Elements of Caribbean History | Modern Latin America (2023)

Elements of Caribbean History | Modern Latin America (1)

Map of the Caribbean, 1898

There may be dangers near the United States. Along with Mexico and Central America, the Caribbean islands have also shared this harsh reality. Through trade, investment, invasion, and diplomacy, the United States exercised extraordinary influence over trends and events in these areas throughout the 20th century. Along with Central America, the analysis of the Caribbean provides an important perspective on the challenges facing the region as a whole and the complexity of inter-American affairs.

Islands in the Caribbean Sea tend to be small. Topographies vary from the flat plains of Barbados to the rugged coasts of Martinique and Guadeloupe. Some of the islands, such as Cuba and Jamaica, have rolling hills and significant mountain ranges. The climate is mild, it rains abundantly, and the soil is fertile. Likewise, the current states of Central America lie along the western edge of the Caribbean basin. From Guatemala to Panama, the isthmus has stark contrasts: a spectacular mountain range dotted with volcanoes 10,000 feet or more; some dry zones; and green jungles along the coasts. There are lakes in the mountain areas, but no major navigable rivers. There are also not enough deep-sea ports on the coasts. As with the rest of the Caribbean basin, nature can wreak havoc with violent earthquakes, torrential downpours and devastating storms.

From Colonies to Nation

Christoph Columbus

Columbus landed on a large island in December 1492 and named it La Española (Hispaniola in English). His arrival signaled the inevitable demise of the region's native population, estimated at 750,000 individuals, divided into three distinct groups: the Ciboney or Guanahuatebey, the Taino Arawak and the Carib (from which the region takes its name). Unable to develop any significant trade, the Spanish chose to use the island as a source of land and laborPackageSystem. Semi-feudal institutions were imposed on the native society. Native Americans were forced to work in mines and fields. Harsh working conditions and physical contact with the Spanish led to their decimation: disease and debilitation took a terrifying toll. Many, realizing what fate had in store for them, fled to the mountains in search of safety and freedom. As in New France and New England, the native population was virtually wiped out.

In the Caribbean, Spanish priests protested for the first time against the mistreatment of the indigenous people. In 1511, Antonio de Montesinos shocked a community in the island colony of Santo Domingo by denouncing the mistreatment of the Indian population. Soon after, Bartolomé de las Casas began his passionate campaign to protect the Indians from adventurers and conquerors. Eventually, in response to these pleas, the Crown agreed to regulate the treatment of the native population. But to protect Native Americans, Las Casas also made a fateful proposal: Spain should import African slaves as a source of needed labor.

I'm looking for independence

Present-day Haiti, on the western side of the island of Hispaniola, was once one of France's most prosperous overseas possessions. The island's original inhabitants were almost entirely replaced by African slaves imported to work on sugar plantations. During the French Revolution, residents of Haiti, including landowners of mixed African and European descent, were granted full citizenship, a move frowned upon by white landowners. The resulting conflicts led to a wave of uprisings. This time the slaves wanted not only personal freedom but also national independence.

"The Black Army's Revenge for the Atrocities Committed by the French"

Led by Pierre Dominique Toussaint L'Ouverture, the blacks of Haiti revolted in 1791 and declared national sovereignty in 1804. This would be the second free nation in the Americas and the first independent black country in the world. Although Toussaint led the rebellion, he was captured and sent to France, where he eventually died in an obscure dungeon. It was one of his lieutenants, Jean Jacques Dessalines, who declared the nation free from colonial rule.

The wars dissolved and destroyed the large sugar plantations. Land was first cultivated collectively under a system called "agriculture".sour duty,But individual aspirations in the post-independence period led to the distribution of plots to landowners. Thus the legacy of oligarchic landlordism, so widespread elsewhere in Latin America, could not take root in independent Haiti. Instead, numerous small farms replaced the sugar plantations, and production dropped drastically. Independence gave power to blacks, who still make up about 90 percent of the population, a fact that light-skinned mulattoes have always resented. Indeed, the mulattoes became a wealthy minority that clung to an ideal of French civilization and spoke French regularly. In contrast, the mostly black population spoke one native language, Haitian, and found spiritual inspiration in itWodum,an eclectic mix of Dahomian religions and Catholicism. A kind of caste system separated the mulattoes from the blacks, and the conflict between the two elements has been a constant theme in Haitian history.

