of the face of the globe for its own. It received this
territory as a kind of unplanned gift; but there is nothing unusual in that. It is, in its own
nature, no different than the process which has occurred as a result of the allurement
which led millions of Europeans to labor in American mines, fields, and factories... The
result [of the slave trade and slavery] has been moral. It has proved a good thing for the
Negroes in the long run. They have achieved a status, both spiritually and materially, in
the new home to which they were brought as chattels."13 The ideas of Pangloss live!
In arguing that the development of slavery in the New World was central to the econ-
omic development of the colonial nations of Western Europe, Williams is indicating the
accompanying responsibility and debts, the recognition of which is crucial not only in
understanding slave societies, but in order to adjust adequately to contemporary race
relations. Labour was the key to the development of the Americas; initially land was
plentiful, capital was available to "prime the pump",4 and labour was provided by
African and Afro-American slaves. The source of all value is labour; the value of the New
World, the fabulous wealth of St. Domingue, Brazil, Jamaica and Cuba, created by slaves,
was enjoyed not only by planters and in the colonies, but by the mother country. It was
reinvested, purchased power and position, and stimulated development in commercial and
industrial spheres. By failing, or refusing, to recognize this chain of events, not only is
history being misinterpreted, but the accompanying debts and responsibilities are not
being recognized, nor are the just reparations being paid.
Speaking on behalf of colonized nations, Frantz Fanon pointed out that "[t]he wealth
of the imperial countries is our wealth too... [f] or in a very concrete way Europe has
stuffed herself inordinately with the gold and raw materials of the colonial countries....
Europe is literally the creation of the Third World." On the subject of reparations he
asserts that there "should be the ratification of a double realization: the realization by
the colonized peoples that it is their due, and the realization by the capitalist powers that
in fact they must pay." "s
Although it may be argued that this is an overextension of the points at issue in the
debate over Capitalism and Slavery, I do not think so. One need only look as far as Daniel
P. Moynihan and Gunnar Myrdal to see the importance of "convenient" historical per-
spectives on policy and decision-making. The importance extends,however, beyond the
governmental and political level to the level of the individual in western society and his
adaptation to the all-pervasive racial situation. Thus a legitimate grievance is being aired
by C. L. R. James when he rails against the "venal race of scholars, profiteering panders
to national vanity, [who] have conspired to obscure the truth about abolition."'6Al-
though antedating Anstey and Rice, he is addressing them.
James's classic account of the St. Domingue Revolution is used by Williams to support
his theses, especially in accounting for the accretion of wealth by the bourgeoisie in the
mother country and in explaining the development of abolitionism. There are, however,
substantive areas of disagreement, and it is with this dimension that I feel the most profit-
able inquiry can be made. Unfortunately, centre-stage has been occupied by the "nouveau
traditionalists" whilst a fuller examination and development of James's perspective has
been sadly neglected.
Although Williams was heavily dependent on James in developing his theses in Capital-
ism and Slavery, a point of divergence lies in the ultimate stimulus to change. For
Williams, slavery and the slave trade were abolished by the inexorable economic forces
culminating in the ascendancy of industrial capitalism, "which turned round and destroyed
the power of commercial capitalism, slavery and all its works."'7This has led another left-
oriented historian, Eugene Genovese, to condemn Williams' materialism as generally
mechanical and ahistorical; a sophisticated variant of economic determinism.8 For James
on the other hand, as Ivor Oxaal has observed, "the ascendancy of the industrial interests
were only a necessary precondition for the abolition of slavery, the root cause was not to
be found in the interests of the strong but in the revolt of the weak."19
Despite James's clarion call, the traditional historical perception of the role of the en-
slaved Afro-Americans, which has emphasized their passivity and docility, has, until
recently, prevailed20 There is evidence,however, that the winds of change are blowing over
the historiography of slavery. Some recent inquiry has emphasized the role of the slave
community as a motive and creative force in forming and shaping the structure of slave
society, while investigation into slave resistance and revolt has reinforced James's percep-
tion of the central role played by slaves in precipitating its destruction.21
The implications of this new dimension are of importance both for the history and the
historiography of slavery. A view of slavery from the prospective of the slaves and their
community can only be of benefit to the history of the peculiar institution. Not only will
our knowledge be fuller, but it will be possible to allay myths which have perpetuated
about slaves. These have resulted from the over-reliance on a uni-dimensional perception
of slavery through the eyes of planters and/or whites. Although the vast majority of the
Afro-American slave population left no records there are sources through which one can
reconstruct the slave experience, for example,court testimony, and the documents of the
members of white society who were privy to the more personal aspects of the slaves' lives
such as the clergy and the medical profession. And of course there are many autobio-
graphies of exceptional slaves such as Equiano and Frederick Douglass, plus a relatively
large body of slave narratives (unfortunately primarily concentrated in the southern
United States) which were collected before the dying out of the slave cohort.
