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Reasoning: Bushwhacked in the Caribbean

Taken verbatim from the Rastafari Speaks board
Posted by: Yan (Ayanna)
May 22, 2004

Bushwhacked in the Caribbean

America's Contempt for the World


By Randall Robinson
May 22, 2004


On Feb. 29 the legally elected government of Haiti was driven from power by armed force. Its president, after being taken against his will to the Central African Republic, was given refuge in Jamaica. The Bush administration's response has been to demand that the democratic countries of the Caribbean (1) drop their call for an investigation into the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, (2) push the Aristide family out of Jamaica and the region, and (3) abandon their policy of admitting only democratically elected governments into the councils of Caricom (a multilateral organization established by the English-speaking Caribbean countries 31 years ago to promote regional cooperation).

In addition, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice has warned Caricom leaders that if one U.S. soldier is killed in Haiti, Caribbean governments will be held responsible because the Aristide family was granted sanctuary in the region. In short, the Bush administration is strong-arming the Caribbean to confer on Haiti's new "government," headed by Gerard Latortue, a legitimacy it has not earned and does not deserve. Indeed, 33 of the 39 members of the Congressional Black Caucus stayed away from a recent Washington meeting arranged by two congressmen for Latortue.

The United States' demand that Caricom abandon its long-held insistence on democratic principles is psychic poison to the region. When Eastern Europe was going through its totalitarian nightmare, when coups and despotic rule were "normal" in Central and South America, and when civil strife and dictatorship wracked much of Africa and Asia, the Caribbean steadfastly upheld its democratic traditions -- and it continues to do so today.

This is because of the region's well-educated populace and the caliber of its leaders; no military thugs in business suits here. From Rhodes Scholar-Prime Minister Percival J. Patterson of Jamaica in the north, to professor-lawyer Prime Minister Ralph Gonslaves in the south (St. Vincent-Grenadines), and from the physician Prime Minister Denzil Douglas in tiny St. Kitts-Nevis to the economist Prime Minister Owen Arthur in Barbados, Caribbean heads of government understand the lessons of history. They recognize the supremacy of the ballot.

And they know that only democratic values will keep the Caribbean a zone of peace. Reinhold Niebuhr warned that man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but that man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. Yet the United States has unleashed its venom on Caribbean governments because they have proclaimed Caricom's democratic principles to be inviolable.

Haiti was welcomed as a full member of Caricom because its people had established a democratic form of government. After the recent shattering of that democracy, Caribbean heads of government decided to maintain support for the people of Haiti but allow democratic elections to determine who will represent Haiti in the councils of Caricom. "We are the children of slaves," one Caribbean national explained. "And so, we stay away from the tyranny of the unelected. . . . If America thinks that an unelected government is fine for Haiti, when will they say that an unelected government is best for my country?"

The Bush administration, however, has been implacable. Its officials were to have come to the Caribbean in April and May to discuss, among other things, terrorism, but the administration presented Caribbean governments with an ultimatum: no recognition of Latortue, no meetings between the United States and the Caribbean leaders. Caricom reminded U.S. officials that Latortue was not elected by anyone. And so the meetings are off. Why is the unelected Latortue more important to the Bush administration than the Caribbean's 14 democratically elected governments?

Americans must speak out against their government's behavior abroad. And they must recognize that the atrocities inflicted by U.S. soldiers on Iraqi prisoners grow out of a hubris and contempt that far too many U.S. officials display when dealing with much of the rest of the world. If stable Caribbean democracies are being slapped around by America because they uphold democratic values, who is safe in this unipolar world? Certainly not the American people, who are being made targets of global rage because of these tactics.


Randall Robinson, foreign policy advocate and author of "Quitting America" and other works, lives in St. Kitts. This article was originally published at counterpunch.org, and reproduced at Trinicenter.com with permission from the author.



