Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Part I: Constitutional and political...
 Part II: Political factions and...
 Part III: Revolts and government...
 Part IV: Presidents and dictat...
 Part V: Public administration and...
 Part VI: Some general observations...
 Part VII: Caribbean bibliograp...


The Caribbean : its political problems
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00100639/00001
 Material Information
Title: The Caribbean : its political problems
Physical Description: xxiii, 324 p. : map. ; 25 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Wilgus, A. Curtis ( Alva Curtis ), 1897-1981
University of Florida -- School of Inter-American Studies
Conference: Conference on the Caribbean, 1955
Publisher: University of Florida Press
Place of Publication: Gainesville, FL
Publication Date: 1956
Copyright Date: 1956
Subjects / Keywords: Política -- Caribe, ilhas ( e.u.)   ( larpcal )
Politics and government -- Caribbean Area -- 1945-   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Includes bibliographies and index.
General Note: "Series one, volume VI."
General Note: "A publication of the School of Inter-American Studies which contains the papers delivered at the sixth conference on the Caribbean held at the University of Florida, December 1, 2 and 3, 1955."
General Note: "Sixth volume in our Caribbean Conference series ..."--Foreword, p. vii.
Statement of Responsibility: edited by A. Curtis Wilgus.
 Record Information
Source Institution: University Press of Florida
Holding Location: University Press of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 01892149
Classification: lcc - F2183 .C66 1955
ddc - 972.9
System ID: UF00100639:00001

Table of Contents
        Page i
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
    Table of Contents
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
        Page xiii
        Page xiv
        Page xv
        Page xvi
        Page xvii
        Page xviii
        Page xix
        Page xx
        Page xxi
        Page xxii
        Page xxiii
        Page xxiv
    Part I: Constitutional and political philosophy
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
    Part II: Political factions and elections
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
    Part III: Revolts and government changes
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
    Part IV: Presidents and dictators
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
    Part V: Public administration and local government
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
        Page 246
    Part VI: Some general observations on Caribbean politics
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 253
        Page 254
        Page 255
        Page 256
        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 259
        Page 260
        Page 261
        Page 262
        Page 263
        Page 264
        Page 265
        Page 266
        Page 267
        Page 268
        Page 269
        Page 270
        Page 271
        Page 272
        Page 273
        Page 274
        Page 275
        Page 276
        Page 277
        Page 278
        Page 279
        Page 280
        Page 281
        Page 282
        Page 283
        Page 284
        Page 285
        Page 286
        Page 287
        Page 288
        Page 289
        Page 290
        Page 291
        Page 292
        Page 293
        Page 294
        Page 295
        Page 296
        Page 297
        Page 298
    Part VII: Caribbean bibliography
        Page 299
        Page 300
        Page 301
        Page 302
        Page 303
        Page 304
        Page 305
        Page 306
        Page 307
        Page 308
        Page 309
        Page 310
        Page 311
        Page 312
        Page 313
        Page 314
        Page 315
        Page 316
        Page 317
        Page 318
        Page 319
        Page 320
        Page 321
        Page 322
        Page 323
        Page 324
Full Text







A publication of the

which contains the papers delivered at the sixth conference on the
Caribbean held at the University of Florida, December 1, 2, and 3, 1955.


I IC 10 105 100 95 to s0 Ts 0 65 *0

"^^^ GULF of U

/ / / / ~--' -- ---- --- HAV^ K-^ - i-^ -' [^ II

^ ^ PPA IFIC SAN^1 n(w. "A^|

0 I00 2r 30r 400 S O W MILES
0 200 400 600 *Go KILOuCTTERS *BOWTJ

1_ 1 0 I 0I 100 s Y Y 0 S T m


edited by A. Curtis Wilgus


,b::, ^^^-nFLOM?'AlIK^^

Copyright, 1956, by the

A University of Florida Press Book
L. C. Catalogue Card Number: 51-12532


Lithoprinted by



ROBERT J. ALEXANDER, Department of Economics, Rutgers
JosE A. BAQUERO, Department of Economics, The Catholic Uni-
versity of Ecuador
HARRY BERNSTEIN, Department of History, Brooklyn College
GEORGE I. BLANKSTEN, Department of Political Science, North-
western University
ANITA BRENNER, Author, Editor, and Lecturer, Mexico City
CHARLES C. CUMBERLAND, Department of History, Michigan
State College
RUSSELL H. FITZGIBBON, Department of Political Science, Uni-
versity of California at Los Angeles
ALBERT GOMES, Minister for Labor, Industry and Commerce,
Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, B.W.I.
EDWARD M. HEILIGER, Director, University of Illinois Library,
HUBERT HERRING, Department of History, Claremont Graduate
School and Pomona College, Claremont
SAMUEL GUY INMAN, Specialist in Inter-American Relations,
GERHARD MASUR, Department of History, Sweet Briar College
ELENA MEDEROS DE GONZALEZ, Cultural, Political, and Social
Welfare Leader, Havana, Cuba

vi The Caribbean
DANA G. MUNRO, Director, Woodrow Wilson School of Public
and International Affairs, Princeton University
WILLIAM M. PEPPER, JR., Editor, The Gainesville Daily Sun,
HERMINIO PORTELL-VILA, Department of History, University
of Havana, Cuba
J. WAYNE REITZ, President, University of Florida
STANLEY R. Ross, Department of History, University of Ne-
ROBERT E. SCOTT, Department of Political Science, University
of Illinois
WILLIAM S. STOKES, Department of Political Science, University
of Wisconsin
ALFRED B. THOMAS, Department of History, University of Ala-
A. CURTIS WILGUS, Director, School of Inter-American Studies,
University of Florida
IONE STUESSY WRIGHT, Department of History, University of


THIS SIXTH VOLUME in our Caribbean Conference Series
constitutes a collection of integrated studies of the current political
scene in the area. By its very nature the volume is not only a
reference, but it has in some respects the character of a textbook
for the study of both the history and political science of these
countries. In these conferences we consider the Caribbean area
to embrace Mexico, Central America, Colombia and Venezuela
on the mainland of South America, the island republics, and the
non-self-governing areas of the region. This rather compact geo-
graphical unit is one in which the state of Florida is especially
interested, and it is only natural that the University should stress
in these conferences the history, culture, and civilization of the
area, of which we are really a part.
For more than sixty years the University of Florida has attracted
students from the islands and mainlands of the Caribbean. The
affairs of our state, however, have been intimately associated with
this region for a much longer period. Indeed, during the Spanish
colonial regime in the Caribbean, "La Florida" was administered
from the islands and from Mexico for some three centuries. It
seemed only natural, therefore, in 1950 for the University to
inaugurate this series of annual meetings where scholars from
various disciplines are able to exchange ideas and information,
and gain inspiration in their attempts to deal with the facts and
factors of our immediate neighbors.
In accomplishing these objectives, especially during the past
five conferences, we have been greatly assisted by the Aluminum
Company of America through the Alcoa Steamship Company, Inc.
In publishing the resulting volumes we have had the generous

viii The Caribbean
assistance and cooperation of former State Senator Walter B.
Fraser of St. Augustine. Through the Publication Fund which
bears his name, our University Press has been able to issue the
volumes yearly. Our appreciation of this dual assistance is grate-
fully acknowledged.
We plan to continue to present each year a conference in this
series and to make the papers which result available to scholars
throughout the world. As a matter of fact we attach as much
importance to this series of reference volumes as to the series of
meetings, for in this way we give through the printed word a
permanence which is lost by the spoken word.
It is not without pride that we have received praise for our
contribution to an understanding of the Caribbean area. We hope
to continue to merit this commendation in succeeding conferences
and volumes.
J. WAYNE REITZ, President
University of Florida


Map of Caribbean Area .. ..... Frontispiece
List of Contributors . . . . . v
Foreword-J. WAYNE REITZ .. . .. . vii

1. Harry Bernstein: THE CONCEPT OF THE
3. Russell H. Fitzgibbon: POLITICAL THEORY

5. Elena Mederos de Gonzalez: THE FRANCHISE
'6. Robert J. Alexander: POLITICAL PARTIES AND

7. Charles C. Cumberland: BASES OF REVOLUTIONS






. 110


x The Caribbean

11. Alfred B. Thomas: THE CAUDILLO IN THE
12. Robert E. Scott: USE AND ABUSE OF

13. Herminio Portell-Vila: BACKGROUNDS OF PUBLIC
14. George I. Blanksten: PROBLEMS OF LOCAL
15. Jose A. Baquero: MAIN TRENDS IN PUBLIC

16. Hubert Herring: PROBLEMS FACING DEMOCRACY . 249
17. William M. Pepper, Jr.: PRESS FREEDOM . .257
19. Albert Gomes: FEDERATION IN THE
20. Anita Brenner: A VIEW OF MEXICO'S

21. Edward M. Heiliger: SOURCE MATERIALS FOR
PROBLEMS . ..... 301



FOR MORE THAN A CENTURY all the governments of Latin
America on occasion have been guided in their national destinies
by executives popularly known as dictators. These pilots of the
ship of state have made for themselves famous or infamous
reputations, both among their own people and among foreigners.
Therefore, in a volume such as this dealing with practical politics
in the Caribbean area at the present time, it may be worth while
to examine somewhat in detail some of the characteristics of the
so-calied dictator, or caudillo, who has so frequently and widely
appeared on the Latin American political stage.

Shortly before committing suicide on September 19, 891,
President Jose Balmaceda of Chile wrote a letter to his good friend
Jose Uriburu defending and justifying his actions. One sentence
in this pessimistic note is of interest to us. Balmaceda wrote: "I
have lost all hope that a government that is arbitrary in form will
work with justice." An elaboration of this observation would of
course be superfluous for it states a truism that many Latin Ameri-
can executives have come to realize much more clearly than when
these lines were written.
There is a Spanish proverb which says in substance, "The man
who at eighteen is not a revolutionist has no heart, while a man

xii The Caribbean
who at forty-five is not a conservative has no head." How true
this statement is when applied to many Latin American political
leaders during the past century! It is almost possible to predict
with a fair degree of accuracy what the political life history of
a rising Latin American politico will be, barring of course acts of
God or assassination.
During the past century there has been what might be con-
sidered a periodicity in Latin American dictatorships, with major
peaks about the years 1835, 1850, 1865, 1890, 1910, 1935,
and 1952. Generally speaking the earlier dictators were bloody,
vicious, brutal, and overbearing-like Facundo, described by Sar-
miento of Argentina. They were less polished and sophisticated,
socially and culturally. They often accomplished their aim with
violence. As Francisco Garcia Calder6n of Peru said, they sprang
from barbarism and periodic anarchy. But the later dictators have
become more conscious of political etiquette and have mixed per-
sonal suavity with their actions and decrees. And while they have
often been supported by the army, they have with few exceptions
attempted to give a semblance of legality to their actions, and
have by forceful argument persuaded their followers to see the
light of reason and the advantages of their rule.

The character traits of Latin American dictators often have
been influenced by past history, by racial inheritance, by geo-
graphical and cultural environment, by physical and mental
health, and by moral and religious attitudes.
The first invaders of the Iberian Peninsula developed a one-
man rule which was to become traditional and habitual for cen-
turies. This fact made the few attempts to establish democratic
institutions in Spain and Portugal almost impossible and so con-
trary to history and tradition as to appear exotic. In the struggle
with the Moors, the Kingship rapidly gained prestige and was
gradually consolidated through political gains within family
limits. Because the Reconquest was a religious crusade and



because the Pope supported the Iberian Kings, their prestige
was not only immensely increased but widely recognized. Even-
tually the King controlled all power and "could do no wrong."
When the Iberians discovered America they found the natives
organized under a one-man rule of caciques, or chiefs, and formed
into tribes for social and political reasons. This fact enabled the
Iberian crowns to rapidly incorporate the Indian tribes into their
empires by methods of military conquest and religious persuasion,
much in the same way as numerous political and geographical
divisions of the Iberian Peninsula had been forcibly united for
political purposes. Intermarriage between Iberians and American
natives, a natural result of the shock of impact of the two races,
resulted in a furthering of political unity. But at the same time
this process failed to produce any greater democratic feelings in
the offspring of the union than had existed in either race.
Throughout the Colonial era, a period of more than ten gen-
erations, the King's person, power, and prestige were represented
in the colonies by a viceroy or someone with similar royal power,
who exercised the Crown's function in such a paternalistic man-
ner as to discourage constructive thinking, individual initiative,
and general cooperation. Thus, the tradition of one-man rule was
naturally perpetuated in America with little opposition, and even
the elements of democracy existing in the Spanish colonial munic-
ipalities in the sixteenth century disappeared before the over-
whelming preponderance of historical factors and traditions. No
matter how far back one looks in Latin American history, one
sees a vast panorama of nearly absolute rulers extending from the
Roman emperors through Germanic chieftains, Moorish caliphs,
Iberian kings, Indian chiefs, and colonial viceroys. What worse
preparation for democracy could Latin Americans have had than
this; and what excellent precedents were established for the justi-
fication of dictatorships!
The blood that flows through the veins of Latin Americans is
as varied as that coursing through the bodies of any group of
people on earth. A man's race may not be easily identified, but


The Caribbean

the traits which he has inherited may give him a variation in
character from his fellow men which is traceable in the dim past
to one of his numerous racial forebears. When such a variant
occurs he may stand out from his contemporaries-especially if
the traits are aggressive-as an individual of unusual ability.
When such characteristics assume a political nature, that man
is naturally a potential leader. These individual character differ-
ences based on some racial traits are often sufficient to account
for the rise of a dictator in Latin America.
In the Latin American character itself there are many contra-
dictions which tend to make the masses tolerant of dictators.
Rufino Blanco Fombona of Venezuela has expressed this clearly:
As a people the Latin Americans "are essentially democratic and
at the same time eminently despotic. . They are of indomi-
table personal independence but as a nation submit to the most
personal absolutism. . The Spaniard and the Spanish-Ameri-
can do not tolerate abuses from servility, but from excess of indi-
vidualism, through lack of social cohesion, and through failure
to exercise their rights." When popular conditions are propitious
there is always a leader to take advantage of opportunities. Jose
Gil Fortoul of Venezuela has stated a corollary idea by saying
that in the people of Venezuela-as with others in Latin America
-there is the initiative to govern rather than to follow.
The factor of environment, of course, has been recognized as
of great importance in the rise of Latin American dictators.
Mountains, deserts, plains, jungles, and rivers, have all played a
part in making not only the people of Latin America but the states
of Latin America what they are today. Vast distances, or great
elevations, or impassable terrain have tended to isolate peoples
and to give them a feeling of self-importance and self-dependence
which otherwise they might not have. A remote seat of govern-
mental authority encourages unrest and divides the state into
individualistic communities which are easily led by local power-
aspiring persons. Had it not been for the vast pampa of Argen-
tina, Juan Manuel de Rosas might never have appeared; or had

the altitude been lower in Peru and Bolivia, Andres Santa Cruz
might never have achieved his political pinnacle; or had the
climate been less tropical Jose Gaspar Rodriguez Francia might
never have played the overpowering despot for so many years in
Paraguay. Moreover, the prevalence of numerous diseases (ma-
laria, dysentery, yellow fever, and venereal infection), and the
oppressive and steady moist heat of the tropics make for weak
wills, little self-restraint, and lack of ambition on the part of the
masses. An individual who can rise above such handicaps has
potential material for the making of a dictator.
A man's physical and mental health also affect his political
activities and aspirations. Some dictators have been diseased,
some have been cripples, some have been food faddists, some
have been superstitious to the nth degree, some have sought sooth-
sayers and sorcerers to find out what actions they should take,
some have been religious fanatics, and some have actually been
mental cases. Many of these individual characteristics have de-
termined not only political, but economic, social, cultural, educa-
tional, and religious actions of individuals, once they arrive in
dictatorial positions. Mad men in high office are found through-
out history.
The morality of dictators, like their honesty, is often open to
wide criticism. The wealth, power, and freedom of action which
goes with dictatorship affords opportunities to be both dishonest
and amoral. Some dictators have maintained harems at the public
expense, most have kept mistresses, and all undoubtedly have
been accused of dishonest and moral lapses whether or not they
deserved it. For the most part, religion has played only a slight
role in their lives-lip service to religious principles is convenient
at times for the caudillo, but it need not be effectively binding
on him nor constitute a guide for his personal actions. Means to
an end are justified by the results. Murder, mutilation, rapine,
and rape have been used throughout history by unscrupulous
rulers. Emotion, anger, and revenge are stronger than self-dis-
cipline in the weak moral characters often found among dictators.


