The Caribbean, the birthplace of modern anti-colonialism, is regarded as a focal point in explaining racial slavery, multifariousness, imperial superiority in exhibiting violence, and mass wretchedness due to economic exploitation.
Since 5000 BC, the island of Ayiti later renamed by the Spanish in the 15th century as La España was the major bone of contention between Spanish colonizers and the existing inhabitants of the region. The Caribbean was not only home to different African and American natives, but also it intermingles a vast diversified European masses.
The geographical significance of the Caribbean poses immense importance to conflicting European antagonism for the pursuit of power dominance. The Caribbean high value that heralds its drive towards modernity in fact stems from the two facts.
First, the extrication of silver from America, which was the major source of funding for the Habsburgs’ empire worldwide was a driving factor to move the emerging global economy near to modernism.
Second, the formation of plantation economies, which were formed on the basis of racial slavery was constructive in building a factory model of economic exploitation. These plantation economies turn of higher importance for European colonizers in the 18th century as it was the product of the enslavement of a vast array of the laboring class.
Caribbean history matters as it predominantly revolves around the legacies of slavery, imperialism, and historical retaliation to it. The plantation setup, the mercantilist moment, colonialism, the industrial revolution, consumerism, and all that we relate with the contemporary world, including the very notion of the rights of citizenship, individual freedom, collective liberation, and nation-building that dates back to the Caribbean.
These historical accounts of the Caribbean clearly highlighted the essence to address the fundamental questions of who we are, what we believe, and how we got that way.
Viewing Haiti as an example, in 1804 it was the first country in history that takes the brazen initiative to carry out the revolt in breaking the chains of slavery.
In this instance, identifying itself as “black” became a groundwork to formulate the first constitution of the world that safeguards the rights of its natives.
Furthermore, it proved handy to promote extensive mobilization for the proliferation of mass freedom and equality in impeding racial and economic prejudice worldwide. Haiti changed the course of history by upending what almost everyone in the European-dominated world took for granted.
On the emergence of the 20th century, the Caribbean came under the dominance of a new imperial ruler, the US. They exert their influence in the form of conventional military intervention and prolonged annexation of the Caribbean. In the same vein, fortifying the superpower status of the US in the mid-century was made viable through intervention and pressure tactics.
The most striking showdown of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba also happened in the Caribbean. The Cuban Revolution, indeed, was a tumultuous period in untwisting the central paradox that immerse and engross the political histories of large swaths of the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Cuba to the United States.
Like Haiti, Cuba’s historic account is the reminiscence of how the world’s elites once took for granted everything that necessitates reconsidering and reorienting it. And like Haiti in the 19th century, Cuba also became hemispheric persona non grata.
The Caribbean was the first country that dealt with the earliest dreadful challenges of colonialism and slavery. The Haitian Revolution was perceived as the second anti-colonial revolution in the world.
But it was the first revolution in the world that strive for anti-slavery and anti-racism as its black leaders voiced their rights on human rights and that too, without any prejudices. Circumvent the world’s first modern slave emancipation, this was made possible by the endeavor of the subjugated against colonial authorities.
The Caribbean is regarded as the key to understanding modern world history because its greatest legacy of slavery is still in the existence-a legacy that is mainly invisible. It is key, as it manifests the systematic pursuit to retort and counter those structures and their legacies.
Nowadays, the invisibility of the laboring class that exists in the production of consumer goods is no doubt one of the greatest legacies of slavery. The histories of colonialism and slavery that interlaced and the resultant struggle to grapple with them are likely to persist for a long time to come.