The United States is now doing what Britain has already done to the Caribbean-a sort of colonisation-and this time its being manifested in politics. This was the view of Guyanese political commentator Frank Birbalsingh as he spoke during a discussion of national interests.
The discussion, led by historian Bridget Brereton and including former Belizean attorney general Godfrey Smith, took place yesterday during the 2012 Bocas Lit Fest at the National Library in Port-of-Spain. "In Guyanese elections decades ago the Americans said no to Cheddi Jagan," said Birbalsingh.
He added that the Caribbean nationality was built on the plantation structure. "The Caribbean is different from other colonies where forces would just wipe out the indigenous people and inhabit the land. "The Caribbean was colonised by a combination of two techniques, first the indigenous were wiped out, then other people were brought to the islands," Birbalsingh said.
He said the region was forced to invent its own history from the inherited fragments of different people. "There was great difficulty in creating a new nation out of those fragments but the main difficulty was ethnicity. "Indians and Africans came with their own culture but Christianity and western culture were imposed on the people," he said.
Brereton offered the view that the national narrative of the people of T&T changed after independence in 1962 and became focused on an anti-colonial history. "The independence narrative created by Eric Williams tends to ignore internal differences and was introduced to T&T when Williams published A History of T&T as a gift to the nation," Brereton said.
She called the "independence narrative" an "anti-colonial and afro-Creole" view. She added that post-independence the afro-Creole narrative become the dominant one in the country. "This forced the question of whose culture took precedence and who were seen as more Trini," she said. Brereton said since then new narratives have been put forward to include other cultures and Tobago and older narratives such as class and gender have survived.