Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Is It a New Dawn for the Caribbean?

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Is It a New Dawn for the Caribbean?

Article excerpt

I left the Caribbean with the name of Barack Obama ringing in my ear. The black peoples of the Caribbean are constantly following events in the presidential campaign as it unfolds.


Throughout the day, CNN broadcasts every single detail of the rise and rise of Obama. Dis cussions on the issues surrounding him far out strip those about the progress of the Australian cricket team, which is currently touring the West Indies. Local events are on the back burner as Obama surges to within touching distance of the presidency of the United States.

It is not yet time for jubilation. A tense atmosphere prevails, for the Caribbean islands, like America, have evolved from an identical plantation society. West Indians know instinc tively what the reaction of some whites might be to his chances. The islanders are tense, nervous even, about the possibility of a racist backlash that could manifest itself either in the assassina tion of Obama or in a vicious campaign against his advance.

Even so, their support for him is total. All the paraphernalia of the Obama campaign is on display throughout the Caribbean. T-shirts, but tons, posters and stickers are everywhere. But, having lived under the complete domination of several US governments, the Caribbean people show an element of caution that does not sur prise. Tiny Grenada was blown apart by the American military as the islanders sought revo lutionary change with the aid of Cuba. US am bassadors have replaced the colonial governors of yesteryear. Any dissent in the United Nations or elsewhere is met with a loss of aid and other desperately needed assistance.

Yet Obama's success has emboldened some. The prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago was interviewed on television and described Obama as "a breath of fresh air". His counterpart in Jamaica has declined two offers of a meeting with President Bush; he had other appoint ments more pressing than Bush's requests, he said. …

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