Defining Moments that Changed Life for Caribbean Residents

Document Type:Research Paper

Subject Area:History

Document 1

The main languages spoken in the Caribbean region are those of former colonizers namely; English, French, Spanish, and Dutch. The paper analyses three incidences which defined and positively or adversely impacted on the lives of Caribbean people. Discovery of Caribbean Region and Colonization The main landmark moment in the Caribbean occurred in the 15th Century when in 1492, a European explorer, Christopher Columbus arrived in the region. On discovering the New World which he believed to be Indies or Asia and named West Indies, Columbus claimed the region for his mother country Spain. The first Spanish settlements in the Caribbean were the establishment in 1493, and by 1530, Spain had colonies in larger islands of Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Cuba, Trinidad in that order in addition to small pearl invested islands of Margarita and Cubagua (Hyacinth 8).

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As a result, many native people committed suicide in order to escape the enslavement. The Taino also paid tax in the form of food or gold to the Spanish crown, and the massive disruption of their economy resulted in starvation while many others died from Spanish brutality. Faced with near extinction of Taino and subsequent loss of labor, the Spaniards begun raiding other places including South, Central, and North America to acquire slaves to replace Taino in Caribbean islands. The Carib group posed fierce resistance to Spanish aggression and sometimes it teamed with other groups to raid European settlements but, eventually, they too were overpowered (Hyacinth 8). Therefore the arrival of Europeans is responsible for the destruction and extinction of civilizations created by indigenous Taino, Carib and Ciboney groups of Carribean region.

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For instance, between 1492 and 1870 the total slaves imported were about 1,665,000 to the British Caribbean, 1,600,200 to French Caribbean and 500,000 to Dutch Caribbean but most slaves were shipped to the colonies between 1701 and 1810 (The Department of History 268). The slaves were shipped under inhumane conditions, and about 12 % of them died on the trip. Occasionally the slaves were auctioned and traded for goods like liquor and guns while sugar and rum would be exported to Europe from Caribbean (The Department of History 273). Further, the adjustment for new slaves was very brutal since they were forced to adopt new languages and cultures and as a result, many more died within the 1st year after arrival. The treatment by plantation owners was quite harsh since slaves had to cut off ties with their homeland and those from the same culture were separated, and occasionally they were subjected to more harsh punishments including killing by torture.

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The Caribbean culture heavily draws from African, European and Asian traditions in addition to the neighboring United States. The, largest Caribbean population including those in mainland speak Spanish and ¼ are English-speaking while 22% speak French and only 1% speak Dutch (Hyacinth 10). The dependence on plantation farming was the economic exploitation of Caribbean nations because they gained not profits from products like sugar which were controlled by colonialists. On gaining independence, Caribbean countries had no capital to invest in industrial, technological and economic development and so they remained impoverished nations. Furthermore, the large unskilled workforce in plantations could only perform manual agricultural tasks, and so lack of qualified and competent technical personnel impacted negatively in many development sectors within Caribbean nations. S. intervention in 1983 Grenada coup d'état.

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Jamaica also faced economic crises after cutting of aid by the United States over former’s close ties with Cuba which already had bad relations with the United States. The political and economic failures have impacted the Caribbean populations with high poverty levels forcing many to migrate. However, independence has enabled the Caribbean nations to institute measures for fostering unity and integration and these include established of University of the West Indies, Caribbean Meteorological System, regional shipping service Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA), Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) and Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) (The Department of History 292). 2006 Hyacinth, B. The Indigenous Heritage Of The Caribbean And Its Contribution To A Caribbean Identity. Text from the Untold Origins Exhibition held at the Cuming Museum.

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