The Caribbean

Perhaps no truer words were ever spoken in fiction than those
put into the mouth of Doctor Francia of Paraguay by Edward
Lucas White in his incomparable novel entitled El Supremo.
Francia is made to say that a dictator is "a ruler who endeavors
to make his people happy by giving them what he considers good
for them, instead of what they want, and then wonders why they
are not pleased."
No doubt there are as many definitions of the term dictator as
there are dictators, for each has his own opinion on the subject
of his high aims and ideals. Each considers himself a savior of
his country, and usually speaks of himself as "Protector of the
Constitution," "Restorer of the Laws," "Pacificator," "Benefactor,"
and "Liberator"; or he may use some other title calculated to
mesmerize his people into a blind support of his policies.
Dictators have first of all been individualists and, first and last,
firm believers in the tradition of one-man control. Hence the con-
cepts of personalismo, caciquismo, and caudillismo have been in-
troduced into Latin American political speech. Not only are such
men as good as their neighbors, but they are better. There is a
Spanish phrase, del rey abajo ninguno, which has been rendered
"no person below the king is any better than I am." This very indi-
vidualistic feeling among all Latin Americans has been the un-
doing of many a dictator, for his enemies consider themselves as
good or better than he, and then the political cycle is turned to
the next step by revolution.
A dictator may be illiterate or well educated, but often he is
instinctive in his actions and reactions, and he is frequently
fanatical, usually impressionable, and in many respects unstable
in character. Garcia Calder6n has said that in character the
dictator displays "heroic audacity," and a "perpetual and virile
unrest." He rules "by virtue of personal valor and repute. .. ."
His religious training gives him no conception of tolerance, and he
aims to achieve political victory by imprisoning, exiling, or ex-
terminating his enemies. He is an ardent idealist and any actions

are justified if his ideals can be attained. Quite often the dictator
lacks a sense of humor, for how else can his quixotic acts be
explained? In any case, a dictator is a "do-it-now" man, where
in a land in which maiiana is the busiest day of the week he
is by contrast with his fellow humans an exceedingly superior
Usually a dictator is a hero-worshiper having in mind a bril-
liant example of individual accomplishments on the part of some
past leader. Probably he has a Greek or Roman example before
him. But if not a Caesar or a Themistocles, an Alexander or a
Hercules, he may condescend to emulate a Napoleon and even
a George Washington. The best place to study the psychology
of conceit is in the thoughts and actions of a Latin American
But unquestionably the dictators have played pre-eminent roles
in the progress made by the Latin American states. Although they
have been "adventurers in politics" as the English scholar Cecil
Jane called them, they have helped their countries through great
struggles in times of crises just as surely as they have brought
to their countries great national catastrophes and international
Dictators have taken advantage of the political inexperience
of their people, and by appealing to their fanatical patriotism
they have climbed into office literally over the dead bodies of
their personal enemies. With the use of political trickery and
military force, dictators have paved the way for their own rapid
decline. For with the use of force to enter office, dictators have
found that they must continue the use of force to remain in
office. Thus despotism has been inescapable. But too much
despotism is a cure for dictatorship, as many people have dis-
covered, and the political cycle continues with a revolution.
In Latin America the national armies have always been over-
supplied with generals, each of whom is likely to be a dictator
on a small scale. When once the generals-and admirals too!-

xviii The Caribbean
feel themselves slighted or double-crossed by the general whom
they and the military have helped into the office of president,
they begin to jostle each other for an advantageous position from
which one of their number may spring into the presidential chair
and push the offending executive into exile. Only the presidency
is on a higher plane and affords greater privileges than the posi-
tion of a general, for in this highest executive office a brilliant
uniform is mandatory, a dashing charger with brilliant trappings
may be ridden through the streets, or, in more recent times, a
bulletproof limousine of the latest pattern may go careening
about the capital.
Another ego-inflating satisfaction derived from being a dictator
is the right to be supported-together with his family and rela-
tives-in a fitting fashion by the state. Even the wealthiest of
dictators may thus live in a style of ostentation beyond their
fondest dreams. For example, the constitution of Paraguay once
provided certain honorary marks of distinction which appealed to
the inordinate self-love of the dictator Francisco Solano L6pez:
1. The President of the Republic shall wear the uniform of a
captain-general, and underneath the uniform a tri-colored ribbon
from right to left, from which shall be pendant over his breast
a national emblem or jewel of honor, both being at the cost of
the Treasury of the Republic. 2. The jewel of honor shall be
a star of gold set in diamonds, in the center of which may be
read on one side Executive Power, and on the other Republic
of Paraguay. 3. The President of the Republic shall have the
attributes and prerogatives of the Captain-General and be entitled
to form a guard of honor for the safety of his person. The guard
shall not exceed the number of seventy-five. 4. He shall have
besides, two or three aides-de-camp in waiting at the palace, who
shall perform their duties in turn; as also a warden and such
domestic servants as may be required, the salaries of the same
to be paid by the National Treasury.

When in office dictators seldom tinker with the public debt, but
they invariably doctor the constitutions into untimely deaths or
amend them into the limbo of impractical and unworkable politi-



cal ideas. Such activities on the part of dictators indicate a com-
mon weakness. Of necessity their governments must have con-
stitutions, for national policies demand them and international
opinion requires them. But often they consider their predecessors'
constitutions as "outgrown," "past history," or "incompatible with
the public good." Besides, to the Latin American, change means
progress. So new political instruments are necessary to meet new
needs, and a "new deal" is planned by each new dictator. Usu-
ally new constitutions in Latin America are considered panaceas
for political ills, but they frequently are theoretical rather than
practical and workable. Even when a benevolent dictator widens
the constitutional franchise, he frequently finds that his people
prefer bullets to ballots as being much more exciting, and often
more profitable.
The executive power under the constitution, while patterned
generally after that in the United States, is in reality largely what
the dictator conceives his functions to be. Porfirio Diaz once
described what characteristics he considered the president of the
Republic of Mexico should have in order to fully exercise the
executive power. He said that the president should be "a lion in
order to fight, a tiger in order to devour, a dog in order to bark
or to caress, an ass in order to bray, a monkey in order to climb,
a cat in order to scratch, a rat in order to gnaw, a mouse in order
to hide himself, a fox in order to display astuteness, a fish in
order to swim, a cock in order to crow, a snake in order to crawl,
and a crocodile in order to weep." One of Diaz' political enemies
once described his rapid increase in personal political power as
president by saying that he progressed from the office of revolu-
tionary president, to protector, to consul, to consul-for-life, to
anointed supreme chief, to emperor, and to grand mogul!
Since every Latin American constitution has a provision which
sanctions the declaration of a "state-of-siege," it often becomes
the delightful experience of a chief executive to suspend constitu-
tional guarantees in times of crisis by declaring a state-of-siege
and becoming a legal constitutional dictator. Even a president


The Caribbean

who is not dictatorially inclined finds this constitutional clause
a sore temptation for him to test, if only to prove that it will
work. When this expedient is once tried, the process easily be-
comes habit-forming and the political cycle may again turn by
Often political parties, like constitutions, are as clay in the
hands of dictators. When a political faction places its leader in
office, the members do so often from selfish personal motives,
hoping to get their individual shares of the public treasury. An
unusually honest dictator may be repudiated by his followers
unless he can deliver to them the right to spend national funds;
or if he is unusually dishonest, he may be deposed for stealing
too much for himself. Dictatorships and factional political jeal-
ousies invite and sanction revolutions, making it appear the divine
right of the people to overthrow any executive not looking after
their individual or collective welfare. In many countries, there-
fore, the system of political factions maintained by the people is
only a pseudolegal means of accomplishing their collective politi-
cal ends.
In some cases politics are treated as a fetish, and political
campaigns become civic circuses and specialized spectacles in
which the candidates kiss babes and babies, shake innumerable
hands, embrace legions of shoulders, make glowing but impos-
sible promises, and confuse issues through personal magnetism.
Would-be dictators often go through the motions of campaigning
for office if only to please the people, even when the controlled
election results are obvious.
Most dictators are little concerned with educational improve-
ment, for the illiteracy of the people is a convenient excuse for the
establishment and maintenance of a strong government controlled
by a will which knows better what the people need than do the
people themselves. Generally speaking, the higher percentage of
illiteracy in a country, the greater the number of dictators that
country is likely to have.
Internal improvements often are concerns of the dictator, for



the people can be put to work and their general living conditions
can be so improved that they reward the government with their
support because of the visible evidence of its activities in their
behalf. Moreover, good railroads and highways enable the dicta-
tor to move troops rapidly to points of unrest or opposition.
Besides, it is to the advantage of a dictator to perpetuate his all-
too-fleeting fame, in the form of public buildings, bridges, and
other edifices which may bear his name in a conspicuous place
or record his deeds sealed in cornerstones. One of the character-
istic weaknesses of a dictator is to show a much too vulgar haste
to immortalize his name in marble, brick, bronze, or brass.
In their dealings with foreign nations, dictators are likely to
reach the pinnacle of diplomatic absurdity in seeking recognition,
not so much of their states as of themselves, so that they may
win the much-coveted decorations necessary to convince many of
their followers of their permanent place in the society of great
statesmen. Even the slightest provocation is sufficient for a dic-
tator to display on the front of his uniform or on the bosom of
his dress shirt, the ribbons, sunbursts, medallions, and crests
of numerous awards from abroad. When such foreign recogni-
tion is not forthcoming, a convenient substitute is to be found
in the erection of monuments or statues, or in the naming of
streets, cities, theaters, and babies after the gracious benefactor
of the country. One Central American statesman even went so
far as to award himself a medal for promoting a sewage system!
Dictators are much like small boys who have never grown up.
But the crowning crime of dictators is too frequently corrup-
tion. They are masters in double talk, double-dealing and double-
entry bookkeeping. There are too many demands from insistent
henchmen for the dictator successfully to resist his friends. Since
his enemies accuse him anyway of the peculation of public funds,
it benefits him very little to be honest. How often have Latin
American governments been overthrown for the simple reason
that an irresponsible individual wished to get his hands into the
public treasury! And in some cases the hand was immediately


The Caribbean

withdrawn and the booty sent abroad. Most prodigal dictators
have expressed a secret desire to die in Paris, and there is an
old Spanish proverb, which though not very elegant is quite to
the point. It says, "he who has not spit in Paris has not lived."
And why should not a dictator escape abroad, for this is prefer-
able to dying before a bullet-pocked wall or in a dungeon of one's
own creation.
One example will suffice to indicate how intensely the enemies
of a dictator may denounce him. Of Henri Christophe of Haiti
it was said that his person was a rude, indigested mass of matter;
his laugh, the grimace of a tiger; and when he opened his mouth
in a rage it extended from ear to ear, disclosing a double row of
long, pointed, cannibal teeth. "He was without honor, without
faith, without law and without religion-in obscenities surpass-
ing all the sacrilegious and filthy horrors with which Sardanapalus
and Nebuchadnezzar were formerly reproached-a slave to his
passions, an enemy of justice, cruel, arbitrary, avaricious, proud,
selfish, blood-thirsty, incapable of the least sentiment and grati-
tude. Such, and much more is the fallen Henri described by
those who have succeeded to his power and who say that to give
a detail of his vices would require volumes, and that no language
could furnish expressions sufficiently strong to give an adequate
idea of the excesses of his barbarity or of the horror it ought to
inspire in the human heart."

Though much evil has been attributed to Latin American
dictators, some good may be said of each one of them. No blanket
condemnation is entirely justifiable. Among the general run of
dictators are men with some rare ability which sets their per-
sonalities at a tangent from the average type. Francia benefited
the Paraguayan masses, Diaz for a brief period made Mexico in
the eyes of Europeans greater than the United States, while Juan
Vincente G6mez freed Venezuela from international debt and
began to develop the natural resources. But even successful dic-

tators have made innumerable enemies for themselves and even-
tual strife for their countries. Dictators still appear from time
to time in Latin America, and no one can say to what extremes
they may yet go or what heights they may yet attain in ruining
or promoting the development of the national interests of their
countries. History must tell this.

School of Inter-American Studies

Part I



Harry Bernstein: THE CONCEPT OF

THE HISTORIC CAUDILLO FIGURE rides roughly through
and across any picture of Latin American constitutional and
political philosophy. In dealing with the background of current
political problems in the Caribbean, this personalista tradition
stares out from almost every historic factor and experience. Its
influence is as old as man in America, from Indian to Spaniard
to mestizo, and there is no getting away from it in the sixteenth
or the twentieth century. The fact is that the modern "power"
concept of the nation-state-which is so scarce in Latin American
thought-and the civilian processes of constitutional reform have
not been able to reduce this caudillo figure to democratic or repre-
sentative size. Neither the abstract "state" philosophy nor the
romance of nationalism competed with the politics of the hero.
There must be, and are, historic and intellectual reasons for
this. One unusual point is that, while there is little or no affirma-
tive philosophy about the caudillo, the systems of legal and phil-
osophical argument which might have replaced the man with an
idea or a charter were too busy competing with each other or too
involved in systems to carry their weight into practical effect.
So, for example, the wide vogue of positivism from 1870 to 1914,
with its attack upon metaphysics, must have done a good job in
undermining the mystique of the nation-state in Latin America.

4 The Caribbean
Even if the machinery of the nation had gone far with an appa-
ratus of centralism, bureaucracy, unitario laws, and strong execu-
tive traditions, the fiction of the nation-state left onlookers cold.
They were better warmed by the jefe politico.

The hold of experience, social conditions, the laws of geog-
raphy, and the Iberian psychology in Latin American minds
were far more influential than anything that might have been
borrowed from European statists or romantics. Historic Spanish-
Iberian ideas of government were feudal, personal. The thought
of a State more sovereign than a King was difficult for both legists
and monarchs to swallow. Later on, it also became too much for
caudillos, "great men," and presidents-for-life. Latin America
inherited Spanish practices on the subject. But Spanish regalist
interests, the supremacy of the lawyer over the political philos-
opher, and the localist patria chica tradition, were not the only
forces critical of the power of the state. The Roman Catholic
Church established and encouraged doctrines of the individual
and society which limited the state to a fraction of possible
powers. Certainly nationalism cast a worldly, secular shadow
across the Church's idea of government. Consequently, we find
that in Latin America a curious mesalliance between positivism,
caudillismo, monarchism, personalism, and Catholicism prevented
a philosophy of statist politics from taking hold.
As if these intellectual and institutional enemies were not
enough to wrestle such lofty philosophy to earth, we know from
contemporary psychology how strong is the "leader" cult, and
how Latin American masses find it easier to personalize and
empathize their minds and loyalties. In defeating political philos-
ophy, however, other earthly forces took their toll of ideological
aims and values. Illiteracy was one negative; militarism was
another. But the hazards, barriers, and interruptions of geogra-
phy, distance, and ethnocultural elements did just as much to
prevent too great a uniformity of ideal nationalism. Only the

cacique and caudillo thrived under these natural and human
divides; in fact, the leaders made Latin American history under
these conditions. The governments of men succeeded where
those of-laws and ideas failed. The dictator found a short cut
to power, bypassing any metaphysical road to the top. The Ameri-
can caudillo followed a formula based upon human beings and
their natures.
One question is, do any of the contemporary designs for the
nation-state enter into the background and present state of Latin
American political problems? That is, how could the nation-
state idea force a unity and uniformity upon chronic economic,
social, ethnic, and political conflicts in the Caribbean lands? And
if not, what more New World or more American patterns of
behavior tend to conform to Latin American history, tradition,
experience, and geography? Do we not leave behind both the
classical logic of the philosophy of the republic and the romantic
nationalism of the nineteenth century as we go west from Europe
towards the more pragmatic America? It is paradoxical to point
out that European Rome and Madrid regulated both the force of
logic and the pull of nationalism. That would make the story
very simple, by giving the New World merely the Old World
setting of feudalism, i.e., personalist authority and obedience.
Ideas were not needed; fealty and faith took over all loyalties.
The history of Latin America shows, almost everywhere, that
medieval monarchy and religion stifled both romantic and ab-
stract thought even before positivism came along. So the answer
might be that few, if any, contemporary "isms" can compete
with historic, geographic, and psychocultural rivals.

From the time of Porfirio Diaz' rule in Mexico and Rafael
Nulfiez' Regeneraci6n in Colombia, to the post-1930 chieftains
of government, the painful fact of personalist rule has challenged,
even persecuted, the constitutionalists, social thinkers, and philos-
ophers of Latin America. Even in Mexico, where philosophy has


The Caribbean

enjoyed a restoration of health since 1900, the philosophers have
rejected the collectivism of the state and of the masses to reaffirm
an individualism which is historically Hispanic. This individual-
ism has some connection with the prevalence of personalism, even
if it expressly disavows the caudillo. It can be found in Benito
Juarez, certainly in Francisco Madero.
It is hard to reconcile this individuality with the "revolt of the
masses." In Latin American history the "men on horseback" are
met on every city boulevard and country road, and their statues
occupy most plazas and city squares. Is there a State in Latin
America, or is there just the Man? Are there people or the
masses? When socialism came along into Latin America it offered
another philosophy of the State, with a panacea for the masses,
and had little to say about personality, leadership, and the indi-
vidual. It merely rejected the nation, or rather, put forth the
concept of the class-state to offset the nation-state. But it did
not succeed any more than the other in stripping caudillismo of
power. It is not likely, given the historic tradition, that equally
recent forces such as industrialization, economic planning, state
development corporations, trade-unionism, and even the state-
supported political party, will find it easy to get along without a
great man. A Rosas, Diaz, Per6n, or Vargas, if he watches his
country's history, will be made in its image.

