I know you count them for nothing, because the state is armed, but I beg you permit me to tell you that one should count them for much, every time they count themselves for everything. They are there: they themselves begin to count your police for nothing, and the misfortune for you is that their strength consists of their imagination. And one can say to rahtid, that as opposed to all other kinds of power, with imagination they can do - when they arrive at a certain point - every thing they think they can.
A period of revolt
The background against which the New Jewel emerged in Grenada was one of intense confrontations and conflicts between rulers and the fundamental class throughout the Caribbean. It was a catalog of revolts:
1965 In the Dominican Republic a popular revolt against a military coup drowned in blood by a U.S. invasion.
1967 A spontaneous rebellion of agricultural workers in Guadeloupe.
1968 Blacks in Bermuda rioted against racist, colonialist control.
1969 Violent confrontations against U.S. soldiers by students and workers protesting U.S. occupation of the Canal Zone. Curacao was shaken by wildcat strikes of workers, riots by employed and unemployed workers. Labor unrest broke out in Surinam, leading to a general strike. In Antigua there were riots, strikes and demonstrations over several years as the sugar industry was phased out. In Jamaica workers at Western Meat Packers established democratic control of their trade union local, taking full control over union dues and the factory canteen, negotiating with their employer without official mediators and taking up direct organizational relations with sugar workers and the local community.
1971 Agricultural workers in Guadeloupe staged wildcat strikes which were supported by strikes of students and riots by the unemployed, while the Communist Party organized thugs to beat students back into the classrooms.
1973After the state nationalized the American-and Canadian-owned bauxite companies in Guyana, the workers went on a wildcat strike as the same old backward social relations remained. The workers dubbed the new Guyanese bureaucrats the "New Canadians." Guyanians of African and Indian descent "captured" and occupied sugar estate lands to build houses and to farm. Surinam also saw an expanded general strike of workers on a much larger scale than that of 1969 and it was joined by riots of the unemployed. St. Lucia also experienced a wildcat strike of banana workers. In Dominica, agricultural workers and people in the villages occupied and captured part of the British-owned Castle Bruce Estates, attempting to manage it themselves, after the manager had refused to fire a list of workers whom the Owners had ordered the manager to fire. In Jamaica, after a year of easing of class tensions and waiting on Manley to institute his election promises of "Better Must Come," appropriations from banks, warehouses, stores, betting shops and a wave of arson and crime erupted in Kingston. Demonstrations initiated by students and workers and unemployed women against police brutality and for the release of prisoners plagued the Manley regime.
It was in Trinidad and Tobago in 1970 that the very foundations of bourgeois parliamentary society, the church, and all the institutions of power were shaken up in one of the most profound rebellions in the Caribbean, which found workers, academics and intellectuals, and small farmers linking up against the system. The government of Prime Minister Eric Williams, the author of Capitalism and Slavery, was almost toppled as hundreds of people took to the street in a renunciation of parliamentary politics, stressing a "people's politics" in which new institutions would emerge. The revolt, which drew its influence from the Black Civil Rights struggle in the U.S., occurred against a backdrop of racism at the Sir George Williams University in Montreal, where West Indian students destroyed a computer center. In the course of their fight the students earned the solidarity and respect of West Indians at home.
After years of rule by Williams, noted for his slogan "Massa Day Gone," the people erupted against the neo-colonial system instituted in the oil rich nation by a leader who had posed in 1956 as anti-colonial and '"Black Power" was the rallying cry of the thousands who experienced the realities of rule by the Black middle class. And as the revolt gathered steam, the "Black Power" advocates moved to unite both Indians and Blacks by attempting a march into the sugar areas, linking up both forces who were previously divided around Black versus Indian parliamentary policies. A section of the army led by Lieutenants Riffique Shah and Lasselles, mutinied. Venezuelan and American gunboats stood offshore ready to intervene. Eventually a popular army commander was able to secure their surrender, after shelling by the Coast Guard.
The revolutionary initiative shifted away from the masses and Williams was saved. By 1973 armed guerrillas, the National Union of Freedom Fighters (NUFF) were "pranching" in the hills of Trinidad - attacking police stations and other targets. NUFF was snuffed out by 1975.
Cuba: Committees for the defense of the revolution defend country against Bay of Pigs invasion. Instead of further formation into workers' councils of self-management, the committees were recuperated into state functions.
Dominican Republic: Revolt against military coup which overthrew Bosch. American Marines invade to maintain the power of the military. As in most Latin-American countries, the situation is confused by a host of so-called revolutionary organizations stifling the spontaneity of real struggle.
Jamaica: Demonstration of University students, rebellion of Rastas and unemployed workers against ban of Walter Rodney.1969: workers at Western Meat Packers establish democratic control over their trade union local, taking full control over union dues and factory canteen, negotiating with their employer without official mediation, and taking up direct organizational relations with sugar workers and local community. Recuperated by I.T.A.C in 1971. 1970: Massive prison break at Bamboo. 1973: Appropriations from banks, betting shops and warehouses continue. Wave of arson in Kinston. Demonstrations for the release of prisoners. Initiate by women. Demonstrations by students and workers against police brutality.
Bermuda 1968: Riots
Belize 1972: Riots
Panama: Students and workers protest US occupation of Canal Zone, violent confrontations with US soldiers.
Curacao: 1969: Oil workers wildcat, riots of unemployed and employed workers.
Anguilla 1969: Under popular pressure political leaders are forced to declare secession for associated states (administrative grouping of British controlled islands). British troops invade island.
Antigua 1969-73: Strikes, demonstrations and riots as sugar industry is phased out to make way for tourism.
Dominica 1973: Agricultural workers of Castle Bruce estate and villagers struggle to take control of estate and manage it themselves.
St Lucia 1973: Banana workers wildcat
Grenada 1973: General strike. Rebellion eventually closing down airport. Government receives state aid from Trinidad.
Trinidad 1970: Rebellion of African and Indian unemployed and sugar workers sparked by student demonstrations. Army mutinies. 1973: Sabotage of sugar and other industries by workers. $200 000 appropriated from bank by youths, political leaflet issued at scene.
Guyana 1972: Bauxite workers wildcat shortly after bauxite industry nationalized. 1973: Indian and African sugar workers occupy sugar estate lands and build houses.
Surinam 1969: Labor unrest and general strike. 1973: Repeated on a larger scale with riots of unemployed.
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