Caribbean 2008 – Moving From the Periphery of History

TORONTO: If you were around in the Caribbean in 1980 you probably danced to the tune of the Mighty Sparrow’s “Wanted Dead or Alive”

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If crystal balls could work...

“The rule of the tyrants decline/the year 1979” twitted the birdie. From Uganda to Nicaragua, from Iran to Grenada, there were explosive upheavals and dictators were wanted dead or alive, evan while “church (ruled) state with pure vengeance and hate” as the Ayatollah Khomenie sent the Shah of Iran scampering into exile.

Call it the dawning of the age of Aquarius, with Ronald Reagan winning the US presidency foreboding the rise of the Solidarity trade union in Poland and events leading to the crumbling of the Soviet empire and the demolition of that symbol of the iron curtain, the Berlin wall – the death of communism.

Apartheid was at its apogee in South Africa with Nelson Mandela still imprisoned, even as kantty dreads in Robert Mugabe’s and Joshua Nkomo’s factions of the Patriot Front chased out Ian Smith to transform his Rhodesia into African controlled Zimbabwe.

It is foolhardy to think that Islamists are merely invigorated to win souls for Allah, and that Bush’s armies are angels of democracy. Spatial and resource domination are needed to extend the lives of zealots be they in Zimbabwe or South Africa and developed world response to the plight of those affected are directly proportional to impacts on their home economies.

As university boys and girls experimented with a People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) in Grenada starting in April 1979, their campus cronies in Kingston, in defiance of Havana, gave the order to execute the “soft” Maurice Bishop, in 1983. This gave the USA the pretext to save the world and offshore university students from dying communism’s axis of evil: Havana, St George’s under-construction jet-capable airport, Southern Africa.

Jamaica’s contribution to the struggle to end communism was 800 people murdered in the run up to its October 1980 general election that pitted Michael Manley’s incumbent democrartic socialist People’s National party, against the right wing Edward Seaga’s Jamaica Labour Party, which the latter won resoundingly.

Two years out of power, Manley had time to contemplate his stewardship and demise and publish “Jamaica: Struggle in the Periphery”, which located the Third World struggles on the outer fringes of mainstream global economic and political processes.

In this year also, as if to reinforce the  perception, the Britsih under Margaret Thatcher, demonstrated their naval reach and power by destroying Argentina’s nationalist assertion over the barren and frigid Falkland Islands/Malvinas.

It is 25 years since the last rescue bombs fell on the nutmeg orchards of tiny Grenada and Marxist dogma of the class war echoes only from an enfeebled octagenarian Fidel Castro, from Venezuela’s quixotic Hugo Chavez, rebels in the Peruvian Andes and Colombia – and academic enclaves.

The struggle for global and national resources and domination continues and religion rather than being an enervating opiate, emboldens fundamentalist Islamists of al Qaeda as much as Christian fundamentalists in the George Bush administration’s War on Terror or among Republican’s in this year’s presidential campaigning.

It is foolhardy to think that Islamists are merely invigorated to win souls for Allah, and that Bush’s armies are angels of democracy. Spatial and resource domination are needed to extend the lives of zealots be they in Zimbabwe or South Africa and developed world response to the plight of those affected are directly proportional to impacts on their home economies.

So Mugabe’s atrocities against “his” people whose land interest he is reputed to be defending, may continue for his natural remaining lifetime with only domestic resistance and international malaise. Pervez Musharaf may give lip service to democracy at home in Pakistan as long as he demonstrates compliance to safeguarding American interests.

Kenya, after a 15-year dance with multi-party democracy has attracted the oncern of the US and Britain because it offers the possibility of opening another Somalia and extending al Qadea’s staging ground for its anti-West onslaught. But the hypocrisy or irony should not be lost on history buffs who hear Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown extolling the East African country’s democratic tradition.

The 1963 to 1992 one-party administrations of Jomo Kenyata and Daniel Arap Moi, directly flowed from Britain’s 1950s attempt to give independence to a white minority Kenya government, an occurence forestalled by the Mau Mau revolt involving the charismatic Kenyata who was able to meld the varied ethnicities into a tentative unity. What ensured was stability, not democracy as mouhed by Brown.

The flow of drugs through the region into the US has been cause for concern but not the flow of guns to the territories, particulary Jamaica, where killing has become endemic.

The Caribbean since the Grenada and Jamaica flirtation with socialism has not attracted much global attention save for the 1990 abortive attempt by radical black muslims led by Imam Yasin Abu bakr to topple the elected government of Trinidad and Tobago by holding parliament hostage.

Jamaica’s murder rate has consistently topped 1,000 a year since 2000, making it a country with one of the highest per capita killing rates in the world said by the US Department of State to be more than 40 per 100,000. While this may be greater than some countries in the throes of ethnic or religious conflicts, it has not drawn much concern from its big neighbour a mere hour’s flight to nearest port Miami, except State Department travel advisories about crime rates, particularly in Kingston but now growing exponentially in the tourism capital of Montego Bay.

The flow of drugs through the region into the US has been cause for concern but not the flow of guns to the territories, particulary Jamaica, where killing has become endemic.

In 2008, therefore, with US$100 dollar a barrel oil and mounting demands for scarce esources, Caribbean societies will have to rediscover social, economic and political tools to examine their situations in the global context. Whether these are neo-conserative, neo-liberal or neo-Marxist tools will be up to the countries and their influential citizens.

The analysis must take into account what resources and value the region contributes to the global arena recognizing its relationships with traditional trading partners the USA and the European Union, revived giant Russia, the world factories China and India, tech giant Japan and old Third World allies.

If a new definition does not emerge, we may have to ask the 72 year-old Sparrow to write for us a song, hopefully not a dirge.

     

Mark Lee

About Mark Lee

Editor, author and writer with career spanning print, radio, television and new media.

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