We must certainly distinguish between patriotism in Latin
America and the nationalism of the nation-state, on the one hand,
and personal loyalty to the jefe politico, on the other. Patriotism,
an emotional experience, yields an individual energy which, I
think, identifies its bearer with the chieftains and leaders of the
Independence era. These venerable heroes are quite properly re-
ferred to as pr6ceres, leaders who are sanctified by something
noble, are not mere war lords, as some have written, but are
rather more like Latin American (not Spanish) grandees. There
is a vast difference in the attitude toward a founding father of

long ago and an ordinary, that is, a recent caudillo. Those who
wrested emancipation from Spain are charged with very great
affect, winning an identification with motherland and fatherland
images, and sharing, possibly personalizing, both freedom and
the flag. In contrast, those who manipulate the new nation,
forcing its laws, and coercing nationality into personalist hands,
lose much respect and even glamor because they are very close
at hand and within reach. Of course, they are feared and obeyed.
Those whom we call caudillos also respond most promptly to
family, clan, and blood ties. Anthropologists have begun to study
the compadrazgo dependency more closely, in order to see how
clannish relations can lead to local politics. In almost all these
countries strong sectional and local forces expressed their resist-
ance to the center of government by states' rights issues, or fed-
eralism. In both the Caribbean and circum-Caribbean lands, the
deep variations in geography, race, and culture were bound to-
gether by an iron thread in politics. What seemed to have hap-
pened in the history of these nations was that the jefe politico
of one section became the head of combined other sections, to
which the name "nation" was given. There was no constitutional
or legal philosophy, only a political process, very reminiscent of
the making of the modern European nations during the Middle
Ages. The historian can show that political growth in Latin
America was quite ad hoc, even pragmatic.
Latin America's pragmatism, however, was not connected to
philosophy. It was not a system of thought so much as a way
of political life. The caudillo may be said to have been anti-
intellectual, although the whole truth of that would probably
apply more to the Argentine Rosas than to the Mexican Diaz.
In Archibald MacLeish's celebrated epic of the Conquest, Bernal
Diaz speaks with jealousy and a soldier's contempt for those with
the "school-taught skip to their writing." Preferring facts to the
formation of ideas, the caudillo has not wanted to know any "con-
stitutional and legal philosophy." He himself was not always as
ignorant nor as illiterate as some historians, philosophers, and

8 The Caribbean
intellectuals have liked to label him. In his supreme power, the
caudillo descends from the Spanish kings, whose stark egoism is
marked in their signatures, "Yo, el Rey." After all, once upon a
time some kings started as feudal caudillos in their own districts.
The powerful executive was too high a wall for even the
exalted theory of nation-state to climb. The fiction of the state
never took hold. Mexico is quite a case in point. There, still
another enemy of the state concept took up cudgels. In addition
to Porfirian personalism, positivism, revolution, and other hurdles,
the nation-state idea was hit by anarchism, syndicalism, and the
combination of both. In Europe, where Marxism lifted the state
to a great political role on behalf of the forces of history and of
the working class, the intellectual's concern with that concept was
imperative. But Latin American anarchism thought, and thinks,
quite differently about abstract political ideas. For that matter,
so does APRA. Both socialist and communist Marxism were also
leading carriers of the state idea in the twentieth century.

The problem we have to answer in facing up to political proc-
esses in Latin America, is whether we need to tie dictatorship
in that continent to personalist fealty and the heritage of political
vassalage, or should it be derived from the Jacobin dictatorship
of the masses under the nation, or can we trace a debt to German-
Italian romantic nationalism or fascism. There are some super-
ficial resemblances: the precedent of the one indispensable man
and his single-party following came out of Latin America a long
time ago. Not until the Colombian constitutional amendments
of 1936 and the Brazilian corporate constitution issued by Getulio
Vargas, do we find the term "state" used in the sense of authority
over the nation, the people in it, and their elected rulers. But
these did not last long. All that is left in Latin America is the
continued preference for the personal, the visible, the tangible:
viceroys, presidential dictators, and political chiefs. No thoughts
of destiny here.

A political scientist tells us that in Ecuador both constitutional
philosophy and the caudillo depend upon everyday regionalism,
not power processes nor philosophy. There, government is tra-
ditional, not contemporary, not economic, not philosophical. In
that case the caudillo of the recent past and the present is the
feudal senor natural of Old Spain in modern dress. But in Amer-
ica the ancient habit of "follow the leader" was also as primitive
as the Indian cacique, as natural to politics as the worship of sun,
soil, and plants was to aboriginal religion. We can now speak of
American feudalism, with survival vestiges. The Spanish Con-
quest of America blended the fealty owed the sehor natural with
Indian obedience to the cacique, and the resultant offspring be-
came the caudillo, the chief political personality in modern Latin
American history. Like the Iberian lord in his patria chica, the
American caudillo first looked out on his subjects from a local
region, small enough for him to know well.
There was little of constitutional and political philosophy in
the patria chica, and the paisano was directed by habit, history,
and loyalty, rather than ideas or law. This narrow orbit of
political movement presented many difficulties in the nineteenth
century, but is even more serious in the twentieth where such
views have to be reconciled with civil liberty, modern education,
industrial society, scientific and technological changes, our studies
of personality and behavior, and the widened aims of both na-
tional and international organization. Latin American peoples,
governments, and officials have hardly progressed to an acceptance
of stable national ways, and now have to learn about foreign and
international values. Can a strong personal leader bring this
about sooner or better than a long-drawn process? Perhaps the
benevolent caudillo can do better than schools, economy, ideas,
and agencies to make adjustments and adaptation compulsory.
I doubt it. The roots and traditions of the caudillo must be
changed in order to bridge the great gap between feudalism
and modern times, as well as between personalities and impersonal


The Caribbean

It is as important to see the varied meaning of the term "indi-
vidualism" as it is to understand words like "personality" and
"pragmatism." The North American experience and tradition
with these words is not like the Latin American. The individual-
ism of the caudillo system or of the Iberian background has no
historic resemblance to that individualism which always goes with
private enterprise. Nor is it anything at all like the rugged in-
dividualism of "social Darwinism." The North American person-
ality sent his energy into business and profit, instead of into
power politics, or into science and scholarship-which is just
as individualist. The caudillo's personalism is quite different:
regional, political, and traditional.
If the caudillo dominated men better than systems of ideas or
charters of government, he also understood that constitutions look
good and protect him from force. The paz porfiriana rested upon
the great liberal document of 1857; Nifiez' took care of Colom-
bia under the Constitution of 1886. What, if any, could have
been the Mexican and Colombian love for civilian constitutional
authority? Political science answers that the constitutions wrote
down their own high executive authority; cynicism (is it reality?)
suggests that constitutions help keep opposition as open and as
visible as possible. Also, Nunfiez, Vargas, Rosas, Diaz, and some
others, were legal caudillos, constitutional because they ran for
office. Because they were elected, they upheld formal government
publicly, and personalist rule privately. If Sim6n Bolivar did
write of Latin American kings with the name of president, then
these caudillos are the lords and grandees of political struggles for
They seem to have had no deep need for social and political
institutions to help them rule. They did not create (albeit
they did not destroy) courts, universities, congresses, commercial
chambers. Caudillos, whether by election or natural selection,
were practical politicians interested in the fact of supremacy, not
the theory of sovereignty; in discipline, not destiny; in patronage,

not philosophy. Thus they not only were the mirror of their
people and history, but because they were so identified could also
make the people over in their own image. Conditions bred them,
not propaganda. They did not know the formulas for surprising
a population with leader symbols and ritual, but they understood
very well how a swollen ego attracts the popular eye. They there-
fore did not try to make a nation-state, and did not march their
peoples; they dictated the existing order, instead of making a new



FOREIGN IDEOLOGIES have played a significant role in the
history of Central and South America. Ever since the people of
Latin America severed their ties with the mother countries, they
have been in search of and in need of the ideological support
which they hoped to find in parallel experiences in the Western
Hemisphere or in the Old World. It is common knowledge that
the Independence movement was hastened by the impact of
eighteenth-century rationalism. Likewise, the Constitution of the
United States exercised a profound influence on many charters
in Latin American lands, being used as a model for a system of
checks and balances and as a solution of the thorny problem of
regional autonomy versus central government. Although Latin
America was prolific in giving birth to new ideas in the field
of international relations, her contributions in the realm of do-
mestic political philosophy were slim. This discrepancy explains
the many adherents gained on Latin American soil first by the
American and French revolutions and later by the theories of
liberalism, positivism, and Marxism. Even in the twentieth cen-
tury we find but few original answers for specific Latin American
problems. The philosophy of the Mexican Revolution, the Aprista
movement of Victor Ra61 Haya de la Torre, and Juan Domingo
Per6n's Justicialismo are some attempts to find a solution.

In the area which concerns us here we must be prepared to
note even stronger ideological influences from foreign sources.
The Caribbean is the only region in the Western Hemisphere
where, in addition to the United States, three European powers
still hold territorial possessions.1 Side by side with independent
republics are colonial dependencies of diverse legal status. Just
as the variety of languages is greater here than anywhere else in
the Americas, just so must we expect to find markedly differing
and far-reaching ideological influences at work in the Caribbean.
The picture is further complicated by the global civil war between
the "Free World" and communism, which has had its reflections
and repercussions in the Caribbean as elsewhere. We may, there-
fore, feel certain that this area, which seems to be unified by
geographical position, racial traits, and economic conditions, may
in reality offer the observer a surprising variety of ideological
trends and patterns.

I trust I am justified in stating that the present-day ideological
struggle in the Caribbean area became apparent for the first time
during the thirties.2 As a consequence of the Great Depression
the Caribbean territories, with their monocultural system, were
particularly hard hit. In the British possessions labor riots took
place in Jamaica, Trinidad, and the Barbados, and the demand
for legal recognition of trade-unions was voiced. At the time,
these islands were still crown colonies; that is to say, they were
the wards of more or less enlightened civil servants who found
it difficult to cope with the political and economic unrest other

1 For the problems of the Caribbean, see: A. Curtis Wilgus (ed.), The
Caribbean at Mid-Century (Gainesville, Fla., 1951); M. Follick, The
Twelve Republics (London, 1952); Paul Blanshard, Democracy and
Empire in the Caribbean (New York, 1947); Dexter Perkins, The United
States and The Caribbean (Cambridge, Mass., 1947); R. A. Platt, The
European Possessions in the Caribbean (New York, 1941); J. Fred Rippy,
The Caribbean Danger Zone (New York, 1940); and C. L. Jones, The
Caribbean Since 1900 (New York, 1936).
2 Blanshard, p. 23.

14 The Caribbean
than by political suppression.3 But Great Britain kept a watchful
eye on her West Indian territories, among which are some of the
oldest possessions of the Crown. An investigating committee was
appointed and sent on location to study the situation and to
recommend remedies for the ailments that afflicted the region.
The chairman of the commission was an experienced colonial ad-
ministrator, determined to cover the ground thoroughly. Although
the findings of the commission were completed in 1939, the
report was not made public until 1945. Its effect, however, was
felt earlier. In point of fact, the Lord Moyne report represents
an epoch in the history of the Caribbean.4
The first positive step to be taken was the appointment of a
Comptroller for Development and Welfare who was to supervise
the vast program of reforms outlined by the Royal Commission,
a program which covered not only the economic grievances but
also the retarded cultural conditions in the Caribbean and which,
in addition, took as a goal the gradual reform and revision neces-
sary for the establishment of self-government and free democratic
The British pattern of educating colonials of whatever racial
or cultural backgrounds through a gradual advance toward com-
plete political autonomy is an integral part of that country's ide-
ology. I consider the British pattern one of the most influential
political ideologies of our day, albeit a less systematic and articu-
late one than, say liberalism or Marxism. Its underlying prin-
ciples have often been expressed. The secretary for the colonies
in the Labor government of 1945 made the following definitive
statement: "It is our policy to develop the colonies and all their
resources in such a way as to enable their people speedily and
substantially to improve their economic and social conditions and,
as soon as it may be practicable, to attain responsible self-govern-
ment."6 We may add that the attainment of self-government is

3 E. H. Carter, History of the West Indian Peoples (London, 1953).
Report of the West India Royal Commission, 2 vols. (London, 1945).
SBlanshard, p. 323. 1 Ibid., p. 80.

expected to take place within the framework of the British Com-
monwealth of Nations, with its globe-encircling connections and
its loose but resilient relationship.
It may be safely maintained .that during the last'two decades
the British colonies in the Caribbean have gone a long way toward
becoming recognized members of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Perhaps the most interesting case in point is Jamaica.
From the labor riots of the 1930's previously mentioned, there
arose a union movement that was soon acknowledged by the
colonial authorities. The two leaders of this trade-union move-
ment, William Alexander Bustamante and Norman W. Manley,
represent opposite ideological positions, but both reveal British
influence and indoctrination. Norman Manley, who is at present
prime minister of Jamaica, is a scholarly socialist, clever, honor-
able, and incorruptible. He has modeled his own party, the
Peoples' National Party, closely after the British Labor Party; he
has fought for full representative government in Jamaica, and is,
though pro-British, an outspoken foe of imperialism.7
His opponent, Bustamante, on the other hand, is the leader of
the largest trade-union in Jamaica and has supported the British
Empire as a God-given instrument of democratic rule. He has
attacked communism and even socialism with great vigor and
has sometimes been suspected of fascist tendencies. It was Busta-
mante who in 1944 triumphed in the first free elections ever to
be held in Jamaica over his rival Manley, and it was Bustamante
who represented his country in the coronation ceremonies in Lon-
don in 1953. The picture in which, with other prime ministers
of the Commonwealth, he appeared with Queen Elizabeth is an
indication of the progress that democratic thought has made in
the Caribbean.
It must, however, be freely admitted that such progress, or
progress at such a pace, would not have been possible without
the accelerating impulse of World War II. Although the war en-

' Ibid., pp. 94ff.


The Caribbean

dangered the maritime connections of the islands and subsequently
brought a great deal of hardship to their tropical economies,
it also carried with it innovations of revolutionary perspective.
The Anglo-American agreement of 1940, by which the United
States acquired military bases in these islands for a ninety-
nine-year period, led to enormous improvements in air and
naval communications. Jobs became plentiful and wages rose
sharply. The standard of living and the general level of education
showed marked improvement. This Anglo-American collabora-
tion in the Caribbean led to the creation of the Anglo-American
Caribbean Commission, established in 1942.8 The Commission
was originally appointed to strengthen social and economic co-
operation between the United States and the United Kingdom
and its possessions in this area. It survived the great war and
was reorganized in 1946 to include the two other European
powers who still hold territories in the Caribbean, France and
the Netherlands.9 Although this four-power commission is strictly
an advisory body, it must be counted among the principal agents
of ideological fermentation in the West Indies. It concerns itself
with such varied problems as health, labor migration, develop-
ment of tourism, diversification of agricultural and industrial pro-
duction, and especially with the betterment of education on all
levels.'0 Today the existence in the Caribbean of a health center
in Trinidad, an active Caribbean research council, a university
for the West Indies in Kingston is, to a large extent, the result

Bernard L. Poole, The Caribbean Commission: Background of Co-
operation in the West Indies (University of South Carolina Press, 1951);
Etienne Flory, La Commission des Caraibes (Paris, 1952); The Carib-
bean Commission and the War (Washington, 1943); Charles W. Taus-
sig, "A Four-Power Program in the Caribbean," Foreign Affairs (July,
1946); Annette Baker Fox, Freedom and Welfare in the Caribbean: A
Colonial Dilemma, Yale University Institute of International Studies
(New York, 1949).
Blanshard, p. 329.
10 Caribbean Commission, West Indian Conference (United Nations
publ.). Reports on the third, fourth, and fifth sessions of the West Indian

of the work of the Caribbean Commission. Its labor has met with
"a modest but respectable success.""
From these manifold influences, crystallized in the mid-1940's,
an ever-increasing trend toward democracy became observable.
The system of government was gradually changed from that of
crown colonies to that of self-governing communities.12 The
Jamaica Constitution of 1943 set the pattern which was followed
by the Barbados, Trinidad, and British Guiana. It provides for
a bicameral legislature with a nominated upper house and an
elected lower house. Universal suffrage has been granted. An
embryo cabinet of five members, called the Executive Council,
has been instituted; the principle of parliamentary responsibility
has been introduced, and the office and title of prime minister has
been created. Such advancements speak for themselves.
One further development must be mentioned in this connec-
tion. The road to social and economic betterment in the West
Indies has been obstructed by the atomization or, if you prefer,
the fragmentation of political life. The islands, and even British
Guiana, are too small to make rapid strides by themselves. Prog-
ress can only be achieved through the regional approach as the
Caribbean Commission has urged time and again. Although it
seems useless to expect that the entire Caribbean area will ever
become a closely knit unit, there are promising signs that at least
the British West Indies may attain federation in the not-too-
distant future. The necessity for such a federation was acknowl-
edged early in the nineteenth century, but only in the last two
decades has there been substantial progress in this direction.13
After several meetings had taken place, a basic agreement on the

n Ibid., pp. 4-6. Sir Frank Stockdale, Development and Welfare in the
West Indies (London, 1944). Sir Frank was the first Comptroller for De-
velopment and Welfare in the West Indies.
2 Sir Allan Burns, "Toward a Caribbean Federation," Foreign Affairs
(Oct., 1955); Agnes M. Whitson and Lucy F. Horsfall, Britain and the
West Indies (London, 1948), pp. 36, 43.
13 Charles S. Salmon, The Caribbean Confederation (London, 1888).

18 The Caribbean
formation of a Caribbean federation was reached in Trinidad in
March, 1955. Although this agreement has not yet been accepted
by all British territories in the Caribbean, and while important
questions remain to be ironed out, one is warranted in saying
that the Caribbean federation is more than a hope; it is a goal
that can be reached.14 Once the British federation in the Carib-
bean has been instituted, it will soon be recognized as a new
dominion in the British Commonwealth of Nations. The influ-
ence of the federate idea on the people of the West Indies is
without doubt one of the most significant results of foreign ide-
ology in the Caribbean.15
This bright outlook is, however, dimmed at least temporarily
in one possession: British Guiana. Here, too, the socioeconomic
development was greatly accelerated by World War II. In
response, the British authorities granted Guiana a constitution
closely modeled upon the one given to Jamaica in 1943.16 But
the first election under the new franchise in April, 1953, re-
turned a parliament that was openly procommunist. The People's
Progressive Party obtained a comfortable majority in the lower
house. Its leaders, Cheddi and Janet Jagan, were bent on stirring
up trouble; they promoted race hatred, economic unrest, and
political sedition. Great Britain, as a protest to the lack of dis-
cipline, suspended the constitution of Guiana and imposed law
and order by the use of armed force. Sir Oliver Littelton, secre-
tary for the colonies, declared in the House of Commons, "Her
Majesty's government is not willing to allow a communist state
to be organized within the British Commonwealth." The attempt
to absorb British Guiana has been one of the two all-out efforts
made by international communism to rise to power in the Western

4 Sir Allan Burns, p. 139.
15 See the words of Albert Gomes, Minister for Labour, Commerce, and
Industry in the government of Jamaica, quoted by Burns, p. 139.
~' Great Britain, Colonial Office, Annual Report on British Guiana
(London, 1952).