These events had complicated spillover effects throughout Hispaniola. Since the late 17th century, colonial rule over the island has been shared between France with Saint-Domingue (later renamed Haiti) and Spain with Santo Domingo. This pattern began to unravel in 1795 when Spain ceded Santo Domingo to France in the Peace of Basel (which ended one of Europe's endless wars). This gave France title to possession of the entire island. But when Haiti gained independence in 1804, the eastern part remained under French rule. And when Napoleon invaded Spain in 1808, the Creoles of Santo Domingo rose up in protest against France - and as loyal subjects of the crown, they restored Spanish rule over their colony. Powers came and powers went: This initial phase of the Dominican Republic's independence resembled a game of musical chairs.

Conspiracies and counter-conspiracies ensued over the next twelve years. In 1821, as rebel military campaigns in Mexico and South America gathered pace, local leaders of Santo Domingo declared the independence of what they called "Spanish Haiti". Within months, Haitian forces invaded the country, seized power and installed a military government. As on their side of the island, the Haitian authorities took radical steps - abolishing slavery, nationalizing property and reducing the role of the church. The Haitian occupation lasted twenty-two years before local patriots finally drove out the invaders. Thus, 1844 was the second date for the independence of the Dominican Republic – this time from Haiti, not from a European power.

During the 1840s and 1850s, Haitian troops carried out almost continuous invasions against their neighbor. Out of desperation and fear, an enterprising Dominican president found the ideal solution: he returned his country to Spain, which resumed colonial rule from 1861 to 1865. This action sparked bitter protests in Haiti, terrified of Spanish power, and in the United States, outraged by such a blatant violation of the Monroe Doctrine. Shortly after Spain's expulsion, another national leader pursued a different solution: union with the United States. This would certainly protect the struggling nation from further intervention by Haiti or others. U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant strongly supported the plan, believing it could provide homes for American slaves freed by the Civil War, but the proposal failed to pass Congress.

The Dominican Republic thus became independent almost automatically. Its citizens suffered under a series of self-serving and boastful rulers. Most prominent among them was Ulises Heureaux, a dictator who ruled in the same vein as Porfirio Díaz in Mexico from 1882 to 1899. Political intrigue and economic turmoil plagued the country, which finally found itself under American military occupation in 1916. Authentic sovereignty seemed to a mirage.

Overview: Economic growth and social change

As discussed in Chapters 4 and 5, economic development in Central America and the Caribbean revealed a common denominator. With few exceptions, such as Costa Rica, the countries in these regions established "plantation societies" that shared a number of defining characteristics:

  • Large-scale production of export cash cropslarge property(also known as haciendas,farms,estates or plantations)
  • Mobilization (and control) of rural labor for harvesting and related tasks
  • Concentration of land ownership in very few hands
  • Insufficient emphasis on subsistence agriculture, mostly practiced on small farmsmini farm
  • Creation of economic and social 'enclaves' where local elites and foreign owners can live and work in relative isolation from the host society as a whole.

Plantation societies survived in small countries that lacked the population and resources for industrial development. They were financially vulnerable to changes in market conditions abroad. But because of their institutional rigidity, they were resistant to change. Beneath the superficial appearance of harmony, they could lead to fleeting discontent.

sugar (and more sugar)

The main crop in the Caribbean was sugar. One of the first expeditions from Spain brought sugar cane sticks from the Canary Islands, an act that would change the course of history. And after the Dutch brought new technology from northeastern Brazil to the Caribbean in the mid-17th century, sugar cane production exploded. In the British Isles, especially Barbados and Jamaica, it became virtually the only crop, and in French territories, including Martinique and Saint-Domingue (i.e. Haiti), it was the dominant crop. Together, colonial possessions in the Caribbean accounted for 80 to 90 percent of all sugar consumption in 18th-century Europe. In the 1740s, Jamaica and Saint-Domingue were the world's largest sugar producers.

As production increased, the need for labor became more and more apparent. The enslavement of Africa seemed to be a solution. Thus began the tragic story of forced migration from the west coast of Africa. Of the 10 to 15 million people sent to the New World as slaves, about 5 to 7 million found their way to the Caribbean—where they worked on sugar plantations, changed the racial makeup of the region, and ultimately helped establish trade links with the 19th century. century Europe century and the United States.

