Posted in Caribbean Connections, International Relations

Thaw in the Time of Trump

With President Trump’s stance against immigration, what will be become of recent progress in the U.S. – Cuba relations?

Cuba’s relationship with the United States of America (U.S.) has been afflicted with scepticism and antagonism since 1959. This was the year Fidel Castro and a group of revolutionaries eliminated Fulgencio Batista’s U.S. – backed regime in Havana and began reshaping the country’s social and economic systems. Establishment of a socialist state allied with the Soviet Union began, and for the next 50 years, each U.S. administration implemented and enforced policies that economically and diplomatically isolated the Caribbean country and further strained Cuba – U.S. relations.

There was a wisp of hope on the horizon when, on 17th December 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro had the first face-to-face discussion between U.S. and Cuban heads of state in more than half a century. They announced the beginning of a process to normalise relations between the two countries. The leaders initiated meetings to restore full diplomatic ties and eased travel restrictions. Many had strong doubts it would come to be, but then came the election of U.S. President Donald Trump.

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Posted in Caribbean Connections, International Relations

The Caribbean Community Honours Castro

On 26 July 1953, approximately 160 young men stormed the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba in a revolt against then dictator Fulgencio Batista. The revolt, spearheaded by a 26-year-old lawyer, Fidel Castro, did not succeed at first. However, it marked the beginning of almost six years of revolution that eventually re-shaped the political structure of Cuba and also affected the greater Caribbean region. Alongside key figures such as Che Guevara, Raúl Castro, and Camilo Cienfuegos, Castro and his revolution succeeded in ousting Batista.

After the Cuban Revolution, a new era dawned in Cuba. It saw the rise of Castro, becoming both a revered and reviled leader who stood firmly against the western capitalist system, principally embodied by the United States at the time. During the height of the Cold War, Castro also opted to form close ties with the Soviet Union.

Cuba loses its revolutionary leader

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Posted in International Relations

Puerto Rico: A Country or a Colony?

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It appears that the legacy of colonialism has not been completely exorcised from Caribbean society. Puerto Rico has been under the rule of the United States (US) since 1898, and today, Puerto Ricans are rising up against what many consider a blatant attempt at neo-colonialism and furtherance of systemic inequalities through the continuation of total political and economic dependence. Struggling to assert sovereignty, even after having it denied of them, citizens are resisting the imposition of the “Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act,” or the PROMESA law.

What is the PROMESA law and why is it inciting such strong opposition?

The PROMESA law, which translates to ‘promise,’ is a plan by the Natural Resources Committee of the United States House of Representatives for the establishment of a Fiscal Control Board to manage Puerto Rico’s public finances. For Puerto Ricans however, one problem lies in the fact that PROMESA grants that board the powers of a super government over the Constitution of Puerto Rico, along with general authority to restructure public debt. It is forecasted that the board will work for a minimum of five years and would consist of seven members, all selected by the President of the United States.

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Posted in International Relations

Brexit & the Caribbean: A case of Dependency

From Belize in the north to Trinidad and Tobago in the south, and the array of beautiful island nations between, Caribbean people share a crucial characteristic which has shaped the Caribbean identity existing today – a tumultuous history of slavery and indentureship. African slavery and European colonisation in the Caribbean are inseparable; it was the basis upon which our societies were developed. For centuries, human beings were imported in mass quantities, untold millions, across the Atlantic Ocean and made to work under inhumane conditions. For the English-speaking Caribbean, this reality entwined our countries with the economies and societies of the colonial master – Britain. These ties, although ostensibly cut, still hold a very real noose around the Caribbean economy today; understanding this idea is key to understanding the effects of Britain’s exit (Brexit) from the European Union (EU) on the Caribbean.

It brings to question whether Caribbean nations are truly free from colonisation or have fallen prey to neo-colonialism. According to the Caribbean Dependency Theory, an economic and socio-political review raises the belief that ‘freedom’ and ‘emancipation’ have been an illusion proliferated by the powerful metropolis in order to maintain domination instigated by colonisers. It suggests that even today the decisions of the neo-colonisers have major trickledown effects, depicting how the aforementioned ties still define and control the Caribbean reality. This leaves Caribbean economies highly vulnerable and ensnared in a cycle of debt and dependency.

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