As to the historiography of slavery, one can explain the neglect of James's thesis by
reference to the perceived legitimacy of certain directions of inquiry and forms of testi-
mony. Ulrich Phillips, for example, explicitly refused to use slave or ex-slave testimony in
his monumental works because of what he perceived to be its unreliability. This in turn
proscribed areas of inquiry which resulted in the predominance of the planter-oriented
history referred to above.
Here I think one can draw a link between the debate over the Williams theses and this
broader historiographical issue. In my opinion the dimensions of both questions tradition-
ally have been determined to an overwhelming degree by the complacency and
ethnocentrism of Western scholasticism. The legitimacy of both source material and inter-
pretation has been defined by pre-existing values of western culture, while the historians
adhering to these values have been concerned with arriving at a "comfortable" explana-
tion for the existence of slavery in recent Western history.
Capitalism and Slavery does more than offer alternative reasons for the rise and fall of
Black slavery, it poses a fundamental challenge to both western historiographical tradition
and Western values. The reluctance to assume the responsibility for the reorientations
which would be necessitated by an acceptance of the Williams theses may go a long way
to explaining the antipathy felt towards them, and the desire for their discredence and
RODERICK A. McDONALD
1. Robert Burns, "Holy Willie's Prayer." A poem commenting on hypocrisy.
2. Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery (New York: Deutsch, 1964), p.v.
4. Robert Paul Thomas, "The Sugar Colonies of the Old Empire: Profit or Loss for Great Britain?"
The Economic History Review, s. 2, v. 21, no. 1, (April 1968), pp. 30-45.
5. Stanley Engerman, "The Slave Trade and British Capital Formation in the Eighteenth Century:
A Comment on the Williams Thesis", Business History Review, 46 (1972), 430-43.
6. Engerman, p. 442.
8. Richard Pares, "The Economic Factors in the History of Empire", Economic History Review,
7 (1937), 11944.
9. Richard Pares, "Merchants and Planters", Economic History Review Supplement, No. 4 (1960).
10. Ibid., p. 50.
11. Roger Anstey, "Capitalism and Slavery: A Critique", The Economic History Review, s. 2, v. 21,
no. 2 (Aug. 1968), pp. 307-20.
12. C. Duncan Rice, The Rise and Fall of Black Slavery (New York: Harper and Row, 1975). Citing
the Thomas article, Rice states that "the most modern studies of the total investment in the
sugar colonies as a whole suggest that its averaged profits, if indeed they were reinvested in
industry at all, were not substantial enough to have had real impact. Though Eric Williams's
arguments in Capitalism and Slavery are logically persuasive, the real evidence for them is no
longer acceptable" (p. 142). Elsewhere in the book Rice asserts that "[a] Ithough it is quite true
that economic change made slave-trade abolition possible, arid that over-production was endemic
in the islands, Williams's thesis now seems to require serious modification. It has been attacked
by Anstey for its failure to show the relationship between economic forces and detailed political
decisions on abolition" (p. 223).