The loosely organized societies of the 16th century, dominated by whites and small household units, gave way in the 17th century to a strictly organized and hierarchical society of masters and slaves. Production was strictly controlled by the mother countries. With the exception of England, each European country formed its own trading company; in addition torent a houseFrom Spain there was the Dutch West India Company and the French Compagnie des Isles d'Amérique.

A major consequence of this development was the creation of a rigid system of racial stratification. Virtually everywhere there was a three-level pyramid: whites at the top, browns in the middle, and blacks at the bottom. As whites returned to Europe and the Indians disappeared, the African heritage became dominant. This pattern would have long-term consequences for race relations in the region and would clearly separate the Caribbean from mainland areas such as Mexico and Peru with large and persistent indigenous populations.

Another result was the transformation of once diversified production systems into single product economies focused on sugar for export. Most of what was consumed had to be imported – from other islands, from the mainland or from Spain itself. Only on the smaller islands like Grenada were other products (in this case coffee) more important than sugar. With most of the original population dead and the Spanish settlers reluctant to work with their hands, the demand for slaves continued into the 18th century.

Plantation owner's house

The European demand for sugar enabled many settlers to earn large fortunes, which they used to build large mansions and gain access to the political and social life of the mother country. Yet French and British colonists never felt comfortable on the islands. Most longed to return home, and some actually returned to positions of power and prominence. If there was a plantation aristocracy in some parts of the Caribbean, it was not deeply rooted.

Spanish colonists began sugar production in Santo Domingo in the early 16th century and at the same time began importing African slaves. Production grew steadily over the years and peaked in the 18th century. The Dominican sugar industry experienced a significant boom in the mid-19th century due to three factors: civil war in Cuba, which caused some prominent planters to move their operations to the Dominican Republic; wars in Europe which had a devastating effect on the continental sugar beet industry; and the American Civil War, which reduced Louisiana's sugarcane production and further limited competition. In the early 1880s, a market crash resulted in a temporary decline in crops; This also led to a strong concentration of ownership, as only the largest mills could survive.

As production increased, workers were imported directly from neighboring Haiti to do the hard work on the plantations. A continuation of this trend would create social and racial tensions in Dominican society. Relations between the two countries were never very good; The degrading treatment of Haitian workers in the Dominican Republic only made matters worse. Anti-Haitarian sentiment often took the ugly form of racial prejudice.

As in Cuba, American investors began to take an interest in Dominican sugar around the turn of the century. The US military intervention of 1916-1924 sealed these bilateral relations. By the end of the occupation, two American conglomerates owned eleven of the twenty-oneAre(mills) in the country - and five of the others were owned by American citizens. Almost all Dominican sugar exports were sold to the US market. Production increased sharply in the 1920s, remained constant from the 1930s to the 1940s, and then skyrocketed in the late 1950s. After Cuba, the Dominican Republic was the second largest sugar producer in the Caribbean. Hardly any part of the profit was reinvested in the local community. This was an enclave economy par excellence.

For both Haiti and the Dominican Republic, dependence on the US market increased over time. As shown in the table below, the US share of Haiti's exports rose from 14 percent in 1920 to 58 percent in 1950 and 86 percent in 2000; Similarly, the US share of Dominican exports rose from 79 percent in 1920 to 87 percent in 2000. (Postwar Europe consumed a very large portion of Dominican sugar production in the late 1940s and early 1950s, which reflecting the small share of US exports, as years declared era.) Since the early 1960s, the Dominican Republic has had the largest single allocation of the US sugar import quota. The United States was also the largest single source of imports for both countries, although the EU made progress toward the end of the 20th century.

Caribbean trade with the United States, 1920-2000 (% of total trade)____ 1920 ____ ____ 1950 ____ ____2000 ____

Export Import Export Import Export Import

Haiti 14 81 58 72 86 62

Dominican Republic 79 42 38 73 87 59

Kilder: James W. Wilkie,Statistics and national policy(Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center, 1974); Economist Intelligence Unit, Länderberichte, 2003.