Before we turn our attention to the other communist venture
in the Caribbean, it may be well to glance briefly at developments
in other West Indian lands. Here too we find interesting ex-
amples of progress in democratic thought. However, each power
-France, the United States, the Netherlands-has followed its
own particular bent. France, for instance, has pursued the idea
of a republic one-and-indivisible which is ultimately the offspring
of the ideas of 1789 and 1793. By the law of March 19, 1946,
she converted the territories of Guadeloupe, Martinique, and
French Guiana into departments of the Fourth Republic.7 These
lands now have prefects instead of governors, and send their
representatives to the great constitutional bodies of France, the
National Assembly, the Senate, and the assembly of the Union
Frangaise. The Netherlands, by imperial decree promulgated in
December, 1942, has made all parts of the colonial empire co-
equals in their commonwealth.18
The United States has steered a course which seems to lie
halfway between the system of centralization followed by France
and the idea of decentralization and federation that has guided
Great Britain. We have maintained close ties with Puerto Rico
and the Virgin Islands, and at the same time have granted Puerto
Rico the status of commonwealth and an administrative and
legislative autonomy that will satisfy the aspirations of all but
the most fanatic nationalists.

If we turn our attention now to ,the independent republics in
the Caribbean, we find the scene in great part dominated by a
process which some years ago I termed "Democracy in Eclipse."'9

1 Jean Pouquet, Les Antilles Frangaises (Presses Uni. de France,
1952), p. 33; see also Les Carnets d'Outre Mer (Paris).
~8 Blanshard, p. 272.
9 Gerhard Masur, "Democracy in Eclipse," Virginia Quarterly Review
(Summer, 1950), p. 340.


The Caribbean

In Cuba, Santo Domingo, Haiti, Venezuela, Colombia, and Nica-
ragua, the political stage is dominated by the strong man of mili-
tary background and ascendancy. There is nothing new in this
phenomenon, all too familiar in the development of Latin America;
rather is it a reverting to type, the type of the caudillo, which has
exercised a predominant influence on Latin American political
life since the dawn of independence. I cannot detect any ideolog-
ical coloring in the rise of these men that might be attributed to
foreign ideologies. Fascism was defeated in World War II and
will hardly be revived in the Caribbean. The influence of Fran-
cisco Franco's Hispanismo or Per6n's Justicialismo has, at best,
been negligible on the dictatorships of the Caribbean. What we
do find in most cases is a practical business sense for the eco-
nomic necessities of these republics going hand in hand with a
repression of civil and individual liberties. American public
opinion has, therefore, been of a divided mind in viewing the
caudillos of the Caribbean; it has alternately praised the prosper-
ity that countries like Cuba, Venezuela, Santo Domingo, and even
Nicaragua enjoy, and condemned the police-state methods which
have made the boom possible. There is some disparity in this
picture when we come to Costa Rica and Guatemala. Costa Rica,
under the leadership of Jose Figueres, has continued its well-
cemented democratic development; Guatemala, on the other
hand, has been the stage of communist infiltration. The latter
is, therefore, of particular interest in our discussion.20
In 1944 Guatemala experienced a revolutionary uprising that
terminated the long dictatorship of Jorge Ubico. The next presi-
dent, Juan J. Arevalo, called himself a "spiritual socialist," but
in reality he represented a trend not at all exceptional in Latin
America at the close of World War II. His spiritual socialism
may be compared to parallel tendencies in Peru, Colombia, and
Venezuela.21 It was a blend of nationalistic and socialistic ideas

20 Department of State, Intervention of International Communism in
Guatemala (Washington, 1954).
21 Masur, p. 342.

very characteristic of the immediate aftermath of the great cata-
clysm. Although the new constitution of Guatemala of March,
1945, forbade the formation and functioning of political organi-
zations of international character, the communist movement
easily penetrated the public agencies of the convulsed republic.
Guatemala had remained a backward, dictator-ridden country
where 2 per cent of the population controlled 70 per cent of
the arable land, and where more than half the population con-
sisted of illiterate Indians who continued to live by their age-old
customs and manners.22 There was, however, a middle group
composed of ladinos, which included civil servants, soldiers,
teachers, journalists, and clerics, who had felt the intellectual
fermentation of the war years and who were now clamoring for
reforms.23 It was, indeed, not surprising that they showed them-
selves susceptible to the tenents of nationalism or that they tried
to amalgamate these with socialist ideas after the fashion of the
Mexican Revolution.
Among the provisions of the new constitution was a broad
authorization for land reform as well as the comprehensive
recognition of the rights of organized labor. It was through land
reform and trade-unionism that communism infiltrated into
Guatemala. Land reform was obviously a justified and pressing
issue, but communism used it here, as it had used it in Europe
and in East Asia, as the entering wedge for revolution. The fact
that three great American corporations-the United Fruit Com-
pany, the International Railways of Central America, and the
Empresa Electrica-were among the great landowners, provided
communism with a popular platform. It accused these corpora-
tions of monopolistic practices, of ruthless exploitation, of paying
starvation wages, and of preventing the establishment of a healthy
peasant class.24 In this manner the cry for land reform merged

Department of State, p. 36.
23 Hubert Herring, A History of Latin America from the Beginnings to
the Present (New York, 1955), pp. 440-443.
24 Time, June 28, 1954.


The Caribbean

with an anti-imperialistic agitation, the main target being the
United States.
Equally important was the labor issue, which proved to be
instrumental for the invasion of the Guatemalan body politic
by communist leaders-"professional revolutionaries," as Lenin
would have called them. We know already that the constitution
outlawed organizations and parties of international affiliation.
The communist party was therefore forced to adopt various dis-
guises to cover up its activities. Nevertheless, its leaders, like
Jose Manuel Fortuny, Victor Manuel Gutierrez, and Alfredo
Guerra Borges were able to obtain key positions in the Confedera-
cidn General de Trabajo. It has been proven that these same
"professional revolutionaries" maintained close ties with inter-
national communist organizations and that they paid frequent
visits to Moscow.
With the ascent of Jacobo Arbenz to the presidency of Guate-
mala in March, 1951, events began to move more rapidly. An
agrarian reform law was passed in June, 1952, and the United
Fruit Company became the first victim of the revolutionary fervor.
Almost a quarter of a million acres of the company's holdings on
the Pacific coast were expropriated. The law provided for equi-
table compensation, but the government and the company gave
widely different estimates of the value of the land in question.
Arbenz had brought a French communist, Louis Saillant, into
the country as an advisor on agrarian reforms, and close connec-
tions with comuunist headquarters were maintained. Although
the communists were relatively few in number and held no cabi-
net posts, their influence on the president was considerable. Not
only did they control the Confederaci6n General de Trabajo, but
they also gained supremacy in the newly created Seguridad Social.
As is well known, communism has throughout its history pre-
ferred to launch a coup d'etat from a minority position.
Inevitably the communist ascendency in Guatemala produced
domestic and international repercussions. Although the army had
originally backed Arbenz, himself a professional soldier, it re-

mained aloof from his erratic course, a group of officers even
taking refuge in Nicaragua and Honduras. The great landholding
families and the American corporations could hardly be expected
to accept the expropriation procedures lying down. The State
Department viewed the events with growing concern as the first
determined effort on the part of communist imperialism to effect
a foothold in the Western Hemisphere. Open intervention, as
it had been exercised in previous emergencies, seemed out of ques-
tion since it would arouse the suspicions of other Latin American
nations and would be grist for Russia's propaganda mills. The
Secretary of State took his case to the Pan American Conference
that met in Caracas in March, 1954. A declaration of solidarity
for the preservation of the political integrity of the American
states against communist intervention was passed, against the
vote of Guatemala. But such a resolution had little more than
theoretical value.
Matters came to a head when the motor ship "Alfhem" arrived
at Puerto Barrios on May 15, 1954, carrying a cargo of arms for
Guatemala from Poland. Washington countered by sending mili-
tary equipment to Honduras and Nicaragua, some of which must
have reached the opponents of Arbenz assembled in these coun-
tries. When the uprising against Arbenz finally took place in
June, 1954, the rebels had at their disposal four old-fashioned
aircraft which played a decisive role in bringing the Arbenz
regime to an end. That the leader of the counterrevolution,
Carlos Castillo Armas, had the backing of the United States is
an open secret.
It is difficult to assess the seriousness of the threat to our
security that the Arbenz government constituted, and there may
be some question as to whether it was sufficiently dangerous to
warrant the methods we employed. That the communist infil-
tration of Guatemala had the blessing of the Politbureau can
hardly be questioned. It is likely that the Russian leaders felt
they had nothing to lose in this game. Had Arbenz succeeded,
communism would have gained a beachhead in the Western


The Caribbean

Hemisphere, which could have been used to foster the inter-
national conspiracy in other Latin American countries; if he lost,
the United States could be accused of military intervention and
dollar imperialism. As it happened, the second alternative took
place, and the Russian politicians must have been well pleased
with the resentment that the United States action provoked in
Panama, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, and Argentina.

The Caribbean reflects the world-wide struggle between the
"Free World" and communism. However, we have seen that the
political philosophy of democracy has scored some remarkable
victories in territories that, until 1939, were solely colonial de-
pendencies and which are now enjoying a good measure of self-
government. Many are well on their way toward the achieve-
ment of an independent structure compatible with their desires
and the economic and geographical necessities that govern their
lives. Fascism is dead; communism has failed in its two whole-
sale attempts. The political outlook in the Caribbean for the fur-
ther progress of free government is dampened, it is true, by the
great number of dictatorships, but the picture is not an entirely
bleak one.


Russell H. Fitzgibbon: POLITICAL THEORY

THE PHRASING OF THE TOPIC implies, and correctly so,
that those two aspects of constitutional and political philosophy
in the political units of the Caribbean area are not identical, that
they represent some degree of divergence from each other. It is
essential in the first place to establish one or two premises and
definitions as points of departure.
Whereas demographic, economic, cultural, or certain other
analyses of the Caribbean area-or, we might better say, Middle
America-can, within limits, properly ignore political boundaries
and circumstances, a political analysis obviously cannot do so.
The area under consideration includes approximately twenty-five
political units, twelve of them independent states. An arbitrary,
and naturally not the only, dividing line which, then, separates
the units involved is that which isolates those possessing sover-
eignty from those which do not.
In considering questions of constitutional and political phi-
losophy, for example, it becomes immediately and basically im-
portant to distinguish the one category from the other. Those
units which are not independent must necessarily consider their
political affairs (including any theoretical aspects which may
arise) in terms of their respective relations with an external
agency, namely, the mother country. Those relations may be


The Caribbean

entirely amicable or they may show varying degrees of strain but
they cannot, in the nature of things, be dismissed so that the
respective units can assume the same control over constitutional
and political thinking which would be possible for even a nomi-
nally sovereign state.
It is in order, then, to eliminate from our present consideration
the portions of Middle America which have not achieved full
independence. Units which are in an intermediate stage might
conceivably be considered. Puerto Rico, for example, has devel-
oped certain elements of what might be called political and
constitutional theory. But, on the other hand, such units, very
few in number, can be omitted from this analysis without undue
loss, and it simplifies the problem to do so.
If it be assumed that political and constitutional theory was
initially removed from practice in the Caribbean and, indeed,
in the whole Latin American community of independent states,
it is in order first to ask why. An answer to that question becomes
as complicated as the question itself appears simple. It involves
the whole complex of background elements: the political inheri-
tance from the Colonial period and before that from Spain-
and prior to that, indeed, from the Visigothic Kingdom and the
Roman Empire. There must also be taken into account the cir-
cumstances under which the fabric patterns of the newly inde-
pendent states of the area were chosen, cut, and put together
more than a century and a quarter ago. In other words, did the
new states borrow, politically and constitutionally, from sources
which were not philosophically in tune with their own historical
Let us first look briefly at the nature of the inheritance of
the Middle American states from a long and influential past.
The great weight of an impressive past had firmly cemented
on the Spanish empire in America, including the portions in the
Caribbean, an authoritarian tradition and structure of politics
and government. A whole book would be necessary to trace in

detail the development of that process, but it is sufficient here
to say that it dates back to the long conditioning centuries of
the Reconquest and especially to the tremendously significant
generation of Ferdinand and Isabella. The lines of Hispanic
political destiny were firmly set during the fateful last few
decades of the fifteenth century.
In such large and old units as Mexico and Colombia or, on
the other hand, in the weakest units or such young independent
ones as Cuba and Panama (the youngest of all Latin America),
the inheritance of an authoritarian pattern was all but taken for
granted. For reasons which are much too involved to consider
now, the Spanish had a remarkable success in implanting their
institutions even in widely differing situations.
In the case of Haiti, the only one of the independent states
in the Caribbean area which did not have its institutional in-
heritance from Spain, it is necessary to make a side excursion,
but not a long one, to look for causes. The Spanish and the
French political structures and processes had numerous points
in common prior to the end of the eighteenth century, but the
most important element in the picture was not any similarity in
detail but rather in the broad and intangible likeness of authori-
tarian political approach and temper. This impact was true, cer-
tainly insofar as Haiti was concerned, despite the leaven which
proceeded into Latin America from the sources of the French
intellectuals of the eighteenth century. Rousseau and Voltaire,
Diderot and Montesquieu, had had little chance to make a politi-
cally significant impact in Haiti by the time of its independence.
It is but repeating an elementary historical fact to point out
that the groups which were dominant in the new states during
their early independent periods-and here we must make neces-
sary exceptions of Haiti, Cuba, and Panama-were from the
creole aristocracy which would, under normal circumstances,
have been quite willing to continue government on an authori-
tarian and undemocratic basis with themselves instead of the
peninsulars in the saddle.


The Caribbean

But this was not to be. By the early nineteenth century a
new liberalism was infecting many areas which a generation or
so before would have been considered safe for the ancien regime
and its monarchical allies in other countries. For the Caribbean
area the specific impetus was partly Latin: from such documen-
tary milestones as the atypical Spanish constitutions of 1812 and
1820 and from the constitutional monuments of the French
Revolution. The impetus was to some slight degree British, al-
though Bolivar, had he had his way, would have welcomed much
more British influence. And finally, the stimulus was in important
part North American.

For a political philosophy to undergird the new regimes, the
architects of the new states looked almost exclusively to France.
This was natural. France had produced the world's most impor-
tant political thinkers of the recent past. But for details of
governmental structure the United States was a far more imitated
model. This, too, was natural. With only temporary exceptions
in Haiti and Mexico, the newly formed governments were repub-
lican; and even then the United States was the cicerone most
frequently followed through the new and intriguing pathways of
governmental experimentation. The United States had made it-
self, in a sense, the champion of republicanism as against the
dynastic legitimacy which, under Metternich's leadership, was
reasserting itself in Europe. A nutshell formulation of the phil-
osophical divergence was perhaps nowhere better made than by
President Monroe in his famous message-just at the time when
Latin American independence was being consolidated-when he
said that "The political system of the allied powers is essentially
different in this respect from that of America." The extension
of "their political system to any portion of either continent" would
be dangerous for us; nor could anyone think that the Latin
American states "would adopt it of their own accord."
Now, Monroe was taking somewhat too much for granted-

witness the long and generally successful experiment with mon-
archy in Brazil-but, by and large, he was correct in assuming
an almost inevitable commitment on the part of the Caribbean
and other Latin American states to a republican form.
The stock of the United States was high in Caribbean markets
in the early years after independence. The gestures of El Salvador
and Yucatan toward political affiliation with the stronger repub-
lic to the north were straws in the wind. It was natural, indeed
inevitable, then, that details of governmental organization used
in the United States would be copied in numerous Caribbean
states. The general pattern of the judiciary, a bicameral legisla-
ture in several states, in Mexico and Venezuela a federal form of
organization, a presidential type of government and a superficially
similar pattern of executive-legislative relationships, these were
some of the points at which the new Caribbean states in numerous
instances borrowed heavily-and often unthinkingly-from the
United States.
It was that unthinking borrowing which resulted in much
difficulty. In the United States many of the details of govern-
mental organization and practice which developed were peculiarly
pragmatical. They were necessarily the product of a whole politi-
cal complex which differed importantly from the political complex
from which the new Caribbean states inherited. That they
worked with reasonable success in the United States was of course
no reason why they would be equally successful in a state with
a different political inheritance.
The borrowing of the exciting new French philosophical con-
cepts was equally synthetic and equally unsuccessful. The leaven
which had been working in France for a generation past had no
real counterpart in either Spain or Spanish America. The revo-
lutions in Spanish America were political-pointed toward sever-
ance of the ties with the mother country-but they were not,
as in France, social, economic, and cultural. Haiti, it is true,
had a much deeper convulsion in achieving its independence but
the contagion did not spread to other areas in the Caribbean.


