Britain and the United States in the Caribbean: A Comparative Study in Methods of Development

By Mary Proudfoot | Go to book overview

Chapter X
SOCIAL LIFE

1. THE BACKGROUND

The quality of living in the society from which the West Indian labourer comes is, for the vast majority of people in both groups of dependencies, very poor by metropolitan standards. Chronic ill-health, for instance, resulting in the main from bad living conditions, is a common characteristic, although the more serious tropical diseases are now relatively rare. Medical facilities, particularly in the rural areas, are inadequate. The diets of the people are very poor, at any rate from the qualitative standpoint, and malnutrition is widespread. To some extent malnutrition results from lack of education as well as from poverty, and almost all West Indian families, at any rate in the rural areas, and whether with or without gardens of their own, probably could eat somewhat better food.1 There is, however, little understanding of food values; and tastes acquired over many generations, and as a result of conditions long past, incline people to the less valuable foods available.

Housing conditions are uniformly bad, even when account is taken of the fact that housing in tropical areas has a less immediate bearing on well-being than housing in colder climates. The tiny, dilapidated shacks which serve as homes are very much worse than any housing in the urban slums of either the United Kingdom or the United States. Indeed, they would for the most part not be regarded as good enough even as summer shelters for cattle in either of the metropolitan countries. The Moyne Commissioners reporting on the British islands in 1939, remarked: 'that half the population of the West Indies should be rehoused is certainly an understatement.'2 In Puerto Rico, it was estimated in 1949 that three out of four Puerto Rican families were living in substandard housing.3 Housing in the United States Virgin Islands is

____________________
1
Roberts, p. 251. 'Regardless of whether families can raise any of their own food, practically all of them could have more adequate diets by better choice of foods among those available.'
2
Moyne Report, Ch. IX, para. 34.
3
Statement of Cesar Cordera Davila, Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Housing Authority, cited in Puerto Rico Bulletin, October 1949.

-243-

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Britain and the United States in the Caribbean: A Comparative Study in Methods of Development
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Editor's Introduction vii
  • Author's Preface x
  • Contents xiv
  • List of Tables xx
  • Chapter I - Introductory 1
  • Chapter II - The Constitutional Relationship 10
  • Chapter III - The Economic Relationship 38
  • Chapter IV - The Structure of Society 65
  • Chapter V - The Central Government 97
  • Chapter VI - The Local Government 134
  • 3. Conclusions 151
  • Chapter VII - Political Life 153
  • Chapter VIII - Economic Life 178
  • Chapter IX - Labour 222
  • Chapter X - Social Life 243
  • Chapter XI - Education 281
  • 7. Conclusions 305
  • Chapter XII - Population Problems 307
  • Chapter XIII - The Possibilities of Federation For The British West Indies 330
  • Chapter XIV - The Alternatives for the American Dependencies 350
  • Chapter XV - General Conclusions 359
  • Abbreviations 362
  • Abbreviated References 363
  • Index 419
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