West Indies: Power Vacuum

October 24, 1969

Report Outline
Time of Transition in the Caribbean
Obstacles to Early Political Stability
Turn Toward Economic Cooperation
Special Focus

Time of Transition in the Caribbean

Search for Identity in Volatile West Indies

President nixon, addressing a meeting of the Inter-American Press Association in Washington on October 31, will make what the White House calls a “major new pronouncement on Latin American policy.” The President's statement is expected to set off a chain reaction of basic changes in the relations of the United States with South and Central American nations and Mexico in such areas as aid, trade, and development priorities. But there is little prospect of a similar policy overhaul in the case of the troubled islands of the Caribbean.

For three-quarters of a century, “the Caribbean” has meant to Washington policy-makers mainly the island states of the Greater Antilles—Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Puerto Rico. This country has largely ignored the thousands of other islands and sandy keys stretching in a 2,500-mile arc from Florida to South America. And there is little evidence to suggest that President Nixon has it in mind to make any important changes in that respect.

Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, on the last of his several fact-finding trips to Latin America for the President, made brief stops early in July in five Caribbean countries—Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica (all former British colonies), Haiti and the Dominican Republic; a month earlier he had stopped at Trinidad and Tobago, another former British colony. Absent from the itinerary was Cuba, with which the United States maintains no diplomatic relations but which hangs like a sword of Damocles over the future of the entire Caribbean region. Missing also were the numerous British, French and Dutch islands which, though still colonies or the equivalent, are now beginning, after more than three centuries of European domination, to seek an identity of their own and a place in the Caribbean sun.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Feb. 18, 2005  Haiti's Dilemma
Feb. 01, 1985  Caribbean Basin Revisited
Jan. 13, 1984  Caribbean Basin Policy
Jan. 11, 1980  Caribbean Security
Jul. 08, 1977  Puerto Rican Status Debate
Oct. 24, 1969  West Indies: Power Vacuum
Apr. 13, 1966  Dominican Dilemma
Nov. 21, 1962  Security in the Caribbean
Jul. 22, 1959  Invasion and Intervention in the Caribbean Area
Nov. 06, 1957  Caribbean Problems and Prospects
Jun. 14, 1943  Problems of the Caribbean Area
Jun. 10, 1940  Foreign Possessions in the Caribbean Area
Regional Political Affairs: Latin America and the Caribbean