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

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

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

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


Between Self-Determination and Dependency analyses the nature and trajectory of Jamaica's foreign relations from 1972 to 1989. The central argument is that the relative autonomy of the Jamaican state declined due to the evolution of a new international regime which in effect disallowed the political, social and economic experimentation originally envisioned. Neither the attempt at radical nationalism by the People's National Party, nor the 'accommodationist' stance of the Jamaica Labour Party served to reduce Jamaica's structural dependency.

The analysis factors in the political and economic interests and policies of both domestic and foreign social forces as they negotiated the foreign policies of the Jamaican state. Thus, the text employs a more holistic perspective. It departs from earlier studies that tended to focus on the diplomatic history of the country's foreign relations without illuminating the various co-determinants that defined the context of state action.


Jamaica's modern era in development started in the late 1930s and the past sixty years have witnessed the virtual transformation of the country. First came the years of preparation for independence, which came in 1962. Beginning in the late 1930s there was the loud and clear call by the workers whose demonstrations against unacceptable social conditions and low wages awakened the country, its local authorities and the colonial power. Out of this came the establishment of political organizations and processes, the birth of modern trade unions, and the early movement towards constitutional change and self-government.

The British authorities, urged by the stinging criticisms of the Royal Commission which examined and reported on economic and social conditions in the West Indian territories, established the Development and Welfare Scheme -- probably the first international aid programme of that kind, and, remarkably, in the middle of a major war.

Those early years saw significant developments in the public sector -- development of an exceptional leadership corps of Jamaicans and the establishment of a number of development agencies, including a department of statistics, the planning agency, the industrial and the agricultural development corporations, social and community development agencies and, later, the Bank of Jamaica, all before independence.

Jamaica came to occupy a virtually unique position in the emerging Third World and was held in high regard, a fact demonstrated by the visits from other countries to examine the work in a variety of spheres, including planning, industrial development, community development and agricultural research.

The establishment of the University of the West Indies, with its first campus in Jamaica, and the initial movements towards regional integration created new dimensions in the experience of Jamaica and the other countries of the region. But perhaps the most remarkable and fundamental developments in those years were in the cultural field -- the creative artistic output of poets, painters . . .

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