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How do legacy of colonialism contribute to some of the economic issues facing Caribbean countries today? (Essay Sample)


Number of sources 3 How do legacy of colonialism contribute to some of the economic issues facing Caribbean countries today?


Colonialism is the domination of one country over another, involving suppression of the people of the dominated country. Stanford Philosophy encyclopedia defines it as "The practice of domination, which involves the subjugation of one people to another”. The word colonialism comes from the Latin words colonus ' that means farmer ' and imperium ' which translates to command. Over the years, distinction between colonialism and imperialism has been causing resulted in confusion of experts and laymen involved in the study of the area. This is due to the fact that both colonialism and imperialism involve domination and control (Stanford Encyclopedia).
The Caribbean has been stereotyped as a "tropical paradise according to the popular image perceived of the region" (Hillman & Agostino, 2003). In effect, its importance has been underestimated. Many political and ideological movements that sprung up from the Caribbean have received international recognition and reactions. The Caribbean has been a source of great musicians like Bob Marley, politicians like Colin Powell, who cites Jamaican origin, Baseball players mainly from the Dominican republic and other Caribbean nations and many more. Political-Religious ideologies like Rastafarianism that arose from Jamaica have received global recognition. The geo-political importance of the Caribbean area can be seen by the fact that this is the region the United States has interfered with most on issues involving economic systems, drug wars and security.
It is a notable fact that the Caribbean has been a focus of external influence. The Europeans installed their control in the area. "The French controlled Haiti, the British controlled Jamaica, Barbados, and many other island nations in this region, the Spanish controlled Cuba, Dominican Republic and many other areas of the Caribbean" (Euclid A. Rose, 2002). This area has been known as a key to Free trade in the Americas and its importance is great. The Caribbean constitute nations of disparate economic levels. Even though the economic and government systems employed in most of these nations vary greatly, One thing they have in common is their "financial weakness and inadequate investment capital" (Hillman & D’Agostino, 2003). This paper attempts to examine the impact of the colonial era on the Caribbean and to what extent colonialism has resulted in the current state of the economy of the Caribbean region.
Hiding behind the image of the stereotype of the Caribbean region as a tropical paradise to the world, is "The harsh reality of a brutal system of economic and political exploitation, both of the region and of the people associated with it" (Rose, E. A, 2002). The geopolitical and historic factors including slavery and a legacy of raw material extraction by European nations continue to affect the economy of the region. The region is economically dependent of the main capitalist countries like Britain and the United States. The integration of the Caribbean region onto the dominant capitalist international economic system, alongside other underdeveloped nations in Latin America, Africa and Asia resulted second in the dependence of these nations the more developed nations. This was due to the fact that the policy of material extraction, forced slave labor and domination resulted in the production and "manufacture of goods that these nations did not consume" as Euclid A. Rose states. Then they would have to import the goods and product that they needed from the more developed nations. The developed nations ensured that there was a "systematic separation of output patterns from the consumption patterns" (Rose, 2002). The European colonialists forced the people in these regions to produce what they, Europeans consumed. This economic structure resulted in lack of indigenous labor oriented technology and continued dependence on raw materials and primary products such as sugar, bauxite and petroleum. This left the Caribbean region extremely vulnerable to changes in the international trade which is a distinct feature of the interconnected style of the capitalist world. Attempts that have been made to diversify the economies in the Caribbean have all been futile. "Attempts were made in developing a peasant agricultural sector to produce cocoa, coffee, citrus and spices for export, developing of light manufacturing industries, mining and tourism sectors to produce export materials such as bauxite destined for the united states" (Rose, 2002). Thus, in abundance, the Caribbean possess the problems associated with peripheral status within the world economy. The citizens of the Caribbean nations therefore, due to underdevelopment and dependency, continue to suffer. Common problems to all countries in this region that people here face include: high population growth rates, weak production structures, lack of development, shortage of foreign currency, high levels of foreign corporate capital ownership, high unemployment and rising discontent. This clearly shows that, the economic systems put in place by the Europeans and the policy of forced labor and slavery and production of good designed to satisfy the European market directly influence the current economic and socio-political status of the Caribbean nations. (Hillman & Agostino, 2003).
Another reason as to why the colonial history continues to affect the current economic status of the Caribbean is the antagonistic view of the residents of these nations towards plantation economy and paid labor that developed immediately after the emancipation of the slaves and implementation of laws that protected people from slavery. Since the economic structure in place was plantation agriculture, if maintained, it would have held up these countries development. The treatment that the workers and slaves received while working for the minority white farm owners. When slave emancipation was introduced, the former slaves had a thoroughly negative attitude towards working on plantation farms. Most of these former slaves moved further away from the plantation farms into the hinterland where they would establish smaller farms they owned upon which they worked for themselves. To supplement their income, they would work on plantation farms part-time for wages. This movement of ...
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