iLocal News Archives

Caribbean Project: The collapse of Caribbean agriculture

caribbean-newBy Hunter Wallace From Occidental Dissent

In spite of all that has been written here about the Golden Circle, the sugar plantation in the Caribbean has gone the way of the cotton plantation in the Deep South. Agriculture in general has also ceased to be of much importance:

“The most spectacular decline was in the case of sugar. Its share at first held up well and even recovered to nearly 40 percent in the mid-1970s when world sugar prices were at their peak. There then followed a collapse that has no precedent in Caribbean economic history. Sugar’s contribution would fall below 10 percent by 1991 and below 1 percent by 2003. The one product that had done more than any other to define the Caribbean had ceased to be of any major significance for the region as a whole – and there was no likelihood of its returning to importance.

  sl-fish62s  “Other agricultural exports fared little better, their share declining from 12 percent at the beginning of the period to 0.5 percent at the end. All the main products suffered a drop in their share of merchandise exports. Tobacco leaf went from nearly 4 percent in 1960 to 0.01 percent fifty years later. Molasses, coffee, cacao, citrus and rice suffered a similar fate. Bananas went from 2.6 percent to 0.3 percent, and thus sugar and bananas combined – about which so much has been said and written in recent years – accounted together for no more than 1 percent of merchandise exports by the end of the period. …

    “The demise of the sugar industry came as something of a shock to the Caribbean – and yet it was also a liberation. The misery of short-term employment and the long dead season would finally come to an end. Land previously monopolized by sugar was now available for other uses. The plantations had finally lost their grip, and the owners could not influence economic policy in their own interests.” (Victor Bulmer-Thomas, The Economic History of the Caribbean Since the Napoleonic Wars, pp.357-360)

For more on this story go to:

Related story:

south-american-caribbeanCaribbean Project: Explaining The Caribbean

By Hunter Wallace

I’m finally wrapping up my research.

At the outset of the “Caribbean Project,” I wanted to investigate 1.) how the culture of the Caribbean was transplanted to South Carolina and spread across the Deep South, 2.) the paradox of how such a wealthy developing region could have a large black majority, and 3.) why Haiti is such a regional outlier. This required taking a closer look at the wider context of Caribbean history.

Here’s my breakdown of the region: the “Caribbean” includes all the islands which are not attached to the Latin American mainland states, Belize in Central America, and Suriname, Guyana, and French Guiana in South America.

GDP Per Capita (PPP)

French Colonies

Saint Barthélemy – $37,000

Martinique – $24,118

Saint Martin – $19,300

Guadeloupe – $21,780

French Guiana – $20,904

Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin are overseas collectivities of France. Guadeloupe, Martinique, and French Guiana are overseas departments. All of these islands (and French Guiana, which is on the South American mainland) are part of France and thus part of the European Union.

In Guadeloupe, Martinique, and French Guiana, over 50 percent of GDP is public spending. In Guadeloupe and Martinique, the bottom three quintiles of the population lives off the French welfare state.

Dutch Colonies & Tax Shelters

St. Eustatius – $40,300

Aruba – $25,300

Curaçao – $20,567

Sint Maarten – $22,000

Bonaire – $19,000

Saba – $16,000

Sint Maarten, Aruba, Curaçao are countries in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Sint Eustatius, Bonaire, and Saba are Dutch municipalities.

US Colonies

Puerto Rico – $16,300

US Virgin Islands – $14,500

Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are US territories.

Non-Independent British Tax Shelters

Bermuda – $86,000

Cayman Islands – $43,800

British Virgin Islands – $42,300

The Bahamas – $31,300

Turks & Caicos Islands – $29,100

Anguilla – $12,200

Montserrat – $8,500*

Even though the Bahamas is an independent country, I am including it on this list because it is a major offshore British tax shelter. The same is true of Bermuda which is located in the North Atlantic, but also belongs in this list.