Politics and Policy: The Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

The strategic location of Hispaniola made the island important to the United States, which pledged to deter European powers from intervention in the hemisphere in the early 19th century. Anarchy and chaos had prompted the United States to intervene at various times. From 1916 to 1924, US Marines occupied the Dominican Republic (as well as neighboring Haiti). A National Guard was formed to fight guerrilla bands. Among the American occupying power's most brilliant disciples was Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, an ambitious soldier who would eventually become one of the hemisphere's most ruthless dictators.

Economic conditions in the Dominican Republic improved during the American occupation thanks to the stimulus of World War I, which drove up export prices. American troops strengthened the country's infrastructure, improved the education system and exercised control over public finances. Still, critics began to complain about the "dumping" of inferior American-made products on the local market and the invaders' general disdain for local citizens.

An agreement between the United States and Dominican leaders in 1922 resulted in the formation of a provisional government. Two years later, the election gave power to Horacio Vázquez, a respected and long-standing politician. But in 1929, Vázquez made the mistake that has plagued so many leaders in Latin American history: he tried to change the constitution so he could run again.

A revolt ensued and Trujillo ran as a candidate in the 1930 election. With his power base (the National Guard) he made it clear that he would win at any cost and won with 95 percent of the vote. He quickly began banning political opponents from the stage. The future belonged to Trujillo.

Like so many dictators, Trujillo exploited the country's resources to amass his personal wealth. In the 1950s, the compound annual growth rate was 8 percent, an impressive feat by any standard, but the benefits did not reach the general public. Much of the country's income was kept in foreign bank accounts, while farmers and workers remained abjectly poor. Paradoxically, economic prosperity exacerbated the contradictions between Trujillo and his circle of sycophants: the more he demanded for himself, the more dissatisfied his associates became. The most serious offense involved his personal takeover of the sugar industry: by 1957, Trujillo controlled more than 70 percent of the country's production. In 1961, his former friends and cronies, not his enemies, staged a coup and planned his assassination.

Free and fair elections in 1962 resulted in the victory of Juan Bosch, a former journalist and social reformer who wanted to confiscate and redistribute Trujillo's lands as part of an agrarian reform program. His efforts to improve the lot of the masses unnerved the traditional elites, who saw his innovations as dangerously "communist". Bosch was overthrown in a military coup in 1963. A counter-movement then tried to reinstate him as president. The resulting conflict led to civil war between the armed forces and pro-Bosch "constitutionalists", mostly workers and students.

As the fighting intensified, Lyndon B. Johnson's United States, fearing "another Cuba," took over the country in April 1965. The invasion force consisted of 22,000 Marines, a contingent the size of even American officials on the ground.

To justify its actions, the US government tried to get the participation of other Latin American countries through the OAS. Positive reactions came only from Paraguay and Brazil, both under right-wing military rulers. The Johnson administration's attempt to form an "inter-American peacekeeping force" not only failed to legitimize the intervention, but also discredited the OAS as a whole and contributed to the subsequent weakening of that institution.

US intervention led to the formation of an interim government and eventual elections in June 1966. Victory went to Joaquín Balaguer, a former Trujillo official and US favorite. With Washington's full blessing, the Balaguer administration implemented a number of important development programs. Homes were built, land was distributed and education was strengthened and improved. Austerity programs eased severe balance of payments problems, and to meet these and other challenges, US aid increased to over $132 million in 1968. Agricultural production rebounded and foreign investment responded. Economic growth was significant.

The Dominican armed forces underwent moderate reforms, and its most recalcitrant elements were deployed abroad, often on fictitious diplomatic missions. Despite poverty and deprivation, the transition to democracy continued. The elections survived minor threats in 1970 and 1978, when the armed forces threatened to annul the election results, but in both cases the results were eventually confirmed. Balaguer's opponents won the elections in 1978 and 1982, but he rallied three times and won three times - in 1986, 1990 and 1994.

