Caribbean Basin Policy

January 13, 1984

Report Outline
Growing U.S. Activism
Central American Focus
Responses to the Turmoil
Special Focus

Growing U.S. Activism

Regan's Boldness in ‘Sphere of Influence’

During the past year the United States moved with uncharacteristic boldness to reassert its influence in the Caribbean Basin, a region that it has often treated with indifference and, at times, disdain. In doing so, the Reagan administration has seemingly affirmed its commitment to a “special relationship” between this country and its Latin American and Caribbean neighbors.

It is subject to varying interpretations, however. For example, the Kissinger Commission, in its recommendations to President Reagan on framing policies toward Central America, sought to strike a balance between security concerns in a region engulfed in internecine warfare and the longer-term needs for economic development and redistribution of land. To many Latin Americans the phrase “special relationship” implies that the nations of this hemisphere have common economic and political interests that make cooperative action both possible and necessary. But the initiatives by the administration suggest it views the Caribbean Basin as properly within the U.S. sphere of influence, thus requiring a policy to resist encroachment into the region by other major powers.

This policy line has led the United States into a series of actions in the Caribbean and in Central America, which critics have charged are puzzling and sometimes contradictory. On the one hand, the United States intervened militarily in the region last year for the first time since it sent troops into the Dominican Republic in 1965. On Oct. 25, the United States invaded Grenada, a tiny island in the southeastern Caribbean with a force that eventually totaled 6,000 American troops and a contingent of 300 police and militia from neighboring islands. Combat units were withdrawn in less than two months, but 300 U.S. technicians and military police were left behind for an indefinite stay.

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
Arms Control and Disarmament
Regional Political Affairs: Latin America and the Caribbean