Social Violence in the Caribbean Countries
The Caribbean region is situated in the Caribbean Sea. It includes over seven thousand islands, located there, and the surrounded Central and South American coasts. Its total area is 1 063 000 square miles with the population of over 39 million inhabitants according to the data of 2009. European countries began the colonization of America from the Caribbean region, which was turned into the territories of the West India. Thus, the islands were divided between Great Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden. These European countries influenced the future development of the region. Before the European colonization, the estimated population of the Caribbean was about 750 thousand people, but dangerous European diseases caused epidemic and many dozens of thousands of people died. Therefore, dozens of thousands of African slaves arrived there to work on plantations. Then, a great number of Chinese, Hindus, and representatives of other peoples from Asia and Europe settled there. By the nineteenth century, over two million people of various ethnic origins, races, and religions lived in the Caribbean region. Nowadays, the Caribbean region is one of the multiethnic and multiracial areas in the world, where over thirty independent countries tried to survive in the severe conditions of the market competition of the globalized economy. The goal of the paper is to consider the problem of social violence of two Caribbean countries – Jamaica and Guyana – analyzing social, political, economic, and cultural circumstances for its emergence. Social violence poses a great danger to democracy. It can cause corruption and collapse of a country.
In July 2001, the Caribbean community considered the problems, connected with crime and violence at the Twenty-Second Conference in Nassau, the Bahamas. The Conference focused on the impact of violence on the social and economic life of the individuals in the Caribbean. Thus, experts determined the ratings of the countries on crimes per 100 thousand inhabitants. As Ian Boxill et al. state, they were the following, “Grenada (10,177/100,000), Dominica (8,845/100,000), the Bahamas (3,779/100,000), St. Kitts and Nevis (5,543/100,000), Barbados (3,779/100,000), Jamaica (1,870/100,000), Guyana (1,355/100,000) and Trinidad and Tobago (1,170/100,000)” (113). The Conference considered only reported crimes. At the same time, modern scholars considered Jamaica as one of the most criminal countries in the region. Jamaica recognized that the reported crimes amounted about 20 percent. Therefore, the expected number of all crimes in Jamaica was about 9,450 per 100 thousand citizens. Nobody knew the correct number of crimes in all Caribbean states. Thus, one can conclude that any country from the abovementioned list may be considered as one of the most criminal states in the region. Therefore, it would be better to discuss the situation with social crimes in Jamaica and Guyana, as the Caribbean country with the lowest GDP/cap. As Anna Kasafi Perkins, Donald Chambers, Jacqueline Porter, and Malcolm Rodrigues state, it was about 3,800 US dollars (10). Moreover, such prominent authors as Lynne M. Healy and Rosemary J. Link state on the ground of the conducted research that Jamaica, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago had the worst situation with societal violence in the Caribbean region (144).
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Anna Kasafi Perkins, Donald Chambers, and Jacqueline Porter call major reasons for social violence in the Caribbean region, stating “Racial stereotyping, economic disenfranchisement and discrimination have led, from time to time, to outright conflict between different racial groups… and the formation of ethnically based political parties” (Perkins, Chambers, and Porter 5). Thus, the anti-Chinese conflicts took place in Jamaica in 1965, and in 1962, there were conflicts between Afro-Guyanese and Indo-Guyanese. Both Jamaica and Guyana achieved independence from the United Kingdom in the 1960s. When they were colonies of Great Britain, there were not any racial, ethnical, and other conflicts and riots. Moreover, the situation with social violence was better. Nowadays, Jamaica is considered to be the most criminal country in the world. Violence on the ethnical and racial ground is the most dangerous. Scholars consider it can cause the collapse of the country. The first step for it is the formation of ethnic political parties. It means that a ruling party will protect interests of its ethnical group at the cost of the rest population. Moreover, ethnical or racial problems will emerge when a government cannot cope with social, economic, and cultural problems. Therefore, some political leaders invent a problem, which can divide the society lest the people should overthrow its corrupt government. When bloodshed conflicts emerge in the country, nobody thinks about economy or human rights. As modern scholars emphasize, both Guyana and Jamaica chose a democratic way of their further development, conducting fair elections. Therefore, there is hope that ethnic and racial conflicts will never emerge in the countries.
