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Ronnie Sookhdeo

‘Caricom’ in Turmoil

(Spring 1978)

From PNP Youth Movement Bulletin, Spring 1978, p. 7.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

‘Caricom on the brink of collapse’. This was the comment of the Financial Times on the crisis that has rocked the 12-member West Indian Economic Community. But they offered no explanation as to what or who was responsible for the collapse.

Caricom, and its predecessor Carifta – Caribbean Free Trade Area – were founded specifically to enable US imperialism to dominate the Caribbean. Far from benefiting the peoples of the West Indies, it has become a millstone around their necks. The huge bauxite and oil monopolies not only extracted wealth from the islands for a mere pittance, but flooded them with greatly over-priced goods that, ironically, were made from their own raw produce. Their meagre foreign exchange reserves were largely swallowed up in paying for these goods. Oil and gas were purchased from the US owned oil companies based in Trinidad, and cost a third more than the price Cuba pays the USSR for oil.

The world-wide economic recession left the bauxite industries of Jamaica and Guyana in an even more impoverished position. They were plunged into serious economic crises. The price of sugar – which had risen spectacularly in 1974 – fell dramatically in 1975. This followed the action of the US and the Common Market in imposing a 10% levy on imported sugar. As sugar is the main foreign exchange earner for Jamaica and Guyana, this had a catastrophic effect on their economies.


The Jamaican and Guyanese Governments, in attempting to fight back against the monopolies, were faced with intense CIA ‘de-stabilisation’ activity. In Jamaica, this included the sudden flooding of the island with guns and gunmen. In 1975 Jamaica earned 121 million dollars from tourism; 1977 saw it drop to 90 million; it is predicted that this year will see only 55 million dollars earned from tourism. The figures show how the intense and vicious campaign by the CIA caused the bottom to fall out of the tourist trade.

These CIA activities intensified the deterioration of the economies of Jamaica and Guyana. They were both forced to make a thorough re-appraisal of their economic policies, especially those of trade within the neo-capitalist Caricom, which was becoming an intolerable burden. Both countries invoked the trade restriction clauses in the Caricom treaty and drastically reduced their levels of imports. They then had to look to other international markets. They applied for membership to COMECON (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance), in November 1977 (Comecon is the ‘Common Market’ of the USSR and Eastern Europe).

Socialist Federation

Events in the Caribbean during the last five years, have clearly demonstrated the impotence of capitalism in getting to grips with the problems of the region. A coherent and planned policy would harness the natural reserves and riches of the area, and thus create better living standards. The creation of a Socialist Federation of the West Indies would solve the problems of the people of the area, and act as a beacon for the down-trodden masses in Latin and Central America.

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Last updated: 28 August 2016