After Balaguer finally retired from public life, partisan strife characterized the political process. The 1996 elections resulted in the victory of Leonel Fernández Reyna, a skilled and charismatic politician who nonetheless faced opposition majorities in both chambers of the legislature, happily paralyzing the executive's policy initiatives. The 2000 election resulted in the victory of Hipólito Mejía, which led to the collapse of one of the country's largest banks, a scandal that discredited most of the political class. Despite opposition within his own party, Mejía insisted on running for re-election in May 2004. After a heated campaign, he lost by a wide margin to Fernández Reyna, who was re-elected president in 2008. Despite waves of economic growth, continued the nation with significant social and economic problems. As part of his focus on modernization, Fernández initiated several programs, including the construction of the El Metro line in the capital, Santo Domingo, to address serious transportation problems. that have contributed to the country's technological progress. He was succeeded in 2012 by Danilo Medina of the Dominican Liberation Party, who defeated the Revolutionary Party's candidate, Hipólito Mejía. Medina has promised to focus investment on social programs and education rather than infrastructure.

Politics and Policy: Haiti

Like other Caribbean island nations, Haiti was long overshadowed by the United States in the 20th century. As the second republic in the Americas, independent Haiti faced many challenges. Political life was characterized by instability. From 1804 to 1867, Haiti had only ten heads of government. From 1867 to 1915, there were sixteen presidents with an average term of only three years. And from 1911 to 1915, Haiti experienced one of its most chaotic times, when six presidents were killed by violence.

Faced with World War I and armed with "dollar diplomacy," the United States occupied Haiti in 1915 and remained until 1934. This was an extensive military occupation. The US authorities abolished the army and replaced it with a national police force. A cadre of American technicians and bureaucrats took charge of the country's financial management and ensured the timely payment of all foreign debts (especially those owed to the United States). New public works were started and old ones repaired, but the majority of the population looked upon the foreigners with smoldering discontent.

One reason for this feeling was dismay at the loss of sovereignty. As the occupying power, the United States took over the general administration, but especially the management of the customs offices. In fact, American financiers remained in Haiti until 1941—seven years after the military garrisons left. Another reason was the great fondness of American officials for the mulattoes, which brought them to power in a number of ways, including the redundant election and re-election of Sténio Vincent as president in the 1930s.

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President Vincent visits President Roosevelt

In time, the black population, aided by the Haitian Guard (as the police became known), overthrew another mulatto president and installed Dumarsai's Estimé in 1946. He replaced mulatto officials with blacks and implemented a series of reforms designed to benefit both urban workers and agricultural producers. He paid the country's debt to the United States and signed an agreement with the Export-Import Bank to develop the Artibonite Valley. In 1950, Estimé tried to change the constitution to stay in power and was deposed by the army and exiled for doing so.

Control passed to Colonel Paul E. Magloire, a black leader who was influential in the army and popular with the country's masses. Upon his inauguration, he promised to uphold constitutional rights, continue irrigation projects and other public works, and promote public education. Internationally, Magloire sought good relations with the United States, while the increase in export prices as a result of the Korean War helped boost economic growth. Dissatisfied with his ambitious rivals, he was overthrown in a coup in 1956.

After months of uncertainty, the personality emerged of François Duvalier, who had elected himself president in September 1957. Soon after taking power, Duvalier set out to bend the nation to his will. The army, police and security forces were solely responsible to him. He created a special police force known as the Tontons Macoutes, which was the country's most feared repressive force. Through sheer terror, he disposed of his opponents and maneuvered elections to become president for life(President for life).When necessary, he mobilized large crowds with the persistent propagation of the official slogan:God, Duvalier and Rapeu, one and indivisible– God, Duvalier and flag, one and indivisible.

An advocate forspellism,A movement inspired by Africa, Duvalier drove the mulattoes out of the national bureaucracy. He gained influence over the masses by skillfully merging with the figure of Baron Samedi, the earthly guardian of the worldVoodoodig. He created a kind of modern court whose minions got rich by providing services from the state. To institutionalize a system of bribery, Duvalier even founded an umbrella organization, the Movement for National Renovation, which collected donations from businesses and high-ranking officials with the ostensible purpose of building public facilities. It goes without saying that the money was never used for such purposes.

Until his death in 1971, Duvalier represented the United States in most international bodies, including the United Nations and the OAS. Occasional pro-American votes would result in more aid or credit to his corrupt regime. Most US governments tolerated Duvalier as a tacky but useful, if unpleasant, Cold War ally.

