JAMAiCA ANd THE
CARibbEAN iN THE 1980s
Immediately after assuming power in October 1980, Prime Minister Seaga engaged in a number of public appearances, both locally and abroad, at which he propounded his views on regional and international affairs and on the role which Jamaica ought to play therein. His speeches to American business persons, opinion leaders and decision makers repeated a number of well-rehearsed arguments which in part had already been set out at earlier occasions and in the JLP's election manifesto. The thrust of his arguments was unambiguous. Jamaica was determined to join again the regional "family of nations" under the paternal leadership of the US. Two general themes loomed large in his message: democracy and liberal market economy. Both topics, of course, were also favourites of the new Reagan administration as they served as levers for the realization of US interests, being broadly defined as the reassertion of global influence.
Seaga took pains to portray Jamaica and his government as the regional beacons of anti-communism, democracy and free entrepreneurship. Thus, he frequently emphasized that "no other geographical sphere can attest to 28 practicing democracies" ( Seaga 1981a). This somewhat simplistic picture was not problematized by a critical analysis of the historical genesis and consequent nature of Caribbean democracy, which would only have complicated the convenience and purpose of the argument. Seaga's abridged understanding of democracy entailed only the following elements: "By our definition the term