Independent Countries

Barbados (1966) – $25,000

Trinidad & Tobago (1962) – $19,800

Antigua & Barbuda (1981) – $17,800

Saint Kitts & Nevis (1983) – $16,100

Dominica (1978) – $14,000

Grenada (1974) – $13,500

St. Lucia (1979) – $13,000

Saint Vincent & the Grenadines (1979) – $11,800

Cuba (1902) – $10,200

Dominican Republic (1865) – $9,500

Jamaica (1962) – $8,900

Belize (1981) – $8,700

Guyana (1966) – $8,000

Suriname (1975) – $5,700

The list of independent countries includes the Dominican Republic and Cuba, the second (1865) and third country (1902) to gain their independence in the Caribbean, St. Kitts & Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda in the Leeward Islands, all of the Windward Islands (Dominica, St. Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Grenada), Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana and Suriname in South America, Belize in Central America, and Barbados and Jamaica.

Of the above list of countries, all of them with the exception of the Dominican Republic are members of CARICOM. Within the Caribbean, 40 percent of the tourists who visit the region (stop over arrivals or cruise ship passengers) visit the CARICOM countries, which attracts the largest share of tourist dollars in the region. The Dominican Republic attracts the largest number of tourists who come to stay on vacation.

2 out of the 6 countries at the bottom of the list, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, have been independent for over a century. 4 out of the 6 countries at the bottom of the list (Cuba under Fidel Castro, Jamaica under Michael Manley, Guyana under Forbes Burham, and Suriname under Desiré Bouterse) are there because of the adoption of some form of socialism during the Cold War.

Trinidad & Tobago is an example of the resource lottery – in this case, petroleum.


Haiti (1804) – $1,200

There’s a reason why Haiti is ranked at the bottom of our list.

Haiti is the only country in the region which is poorer in 2014 than it was in 1960. Even Cuba, which was under an American and OAS trade embargo for half a century, and which went through one of the most spectacular economic collapses in modern times after the fall of the Soviet Union, and which is still held back by communism, is better off in all kinds of ways than it was in 1960.

210 years of compound freedom is the reason why Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. A glimpse of this can be seen in the mistakes that Jamaica, Cuba, and Guyana – three of the wealthiest countries in the region in the 19th century, but now three of the poorest – have made since independence.

Above all else, it can be seen in the fate of Martinique, Guadeloupe, and French Guiana, which remained a part of the French Empire and which are now part of France and the European Union, and whose residents live off the French welfare state. There’s also Puerto Rico, which is the manufacturing dynamo of the Caribbean because it is a US colony, and even the Dominican Republic which, unlike Haiti, has welcomed foreigners throughout its history and is now a major tourist destination.

In 1802, Napoleon sent two fleets to reconquer the French Caribbean: one sailed to Guadeloupe under General Richepance, where it succeeded in restoring slavery and killing the rebel mulatto leader, Louis Delgrès, at the battle of Matouba; the other sailed to Saint-Domingue under General Leclerc, where it failed to restore slavery and white supremacy, and was defeated by Jean-Jacques Dessalines.

Haiti failed because it was set free …. free to stand on its own two feet, which meant free to fall on its face. It will take an entire book to explain how the legacy of freedom – incompetent and corrupt leaders, militarism, political instability, external debt**, fiscal irresponsibility, racial conflict, civil wars, environmental destruction, the collapse of capital intensive agriculture, overpopulation, and fear and loathing of foreigners – conspired to destroy Haiti while these forces were held in check elsewhere in the Caribbean by white supremacy and colonialism.

* Although Montserrat was destroyed by a volcanic explosion in 1995, it is still far better off than Haiti less than 20 years later.

** Guadeloupe and Martinique don’t have an external debt. As part of France, their debt is part of France’s national debt.

Note: There’s still one loose thread to tie up … Barbados, an independent country with Haiti’s demographics, which is the most successful black country in the world. How did Barbados, the cradle of Caribbean slavery, come to be the most commonly cited example of a successful free black population anywhere in the world?

For more on this story go to:



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *