Courtesy Reuters

Prospects in the Caribbean

Division is the heritage of the Caribbean. The separateness of the islands in the archipelago that curves for a thousand miles from the tip of Florida to the mouth of the Orinoco is reflected in the fact that they have no common name. Each island shares with the others the same startling beauty of sun-drenched mountains and peacock seas; each has the same social configuration resulting from the same techniques of production, the intensive cultivation of one crop, and slavery. Yet the keynote is contrast, the dominant theme competition. One reason for this is that the archipelago extends over a great distance; if Port of Spain were to be placed where Savannah is, San Juan would fall on Indianapolis and Havana in northeastern Wyoming. But history, not geography, supplies the chief reason, for even those islands which lie within easy reach of each other turn their faces toward Europe and their backs on their neighbors. The rivalries of Western Europe broke the region into segments, each tightly integrated into the trading system of the metropolitan power, sealed off in an almost watertight compartment and stocked with people brought together from Europe, a score of West African kingdoms and the central provinces of India. Nowhere else in the New World is there so sharp a juxtaposition of different races, languages, religions-different legal, educational and political systems.

Yet the compelling need is to jettison the heritage of division. Will this be any easier now following the breakup of the Federation, when Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago are independent countries and seven or eight smaller islands are on the point of independence? Will the breaking of the last imperial ties with Britain mean that West Indians will reject insularity and parochialism and move closer to Latin America? Does West Indian independence signify the achievement of unity within multi-racial island communities and does it foreshadow a search for a larger regional unity? Does it mean that islands which have been linked with Britain for more

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