13. Frank Tannenbaum, "A Note on the Economic Interpretation of History", Political Science
Quarterly, 61 (1946), 24849.
14. Pares, "Merchants and Planters", p. 50.
15. Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove, 1968), pp. 102-3.
16. C. L. R. James, The Black Jacobins (New York: Random House, 1963), p. 51.
17. Williams, op. cit., p. 210.
18. Eugene Genovese, In Red and Black (New York: Random House, 1968), p. 27.
19. Ivor Oxaal, Black Intellectuals Come to Power (Cambridge, Mass.: Schenkman, 1968), p. 75.
20. Ulrich B. Phillips, American Negro Slavery (New York: Appleton, 1918); Stanley Elkins, Slavery:
A Problem in American Institutional and Intellectual Life, (Chicago: Chicago Univ. Press, 1968);
Lowell J. Ragatz, The Fall of the Planter Class in the British Caribbean (London, 1928).
21. Edward Brathwaite, The Development of Creole Society in Jamaica, (Oxford: Clarendon, 1971);
Eugene Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll (New York: Random 1974); Herbert Gutman, The Black
Family in Slavery and Freedom, 1750-1925, (New York, 1976); Orlando Patterson, The Socio-
logy of Slavery, (New York: Humanities, 1969); George P. Rawick, Sundown to Sunup (West-
port, Conn.: Greenwood, 1972); Gwendolyn M. Hall, Social Control in Slave Plantation
Societies (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1971).
You have a gun
And I am hungry.
You have a gun
I am hungry.
You have a gun
I am hungry.
You can have a gun
you can have a thousand bullets and even another
you can waste them all on my poor body,
you can kill me one, two, three, two thousand,
seven thousand times
but in the long run
I will always be better armed than you
if you have a gun
MI CAAN BELIEVE IT
Mi sey mi caan believe it
mi sey mi caan believe it
room dem a rent
mi apply widin
but as mi go in
cockroach rat an scarpian also come in
wan good nose hafi run
but mi na go
sidung pan 'igh wall like humty dumty
mi a face mi reality
one likkle bwoy come blow im 'orn
an mi look pan im wid scorn
an mi realize 'ow mi fine bwoy pickney
was a victim of de trix
dem call partisan pallyptrix
an mi ban mi belly
an mi bawl
an mi bansmi belly
an mi bawl
mi caan believe it
mi sey mi caan believe it
Mi dawta bwoyfren name is sailor
an im pass through de port like a ship
more gran pickney fi feed
but de whole a wi need
wat a night wat a plight
an we caan get a bite/mi life is a stiff fite
an mi caan believe it
mi sey mi caan believe it
Sittin on de corner wid me fren
talking bout tings an time
mi a hear one voice sey
mi sey 'a who dat?'
'A who a sey who dat
wen mi a sey who dat!'
when yu tek a stock
dem lick wi dung flat
teet start fly/an big man start cry
an mi caan believe it
mi sey mi caan believe it
De oder day mi pass one yard/pan de hill
when mi tek a stock
yu clean up de dawg shit?
an mi caan believe it
mi sey mi caan believe it
Doris a moder a four
get a wuk as a domestic
boss man move in
an baps si sicai she pregnant again
baps si sicai she pregnant again
an mi caan believe it
mi sey mi caan believe it
Dah yard de oder nite when mi hear
fiah fiah to plate claat
Orange Street fire dey pan mi head
an mi caan believe it
mi sey mi caan believe it
Lawd mi see some black bud livin ina one building
but nuh rent nuh pay/so dem caan stay
Lawd de oppress an de dispossess/caan get no rest
tek a trip from Kingston
tek twelve from a dozen
an mi see mi muma in heaven
mi sey mi caan believe it
mi sey mi caan believe it
Yu believe it?
How yu fi believe it
when yu blind yu eye to it
But mi know yu believe it
mi know yu believe it...