As Robert L. Ayres states, there is a connection between violence, economic development of a country, and crimes (1). He also draws attention of readers to narcotics trafficking, which influences the amount of crimes in the Caribbean region, and it is a part “of a larger problem of economic and social decay” (1). In addition, the scholar states that the Caribbean was the most dangerous region in the world because of the high level of the homicide rate, which was about 20 percent per 100 thousand citizens. Domestic violence is a usual event in the Caribbean countries. Moreover, it has not been considered as a human right violation because a husband was considered a master, who had to care for his family. Therefore, he had a right to punish and award all members of the family. Robert L. Ayres states, “violence against women, mainly in the home but not confined to it is one of the major social ills of contemporary Latin American and Caribbean society” and “6 million minors in the region are the object of severe maltreatment and 80,000 die each year as a result of injuries caused by their parents, relatives or others” (4). In their turn, Lynne M. Healy and Rosemary J. Link connect this shameful phenomenon with poor social conditions, domestic violence, physical punishments at the educational establishments, and drug trafficking (144). Thus, adults can abuse children sexually, physically, and emotionally without any punishments because domestic violence is not considered a crime in the Caribbean region.
As Anna Kasafi Perkins and Malcolm Rodrigues state, scholars questioned 360 women from Guyana in 1998 to conclude that 76.8 percent of them considered domestic violence a usual event in Guyana, 83 percent considered physical action as beating to be an everyday event in families, 32.1 percent told the adults abused them sexually at their childhood. 65.8 percent of the respondents told they were exposed to domestic violence in everyday life, 27.7 percent of them were exposed to physical abuse and 12.7 to the sexual one (70). At the same time, Guyana has a very low homicide rate, about 6.6 per 100 thousand citizens. Violence in Jamaica emerged more often at the last half of the twentieth century. This country turned into the most dangerous place in the world. As Caroline Moser and Jeremy Holland state, since independence of Jamaica, the homicide rate “had risen to 23 per 100,000. …The number of felonious woundings rose from 466 in 1961-62 to 9,862 in 1989-90; rapes increased from 352 to 2,096 in the same period” (1). Thus, scholars distinguished political violence, connected with political struggle of parties in Jamaica, when hundreds of people died from wounds, drug violence, connected with drug traffics in Jamaica, and domestic violence, when women and children turn into victims of their husbands and parents. The government understands the whole significance and threats, posed to the society by violence in Jamaica. Moreover, political leaders and statesmen have known the reasons for the emergence of this dangerous situation in the country. They are weak investments, expensive health care and life, bad economic conditions for the middle class, high level of mortality, low level of social services, oppressions of women in families, and unsatisfying climate for cooperation and business activities because of the constant fear. Therefore, the government takes measures to conduct all necessary economic and political reforms to improve social and economic situation in Jamaica. Nowadays, Jamaica is one of the most political, religious, and racial tolerant countries in the world.
The Caribbean region turns into one of the densely populated places in the world. Peoples of various ethnicities, cultures, religions, and races settled there from the beginning of the fifteenth century. All islands and coastal territories became colonies of European countries, but as the result of struggle for independence, dozens of independent countries emerged on the world’s map. Different political and economic reasons led to social crises, which turned into escalation of violence. At the same time, despite political confrontation of market economy and communist ideology, the Caribbean region managed to unite in a sole economic system, which develops successfully nowadays. Only democratic economic reforms can solve all social problems with improving economic conditions and reducing violence and crimes. Both countries, Jamaica and Guyana, can gain economic, political, and cultural progress by implementing reforms for improving economic climate for investments and business activities of the middle class.
The Caribbean region is situated in the Caribbean Sea. It includes over seven thousand islands, located there, and the surrounded Central and South American coasts. The total area is one million and sixty-three thousand square miles with population of over thirty-nine million inhabitants according to data of 2009.
European countries began the colonization of Americas from the Caribbean region, which was turned into the territories of the West India. Thus, the islands were divided between Great Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden. The European countries influenced the future development of the region. Thus, the estimated population of the Caribbean before the European colonization was about 750 thousand people, but dangerous diseases caused epidemic with many dozens of thousands of deaths. Since sixteenth century, dozens of thousands African slaves arrived there to work on plantations, and by the nineteenth century, over two million people of various ethnicities, races, and nationalities lived there. Then, a great amount of Chinese, Hindus, and other nationalities settled there. By the twenty-first century, the Caribbean region turned into the multiethnic and multiracial area in the world, where over thirty independent countries tried to survive in the severe conditions of the market competition of the global economy. Actually, the countries were between Western democracy and the Cuban communist regime. It influenced the further political, economic, and cultural development of the region. Thus, economic, political, and social problems made opportunities for the development of Caribbean regionalism, which became local globalization of these countries. At the same time, such a problem as social and criminal violence poses a threat to the democratic development of the region.
As modern scholars state, violence and crimes emerged in the result of political, economic, and social problems in the Caribbean. Only democratic economic reforms can improve social situation there.