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Jean-Claude Duvalier

As death approached, Duvalier persuaded the National Assembly to lower the minimum age for president from forty to eighteen, and installed his son as his successorpresident for life.Young Jean-Claude Duvalier, or "Baby Doc" as he was sometimes known, inherited a bitterly poor country. Although he was perhaps less brutal than his father, he maintained a parasitic group of henchmen - a "kleptocracy" of sorts. Government became a means of self-enrichment. Popular discontent and infighting eventually led to his death in February 1986 when he boarded a US Air Force plane headed for France.

The political recovery was hesitant. For decades, the opposition has been suppressed, unions controlled and the media corrupted. When Baby Doc left the country, there were calls and demands for freedomdispose ofa "removal" of the Duvalier regime: tombs and statues fell, police officers felt the wrath of the population and former collaborators fled the country. The 1987 election resulted in bloodshed as paramilitary forces attacked voters and opposition candidates. A subsequent vote resulted in the controversial election of Leslie Manigat, a prominent social scientist who served less than a year in office. Another coup led to the rise of General Prosper Avril, an ambitious young military officer who revived the Tontons Macoutes and unleashed a new wave of repression. To many observers, Haiti appeared to be suffering from "Duvalier without Duvalier."

In 1990 a real change began. Protest demonstrations and a general strike convinced Avril to leave the country. Open elections were held in December 1990 under interim president Ertha Pascal-Trouillot. With two-thirds of the vote, Jean-Bertrand Aristide emerged, a Roman Catholic priest who espoused liberation theology and advocated sweeping political and social change. In January 1991, disaffected "Duvalierists" attempted a military coup to prevent the "communist" Aristide from taking office: the attempt failed, but left 74 dead and 150 wounded. Later in the year, recalcitrant elements in the military rejected him from office. The United States and other nations immediately condemned the coup, and the OAS imposed a trade embargo with Haiti, but diplomatic negotiations to resolve the crisis dragged on peacefully for years.

As Haitians sought to escape repression from the new military regime of General Raoul Cédras, it was the prospect of a greater flood of immigration that shaped US policy. The Coast Guard began rounding up thousands of Haitians trying to reach US shores on homemade rafts and taking them to a camp at the US naval base in Guantánamo, Cuba. In May 1992, President George H.W. Bush the Coast Guard to return all Haitian chevrons to their homes without a political amnesty being implemented. Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton condemned the Bush policy as "an indifferent response to a terrible human tragedy" but then agreed to continue it after his election as president. In early 1994, leaders of the African-American community sharply criticized Washington's inaction, and Clinton reversed course by announcing that the US authorities would clear navy men at sea and grant asylum to victims of political oppression. This led to another wave of rafters.

Despite public skepticism, Clinton began to consider the use of military force. In mid-September, he condemned the Cédras government as "the most violent regime in our hemisphere" and emphasized the dangers of inaction: "As long as Cédras rules, Haitians will continue to seek refuge in our country." . . Another three hundred thousand Haitians, five percent of their total population, are hiding in their own country. If we don't act, the next wave of refugees could be at our door. We will continue to face the threat of a mass exodus of refugees and a constant threat to the stability of our region and the control of our borders."

As tensions rose, Clinton sent a high-level delegation led by former President Jimmy Carter for a last-ditch attempt at negotiations. At the last minute, when American troops were already on their way to invade Haiti, Carter reached an agreement with the Cédras administration. Clinton called off the invasion but instead imposed an occupation; In less than a week, more than 15,000 US troops were on the ground. Aristide returned to office in mid-October, and the American occupation gave way to an international peacekeeping force in early 1995.

With intense international observation (and quasi-military occupation), the election took place properly. Aristide resisted the temptation to succeed him himself, and René Preval, one of his former associates and former prime minister, took office in February 1996. Governing was something else again. Aided and abetted by the international community, Preval tried to push through market-friendly economic reforms. Aristide suddenly entered the opposition, renewed his populist image and took over the leadership of the Lavalas party. Strikes, demonstrations and violence increased.

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Haiti's presidential palace

The political stalemate continued until the November 2000 presidential election, which Jean-Bertrand Aristide won with an overwhelming but disputed majority. In protest of electoral irregularities in parliamentary elections, the opposition Convergence Démocratique refused to recognize the parliamentary victory of Aristides Lavalas's party. Nevertheless, Aristide took office in February 2001. Once a hero to Haiti's poor and underprivileged, Aristide seemed increasingly distant from his people—and increasingly inclined to impose his will by autocratic means. Street protests resumed and violence continued to plague the political process.