The Caribbean

The pensadores in various countries had a field day in drawing
up neat, symmetrical, rhetorical, theoretically admirable-and
usually highly impractical-constitutions. Whether the borrow-
ing was of philosophical principles from France or of structural
details from the United States was of little moment in achieving
any leveling-off of the political ship in any of the Caribbean
states. The pensador's approach was academic and doctrinaire;
he had had little or no apprenticeship in genuine public adminis-
tration, he had no awareness of the realities of the political land-
scape surrounding him.
The new states must have constitutions. Virtually none of
the Caribbean caudillos followed Rosas' lead in Argentina in
ruling, for practical purposes, without a constitution. It was
fashionable to have a constitution: it was a mark of the new
liberalism which was sweeping the nineteenth century, at least
in the Americas. Whether the document was realistic and im-
plemental was unimportant; the main consideration was to make
it symbolic, symmetrical, and philosophical.
Caudillo and pensador were at opposite ends of the political
spectrum. The one was a hard-bitten realist, often entranced, it
is true, by the presumed importance of having a constitutional
flooring under his regime, but, withal, impatient with constitu-
tional trammels on his freedom of political action. Santander,
"el hombre de los leyes," was, by that token, not a caudillo. The
pensador was an intellectualized theoretician, devoted to the con-
stitutions he wrote so prolifically, but blind to their unrealistic
nature. Truly, the two types seemed as mutually remote as Kip-
ling's "East and West."
That, then, in brief, was the general nature of the political
scene in the various Caribbean states in the first years after at-
tainment of independence. That it was an artificial situation goes
without saying. Government had to be carried on-it was a
twenty-four-hour-a-day job there as elsewhere-but the forms
under which it operated did not at all match the realities of

ruling. Until the twain, i.e., the caudillo and the pensador, could
be brought to meet in some fashion, the artificiality of the situ-
ation would continue.
Some Latin American states-and we may take Paraguay as
an example remote from the Caribbean area-still present a
picture of a frequently violent fluctuation between caudillo and
pensador in the presidency. A general is tried and then, in revul-
sion against him, a professor or litterateur is elected. Both fall
short of the mark in providing the sort of government Paraguay
needs. The country has not yet succeeded in bridging the gap
between the types which were its heritage at the time of inde-
pendence. The experience of the independent states in the Carib-
bean frequently has offered something in common with the
example cited; the differences are ones of degree.

The imitative blight in constitution-making in the Caribbean
was to remain for long decades. What could remove it? what
did remove it? The answer, in one word, was "integration." It
is an answer, however, which requires a bit of explanation.
Political colonialism was ended for most of the Caribbean
republics, and independence-at least on a nominal basis-
achieved by approximately the close of the first quarter of the
nineteenth century. That is not to say, though, that psychologi-
cal, cultural, economic, and perhaps other forms of colonialism
ended simultaneously. They did not. If certain of the states
were not under a formal foreign domination-specifically, Mexico
and the Dominican Republic in the 1860's-they were quite
possibly submerged psychologically, often in so subtle a fashion
that they did not always recognize the submersion.
Sometimes that psychological subjugation was to a home-grown
caudillo. Even if he were native-born and a leader of genuine
charismatic quality, the circumstances would still prevent the
effective development of any significant political ethos. Porfirio
Diaz, for example, had his roots in the real soil of Mexico about


The Caribbean

as little as did Maximilian before him. Benito Juarez, on the
other hand, stemmed from the spiritually good earth of his
country, and it is for that reason that the Mexican Constitution
of 1857, which represented the high point, document-wise, of
Juarez' regime, was far more politically realistic and significant
than anything which can be extracted from the practices of the
Porfirian era. Juarez was an exception, however; neither Mexico
nor many of the other countries of Middle America bred many
of his kind in the nineteenth century.
It has been remarked that caudillo and pensador were poles
apart in the positions they occupied, and that between them lay
a void. Other sorts of vacuums existed to delay integration. One
of the most important was that which characterized the social
organization of the various countries. Many people have com-
mented about the existence in most of the states under survey
of a small, aristocratic, elitist oligarchy and, at the bottom of the
social ladder, a great mass of politically inarticulate people, with
a gulf between the two unequal groups. That gulf long consti-
tuted a sociopolitical vacuum of much significance.
Another explanation of the retarded integration of the Carib-
bean states was to be found in the long delay in absorbing them
in the main current of international affairs. On the occasion of
the first Hague Conference in 1899, Mexico was the only state,
not simply in the Caribbean area but in all Latin America, to be
invited. The reason for that invitation was not so much the actual
weight exerted by Mexico in world politics but rather the super-
ficial prestige enjoyed at the time by the Diaz regime. For the
most part, in terms of international relations throughout the nine-
teenth century, the Caribbean states were simply little chips float-
ing idly and erratically in small eddies on the sides of the river;
the main current of the stream carried the logs which were the
larger powers in a straighter and more purposeful line down the
center. The Caribbean states seldom attracted the attention of
the larger powers except in an exploitive or acquisitive way.
Gradually-indeed, almost imperceptibly and invisibly-this

disheartening picture of society and politics in the nineteenth
century began to change. Most of the change has come in the
present century, it goes on now at mid-century, and it probably
will continue indefinitely. Certain Caribbean states still fluctuate
between caudillo and pensador, between the man whose weapon
is the sword and the one who wields the pen. Others have pro-
gressed notably beyond that stage. Mexico is a case in point.
The wild fluctuation between the two types was illustrated in
the shift from the impractical and idealistic Madero to the harsh
and realistic Adolfo de la Huerta. The first few years of the
Revolution displayed the extremes; since then, the presidents
have progressively approached a mean until now, in the person
of Adolfo Ruiz Cortines, we find a very practical executive who
exhibits none of the characteristics of the two types previously
referred to.
Then, too, social integration has set in with the development
of a middle class in several of the countries. This group, still
rudimentary in some states, gradually fills in the void between
top and bottom; the intermediate rungs on the ladder are coming
to be occupied. We may continue to use Mexico as an example
of the way in which the process of integration operates. That
country is developing its own middle class in significant numbers
and with a recognizable influence on politics as well as other
aspects of life.
This filling in of the social vacuum by the development of a
middle class has many by-products, most of them good, all of
them significant. They can at this time only be hinted at. One
of the most spectacular is industrialization. Industrialization
diversifies the economy, raises the standard of living, allows
escape from a primitive type of social organization, more easily
permits an increased population, and has other consequences.
A related result of the emergence of a middle class is the
growth of a more politically conscious segment of the city popu-
lation; the middle class is largely urban in residence, of course.
It is almost a truism that an urban population is more fluid and

34 The Caribbean
dynamic than a rural one, that it has more social interests and
needs. Government has to so great an extent become the instru-
ment through which social wants are attained, replacing the
Church in large measure in that respect, that a middle-class
impact on politics is inevitable. In general that impact is de-
mocratizing and productive of a more genuinely rooted political
In the third place, the Caribbean states have been drawn much
more widely than formerly into the main current of international
affairs. What began as a sort of prelude in Latin American par-
ticipation in the old League of Nations has gone on as a much
more definite trend in Latin activity in the United Nations and
other international agencies and channels. Alberto Lleras Ca-
margo, Jaime Torres Bodet, Antonio Sanchez de Bustamante, and
Ricardo Alfaro are only outstanding examples of Caribbean Latins
who have not only made constructive contributions in interna-
tional circles but who also have felt at home in those circles.
The approach of Caribbean states to international affairs now re-
flects much less timorousness and self-consciousness.
In terms of its effect on the philosophy of politics we may
safely conclude that this increased international interest and
activity has given the several states a positive role which in con-
siderable degree precludes foreign-office concern with petty and
artificial problems as was formerly often the case. A given
government now has a more respectable international position to
occupy and it thereby gains more self-esteem and self-assurance.
The people who are governed take greater pride in their country's
foreign role, and the growth of a constructive sort of nationalism
is thereby furthered.
All these tendencies-and others-help to pull society in its
political aspects in toward a center which was formerly unoccu-
pied. The politics of the given country gains a solid core which

it previously lacked. The government is supported, not by irregu-
larly spaced and often flimsy posts around the periphery but
rather by a monolithic pillar in the center which provides much
greater strength and stability.
As this subtle transformation takes place, constitution-making
becomes more genuine, less imitative. Constitutions can then
spring from a soil profoundly stirred, turned over, and cultivated.
The Mexican Constitution of 1857 came from such soil, as did
its successor sixty years later. The resulting documents drew a
rich nourishment from an invigorated medium and they thus
reflected more substance than many other basic laws which have
been spoon-fed on a thin gruel of foreign concoction. Except for
unfortunate circumstance the Mexican Constitution of 1857
might have gained the stature and influence that the later one
of 1917 did; it was, however, supplanted by Maximilian and
then sabotaged by Diaz.
As the sources of political inspiration in the Caribbean coun-
tries come more from native soil and less from abroad the political
process becomes more meaningful. Theory and practice are less
divergent. Theory becomes less theoretical, practice less anarchic.
If the ship of state veered toward one side of the perilous channel
it ran the risk of reliance on charts (i.e., constitutions) so aca-
demic and unrealistic that it might easily founder. If the ship
got too close to the other side the danger was one of discarding
all charts (or constitutions), relying on rule-of-thumb navigation
with a caudillo as pilot, and again foundering. But in recent
years Scylla and Charybdis have begun to fade away, if you will.
The dangers from the extremes are no longer so great; the chan-
nel is much easier to pass.

It is in order to inquire what might interfere with this trend
which now seems to have set in so strongly. If we look at the
other side of the coin examined previously, we may conclude
that anything which contributes to the disintegration of the com-


The Caribbean

munity will operate again to separate rather than to join theory
and practice.
The extension of an overriding foreign influence in any of the
states of the Caribbean would, for example, introduce elements
of unreality and bitterness in the political life of that state which
would almost inevitably militate against unity and toward discord
and division. The theory of constitutional political operation
might remain much the same; the practice would necessarily
The successful promotion of extreme political ideologies would
produce the same result. The native elitism which, without phil-
osophical labeling or refinement, so long prevailed in many of
the Caribbean and other Latin American states, had much in
common with fascism. If, then, some neofascist movement were,
inconceivably, to make great headway in a Caribbean state it
would logically introduce centrifugal currents in society which
would in turn result in the further divergence of the theory and
practice of government. By the same token, communism, were
it to make the headway in a Caribbean state in the future that
it recently did in Guatemala, would prove a divisive factor point-
ing in the same direction. Who can honestly say that a demo-
cratic theory of government coincided with practice under the
Arbenz regime in the early 1950's.
Another possible threat might come from the building up of
vast fortunes as a conceivable product of industrialization. If the
economic gap between the masters and the masses were greatly
broadened, and especially if the intervening economic area were
uninhabited, the result could be equally disruptive in terms of
its effect on a coalescence of theory and practice.
But these threats do not seem very real. The whole trend
appears to be away from foreign domination, either political or
economic, and, indeed, given the present state of nationalism in
most of the Caribbean republics, anything resembling a classic
sort of imperialism would be virtually impossible. Most of the
states seem to be adequately on their guard against political

excesses, whether from the right or the left. All governments
and peoples need to keep in mind John Curran's dictum about
eternal vigilance, but as of now those in the Caribbean appear
to be aware of the shape and color of both fascism and com-
munism. Industrialization will of course produce large fortunes
but it is not conceivable that it will not also contribute to the
growth of a middle class. Caribbean governments are quite aware
of the possibility of using tax policies to control the growth of
great wealth, although they have not always had the courage or
the freedom to undertake such control.
It would seem, then, that we need not be too worried about
threats to the recent trend. The current toward integration now
appears strong and irresistible. As it continues it will pull ex-
pression of theory and formulation of practice toward a common
center, just as the various elements of political, economic, and
cultural society are pulled toward union in a common center.
We must not expect the process to be rapid or always to be
visible. We must not expect it to be completely uniform, to show
no regressions. But it is coming.

Part II



lone Stuessy Wright: FACTORS AFFECTING

IDEAS, HOWEVER EFFECTIVE, do not operate in a vacuum,
and political ideas can be translated into real governments only
through the use of political techniques and institutions. Latin
American peoples shared with Anglo-Americans the devotion to
the exciting ideas of liberty and equality that were current during
the Enlightenment. They, also, sought independence from the
mother country in order to set up that kind of government which
was desired in each particular country. It is the purpose of this
paper to investigate those traditions, factors, and influences which
affected the various Caribbean areas as each moved toward popu-
lar self-government, along with those problems, both inherited
and newly acquired, which these governments were called upon
to solve.
It happened that the thirteen English colonies along the At-
lantic seaboard of North America were the first to break the
tie with the mother country and to strike out on their own.
Within the span of a decade and a half these Americans declared,
fought for, and won their independence, transformed their indi-
vidual colonies into commonwealths, united these together in a
federal republic under an enduring constitution, and proceeded

42 The Caribbean
to govern themselves effectively and without any great outbreaks
of violence.
The deceptive ease with which all this was accomplished
encouraged other peoples throughout the Western Hemisphere
as they fought for their own independence and set up their own
free governments. It was natural to believe that the government
which seemed to be proving itself successful in the United States
was the best form-or at least a good one-through which to
express the liberal ideas of the period. Surely other countries
had only to adopt the same political formula-a somewhat liberal
written constitution with some popular participation in govern-
ment-to secure similar happy results for themselves.
Free elections (although with limited suffrage) were regarded
as the only acceptable way in which people could express their
will and give popular direction to governmental policies. With
high hopes and few fears, resolutely disregarding the warnings
of many cautious and concerned leaders, including Bolivar him-
self, the people in the newly independent Caribbean nations,
along with other Latin Americans, adopted these and other demo-
cratic practices which had stood the test of time in the United
States, confidently expecting them to produce the desired freedom
and liberty in their own governments.
The results were at first surprising, then disappointing, and
finally intolerable. "Political chaos inevitably descended upon
the newborn states."1 Interference with voters, intimidation of
voters, unsatisfactory ballot forms, disputes over qualifications of
the voters, fraudulence in counting the votes, the lack of im-
partial electoral courts to decide disputes, the impossibility of
upper officials controlling their subordinates who feared the loss
of their jobs in a change of government-all contributed to make
elections a farce.
Why? The obvious answers are certainly true as far as they
go. Spanish Americans lacked experience in such electoral tech-
Hubert Herring, A History of Latin America from the Beginnings to
the Present (New York, 1955), p. 294.



niques. Whatever democratic practices there might have been in
the early cabildos had long since disappeared and been super-
seded by an authoritarian, paternalistic government. Ignorance,
corruption, transportation problems, regionalism, illiteracy, per-
sonal ambitions, social and racial problems played their part.
Underlying all these factors, however, was the simple reality that
people in the Caribbean did not feel at home with electoral pro-
cedures nor with the forms of government which they were de-
signed to implement. Hubert Herring, in his recent book on Latin
America, expresses it well: "The people of Latin America were
catapulted at dizzy speed from a governmental pattern in which
they had almost no voice into an unfamiliar political system that
required them to elect their own rulers and lawmakers."2
It might even be argued that the priority of the establishment
of popular self-government in the United States bore some respon-
sibility for the political tragedy experienced by her neighbors to
the south. This is not the place to speculate as to whether the
Anglo-Americans were the first to seek independence because they
sensed intuitively that they were most ready for it, or whether
that priority of action came fortuitously as the result of chance
circumstances. We must, however, note that the United States,
which was the first American nation to break free from European
domination, was, in fact, that one best suited by colonial develop-
ment and European tradition to put the political theories of the
Enlightenment into practice. What people elsewhere (and in the
United States, for that matter) failed to realize was that the rep-
resentative, federal republican form of government worked for
us because it was a natural outgrowth of our colonial and revolu-
tionary experience and, at the grassroots level at least, presented
no startling political innovations. Instead, the impression became
widespread that the political forms, techniques, and institutions
that worked for the United States must be inherently good, where-
as it is conceivable that they were good only for the United States
because they were our own and natural to us.
2 Ibid.


The Caribbean

Economic historians have long been interested in the difficul-
ties encountered in the introduction of new crops even to areas
which seem favorable for them. We recall the persistent efforts
of the Spaniards to grow wheat in the New World before success
was finally achieved.3 A more recent experience of the same kind
was recounted by J. G. Harrar, of the Rockefeller Foundation,
at the very first luncheon meeting of the first of these annual
Caribbean conferences,4 as he expressed the surprise which Amer-
ican agriculturists felt when they found that their attempts to
increase Mexico's corn production by introducing heavy-bearing
varieties from the United States were unsatisfactory and had to
turn their efforts, instead, to the improvement of native varieties.
We are only recently learning that transplanted political and
social institutions often experience these same painful difficulties
in taking root in new soils.

