EASTERN CARIBBEAN: RISING CUBAN INFLUENCE

Created: 7/20/1979

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

Eastern Caribtean: Rising Cuban Influence

Basic trends in de economically troubled islands of the Easterncontainillion peopleand area smaller than the state oferoding democratic traditions and opening up opportunitiesrowth of Cuban influence. Havana is exploiting the economic and political instability and is making significant gains among an emerging generation of West Indian leaders that is generally sympathetic to Cuba's social achievements and is often wary of the United States and other Western countries, which are generally identified with the islands' "old guard." Fiveministates have been established among theostly English-speaking countries in thend three more are expected to follow within the next year.

Since the, the islands have been hard hit by increasing oil import costs, declining commodity export earnings,tagnation of foreign investment. Unemployment on most of the islands nowr more of the labor force and is much higher among the younger population. Rapid population growth, despite rising illegal emigration to the United States, aggravates the problem. The median age in the regionndyouthroad base of support for pro-Cuban leftists. The economic downturn has also stepped up middle-class emigration, which is robbing ttoderate political groups of effective leadership.

and local leftists are making their greatest gains mong the English-speaking islands, which areaost rapidly to independence. All ot the eightexpected to be independent by the end of next year are former British colonies, and most are losing securityrom the United Kingdomime when small, action-prone radical groups are achieving unprecedented political influence. The French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe, and the Netherlands Antilles, which will probably become independent early in, have

9

powerful leftist parties but are more stable because they still receive large amount^of metropolitan economic aid and security assistance. Mm

Recent Changes in Government

The coup in Grenada onarch was the firstseizure of power in the English-speaking Since then, rapid constitutional turnovers in three othertiming isgreatly increased Cuban influence. The crisis in Dominica, vhen widespread demonstrations forced the government to resign last month after only seven months ofongstanding conflictcandal-ridden government and conservative labor unions. The new Prime Minister, Oliver Seraphin,oungopportunist who has appointed to the Senate the

groups.

three previously peripheral

election early this month in Saint'Lucia,only since February, was scheduled as required by the constitution. An electorate that had nearly doubled over the past five years because of an infusion of young votersong-entrenched government that had become increasingly unpopular among moderate pressure groups. The new ruling party is dominated by pro-Cuban leftists led by Deputy Prime Minister George Odium, who is likely to become head of the government early in its five-year term.

In Saint Kitts-Nevis. the death of Premier Southwell in May brought to power Leeelatively youngblack-power activist, who intends to achievefor his two-island country by next year and whowillonaligned foreign policy favorable to Cuba even though he appears tooderate on economic and basically friendly toward the United States.

In the Netherlandscomprises three main islands off the coast of Venezuela and three smaller islands in the Easternunrest earlier

9

this year forced the resignation of the moderate, pro-Western government. The leftist movementew Antilleslurality inuly election and is expected toovernment sympathetic to Cuba but restrained by the strong local influence of theVenezuela, and the United States. The youthful -eader of the movement, Don Martina,S-educated former black power advocateroad base of among blacks on the largest island of Curacao.

Except in strongly democratic Barbados, chances of instability are increasing elsewhere in the region. The government of Antigua, which also hopes to gainby next year, could be toppled becauserowing scandal involving the illegal transshipment of arms. The moderate opposition would likelyear-term election,mall pro-Cuban leftist group is making political Headway. Trinidad and Tobago's oil-based economy has eased problems there and is gradually opening newopportunities, but theyear rule of eccentric Prime Minister Williams has discouragedpolitical participation and increased chances of political instability in the long

Cuban Activism

Cuba has moved quickly and effectively to exploit regional trends. avana has made numerous offers of technical assistance to established governments and has courted local radical groups. In the past, Cuba has been treated coolly by the governments of Antigua, Saint Kitts-Nevis. and Barbados, and with mild hostility by Trinidad and Tobago. Cuban prospects have increased dramatically, however, because of the changes of Ln Grenada. Dominica, Saint Lucia, and theAntilles. J

youth-oriented "Cuban friendship societies" that are active throughout the region are slowly buildingfor Havana. Cuba will" transport youth delegations from several of the islandsaribbean festival in Cuba later this month. It also recently hasigh-level regional expert as Ambassador to Jamaica, presumably to coordinate Cuban policy in the English-speaking countries of the Caribbean. M W

9

The Cubans have invested most in Grenada and their efforts have paid off. Although he was committed to close relations with Cuba from the outset. PrimeMaurice Bishop is now heavily indebted to Havana for the reported shipment of enough rifles, revolvers, and light machineguns to equip uproops; anquantity of heavy machineguns; and fourguns, member Cuban medical team arrived early this month, joining at leastilitary personnelarge number of Cuban technicians. Last week, the two countriesomprehensive two-vear technical and economic assistance agreement.

Prospects

Severe economic problems probably will continue to erode democratic institutions and to open the region to political leaders offering new models of development. The new generation ofof whom were educated in North America and in the United Kingdom at the height of the black-power and antiwarstrongly orientedarger government role in theirand are not drawn to parliamentary politics on the Westminster model. While continuing to seek western aid, they will favor strong central governments that theyare more capable of implementing far-reachingreforms. Mm

Nevertheless, in all the islands, new leaders will have to contend for the foreseeable future with theinfluence of powerful trade unions, activeparties, the church, the private sector, and the relatively independent press. In small island societies, moreover, they also are likely to be influenced byfamilial and old-boy ties that have traditionallyideological considerations, j

Cuba and local leftists will continue to benefit from the riseew generation of West Indian nationalists and from the extreme social and economic problems it faces Cuban influence is becoming increasingly legitimateof Havana's active participation in the growing youth-dominated dialogue among regional labor, women's, youth, and press groups. This contrasts with thecountries1 identification with the Caribbean's fast disappearing old guard.

9

mall

Regionally, the changesand intensify the ideological conflict started by the. Grenada coup and will-hurt US-backedinterisland cooperation- in the securityast weekend, .the new leaders of SaintLucia, and/Dominica ended their predecessors' official'hostility toward Grenada and. met there

fairs.'

-Cuban delegationai uicipatea. mese newencouragementlikely tomote their own brand of regional cooperation thatmires US political?influence aridoverrides theinclinations .of old-guard- leaders in Antiqua^Saint "incent, Barbados, and Trinidad and

On the world scene, the continued increase in the

* cumber of independent narJions:'in tbeould. present problems for international organizations

such as the Organization

the: ministates will have.disproportionate influence. The potential international- role of the ministatesowever..Jjy._tneir-spar^^^

; desire for b'i oad outside^their hism^cal tei.dency ta'-agC-indpnpnd-ntlv of-roneanother;'

Original document.

Comment about this article or add new information about this topic:

CAPTCHA