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

By Holger W. Henke | Go to book overview
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CONCLUSiON

In summary, it can be said that the defining factor for the economic relations between industrialized and developing social formations in the decade of the 1980s was the precipitate debt crisis. Far from being the crisis of a few single countries, it reflected a deep structural problem of the global financial system. Although there can be no doubt that a majority of debtor countries urgently needed to make adjustments in their productive structure, their budgetary and fiscal arrangements and their power relationships, there can equally be no doubt that the pace and the socioeconomic instruments utilized in World Bank/IMF type structural adjustment programmes often badly mismatched the realities of the countries affected by them.

The fact that socially and economically extremely weak states were urged to export vital resources in the midst of a severe socioeconomic crisis was not an entirely new phenomenon within the history of global capitalist development. Although some economists apologetically try to play down the abyss which opened itself before a number of structurally weak and indebted developing social formations, it should not be forgotten that in the heyday of the great Irish Famine ( 1845-1850) in which one to two million people perished, Ireland, the oldest British colony, exported large amounts of wheat and meat to England. The difference today is that, while foreign capital is still there and continues to come in, formally independent states in the Third World are forced to export capital, which amid an economically as well as socially costly adjustment exercise could be a critical prerequisite for the prevention of social instability and the continuation of a minimum level of meaningful social development. To the extent that this necessity was not acknowledged, quackish parols such as "Development without Aid" represented ideological rather than economic concepts. 2

Considering these macro-economic strains, heavily indebted countries such as Jamaica hardly had any realistic alternative than to kowtow to these programmes allegedly designed to restore growth, but in reality aimed at securing debt repayments. Thus, the international environment in the 1980s contributed to a significant extent to reduced room for manoeuvre in the conduct of foreign affairs, especially where strategic economic decisions were concerned. In this scenario there was also no room for a special relationship with regional middle powers which might possibly have allowed small indebted states additional latitude as international actors. Even Latin American middle powers such as Venezuela, Colombia and, to a lesser extent, Brazil and Mexico in the 1980s again pursued foreign policies which have been characterized as

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