The causes of the political difficulties in the Caribbean area
must be sought in the social, economic, and cultural complex.
One distinguished North American political scientist places the
blame for Latin America's difficulty in making democracy work
on a basic lack of integration.5 This is especially and peculiarly
applicable to the Caribbean areas which are racially more richly
varied than any other part of the Americas. Haiti is Negro,
Guatemala is Indian, Costa Rica is white, Honduras is mestizo,
and so it goes-with every conceivable gradation and combination
of these elements.
Differences in goals, values, traditions, and institutions among

Clarence H. Haring, The Spanish Empire in America (New York,
1947), p. 252, esp. footnote 1.
Conference on "The Caribbean at Mid-Century," University of Flori-
da, Gainesville, Dec. 7-9, 1950.
Russell H. Fitzgibbon, "A Political Scientists' Point of View" in W.
W. Pierson (ed.), "Pathology of Democracy in Latin America: A Sym-
posium," American Political Science Review, XLIV, 1 (March, 1950),

these racial groups could be multiplied endlessly to illustrate the
difficulties facing these areas when they were first given a share
in the responsibility for their own destiny. Generally speaking,
the Indians were not interested in politics per se, but turned to
such activities to accomplish purposes of their own. The Span-
iards were politically minded from the family on up through
the complicating relationships of society,6 but the Negroes were
not only not politically minded but they were not even family-
minded. Not only in Jamaica but in other areas large numbers
of Negro girls shunned marriage as another form of slavery and
steadfastly refused to establish homes in the monogamous Chris-
tian pattern.7
Religious differences, often closely related to racial differences,
have been responsible for-or have become the symbols of-
resorts to force when special groups felt that their interests had
not been protected by proper political procedures. The so-called
"Baptist War" in Jamaica8 and the Cruzoob movement9 in Yuca-
tan are cases in point. Even without violence, cultural differences
rooted in hundreds of years of independent development have
often made themselves felt at election time. If democratic govern-
ment can function successfully only in those countries where
there is general agreement on basic principles and significant
issues, we need scarcely wonder at the difficulties which it has
experienced in the Caribbean.10
The travail through which such diverse elements must pass
in the creation of a newly integrated society is described with

Miguel Jorrin, Governments of Latin America (New York, 1953),
p. 184.
Philip D. Curtin, Two Jamaicas: The Role of Ideas in a Tropical
Colony, 1830-1865 (Cambridge, 1955), p. 169.
8 Ibid., p. 86.
SHoward F. Cline, "Related Studies in Early Nineteenth Century
Yucatecan Social History," Microfilm collection of manuscripts on Middle
American Cultural Anthropology, No. XXXII, University of Chicago Li-
brary (Chicago, 1950), p. 11.
'" Arthur P. Whitaker, "A Historian's Point of View" in W. W. Pierson
(ed.), op. cit., 118.


The Caribbean

insight and brilliance by Philip Curtin in his very fine study of
Jamaican development in the nineteenth century:1x
. colonial peoples have accepted what the Europeans of-
fered them-a superior technology, more efficient government,
sometimes a new religion, and, for a minority, elements of a
European education. They have also lost what the Europeans
took from them-their older social and governmental organiza-
tion, their traditional economy, and the sanctions of sentiment,
religion and custom that formerly held their society together.
The earlier hope that both the indigenous population and the
transplanted Negroes would rapidly-or at least eventually-
become completely civilized along the lines of the mother country
has not come true.
"European ideas and European ways have not been accepted
in toto. Colonial peoples have taken part of the offering and
rejected the rest. They have dropped some of their indigenous
ideas and institutions, but others have shown surprising vigor."
(Those of us who have watched with sympathetic interest the
determination of the Seminoles to preserve their own way of life
in our particular portion of the Caribbean area scarcely need to
be reminded of this.) "It now seems likely that the present
ferment will result eventually in the formation of new societies
where neither the European nor the indigenous will have sur-
vived in its entirety. Instead, there will be an amalgam of both
-a product of the adjustment of a diverse inheritance to the
problems. ." of a new kind of world.

Political changes in Europe growing out of the American and
French revolutions, the growth of nationalism in the Napoleonic
Wars, and the whole series of economic changes often included
under the name "Industrial Revolution," also vitally affected
Caribbean life. The revolt of the North American colonies, the
successful slave revolt in Haiti, the dissolution of the Spanish
Curtin, p. viii in Preface.

empire, along with the greater measure of self-rule offered by
Britain to some of her colonies, changed forever the political map
of the Caribbean; while the Haitian revolt and the British eman-
cipation of slaves in the 1830's ruptured the traditional relation-
ships between whites and blacks, forcing them to grope their way
toward a new social balance. This process was made more diffi-
cult by the continuing existence of slavery in the United States
and other places nearby. Haiti gave up the struggle and elimi-
nated her whites, thereby solving part of her problem but by no
means making those of her neighbors easier.
During this same period the Caribbean faced economic changes
amounting to a revolution. The system of tropical plantation
colonies designed to provide the mother country with desirable
products was destroyed. France lost her most valuable colony,
Haiti. The American Revolution destroyed the triangular as
well as the direct New England trade upon which the islands
had counted. The Napolenic Wars forced Europe to become more
self-sufficient and to seek new avenues of trade.12 Haiti turned
her back on profits, indulging in a century-long rest from planta-
tion labor, and the British and the French islands entered into
a period of prolonged depression.
It is, perhaps, worth noting that even in the British colonies
where self-government had long been a cherished tradition, these
problems of racial differences and economic depression caused the
surrender, almost with relief, of government responsibility back
to the mother country.
Other economic changes brought new prosperity to some of
the more neglected areas of the Colonial period. Even these
demanded their price as they shifted social and political balances.
New trade brought prosperity to Puerto Rico and Cuba, as did
the increasing sugar production toward the close of the century,
but the problems of a monoculture economy and the resulting
concentrations of wealth plagued the political atmosphere of both
islands for decades and are still factors in their political life.
Ibid., pp. 4-5.


The Caribbean

The demands of the farmers on the western plains of the
United States for a durable binding twine for their grain brought
henequen plantations to Yucatan, but these, in turn, combined
with other factors to set off the bitter War of the Castes which
lasted almost a century.13
Before the Caribbean areas could successfully master the tech-
niques of self-government well enough to solve these problems,
they were compounded by new developments of the twentieth
century. Insistent demands for improved transportation dimin-
ished regionalism but cost one Caribbean nation-Colombia-a
portion of its national territory and has since dominated the life
of another-Panama. Urbanization and industrialization have
brought organized labor, a new political force. The activities of
foreign oil and mining companies, as well as the United Fruit
Company, have served to introduce new political issues. Loans
of foreign capital have resulted in economic pressures. Such
economic unity as these countries may once have had has been
destroyed as new economic forces added their political pressures
to those generated by ideological, racial, or social friction.
As the crossroads of America, it is little wonder that the
Caribbean has not been permitted to work out its own destiny
without foreign interest and intervention. The people of this
area have always been uneasily aware of the explosively expansive
United States to the north, fearing its imperialism, its color line,
its economic power, and finally, its great might, while sheltering
themselves, perhaps unconsciously, behind its Monroe Doctrine.
European nations have played varying roles in the economy
and politics of these nations, ranging all the way from the armed
French invasion which placed Maximilian on a precarious Mexi-
can throne to small business operations. A significant develop-
ment of the past few decades has been the powerful attempt of
Russia to orient these areas toward her communist world. Less
important by far, but worth noting, has been the increased inter-

"' See Howard F. Cline's study of the causes of this war, already cited.



est which India has been showing toward the East Indians in
the British territories of the Caribbean, an interest which coin-
cides with the rapidly increasing importance of their role in these
Perhaps the most important foreign interference in the internal
politics of the Caribbean nations has come from each other.
Parties in Central America and elsewhere have crossed boundaries
at will. Such activities have been somewhat reduced by Pan
American diplomacy during the past half-century, especially since
the creation of the Organization of American States.
These, then, are the social, economic, and political problems
which the Caribbean nations and semiautonomous colonies have
tried to solve in the past century and a quarter by means of the
political techniques borrowed from their northern neighbors or
from Europe. Their success has been limited and qualified. In
terms of actual fact, the use of free, honest elections in which
free, independent, and vigorous parties present their candidates
and policies to the people for a choice which both sides will
accept in good spirit, has rarely been found for any extended
period of time in any of these countries. The odds have been
too great against it.

Faced with what Federico G. Gil15 calls the chief political
problem of all Latin America-not "democracy versus the lack of
democracy," but how to get along in an orderly fashion under any
political system-Caribbeans have turned to the three isms: per-
sonalismo, the rule of a strong executive or dictator to whom the
vocal or influential majority of the country is willing to trust the
nation; continuismo, keeping a relatively satisfactory government
in power long past its legal term, rather than risk the disorders
attendant upon change; and machetismo, the use of force. Under
Mary M. Proudfoot, Britain and the United States in the Caribbean
(New York, 1953), p. 95.
Federico G. Gil, in comments on the papers in W. W. Pierson (ed.),

The Caribbean

the latter, one may run the full gamut from the mere threat of
force to the mob action of those Haitians who literally tore apart
their unpopular president Guillaume Sam. It is axiomatic in at
least one Caribbean country (Cuba) that you can win an election
with the Army, you can win an election without the Army, but
you cannot win an election against the Army.16 In a surprising
number of Caribbean countries, government today is firmly in the
hands of strong rulers-who may or may not have a legal basis
for their continued tenure in office-who remain there primarily
because their countries believe that they enjoy a greater degree
of peace, prosperity, and efficient administration while they are
With such practices, what becomes of elections? Sometimes
they are manipulated-by force, by bribes, by fraud. Often the
opposition stays away from the polls, rather than expose itself to
the humiliation of defeat. The party in power nearly always
wins. When a strongly entrenched government becomes suffi-
ciently unpopular, its opponents unite to overthrow it.
To the question as to why groups defeated in Latin American
elections do not wait for another election one student of Latin
American politics, Miguel Jorrin gives the laconic answer: "Be-
cause economically it is not possible for them to wait. . The
loss of political power means, for the individual and the family,
unemployment and serious economic difficulties, not counting
social prestige and possibilities of doing business with the govern-
Are we to conclude then that democracy and such practices
as free elections have lost their meaning for the Caribbean and
may have no place in the future? Perhaps not. It is true that
there have been disappointments, especially with countries such
as Colombia and Costa Rica which had seemed to have matured
politically, but these very disappointments may carry their own
answer. It may be that their political institutions failed for the

" Miguel Jorrin, p. 204.
1 Ibid., p. 184.




very same reason that they were admired by us-that is, they were
our kind of ways, rather than those that best suited the Colom-
bians or the Costa Ricans.
Democracy, in order to work for the Caribbean peoples, must
be indigenous, and there are heartening signs of such a develop-
ment. Professor Harold Davis reminds us that, despite the
breaches in the observance of principles of political democracy,
"all in all, republican self-government in Latin America remains
one of the great facts in modern political history." He also calls
attention to the consistency with which political leaders and
public opinion have adhered to these principles.18 The Carib-
bean offers many examples of what Federico Gil characterizes as
a "groping toward a more realistic basis of political thinking in
terms of its own environment, conditioning circumstances and
peoples. The long-established practice of blindly following the
foreign gods is slowly, but effectively, breaking down."19
Such Caribbean nations as Mexico, which has discovered a
national sense of destiny and is creating or adapting those social,
economic, and political institutions with which to fulfil it, and
the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, which shows signs of doing
for itself what others were unable to do for it, seem to have
advanced well along this way. Many of the other countries have
also made progress toward solving their problems through means
that do not seem too costly to them.
Curiously enough-or perhaps one might more truly say,
naturally enough-one of the results of this valiant and often
violent struggle toward stable self-government has been the in-
creasing strength of popular elections. Accepting the reality that
this still represents an ideal rather than an invariable practice,
one may detect signs that this institution has at last taken root
in the Caribbean area and may some day become genuinely

8 Harold E. Davis, "The Political Experience of Latin America and Its
Changing Cultural Context," Paper read for Panel 2, American Political
Science Association, Chicago, Sept., 1954.
Gil, in comments on the papers in W. W. Pierson (ed.), 149.


The Caribbean

productive. It is academic to argue whether this represents a
successful graft (or transplantation) or an imperceptibly and
undefinably different technique of self-government which has
developed naturally. More truly significant is the evidence that
the Caribbean peoples are producing electoral forms which they
are increasingly eager to use.
Popular interest in voting is widespread and, even in those
countries where voting is not compulsory, as it is in Cuba, the
percentage of people voting is apt to be greater than that in the
United States, for example. In short, those areas in the Carib-
bean which have apparently made the most progress toward that
national integration necessary for democratic government seem
to be committing themselves more definitely to electoral processes
than ever before.20
It has been said that the Caribbean, the meeting ground of
Europe, Asia, and Africa, presents more clearly than most other
regions of the world the basic problems of human society.21 To
the extent that this is true, one may hope that the answers which
the Caribbean nations discover to their political problems and the
processes by which they arrive at them may serve to light the way
for other nations more newly come to the practice of self-

Henry Wells, in "Ideology and Leadership in Puerto Rican Politics,"
American Political Science Review, XLIX, 1 (1955), 22-39, praises the
effective use of elections in Puerto Rico.
2 Bernard L. Poole, The Caribbean Commission: Background of Co-
operation in the West Indies (Columbia, S.C.: 1951), p. 5, quoting
Harold Stannard, "The British West Indies," Fabian Colonial Essays, ed.
by Rita Hinden (London, 1945), p. 214.


Elena Mederos de Gonzalez: THE FRANCHISE

THE CARIBBEAN AREA, which for our purposes here in-
cludes all the islands and mainland countries in the region of
the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, might be described
as an enormous sampler of diverse human groups, colorful and
picturesque with its legends in which pirates and hurricanes have
played principal parts. When we look at a map of the Caribbean,
we observe that it is practically a universe in itself. Each piece
of this huge mosaic has its own characteristics, but the pieces also
have much in common. Under the sea, they still are closely
It is the purpose of this paper to consider suffrage in the Carib-
bean area, and in order to do so, perhaps it would be helpful for
us to review: its meaning and functions; the conditions required
for its effective operation; how these conditions are being met in
the Caribbean area; how they reflect on suffrage, both with
respect to its legal aspects and its actual operation; and finally,
to consider a tentative program of constructive action. It is im-
portant to bear in mind the influence of tradition on the structure
of any political and governmental process, but since this subject
has already been amply treated, I am only mentioning it in pass-
ing so that you may be reminded of its basic and fundamental

The Caribbean

The franchise, substantially synonymous with democratic po-
litical activity, is defined as voting in support of a candidate for
office or for some opinion or measure, thus fulfilling an individu-
al's right or privilege of participating in elections. Those exercis-
ing the franchise constitute the electorate, which of course should
not be identified with the people as a whole, but refers rather to
the adult population eligible to vote. In general today, the form
of government which responds directly to prevailing political con-
cepts necessarily emphasizes the importance of the franchise,
since it is considered the best organ for the implementation of
The basic concepts on which its efforts are centered are:
a) The establishment of the right of the whole adult com-
munity to share in the direction of the state.
b) The means of attaining this diffusion of power.
On whom the suffrage is conferred and to what extent the
decisions of the electorate determine the powers of the state are
the indications by which the democratic character of a govern-
ment may be analyzed. Restrictive criteria based on sex, educa-
tion, or on tax-paying qualifications, justified on the ground of
making the electorate a more efficient organ of government, are
gradually giving way, the world over, to more liberal policies
growing out of the recognition that so far "no test has been
devised which enables us to limit the franchise in such a fashion
as to equate civic virtue with its possession."2

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 21, United Na-
tions Charter:
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his
country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of
government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections
which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret
vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
Harold Laski, Grammar of Politics, quoted in "Suffrage," Encyclo-




Social scientists have not reached an agreement as to whether
suffrage should be considered a function of citizenship, a vested
right, a natural right, a function of government, or an essential
ethical resource for the development of the more mature person-
ality of citizens. However, some consistent criteria have been
reached as to the basic factors which tend to make it a more
efficient means toward the actual representation of individuals,
for the collective interests of the citizenry, and for furthering the
progressive development of a country as a whole.

In regard to the franchise in the Caribbean, a review of pre-
vailing conditions cannot be made without careful consideration
and impartial evaluation of the many interrelated factors which
directly affect its operation in this area. A brief background is
therefore essential if we are to examine the question with any
In the Caribbean almost all races and peoples are represented;
the languages which are spoken-be they indigenous or imported
-have an intonation of their own. Even the rhythms are
peculiar to themselves. There are Negroes of African origin,
white-faced men of English, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Dan-
ish, and Dutch ancestry. There are Indians from different tribes
of both Americas and large nuclei of immigrants of European,
Oriental, Indian, and Near Eastern extraction. This ethnical
diversity, including the variegated and multitudinous mixed races
which are a natural legacy of the Colonial period, represents a
negative factor in the development of closely knit nationalities.
The economic aspect is not less important. The sweet sugar
cane, aromatic coffee, tobacco, bananas, oranges, pineapples,
chocolate, spices, and some root vegetables constitute the basic
elements of the agricultural production of this area. There is a

paedia of the Social Sciences, Vol. XIV, eds. Edwin R. A. Seligman and
Alvin Johnson (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1942).


The Caribbean

lack of fuel and limited mineral resources on the islands except
for Cuba, where there are iron, copper, nickel, and manganese,
Jamaica with its newly discovered deposits of aluminum white,
and Trinidad with some oil and bauxite. But on the mainland,
Venezuela is second in producing oil for the world, and Colombia
and Mexico have ample resources of platinum and silver, besides
oil; British and Dutch Guianas are producers of bauxite. One
need only recall the history of the large companies working the
oil wells, the sugar mills, banana plantations, and mines, to be
made aware of the fact that the land is mostly in the hands of
foreign capital, while those who work on it have no claim to its
ownership. Crops are seasonal, and the limitation of their mar-
kets, as well as the lack of merchant fleets, confine industrial
development. This, in turn, constitutes one of several basic
problems that impeded the forming of a stable middle class.
Of great importance also, and as factors which adversely affect
the sociopolitical progress of the area, are the standards of health
and education, both of which are intimately tied up to the
economy of the Caribbean.
Education can be a capital instrument in the development of
the economy of a nation. If its inhabitants aspire to raise their
standards of living, their aspirations must be premised on a better
general education. The actual operating of a democratic society
depends to a large degree on the efficiency of its educational
system. Education, besides being a basic element in the develop-
ment of the individual and collective personality of a people, fills
an important role in the evolution of a country's economy. Edu-
cation should and does offer the fundamental knowledge on
which technological investigation-a necessary practical step in
improving standards of living-will be based. It should and
does discover and stimulate capable personnel for specialized
fields in agriculture, commerce, and industry, as well as facilitate
the development of new lines of industry. Education also tends
to further cooperation amongst individuals and groups through
greater understanding of their mutual problems.