The economy was no better. In 2000, the growth rate had fallen to below 1 percent. In both 2001 and 2002, economic output fell by 21 percent. Three quarters of the population lived in abject poverty. Less than half of the adult population could read and write. Unemployment was around 60 percent.

In early 2004, things came to a head. While Aristide enjoyed significant popular support, opponents argued that he had become autocratic, intolerant and corrupt. Dissident gangs clashed with so-called pro-Aristide groupsThe chimera.Armed rebels, led by Guy Philippe, a former officer in the long-discredited Haitian army, advanced through provincial towns and soon approached the capital, Port-au-Prince. Cries for help from the beleaguered government to the international community, particularly the United States, were unsuccessful. With the prospect of a major civil war, Aristide withdrew and left the country. Critics accused US President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell of failing to support a democratically elected government in America.

US Marines, along with detachments from Canada and France, moved in to maintain some order. In 2006, René Preval was elected president with over 50 percent of the vote. After several failed attempts to appoint a prime minister, the president appointed Michèle Pierre-Louis as director of an internationally recognized educational foundation. The government got off to a shaky start with widespread poverty, unemployment and social unrest. Haiti remained in a desperate situation.

In late August 2008, tropical storms and hurricanes hit Haiti, killing 331 people and claiming 800,000 lives. The situation was exacerbated by high food and fuel prices. In addition, an earthquake in 2010 killed between 45,000 and 85,000 people. Ineffective governance has stalled Haiti's recovery. Elections were held in November 2010 and Michel Martelly won over Mirlande Manigat. Martelly has campaigned to strengthen the economy and guarantee compensation for earthquake victims, but has also been accused of accepting bribes from businesses. The country continues to face major economic and social challenges.

Politics and Policy: Puerto Rico

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Puerto Rico

As we have seen, US governments - both Republican and Democratic - have asserted their right to interfere directly in the internal affairs of countries in Central America and the Caribbean for reasons of "national interest". One island nation, however, remained permanently under American control.

Puerto Rico became part of the United States as a result of the Spanish-American War. In July 1898 in retaliation for the sinking of the American shipMaineIn Cuba, American troops landed in Puerto Rico, beginning the first act of the country's European-style colonial expansion. The island thus became the pawn in a war between Cuban patriots and Spanish garrisons. A military occupation was not expected.

Completely opposite. Spain had already agreed to grant self-government to Puerto Rico and establish a form of "home rule" for the island. The American invasion changed all that. Suddenly, Puerto Rico became a decisive factor in the US global strategy - not only because of its investment and trade potential, but also because of its geopolitical role in the consolidation of US maritime power. But a fundamental question remains: Why did the United States take Puerto Rico as a colony while helping Cuba gain independence?

The difference could well lie in the history of the two islands. In Cuba, an island that would have been much more difficult to occupy, there had long been an armed rebellion against Spain. However, Puerto Rico was on the way to a negotiated settlement and was less able to resist outside forces. Puerto Rico thus entered a complex struggle between major powers and the Cuban rebels.

Puerto Rico showed clear signs of Spanish rule. During colonial times, the island served as an important military garrison and trading center, a role that increased when the slave trade peaked in the 18th century. Sugar production became the dominant agricultural activity. There were also small farmersfuck dighardy individualists who cultivated staple crops and helped maintain a diversified economy. Because of this, the slave population always remained a minority.

After the arrival of the Marines, Puerto Rico developed a special relationship with the United States. After 1898, the island's inhabitants no longer had any clear legal status. In 1917 they received American citizenship. In 1947, almost half a century after the invasion, Puerto Rico was allowed to attempt self-government. In 1952, the island was granted Commonwealth status in the United States. This remains an ambiguous situation: Puerto Rico is neither a nation nor a colony nor a state, but something else.