Freespirit
Reply on: May 23, 2004

I think that here in the U.K. Bush generally has 'egg on his face'so to speak! Tony Blair too!Big Brother of the World - Big brother has a whole new dimension - more like the one from 1984!

I thought big brothers were supposed to support, help, assist, advise - Is Bush doing this???!!!

I sincerely hope he does not poke his nose into the carefully balanced and beautiful life of the Caribbean people or their islands. It'll be bloody imperialism all over again.

Peace
Freespirit



Yan
Reply on: May 23, 2004

Well this is certainly the touristy, nave view that many people seem to have of the Caribbean: "the carefully balanced and beautiful life of the Caribbean people or their islands." Well I don't know about beautiful life at all. Like anywhere else, the Caribbean is also plagued by problems of political corruption, crime, poverty, economic exploitation and of course US and UK overt and covert interventions. We have a long history of this, beginning with their arrival in the islands and extermination of its original people. We have not yet been able to escape their legacy and their ongoing interferences.

Perhaps it would be good to read a bit on the extent of US and UK foreign policy as it applied to this region. Grenada, Cuba and now Haiti are just some of the more glaring examples, but there are countless others, some more obvious than others, to draw from. Many Caribbean leaders cannot make a single move in their own countries without the approval of the Euro-American ' big brothers' and must always consider when their policies may become unfavourable to the business interests of the American and other European business elite.

Paradise? No paradise here from where I sit; except maybe in the tourist brochures.



Freespirit
Reply on: May 24, 2004

This could be said of many places on this planet. You only need to look at Iraq. The whole thing stinks. Whatever you say, I still think the Caribbean (regardless of all you list) is a beautiful place with beautiful people. Try taking it as a compliment. And yes!! life is full of buts and very wise 'intellectual' educated people who have their buts and reads.

However, sitting in a tropical breeze on a hot day watching the palm trees and hearing them rustle and feel the wind in your hair and hear the musical and rhythmic lilt of a Caribbean voice, well for me it is paradise. And guess what?!! You can't buy it and you can't learn it, you just feel it!! Paradise - from where I am sitting!

Peace, have a nice day!
Freespirit



Ayinde
Reply on: May 24, 2004

I am tempted to respond to this at length but I'll leave this here for others.

Anyhow, I reposted these comments on Rootsie's Forum for others, especially Whites, to examine.



Freespirit
Reply on: May 25, 2004


I apologise for looking at life through the eyes of an artist and poet, but there again, to be an artist or poet, it does not really matter whether you are black or white.

I am kinda getting fed up with the eternal political stance of this board. Two years ago, when I first posted there were some pretty sound philosophers with sound reasoning etc. Stuff you could really get your teeth into...

Anyhow, I am a human being from the planet earth and if anyone has a problem with that, well, that's their problem, not mine! Chances are they are probably a human being from the planet earth themselves but are so busy 'fussing and fighting' that they become myopic.

Yes, the Caribbean is a beautiful place, and so are the South Seas and the south coast of England of a beautiful day.

Be positive!!!!!!!!!! Stay happy!!!!!!!!!



Yan
Reply on: May 25, 2004

I see nothing poetic and about poverty, political ineptitude and corruption. Perhaps those who do not live with it can see some poetry in suffering, but I assure those for whom it is a daily reality do not. As a Caribbean person I can say that yes, parts of the landscape are beautiful, and yes some of the people are warm and friendly. However what I detest is the touristy, idealistic attitude of most whites toward the Caribbean. They seem to have bought wholesale the idea of this almost mythical, picturesque place where nothing bad happens. They wax poetic about the trees, the beaches, the sea, and the sand. To them Caribbean people, culture and landscape appear to exist solely for their entertainment. I cannot tell you how many times during my line of work I have had to telephone an overseas office, most often in the US, the UK or Canada, and had the person on the other end began to take up a casual conversation with me, asking what the whether was like, or if my office was near a beach. It is sickening. There is a very real problem of not being taken seriously. At it is not just the fault of the impression from the tourist brochures but an underlying cultural discrimination and racism.