"Mi Caan Believe It" is reprinted from the anthology, New Poets From Jamaica, Poe
Series 5, Savacou 14/15, 1979 (Kingston, Jamaica), pp 84-86.
Contemporary International Relations of the Caribbean. Edited by Basil Ince,
published by the Institute of International Relations, University of the West Indies,
St. Augustine, Trinidad. Pp 359.
This book is a welcome addition to the international relations literature of the
region, moreso since it reflects the thinking and research of Caribbean scholars in the
field. The dearth of books of this sort is due to at least two factors. The first is that
it has been only seventeen years since the independence era dawned on the English-
speaking territories with Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago achieving that status in
1972. And of course, it has taken the newly independent countries some time to forge
new relationships appropriate to their needs and aspirations. The second factor is
directly related. For as the foreign policies and international relations of the region
emerge coherently, interest in the region as a participating bloc in the world of nations
heightens. As traditional approaches and relations give way to newer ones, departures
from traditional practice are seen by those who dominated this aspect of Caribbean
life hitherto as threatening to the status quo.
The book is divided into four parts which reflect both the perceptions of the editor
honed in the evolving milieu of contemporary Caribbean politics and the basic
realities with which the international relations of the region attempt to come to grips.
Part I is titled "The Caribbean and the Third World"; Part II, "Metropolitan Ties and
Influences"; Part III, "Political Processes and Foreign Policy" and Part IV "Economic
Development and Integration." For readers who have kept abreast of Caribbean issues
Parts I and IV make the most interesting reading.
With the exception of Angel Calderon-Cruz's contribution in Part I and Jean
Crusol's contribution in Part IV, the selections in both sections are macroanalytical:
regional in scope and implications and reflect the thinking of some of the Caribbean's
most outstanding scholars in the field of International Relations. The fact that the two
exceptions are contributions from a Puerto Rican and Martiniquan respectively in no
way reflects on the quality of their contributions. Rather their legitimate concerns
grow out of the peculiar semi-colonial status of their countries within the region.
Vaughan Lewis' short but cogent and hard-nosed assessment of the Commonwealth
Caribbean's flirtation with non-alignment provides an appropriate and relevant lead
piece for the volume as it draws attention to the costs and benefits of non-alignment
as a strategy for national development regionally. That Guyana and Jamaica have thus
far achieved only limited successes bears out his conclusion (granted the recency of the
phenomenon) that ". . the pull of local socio-economic and socio-ethnic forces, each
clamouring for dominance in the imbalanced social structures of these countries, makes
the new commitment to the diplomacy of non-alignment and movement away from
absolute fealty to the United States, a still extremely fragile endeavour."
This is followed by Adlith Brown's our de force, "Caribbean Economic Develop-
ment and Third World Trade", one of the sharpest critiques of the received ideas of
International Development Strategy (IDS) and its consequences on the transformational
prospects of the region and by Locksley Edmondson's and Peter Phillips' contribution
on race as an inevitable salient issue area in Caribbean international relations.
Anthony Bryan then anticipates the increasingly important role that the Latin
American bloc is likely to play in international relations in the near future. Bryan sees
the Caribbean as a logical sub-regional grouping within the larger bloc and concludes
that "Overt Latin American imperialism in the Commonwealth Caribbean will almost
certainly provoke fear and perhaps (ironically) stimulate a new and powerful move-
ment toward unity among English-speaking West Indian peoples."
Parts II and III of the book focus on microanalytical case studies of individual
territories but the problems treated are regional in scope. These include nationalization,
nation building, external dependence, populism, race and ideology and ideological
pragmatism. Both issues and countries selected are representative of the region.
The two outstanding contributions in the final part of the book are by Professor
Clive Thomas and the Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados, Courtenay Blackman,
both of whom approach the task of national development from opposite perspectives.