In the Caribbean, we must recognize that our educational
systems are far from being prepared to cover a demand of such
magnitude. Our index of illiteracy is painfully high there. Costa
Rica, with practically a uniform white population and represent-
ing perhaps the highest level of democracy in all Latin Ameri-
ca, has the lowest illiteracy rate in the Caribbean, 21 per cent,
in contrast with Nicaragua and Honduras, its close neighbors,
which have 63 per cent and 65 per cent respectively. Guate-
mala's proportion is 72 per cent; Mexico's, 43 per cent. Towards
the south, Panama presents an illiteracy index of 28 per cent
(excluding indigenous tribes), Colombia 44 per cent, and Vene-
zuela 59 per cent. Of the islands in the area, Cuba and Puerto
Rico have the lowest rates, both 24 per cent; Dominican Repub-
lic has a higher rate, while Haiti is reported as reaching a 90 per
cent rate of illiteracy. In the colonies, the average is compara-
tively low: Barbados has only 8 per cent; Jamaica and its depen-
dencies 26 per cent; Windward Islands, 31 per cent; British
Honduras, 17 per cent; British Guiana, 22 per cent; and the
Virgin Islands, 13 per cent.
The countries of the Caribbean, with few exceptions, are also
faced with serious health problems, including parasitism, nutri-
tional deficiencies, malaria, tuberculosis, and venereal and epi-
demic diseases. These stand in the way of healthful living and
form a part of the vicious circle of poverty, hunger, sickness,
ignorance, low level of production, and so on. The per capital
income in most of the countries of this area is extremely low.
Political liberty requires a certain degree of economic well-being
and equality. Ignorance, misery, and morbidity pave the way for
bribery and corruption. There are parents who sell their votes
for a bottle of medicine for their sick child; to others, the fran-
chise represents the means of being fed, even though only for a
few days. Can it be said under these circumstances that elections
are free? The factors mentioned are definitely if indirectly co-
ercive. It is evident that in an environment in which they prevail,
purity of suffrage is at best a pleasant myth.

The Caribbean

Even though it is painful, we must recognize that in the major-
ity of the countries in the Caribbean area, participation in suf-
frage is often merely a matter of outward form. Democracy
necessarily requires certain formalities, but these must be accom-
panied by a concrete effort to give sovereignty to the people in
order that they may voice their mandates freely. When some of
our nations-in spite of the negative factors mentioned here-
have attempted to implant a highly democratic type of govern-
ment, they have often failed in this heroic enterprise because the
forces of ignorance, guided by ulterior motives, vested interests,
and impure politics, have been too great. In these cases, the feel-
ing of frustration foments even greater difficulties in convincing
capable men and women to run for office and serve the nobler
destinies of their country. When apathy, indifference, dishonesty,
or lack of faith prevail in politics, as is true in many of our
countries, suffrage becomes a rather confusing instrument.

Returning more specifically to the question of the franchise,
consideration should be given to two aspects. The first, which
refers to conditions of a legal character, involves the method of
choosing candidates, the mechanism of referendum and recall,
and the proper size of a constituency, their prerequisites, and so
on. It also includes specifying the exact powers which an elected
member should exercise, the representation of minorities, whether
elections are to be partisan or nonpartisan, and, last but not least,
the prevention of fraud through the establishment of guaranties
to the electorate. Although some restrictive criteria still prevail,
broad strides have been taken in the last few years, especially
in colonial legislation, towards setting up an ample democratic
basis for the use of the franchise. In general terms, it would
seem that the wording of the law is not solely responsible for the
inefficiency of its functioning, but rather its tortuous interpreta-
tion and defective application is to blame. The second consider-
ation refers to sociopolitical conditions. The characteristics of the




electoral body itself which are conducive to the efficient function-
ing of the democratic process can be summarized under the
following three major respects: homogeneity of the electorate,
absence of wide economic differences between citizens, and a
generalized and adequate level of education.
In reality, democracy is a formative process that passes through
different stages. In the countries of the Caribbean, as in all
others, suffrage has been its most indicative and efficient in-
strument and has had to evolve in step with the development
of the area. In no case did the majority of the population vote
when suffrage was introduced. The electoral body was limited
and only the higher social classes had the privilege of voting.
However, the concept of the right of general suffrage has been
gaining favor along with general democratic progress. For in-
stance, with regard to the extension of the vote to women in
national elections, the sequence has been as follows: Cuba, 1934;
Panama, 1945; Guatemala, 1946; Venezuela, 1947; Dominican
Republic, 1947; Costa Rica, 1948; El Salvador, 1950; Mexico,
1953; Colombia, 1954; Nicaragua, 1955; Honduras, 1955. In
the English colonies until 1950, only Trinidad, Tobago, and
Jamaica3 and its dependencies had universal suffrage. In most
of the territorial colonies of the Caribbean, certain requirements
of property, income qualifications, residence, and literacy tests,
were demanded.
Today, in all, universal suffrage prevails. In fact, in practically
all countries and colonies of the Caribbean, suffrage can be said
to be universal, direct, equal (for men and women), secret, and
obligatory. Exceptional cases are the following: in Colombia,
illiterates cannot vote; in Costa Rica, the vote is optional. In
Guatemala and Honduras, the vote is optional for women and
obligatory for men. In Haiti, the vote is optional and indirect,

S Data taken from note of Electoral Office, Kingston, Jamaica, B.W.I.,
Nov. 4, 1955. In the year 1661, elections were held in Jamaica for a
small Council. Further, in the year 1864, there was a House of Assembly
elected with 47 members.


The Caribbean

and it is the only country of the Caribbean in which women can
participate only in municipal elections; however, the law now
provides that in 1958, women will vote in general elections.
With reference to the age of voters, in some countries (as in
Guatemala and El Salvador), citizens can vote at the age of
eighteen; in the Dominican Republic, only those married can vote
if younger than eighteen; in Mexico, a married citizen can vote
when eighteen and single persons at twenty-one; in Nicaragua
and Honduras, illiterates vote at twenty-one, and those who can
read and write at eighteen; in Costa Rica and Cuba, the vote is
conceded at twenty years of age. In Panama, Colombia, Vene-
zuela, Haiti, and the territories of France, Great Britain, and the
United States, twenty-one is the age at which they may begin
to exercise the right to vote, while in the Dutch territories it is

Since it is not possible to give the full details for each country,
a condensed history of suffrage in Cuba will be presented, as
being similar to developments in other republics of the Caribbean
The starting point of the evolution of political rights in Cuba
can be traced to the approval by the Parliament of Cadiz (1810
to 1812) of the Spanish Constitution, also applicable to the
colonies. Cuba's two delegates to this Parliament had been ap-
pointed, not elected. The Charter of Cadiz granted Cuba the
right of electing her deputies to the Spanish Parliament. This
advantage was subsequently neutralized in Cuba at the elections
which took place in 1813, by such difficulties as the absence
of an electoral census, poor communications, and budget limita-
tions which again led to the appointment rather than the election
of the Cuban deputies. This first constitutional monarchy in
Spain, which was interrupted from 1814 until 1820 during the
reign of the absolute monarch Ferdinand VII, had no further
repercussions in Cuba, except the emergence of local political

issues and the consequent formation of two large opposing groups.
One was composed of merchants and high officers of the colonial
bureaucracy and the other of landowners, cattlemen, and farmers,
in their majority native born. From that time on and as long as
Cuba remained a Spanish colony, these two groups, under dif-
ferent names, constituted two opposing forces which constantly
fought each other for the official representation of the colony.
The Charter of Cadiz of 1812, the Royal Statute of 1834, and
the Spanish Constitution of 1876, made provisions for suffrage
in the colonies in general, which were applicable also to Cuba.
However, these political rights bestowed at intervals were very
far from establishing universal suffrage. The same is true of the
different constitutional drafts which were studied and presented
on different occasions-by Joaquin Infante in 1812, by Governor
Francisco Serrano y Dominguez in 1860, and by the Minister
of Overseas Affairs, Becerra, in 1890.
In 1900, the American intervention government called an
election for delegates to a Constituent Assembly. Suffrage in
these elections was still only partial, as the vote was granted only
to those who had belonged to the revolutionary army, to those
having certain property, and to those who could read and write.
During the Constituent Assembly discussions on political
rights, a great majority was in favor of universal suffrage, and
one of the delegates, Miguel Gener,4 defended the criterion that
universal suffrage must include the vote for women-as one
woman, Ana Betancourt de Mora,5 had already declared in 1878

A Alfredo Zayas y Alfonso, Discursos y conferencias, tomo II (La Ha-
bana, Molina y Comp., 1942), p. 212:
It is our opinion that once universal suffrage has been accepted the
decision is not complete if women do not take part. . We have all
agreed already in recognizing that not only man has participated in the
revolution but that the Cuban woman has also taken a very principal part
in it-therefore, there is no reason to believe that the Cuban woman is
uninterested in politics or ignorant of politics. The Cuban woman has
the same aspiration of the Cuban people. There are many Cuban men
who know less than the generality of Cuban women.
5 Emeterio S. Santovenia, Huellas de gloria, segunda edici6n (La Ha-
bana: Editorial Tr6pico, 1944), p. 73:

62 The Caribbean
in Gudimaro, when the constitution of the "Republic in Arms"
was adopted. But the concept of universal suffrage was already
considered extremely ample when it included Negroes and illiter-
ates and, in accordance with these prevailing political ideas,
women were deprived of their rights for the time being.
The article on suffrage, in the first Cuban constitution,
adopted after the proclamation of independence, reads as follows:
Art. 38. All Cuban males over 21 years of age have the
right of suffrage excepting the following:
1. Inmates of any asylum.
2. Those legally declared mentally unfit.
3. Those legally declared disqualified because of law infrac-
4. Members of the armed forces of land or sea.
The Constitution of 1928, so negative for Cuba in other
respects, signalled as far as suffrage was concerned a step of
progress, in that it eliminated women's total exclusion from the
right to vote (in an amendment to Article 38) by establishing
that the law would provide the degree and manner in which
Cuban women were to exercise suffrage. This constitution was
annulled in 1933 before women actually exercised their vote.
During the brief provisional governments of Ram6n Grau San
Martin and Colonel Carlos Mendieta y Montuifur in 1934, two
decrees were enacted recognizing women's political rights, and,
although they were never put into effect, they served as prec-
edents for the Constitutional Law of 1935 which provided for

Citizens: The Cuban woman, in the dark and quiet corner of her
home, waited patiently and resignedly for this sublime hour, in which
a just revolution would break her yoke, would untie her wings.
Everything was slave in Cuba-cradle, color and sex.
You have wished to destroy the slavery of the cradle-fighting until
death, if necessary.
Slavery of color no longer exists-you have already freed the serf.
When the moment comes of liberating woman-Cuban man who has
done away with the slavery of the cradle and the slavery of color-will
also consecrate his generous soul to the conquest of the rights of her who
is today in war his sister of charity, devoted, and who tomorrow will be as
yesterday-his unfailing companion.

women's participation in the elections of 1936. Woman suffrage
was definitely established in the constitution adopted in 1940,
which also recognized the principle of equal civil rights for
However, it cannot yet be said that suffrage has completed its
cycle of evolution in Cuba with satisfactory results. Bribery,
fraud, and coercion, which were already present in the elections
of 1836, when Cuba was still a colony, have continued to frus-
trate the democratic significance of almost all the electoral proc-
esses in Republican Cuba and have provoked insurrections and
In 1906, after the forced re-election of President Tomis
Estrada Palma, the leaders of the opposition rebelled, causing
the second intervention of the United States in Cuba. Again
after the elections in 1912 and 1916, revolt swept the island,
and the same thing happened when President Alfredo Zayas was
elected in 1920. In 1924, Gerardo Machado was elected presi-
dent with such a broad margin that the losing party did not
attempt a protest. In 1928, and for the purpose of extending
his term, President Machado forced a constitutional reform. He
also provided for his own re-election and adopted the policies of
a dictator. He was deposed in 1933 after an extremely tense and
prolonged revolutionary period.
Between 1933 and 1940, Cuba had nine presidents, in addi-
tion to five commissioners who jointly directed national affairs
during a period of several months. During those seven years,
only one presidential election was held-in 1936. It was the
first election in which women participated and the winning can-
didate, Miguel Mariano G6mez, was deposed through a question-
able impeachment five months after taking office.
Notwithstanding this distressing process, it can truthfully be
said that Cubans have been developing political consciousness.
The 1939 elections for Constituent Assembly delegates were
exemplary in their order and for the acceptance of the will of
the people. The same can be said of the presidential election

64 The Caribbean
held in 1944, in which the opposition's candidate defeated the
government's candidate, and in which a large percentage of the
electorate participated.6
The Electoral Code has suffered a series of modifications,
sometimes for the purpose of making it more efficient, at other
times precisely to facilitate maneuvers which would favor given
parties or candidates.7 There is, however, considerable alertness
on the part of the public at large as to the significance and
implications of measures of this type. At the present moment,
there is a growing demand for a revision of the Code.
Another example of political maturity was shown five years
ago when, in spite of the ample financial and political backing
given by President Carlos Prio Socorras to his brother, who ran
for mayor of Havana in 1950, the people sensed the imposition
and repudiated the candidate at the elections. It then began to
look as if Cuba had overcome the stage of convulsion and forced
substitutions of men in power, and that the country had acquired
the maturity necessary for normal democratic processes. But a
new coup on the tenth of March, 1952, again interrupted the
constitutional rhythm of the country and marked a political set-
back of twenty years. The masses of the people felt disillusioned
with this new imposition of government by force. Unpopular,
yet backed by the Army, President Fulgencio Batista took over
power, creating a new impasse in the political life of Cuba.
General elections were called for last November, but since guaran-
ties were lacking to carry on free political campaigns, no other
party went to the elections and few people voted. However, to
play out the comedy of this sham election, official figures on the
number of voters were high. The fact is that it was one of the

6 "Reports of Office of Electoral Statistics," Cuba (not published).
Under normal conditions in Cuba an average of over 70 per cent of the
electorate has participated in elections, and since women have the vote
they have been half of the voters; however, relatively few have been
Elections held in Cuba since 1900, with dates and Electoral Code



most shameful elections held in many years, and the people of
Cuba are still without a clear vision of how normality can be
restored to their political life.


In a general evaluation of the Caribbean countries, we may
say that we are in a democratically underdeveloped area. The


June 16, 1900
June 1, 1901

3rd Saturday, Dec., 1901
General Dec. 31, 1901
Parcial Dec. 31, 1903
General Dec. 1, 1905
General Nov. 1, 1908
Parcial Nov. 1, 1910
General Nov. 1, 1912
Parcial Nov. 1, 1914
General Nov. 1, 1916
Parcial Nov. 1, 1918
General Nov. 1, 1920
Parcial Nov. 1, 1922
General Nov. 1, 1924
Parcial Nov. 1, 1926
General Nov. 1, 1928
Parcial Nov. 1, 1930
General Jan. 15, 1936
Parcial March 5, 1938
Nov. 15, 1939
General July 14, 1940
Parcial March 15, 1942
General June 1, 1944
Parcial June 1, 1946
General June 1, 1948
Parcial June 1, 1950
3rd Sunday, Nov., 1953
General Nov. 1, 1954

* O.M. means Military Order.
t C.E. means Electoral Code.
$ D.L. means Law Decree.
I L.D. means Decree Law.

