Between Self-Determination and Dependency: Jamaica's Foreign Relations, 1972-1989

By Holger W. Henke | Go to book overview
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There was a fundamental consensus among the whole local bourgeoisie that Jamaica should operate within the framework of an IMF stabilization programme and a parallel World Bank "structural adjustment" programme. The extent of this basic agreement left virtually no room for autonomous government action on this question. The autonomy of the Jamaican state was effectively confined to micro-economic fine tuning within the broader framework of tight IMF-USAID-World Bank cross-conditionality. The scope and content of this exercise were defined by the differing priorities of the various factions of the local bourgeoisie operating under these new conditions.

The rise of the comprador bourgeoisie, which began in the late 1970s, continued in the 1980s. The concomitant export oriented development strategy, promoted by the Jamaican state (through its new government) and international financial organizations, led to a further opening of the country's fragile economy. Scores of foreign consultants, managers, and 'experts' entering the country, increasing foreign debt, and a modest upturn of foreign investment were some of the immediate consequences of this development.

On the other hand, international capital, as one of the audiences the JLP had to cater to, could not expect to form more than a loose coalition of interests with the comprador faction of the Jamaican bourgeoisie. To the extent that exporters were also manufacturers, they suffered from import liberalization, tight money supply and protectionism in major international markets. These problems, of course, put the export sector in a junior position within the international economy. Thus, even JEA President Vaswani in 1988 propounded: "We have to get away from this growing tendency towards foreign goods . . . I am not on the same wave length as the policy makers, I don't feel that since we work so hard to earn the foreign exchange that we have to buy Budweiser or Miller Lite" ( Money Index June 14, 1988, 5; Money Index June 23, 1987, 7).

Here, then, the JEA was closer to what the JMA was saying than to interests of international capital being channelled through IMF and World Bank programmes. Occasionally, foreign investors were reminded by the government of the principle of good corporate citizenship to which they were expected to adhere ( DG 24/ 6/ 1985, 2).

The organizational strengthening of the private sector (with the negotiated support of the USAID), including joint representation with state trade promotion agencies overseas, the ideological levelling of the trade union movement, the curtailment of workers' rights, the state's interference in the free


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Between Self-Determination and Dependency: Jamaica's Foreign Relations, 1972-1989


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