From a Marxist perspective Clive Thomas develops incisively the proposition that
". .. the crucial weakness of present integration efforts derive from the fact that they
have been conceived of as arrangements of the era of constitutional independence,
and partnership (dependency) of national capital with imperialist capital Given the
dominant class structure of the Caribbean social formation these arrangements inevit-
ably have limited capacity to deal with the demands of the masses of our people."
Blackman, on the other hand, argues for a managerial approach to development
because "the main characteristic of the ideological approach, whether from the left
or the right, is the teleological nature of the analysis. Solutions are known in advance.
Comprehensive in nature and unmindful of operational implications, the ideological
approach frequently involves root and branch social and economic transformation so
the miscalculation can have far reaching consequences."
Both articles highlight one of the major problems of contemporary Caribbean
politics, that of reconciling the demands of the Caribbean people expressed in left
ideological terms with the need for pragmatic management of limited available
resources to meet those demands.
It is intellectually very difficult not to agree with Blackman's defense of a manager-
ial approach to the development of small countries particularly in light of the present
world economic crisis that is having far reaching effects on the ability of most Carib-
bean governments to meet the demands of their peoples. Simultaneously, it is impos-
sible to deny the validity of Thomas's analysis which correctly locates the cause of that
very crisis in the workings of the present world capitalist system. Were we to accept
Blackman's approach we would forever be locked into the present world economic
status quo. Yet without sound management, the changes that Clive Thomas moots
would be of little short run or long run consequence.
No doubt Mr Blackman can point to the buoyancy of his own Barbadian economy
as proof of the soundness of the approach he proposes and to the Guyana and Jamaican
examples as the antitheses of his approach. By itself, however, the Blackman approach
does not address the contemporary mood of the region as a whole and the Thomas
approach is yet to be tried. On balance, ideological initiatives so far tried have not suc-
ceeded largely because of failure to place sufficient emphasis on sound management
principles that Blackman espouses. Implicit within Blackman's critique of the ideolo-
gical approach is the notion that in practice, it eschews the need for sound management
practices and unfortunately contemporary Caribbean practices bear out his argument.
It is worth repeating that Contemporary International Relations of the Caribbean,
raises some very pertinent and provocative issues as it proposes some novel solutions
to our problems. More the pity that ours is not a literary tradition.
The Press and the Law in the Caribbean by Dorcas White. Cedar Press, Barbados,
1977, pp. x and 70.
The first positive statement one might make about The Press and the Law in the
Caribbean is that (smallness and unattractiveness of the print apart), it is readable by
and intelligible to, the layman, although written by a learned lady. And this is not
intended to be a frivolous assertion. For the bridging of the gap between research and
resultant guidelines for action, has to be an aspect of the challenge which faces
contemporary Caribbean scholars. The author, a scholar of law and former practising
journalist, is ideally positioned to make this quality of contribution in the treatment
of a theme so crucial to Caribbean polity the press and the law.
The work is really a seventy-page monograph which emerged from a workshop in
communication. Twenty-four of those pages contain three hundred and seventy-one
entries of notes and references. This does not really result in imbalance of over-
conscious striving for a learned effect. Rather it is one of the strengths of the book. In
addition to establishing authenticity, the copious notes and references add important
insights, offer parenthetical explanations, and provide a valuable bibliographical guide.
Five of the six chapter titles are such as might have been expected, but a sixth is
significantly titled 'Development Perspectives: A New Dimension in Communications
With subtle insight, White explores and analyses the legal framework and environ-
ment in which the Commonwealth Caribbean press (where 'press' means 'newspaper')
operate. As might be expected, the attitudes and perspectives of the governments who
promulgate or acquiesce in the laws are highlighted, as are the disabilities and con-
straints under which press personnel function. The author's seeming detachment does
not disguise these unstated purposes of the work.
From White's submissions and discussions, three inferences inter alia, are readily
made: the first is that Caribbean politicians betray a strong residue of authoritarianism
in legislating on the press; the second is that they demonstrate a hypersensitivity to
and intolerance of criticism; and thirdly, some of our colonial laws need to be
abrogated and replaced by others which make better sociological sense, given the
emerging millieu of an independent Caribbean. Indeed, White would contend that
some of the laws which antedated statehood border on the unconstitutional, as they
infringe certain fundamental rights provided for in the constitutions.
The famous Antigua Newspaper Registration (Amendment) Act 1971 which
demands a deposit of Bd$10,000, and the corresponding Grenada Act which made the
amount a whopping Bd$20,000 are perceived as oppressive 'gold-mine' laws which
have the effect of silencing small newspapers and ipso facto some of the political
critics and opponents of the governments. The justification of these laws on the
grounds that the deposits "provide a reservoir of funds out of which judgment for libel
can be met" (pp. 8-9) is questioned by the author. In her view, such mandatory sums
"ignore the realities of the situation in the smaller islands." (p. 9).
The Antigua Times Case (1972) in which Her Majesty's Privy Council confirmed
the validity of the Newspaper Surety Ordinance (Amendment) Act 1971 and the
News Registration (Amendment) Act 1971, thereby reversing a previous decision of
the West Indies Associated States Court of Appeal, is cited to illustrate the differing
concepts of legality between the jurists of the metropolis and those in the Caribbean.
White evinces her grasp of the complexity of the issue she is expounding, when she
insists that both sets of jurists were given paramountcy to differing interests the
Privy Council gave priority to individual rights while the West Indies Associated
States Court of Appeal declared for "social interests and the right to free expression."
The Official Secrets Act (1911) which is in force in all of the territories comes
under much discussion and criticism. It is perceived as another area of press-related
law in which the dominance of Westminister continue in the era of sovereignty and
semi-state in circumstances, which White contends are vastly different from the
imperial days. To use her own trenchant remark: "In this respect, there is no difference
between the typical contemporary Caribbean bureaucracy and that which obtained
when the Moyne Commission was carrying out its investigations in 1939." In the
author's view, fear was used to secure the subservience of the civil service. I am not,
however, as certain as she is, that this circumstance has changed. For fear of govern-
mental victimization coupled with a desire for political patronage is producing in the
Caribbean a breed of sycophantic and lily-livered civil servants who tend to imitate and
reinforce the tight-lipped press policies of their masters.
The Official Secrets Act is further castigated because of its use as a cover for a
multitude of sins, giving as it does, legitimacy to the deprivation of the rights of
Caribbean man's access to public information a right further curtailed by the
inability of some civil servants to distinguish between the trivial and the important.
White notes that the governments have in their wisdom instituted agencies for the
relaying of information to the press. There are public relations officers, government
information services, press releases, broadcast of speeches and so forth. But she
recognizes these for what they are "structured outlets" which "filter" the informa-
tion, giving it in the passage one would imagine a political bias and a party colouring.
Through these ploys, the people are denied access to the hard facts which are so
necessary as the backdrop against which the performances of politicians are evaluated
in terms of their promises. Another result is the denial of what White perspicaciously
refers to as "restriction on journalistic creativity" (p. 41), a notion to which I shall
The author herself brings a creative approach to her subject in the introduction of a
chapter on communication in the developmental perspective. The departure point is
provided by a speech by the Honourable Lee Moore, then Attorney General of
St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla (now Premier) in which he described freedom of the press as
an "arid declaration" when it takes no account of the socio-economic environment,
presumably. In such cases then, the press is neither constructive nor creative in Lee
Moore's view. What is fascinating is that both White and Moore see creativity as a
criterion of good journalism. But by creativity, they obviously mean different things.
In my view, there is more to be said for the Attorney General's type of creativity than
White seems willing to concede. Perhaps it is true to say that White's book brings into
clear focus the need for mutual recognition of perspectives, and a reconciling of
interests on the path of politicians and newspaper people.
White accurately interprets Moore's development perspective as sensitivity to
economic projects such as tourism and the investment environment generally. She
concedes that press cannot be given untramelled freedom, and agrees that some
measure of confidentiality is needed in public affairs. But she is very critical of the
St. Kitts Press and Publications Board Act (1971) which "introduces the concept of
'national interest' as a criterion." (p. 28). It is vague, stringent and may even be con-
trary to the constitution. It becomes abundantly clear which side of the fray has the
author's sympathy. Of this, the reader needs to take account. In White's view,
such a law is not needed to enforce development perspective in a democratic state.
Thus, in addition to 'creativity' versus 'creativity', we have another dichotomy -
'democratic behaviour' and 'development perspective' or 'national interest.'
A more magnanimous interpretation of the behaviour of politicians in relation to
the press (and a less scholarly one, White may well retort) is that they are not always
motivated merely by authoritarianism and the desire to silence opposition. They are
partly prisoners of Caribbean penury and their own concept and chosen model of
development. Their censorship tactics and unease about what is printed is something
of a corollary to the mode of development they pursue. In wooing foreign investors
and tourist dollars, the image of the country assumes worth in dollars and cents. This
is aided and abetted by metropolitan visitors who sometimes seem to want to claim a
monopoly on some element of social unrest in the search for a stable order. This view-
point could help to explain the politician's attitudes to the press without necessarily
justifying it. And as White has written elsewhere, it has to be remembered, "that after
mouths have been fed, bodies clothed and sheltered, there will remain the need to
satisfy that indestructible quality of the human spirit. ." This is a compelling
On the other hand, White seems to regard journalistic creativity as crucial.
Creativity suggests interpretation, reconstruction, personal colouring and a bringing of
the imagination into play in the purveying of information. This produces calculated
and sometimes constructive, sometimes damaging effects. It is an infringement of
rights to price newspapermen out of business, but it is also an attempt at protection
of rights to prevent newspapermen of strain from abusing their rights at the expense
of others. The two views of creativity, and the opposing rights, must somehow be
reconciled. Whether or not it was an overt aim of the book to focus attention on this,
it constitutes nonetheless part of the value and success of the book.
In his article, "The Mass Media of Communications and Socialist Change in the
Caribbean' A Case Study of Jamaica", Dr Brown is more critical of the press than
White is. He sees the concept of press freedom in the Jamaica context as "a camouflage
for the larger deception that is involved in the media owners protecting their own
economic self interests."2 One might add that media owners have self-interests other
than economic ones to protect as well. For a total picture of the press on the Caribbean
scene, insights like this are needed also.
But White cannot say all that there is to be said on a complex subject in seventy
pages. It is a successful seminal work which points to further areas of the subject for
future exploration. With the political contours of the region changing, bringing into
power politicians who had been erstwhile critics of the laws constraining the press, it
will be interesting to see whether they succeed any better in reconciling the imperatives
of development, with the people's right to public information within a democratic
context. Dorcas White will have provided us with the basic analysis, inferences and
conceptual tools for assessing their behaviour. The book should be read by all those
who have stakes in public communication in the Caribbean. And who doesn't?
1. White, D., "Legal Constraints of the Mass Media in a Caribbean in Transition", in Caribbean
Quarterly, VoL 22, No. 4, December 1976, p. 36.
2. Brown, A., In Caribbean Quarterly, idem, p. 49.
Ralph R. Premdas
Roderick A. McDonald
Vaughan A. Lewis
NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
is lecturer in political science in the Department of Government
and Sociology, Cave Hill, UWI.
is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of International
Studies, University of California, Berkeley and was also
lecturer in Politics at the University of Guyana.
is in the Department of History in the University of Kansas,
is the Director of the Institute of Social and Economic
Research at Mona, UWI.
is Resident Tutor in the Department of Extra Mural Studies,
UWI, in Montserrat.
is Resident Tutor in the Department of Extra Mural Studies
in Jamaica (Eastern).
Les Ecrivaine Francais Et Les Antilles: Des Premiers Peres Blancasaux Surrealistes
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