Electoral Code Applied
O.M.* No. 164, April 18, 1900
O.M. No. 164-900 y 91, April 8,
O.M. No. 164-900 y 91, April 8,
C.E.t September 9, 1901
C.E. September 9, 1901
C.E. September 9, 1901
C.E. September 11, 1908
C.E. September 11, 1908
C.E. September 11, 1908
C.E. September 11, 1908
C.E. September 11, 1908
C.E. September 11, 1908
C.E. August 8, 1919-Crowder
C.E. August 8, 1919-Crowder
C.E. August 8, 1919-Crowder
C.E. August 8, 1919-Crowder
C.E. August 8, 1919-Crowder
C.E. September 11, 1929
D.L.t No. 54, July 2, 1935
D.L. No. 54, July 2, 1935
C.E. Nov. 29 de 1937 (Emergency
C.E. Nov. 29, 1939
C.E. Nov. 29, 1939
C.E. May 31, 1943
C.E. May 31, 1943
C.E. May 31, 1943
C.E. May 31, 1943

C.E. Nov. 11, 1952 (Suspended)
L.D. No. 1215, Nov. 26, 1953


The Caribbean

great tragedy of the countries which border this new mare
nostrum is symbolized by the dictatorships which delay the pace
of political responsibility and progress. Of course, we cannot look
at the social phenomenon of Latin American dictatorships in a
simplistic manner nor judge them as isolated situations, but as
a consequence of the complex amalgamation of the negative
aspects of cultural, economic, ethnical, and historic factors which
we have already mentioned.
The democratic development of the countries of the Caribbean
is in direct relation to these factors, and I believe it is justifiable
to state that, although the general picture is full of shadows,
there has been some progress and that this will necessarily carry
us all towards a common higher destiny.
Costa Rica is already an index of what can be accomplished
in this part of the world. Perhaps its high democratic standard
is due to the fact that for many years it has had more teachers
than soldiers. The struggle to achieve democracy in the Carib-
bean can be said to take place between two poles: Costa Rica
representing the positive one, with its years of democratic prac-
tice, and Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), the negative
one, with its paternal pattern of despotism. In a political sense,
the latter is probably the darkest spot in the Caribbean. The dic-
tatorships of Nicaragua and Venezuela do not lag too far behind.
Colombia represented a highly developed democracy until a few
years ago, when a wave of dictatorship swept away all its con-
quests. Mexico, in recent years-during the governments of
Lizaro Cardenas, Miguel Aleman, and Ruiz Cortines-seems to
have made some progress towards reaffirming the concept which
is expressed in the high philosophy of her revolutionary hero,
Benito Juarez: "Respect for the rights of others in peace."8 Haiti
-desolately poor, with the highest index of illiteracy and 115
inhabitants per square kilometer-stands painfully in need of
Such contrasts make it all the more useful to study the prob-
8 Inscription on the monument of Benito Juarez, Mexico City.

lems of the Caribbean together, since this permits an appreciation
of the different stages existing in the working out of similar
problems as well as of the value of the methods used in their
In the confused racial picture of the region, there are several
major elements which have not favored democratic development.
The Spanish group, proudly individualistic and conservative, was
held back in many respects by its more reactionary members and
traditional institutions; the native Indian group, isolated by lan-
guage and cultural distance, created further disunity owing to a
natural tendency to individual reserve; and the Negro brought
all the ballast of his slave origin. Overlapping all these mixed
human conglomerates was the enervating economic drive of im-
perialistic powers, who in addition to their prejudices felt it their
right to sap from these territories, by fair means or foul, whatever
wealth they had or could develop.
No wonder that the process of democratization has been slow
and that the cultural and economic awakening of the Caribbean
has been delayed in spite of its privileged geographical position,
strategic both from the point of view of the defense of the conti-
nent and for its unique commercial and social significance as
the crossroads of the Americas. The task ahead for those of
us who live in the Caribbean area is complex. It must include
strengthening of the moral forces within our countries and stimu-
lating whatever factors may contribute to the dignification of our
political conduct through a greater social consciousness.
Not only the countries of the Caribbean but all of Latin
America, which our Cuban apostle Jose Marti called the "Conti-

Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Constitutional Reform (Brit-
ish Honduras: Government Printer, 1951), p. 8:
It is our view that there is far less risk in giving more power to and
placing greater responsibility in the hands of the people in a homogeneous
society than in a society of cosmopolitan character, where the process of
integration is still in a state of flux, and where there is the subtle ferment
of racial cleavage arising from differences of languages, culture and out-
look and inequality in educational and political progress.


The Caribbean

nent of Human Hope," must make a strenuous effort to put an
end to the dramatic process that through centuries has been
delaying the full play of democracy, often giving the impression
that it is inapplicable to our countries, when it has not as yet
even been given a fair trial. The too-frequent overthrowing of
our constitutionally elected governments, usually by a minority
group which has some common interest with more aggressive
factions in the army; the exaggerated size of the armed forces, in
itself a standing invitation to interfere in the political field for
personal gain; the pressure of imperialistic forces; the disregard
of the elemental rights of man to voice his own mandates; dema-
gogy and electoral fraud, bribe, and coercion-are some of the
most outstanding forces that delay the definite political and social
progress of almost all countries of this area.
Nor should we silence another negative factor-perhaps one
of the most difficult ones to overcome-caudillismo, for which
a satisfactory counterpart in the English language has not been
found, possibly because it is a more prevalent product of Latin
American politics. It is a sort of hero worship of a given person-
ality, whose admirers ignore his social or political value and
follow him blindly through all sorts of vicissitudes, in spite of
whatever maneuvers he may engage in for his own personal
benefit as opposed to national interest. It is the upholding of a
personal relationship in preference to a given platform. Un-
doubtedly the personality of men in power is important, but
citizens must learn to evaluate it in the light of integrity of
character as proven by public conduct.
Besides, in spite of the Monroe Doctrine, America has not
been exclusively for Americans in the broad sense. For centuries,
colonial exploitation has clouded the broad panorama of the
Caribbean. Fortunately, since 1942, a revision of colonial policy
has taken place. The Anglo-American Caribbean Commission,
which later became the Caribbean Commission, has worked per-
sistently to raise the standard of living and the social conditions
of the region. As a consequence, the situation of the population

in the Caribbean territories has improved greatly in comparison
with their previous status.10
International cooperation has been extremely fruitful in the
area of the Caribbean colonial territories. The Caribbean Com-
mission, through the united efforts of Great Britain, the United
States, Holland, and France has been a meaningful instrument.
The various specialized agencies of the United Nations, the Or-
ganization of American States, and diverse inter-American pro-
grams have offered both technical and material assistance, as well
as moral support, in developing sound, basic help in this region
-help which has improved conditions benefiting the entire
The evident strides of social progress in all Central America
during the past decade can justly be attributed to the response
of governments to the international collaboration offered by such
organizations as UNICEF, WHO, FAO, UNESCO, ILO, ICAO,
and the United States Point Four program, now known as ICA
(International Cooperation Administration). Attention should

Devere Allen, The Caribbean: Laboratory of World Cooperation
(New York: League for Industrial Democracy, 1943), pp. 18-19:
Political democracy, as well as economic security and freedom from
racial prejudice, is an issue that will not down. Not the least bitter
charge leveled by Britons at their own West Indian rule is that it dis-
courages democratic practices. In St. Kitts, that sugar lump of despotism,
for one instance, and in Nevis, only 4.3 per cent of the 38,000 inhabitants
are registered electors. When electors do vote, they are up against the
fact that most "representatives" are named by the authorities, instead of
democratically elected. In order to become an elector one must own prop-
erty worth 500 pounds-a fortune in such poor countries. On St. Lucia
property qualifications are the same, and there only 2.2 per cent of the
people are registered voters. In the foregoing regions the property test
may give way to a test based on the amount of taxes paid on real estate,
a tax of ten shillings sufficing. In Barbados, nobody can vote, under any
circumstances, who is employed as a domestic servant or in any other
"menial capacity," unless they are property owners.
In the so-called legislative bodies of various West Indian dependencies,
figures speak eloquently of anti-democratic rule. In Jamaica, 16 members
of the Council are named by the authorities as against 16 elected. In
Trinidad the ratio is 19 to seven. In Antigua it is six to five. In St. Lucia
it is seven to five. The percentage of the population voting in Jamaica
is 5.29; in Trinidad, 5.55; in Antigua, 3.00.

70 The Caribbean
also be called to the efforts of a considerable number of non-
governmental international organizations which have their coun-
terparts in this region. Most of these organizations have served
the double purpose of actually carrying out programs of benefit
to countries and of stimulating communities toward a new aware-
ness of their problems and toward a desire to overcome their
local difficulties by using their own resources. In fact, even the
efforts now being realized in giving full support to ODECA may
be attributed in part to the consciousness of the strength of
united effort as demonstrated in the work of the international
The heritage of the past, however, has not entirely disappeared
in any of these territories or republics. Overcoming such negative
factors is always a slow process, yet optimism is justified when
we see evidence of steady improvement.
A most dramatic change has been staged in Puerto Rico, which
is now a commonwealth of the United States with the right to
elect the head of its government and the future possibility of
deciding by vote whether to maintain its present status or become
a republic (a rather difficult dilemma for a population whose
economic salvation seems to depend on the maintenance of non-
taxable imports and exports with the United States).
Each and every country must realize that it is one of a cluster
of nations united by common interests and a common future.
The welfare of one affects the welfare of them all. It is indis-
pensable that they form a solid front of resistance against factors
impeding their democratic development. Toward this end they
must join forces to find a way to abolish venality and to make
constitutions workable and respected. Our constitutions are un-
usually broad and rather lyrical statements on liberty, democracy,
and civicism, whose actual enforcement is blocked by laws and
decrees which precisely circumvent their intention. No doubt
there is often need for organic laws that will expedite the opera-
tion of general established principles, but these must be carefully
studied and strictly practiced.

Political liberty, economic security, and adequate education
and health programs are the foundations on which the future of
the nations of the Caribbean rest. They should be considered
basic. To assure political liberty, a vigorous public opinion should
be formed through the free presentation, at the level of the
majority, of different discerning views on current affairs. The
public press, radio, and other media of public information need
to be encouraged to fulfill their responsible roles. Political edu-
cation should be undertaken through public lectures, meetings,
courses, and discussions.
Group work and community organization furnish ideal experi-
ence and background for participation in public life. They facili-
tate the interpretation of general problems and methods into local
language and atmosphere that can readily be felt and understood
by the participants. Political apathy must be shaken, since those
who neglect the duties and privileges of citizenship risk losing
their democratic rights. It is the citizenry that makes govern-
ment of the people a reality. Creating responsible citizens in spite
of all adverse circumstances is the challenge we must issue if
the franchise is to become a worthy instrument of democracy.

Arciniegas, German. Biografia del Caribe. Segunda edici6n. Buenos
Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1947. 543 pp.
SThe State of Latin America. Translated from the Spanish by
Harriet de Onis. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1952. 416 pp.
Guerra y Sanchez, Ramiro. Azzcar y poblacidn en las Antillas. Tercera
edition. La Habana: Cultural S. A., 1944. 320 pp.
Gunther, John. El drama de America Latina. (Inside Latin America.)
Buenos Aires: Editorial Claridor, 1942. 438 pp.
Infiesta, Ram6n. Historia constitutional de Cuba. La Habana: Editorial
Selecta, 1942. 382 pp.
Lancis y Sanchez, Antonio. El process electoral de 1954. La Habana:
Editorial Lex, 1955. 150 pp.
Elementos de derecho electoral. La Habana: Publicaciones Uni-
versitarias, 1955. 164 pp.

72 The Caribbean
Macdonald, Austin F. Latin American Politics and Government. New
York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1950. 642 pp.
Santos Jimenez, Rafael. Tratado de derecho electoral. La Habana: Edi-
torial Lex, 1946. 574 pp.
Santovenia, Emeterio S. Huellas de gloria. Segunda edici6n. La Ha-
bana: Seoane Fernandez y Cia., 1944. 268 pp.
Zayas y Alfonso, Alfredo. Discursos y conferencias. Tomo II. La Ha-
bana: Molina y Compaiiia, 1942. 221 pp.

Public Documents
Allegne, Keith. Memoir of the Constitutional Development of St. Lucia.
St. Lucia: Government Printing Office, 1950. 31 pp.
Bailey, Sydney D. Constitutions of the British Colonies. London: The
Hansard Society, 1950. 52 pp.
British Guiana. Suspension of the Constitution. London: Her Majesty's
Stationery Office, 1953. 19 pp.
Colonial Office. Report of the Constitutional Commission
1950-1951. London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1951. 74 pp.
"Constituci6n de la Republica de Cuba," Gaceta de la Habana (Lunes 14
de abril de 1902).
Constitucion de la Republica de Cuba. La Habana: Imprenta y Papeleria
de Rambla, Bouza y Cia., 1928. 57 pp.
Constitution of the Common Wealth of Puerto Rico. San Juan: Depart-
ment of Education Press, 1953.
"Convenci6n Constituyente. Ley Num. 1," Gaceta Oficial (La Habana:
Editora Moderna, Lunes 8 de julio de 1940).
Duncan, E. Constitutional Development in St. Vincent. Kingston: Gov-
ernment Printing Office, 1950. 18 pp.
Estatutos politicos de la Repzblica de Guatemala. Guatemala C.A.: Tipo-
grafia Nacional, 1954. 24 pp.
Great Britain, Colonial Office. The Colonial Territories 1954-1955. Lon-
don: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1955. 185 pp.
International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Report on Cuba.
Washington, D.C., 1951. 1049 pp.
Organization of American States. Comisi6n Interamericana de Mujeres.
Derechos civiles y politicos de la mujer de America. Vol. I. Washing-
ton, D.C., 1954.
SMemoria de la president de la Comisi6n Interamericana de
Mujeres. Periodo 1953-1955. Washington, D.C.: Uni6n Panameri-
cana, 1955. 25 pp.
Report of the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission to the Governments
of the United States and Great Britain. Washington, D.C., 1943.
94 pp.
Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Constitutional Reform. British
Honduras: Government Printer, 1951. 26 pp.
Republica de Cuba. Censo de 1943. La Habana: P. Fernandez y Cia.,
1945. 1373 pp.
Trinidad and Tobago. Report of the Franchise Committee of Trinidad
and Tobago. Government Printer, 1944. 149 pp.



United Nations. Estudio econ6mico de America Latina, 1951-1952. Mexi-
co, 1954.
United Nations. Monthly Bulletin of Statistics, from August, 1954, to
August, 1955. New York: United Nations.
UNESCO. Datos y cifras. Paris: Talleres Chaix, 1955. 94 pp.

Allen, Devere. The Caribbean: Laboratory of World Cooperation. New
York: League for Industrial Democracy, 1943. 40 pp.
Chamber of Commerce of Puerto Rico. The Anglo-American Plan for the
Caribbean. San Juan, 1945. 36 pp.
Cumper, George. Caribbean Affairs. Social Structure of the British Car-
ibbean. Extra-Mural Department. University College of the West In-
dies. Kingston, 1949.
Portell Vila, Herminio. Historia de America. Apuntes de clase torados
por S. Zaldivar. Folletos. La Habana.
Sherlock, P. M. The Development of the Middle Class in the Caribbean.
London: International Institute of Differing Civilizations, 1955. 7 pp.

Laski, Harold J. "Democracy," Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences. Eds.,
Edwin R. A. Seligman and Alvin Johnson. Vol. V. New York: The
Macmillan Company, 1942.
Shepard, W. J. "Suffrage," Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences. Eds.,
Edwin R. A. Seligman and Alvin Johnson. Vol. XIV. New York: The
Macmillan Company, 1942.
van Gorkom, J. A. J. "Partnership in a Kingdom," The Caribbean, VIII,
7 (February, 1955).



AMONG CERTAIN STUDENTS of Latin American affairs,
it has long been popular to deprecate the importance of political
parties in Latin America and to argue either that they are mere
vehicles for the personal ambitions of one or another caudillo,
or that they do not matter because the military makes the final
decisions in any case. I should like to take issue with that point
of view and to try to outline the principal currents among the
political parties of the Caribbean area. I should then like to
sketch briefly the principal pressure groups outside the political
parties which bring their weight to bear on these organizations
and on Caribbean politics in general.
I shall include references both to independent republics around
the Caribbean and to colonial areas, notably Puerto Rico and the
British West Indies. All these areas, it seems to me, are going
through much the same basic process.

To understand the role of parties in the politics of the region,
we must comprehend that the Caribbean area and all of Latin
America is going through a fundamental revolution. This trans-
formation is coming about as a result of the effects of economic



development and industrialization within the region and as a
reflection of world-wide events.
The Latin American Social Revolution resolves itself into four
fundamental phenomena: the rearrangement of class relation-
ships; the rise of nationalism; the drive for economic develop-
ment; and the attempt to achieve a greater degree of political
The desire for a rearrangement of age-old relationships among
various classes in the area arises from the growth of industry and
commerce, which has brought into being new classes-most par-
ticularly a growing middle class and a wage-earning industrial or
semi-industrial working group. With the growing importance of
these elements in the economic life of the nations of the region,
they are no longer willing to accept the political domination of
the small landed aristocracy which has controlled since time im-
memorial most of these countries.
In some parts of the Caribbean area, particularly in the British
West Indian islands, this drive for altering class relationships has
racial overtones. Until a few short years ago the dominant
elements in most of the British West Indian islands-the groups
which had the franchise, got the education, held the government
jobs-consisted of European officials, the few remaining descen-
dants of the old British landowners or merchants, and the mulatto
groups which were most closely associated with them. In recent
years, there has been a great desire on the part of the darker-
skinned masses to upset this old order of things and to end the
economic, social, and political domination of these traditional
The Mexican Revolution presented a similar picture of the
combination of class and racial revulsion against the status quo.
Revolt against the domination of the landowning descendants of
the old conquistadores has brought to the fore the mestizo and
to a lesser degree the Indian masses.
These aspirations for a rearrangement of classes has been
expressed particularly in two concrete ways. On the one hand,


The Caribbean

there has been a continuous drive on the part of the new working
class for a chance to organize and a chance to participate to a
greater extent in the income of the various countries through
successful collective bargaining and extensive labor and social
legislation. In the second place, there has been a growing demand
in some of the countries-most particularly Mexico and Guate-
mala-for agrarian reform. In the former case, the agrarian
reform has been largely accomplished, with most of the more
productive land being transferred from the large landholders to
one or another species of ejido, or "cooperative farm." In Guate-
mala, after a rather demagogic start, the immediate future of
agrarian reform is now in some doubt.
The second major aspect of the Latin American Social Revo-
lution has been the rise of nationalism. It could not be expected
that the countries of the Caribbean and the rest of the Hemi-
sphere would be exempted from the effects of this, one of the
most powerful ideological forces of our time. Ever since World
War I, the tide of nationalism has risen higher and higher in
the area. It has resulted, in the British islands and Puerto Rico,
particularly in the last fifteen to twenty years, in urgent demands
for a new sort of arrangement between the colonial areas and
the mother countries. In the former case this is likely, within a
short span of years, to result in the creation of a new British
Dominion; in the latter it has resulted in one of the most fasci-
nating political experiments of the contemporary world.
In the independent countries of the Caribbean area the effects
of nationalism have been felt in the form of deep resentment
against past attempts by the United States and European Powers
to intervene in the internal affairs of these nations and against
any apparent contemporary continuation of such interventionist
policies. It has also taken the form of a drive to have the control
of the economies of the respective Caribbean countries placed
firmly in the hands of the people of those nations. Hence we
have the drive of Mexico to nationalize those foreign firms which
the Mexicans felt behaved badly in their midst, the establishment