To develop the island, demonstrate the virtues of free capitalism, and serve as an inspiration to Latin America, the United States worked with the dynamic governor Luis Muñoz Marín to implement "Operation Bootstrap" in the 1950s and 1960s. Under this plan, the US federal government will encourage investment in Puerto Rico through a series of tax exemptions and other benefits. Bootstrap brought enormous changes to the social and economic life of Puerto Rico. Sugar plantations and small farms were replaced by factories; As industrialization flourished, commoners joined the working class. However, foreign investment did not create enough jobs to meet the growth in the working-age population, and unemployment was massive as a result.

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Puerto Rican Immigrants in New York

One consequence has been the acceleration of the flow of migrants to the US mainland, where 40 percent of Puerto Ricans live. Fully half of the immigrant population settled in New York City. In a way, this trend has formed two Puerto Ricos: one on the island and one on the mainland. There was considerable back and forth movement and communication, but social tensions and cultural differences separate the two societies. To demonstrate this fact, Puerto Rican residents of New York are sometimes referred to as "Nuyo Ricans".

Political life on the island was active and orderly. The supreme leader is the governor, who is elected every four years. The dominant theme was the island's relationship with the United States. In a referendum on the issue in 1967, 60 percent favored retaining and strengthening Commonwealth status, 38 percent favored statehood. Those in favor of full independence decided to boycott the referendum, but this faction was vocal and visible (in 1950, a pro-independence group actually attempted the life of US President Harry S. Truman).

The pro-state forces, represented by the New Progressive Party (PNP), won gubernatorial elections in 1968, 1976 and 1980. Led by Luis Ferré and Carlos Romero Barceló, this group believed that full statehood would provide jobs for second-class Puerto Ricans with improved access to state welfare programs, spur economic growth, and remove the stigma of "second citizenship" associated with Commonwealth status Class" eliminated. Public support for this movement came primarily from urban areas.

The Pro-Commonwealth Party, or Popular Democratic Party (PDP), won elections in 1972, 1984 and 1988. Its most prominent leader was Rafael Hernández Colón, who called for a greater degree of meaningful autonomy within Commonwealth relations. As governor, Hernández Colón actively promoted the island's global economic ties and played an active role in the development of the "Twin Plant" concept, where the production process was divided into separate parts, with the first stages to be carried out in another part of the Caribbean and final assembly in Puerto Rico.

Concerns about economic problems grew steadily, and Puerto Rico experienced a downturn in the early 1990s, largely as a result of a US recession. In this atmosphere, the 1992 gubernatorial election went to the PNP's Pedro Rosselló, who promised to push for statehood. His first act was to sign a law that put English on an equal footing with Spanish as an official language. And in November 1993, fulfilling a campaign promise, Rosselló held a new referendum on the island's status. To the surprise of many observers, the pro-Commonwealth position won with 48.4 percent of the vote; Statehood reached 46.2 percent; pro-independence got only 4.4 percent. Five years later—on December 13, 1998, exactly 100 years and one day after Spain officially ceded Puerto Rico to the United States—another referendum produced a similar result: 46.5 percent for statehood, 2.5 percent for independence, 0 .4 percent for "free". Association” or Commonwealth status and 50.2 percent for “none of the above.” The status quo has once again prevailed.

The 2000 elections brought the pro-Commonwealth-oriented PDP back to power under Sila María Calderón, the first woman ever to serve as governor. As mayor of San Salvador and then governor, Calderón focused on rehabilitating cities, prosecuting government corruption, and ending the U.S. Navy's bombing of the offshore island of Vieques. Her successor, Aníbal Salvador Acevedo Vilá, also of the PDP, ruled under a cloud of alleged electoral fraud. In 2008, he lost re-election to Luis Fortuño, a PNP candidate for state and member of the US Republican Party. His election indicated that Puerto Rico would continue its strange and ambiguous relationship with the United States for the foreseeable future.

Elements of Caribbean History | Modern Latin America (12)

Louis Fortune

In November 2012, referendum results showed that 54% of respondents disagreed with Puerto Rico's territorial status and 61% supported statehood. But that same month, García Padilla, former president of the PNP and member of the US Democratic Party, defeated Luis Fortuño in the gubernatorial election. As governor, he reduced sales taxes and signed a trade agreement with Colombia under which Colombia would import Puerto Rico medicine and co-manufacture Puerto Rico with Colombia, sharing with Colombia its tariff-free relationship with the United States. This initiative is a step to strengthen the island's economy by leveraging its close ties with the United States.


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