top of page

Populism in the Caribbean

In the Caribbean and Latin America populist socialism is a key factor. Populism is mainly a strategy of the left, although historically a more rightwing ideology has been blended with populism, as was the case in Argentina. In Europe populism is normally combined with a right wing agenda (Economist,2006).

Ethnicity plays is a strong role in the Caribbean. This is a legacy of colonization, or more particularly of slavery. The social lines are more or less drawn by ethnicity. To be black means to be poor. In Latin America a different form of ethnicity plays a role, and appeals are often made to indigenous identities. For example, President Chavez of Venezuela refers to his indigenous background to relate to the poor people in his country. The same is the case in Bolivia with President Evo Morales (Madrid, 2008). In countries like France and the Netherlands ethnicity is also a factor. Foreigners are blamed for not integrating and causing social problems. The populists state that these citizens should be deported to their country of origin.

In the Caribbean and Latin America there are often references to thecolonialism, although the precise references are different. Often the colonialpast is blamed for the problems in Caribbean nations. In Latin America the former mother countries are a limited factor because these countries achieved their independence a long time ago. In the case of Venezuela, President Chavez blames American policy for the problems of the continent. However, the fact is that often the members of the elites are descendants of the colonists.

These various factors inter twine and are difficult to separate. No two places have exactly the same admixture of elements in their particular brand of populism. Millett (2003, p. 314) states that decolonization, populist movementsand the formation of new nations came together in the period from 1945 to 1970 in the Caribbean. Caribbean populism is a combination of ethno-nationalism, a brand of populism and state intervention. However, it should also be recognized that there are several Caribbeans: Spanish, Britsh, French and Dutch.  The factors of populism are to a certain extent different in the different Caribbeans.

In Jamaica, Manley’s administration (1972-1980) was widely acknowledged to be populist, especially during his first term. The administration wanted a more just distribution of income, and the public sector was expanded at the expense of the market. Vital parts of the market were also nationalized. Nationalism, socialism and ethnicity were important factors in this form of populism. In 1980 the new administration implemented a much more neoliberal programme[1][2].

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

The Other Side of the Coin

The Other Side of the Coin March 2, 2024 In our discussion on disease poverty, primarily stemming from the lack of a steady income, it's essential to consider the flip side: the presence of excessive

bottom of page