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Volume 51 / Social Sciences

ECONOMICS: THE CARIBBEAN AND THE GUIANAS (except Cuba and Puerto Rico)


EURIC BOBB, Deputy Manager of Operations Region III, Inter-American Development Bank

THE QUALITY OF MATERIAL ON THE CARIBBEAN AND THE GUIANAS reviewed for this volume is very uneven. Many publications, particularly those relating to the Dominican Republic, consist of collections of conference proceedings, essays or even newspaper articles (items bi 88002337, bi 88002344, bi 88002347, bi 88002364, bi 88002365, and bi 88002384), while still others are monographs which survey rather than analyze the selected topic (items bi 88002378, bi 88002379, bi 88002396).

The concept of "dependency" and its implications for socio-economic development in the area is an interesting theme tackled by several authors. Thomas (item bi 88002392) argues that, beginning with the first European settlement of the region, the pattern of development lacked internal dynamism, being based on systems - whether slavery, plantation, indenture, monoculture, mining, or industrialization by invitation - which did not allow the bulk of the population to share the fruits of expansion. Manley (item bi 88002406) illustrates the issue from the perspective of the key player in Jamaica's experience from 1972-80. He holds that the dynamics of dependence within the existing world economic order render useless any effort to set the Caribbean - indeed the developing world of which Jamaica is a paradigm - on a course of self-sustained growth with development and an acceptable distribution of income and wealth. Thomson (item bi 88002407), in analyzing the establishment of the banana export sector in the Windward Islands, also remarks on the marginalization of the peasantry and echoes the call for a new international economic order. Figueroa (item bi 89000045) argues that the masses did not benefit from economic growth in Jamaica because they were left out of political decision-making. Haiti, in the view of DeWind and McKinley (item bi 88002380), is an extreme case because the State itself is a predator upon the peasantry.

The dependency theme is blunted by the work of Pryor (item bi 88002388) on revolutionary Grenada, and Worrell (item bi 88002404) and Hope (item bi 88002408) on the wider English-speaking Caribbean, who see the choice of sound policy and de-emphasis of ideology as key determinants of socioeconomic advancement for the masses. For Fass (item bi 89000792), however, it is the political class - at least in Haiti - which contributes nothing to social output and, in conjunction with the missionaries of international development assistance, fails to understand the ordinary people and their sense of what would lead to an improvement in their material condition of abject poverty.


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