That is just one small example. The booming sex tourism industry is based on these same elements of racism. White males and increasingly white females come to the Caribbean for the sex that they know they cannot ask their white spouses for. They come to control, to purchase to take advantage of the poverty of a few and to play out their sick slave master/ sexual fantasies on a people who they see as less than REAL. We are seen as mere puppets, actors in a play, fantasies that they can go home and brag to their friends about over coffee at Starbucks.

We have seen this play out over and over again. Those who are not the victims are always the ones who have the luxury of telling the victims to 'lighten up', that they are too 'political', that they are too serious. Now we can add that they are not poetic and philosophical enough to the list.

It is unwillingness or perhaps inability to conceptualize other people cultures as just as valid as your own. A Caribbean person speaks of the political persecution, poverty and attacks on the sovereignty of its leaders, and you tell them to lighten up! You use some paltry excuse of being a poet and philosopher!? Give me a break. This is quite similar to the attitude many Whites have of Black Africans/Rastafarians. You did not look at life though the eyes of an artist or poet, you looked at life like someone without any eyes at all. Read the news, read a book, talk to people from the region without the self-righteous attitude of someone who wants their tourist illusion maintained at all costs, or even worse someone who wants to dictate (once again) to those who feel it most, how they should express their issues.

The Caribbean has not yet got over the legacy of the extermination of its indigenous people, of the years of African slavery, Indian and Chinese Indentureship, Colonialism, Neo-Colonialism and the never-ending political and economic stranglehold that Europe and American have maintained on it. The tourist dream does nothing for us except force so many black Caribbean people to have to cow and pander to the desires and whims of whites who hold their economy firmly in their newly-bought straw handbags (and from a real 'rasta' too, Bob!) It has created dependent economies and crippled and stunted many local businesses who cannot compete against large foreign hotel chains. Worst of all, it has perpetuated the idea of white dependence. The attitude you displayed here is proof of this and proof that contrary to what you say, collectively we are not serious or political enough.



Freespirit
Reply on: May 28, 2004

Ker pow!!! You are entitled to your opinion and I to mine! Lighten up man and try to get a more balanced outlook on life. Time moves on, the world changes. Rastafari has a lot to offer the modern world. At least it provides a realistic outlook and way forward. I personally hope that the Rastafari movement gets bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger.

At the end of the day, Jah has given us all a beautiful world to look at and share. It is our duty to respect, care for and hand this legacy onto our children. Artist's, poet's, politician's, human being's eyes...it is only through working together that we will be able to pass our world onto future generations.

Having a go at me, won't change the world...but if it makes you feel better, then feel free!

Peace
Freespirit



tkws
Reply on: May 28, 2004

Freespirit

the sistren yan hav a point... them yanks an brits been bushwackin us since day 1, positivity comes from seeing out of present conditions wit the hope of redemption tommorow....

i tired of them tell them bout come to Jamaica an feel irie when is only them goin be irie when everybody else a live like crab when all them doin is goin to ocho rios an mo bay at exclusive resorts which cater to tourists needs while the rest of the nations suffer... why dont tourist ever go to kingston/st. andrew waterhouse, jungle , riverton, tivoli, matches lane, annotto bay, flankers, dunkirk, grants pen where majority of we live.. cus then them see the REALITY... chances are most people dont even know bout them places in jamaica... jus jump in the tour bus an hit chukka cove, negril an 18 holes of fun in the sun..while utes skull gettin bore wit taurus an magnum blue steele.. while jamaica remains of the the most VIOLENT places on earth because of murder rate per capita.. that soun happy to you?
well mi nuh happy

ini haffi positive an for us fi achieve satisfaction(upfullness) we have to rid weself of them ills CONTINUALLY plaguing every day lives not jus in sum obscure regions of the caribbean

so we probably lighten up when babylon lighten up the load

tkws






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