Thursday, May 31, 2012

Going for Broke: The Corporate Players Behind the Demise of the Caribbean Banana Trade (Part 2)

May 31, 2012

NACLA.org

The more a corporation can drive down the cost of their products and/or services, the larger the profit. This is a fundamental rule which is especially apparent in the banana industry. Walking down the produce aisle in your local supermarket, you might have noticed that banana prices have hit historical lows during a time of rising food prices. The reality of these cheap prices is that bananas, like milk, are often sold at a loss to customers in order for supermarkets to attract customers who will purchase other items during their trip. Any trip to a major grocery store will reveal that a pound of bananas costs anywhere from 65 to 89 cents. This is because bananas are what retailers call a “Known Value Item” which refers to a basic everyday product to which the consumer is very price-sensitive. Photo credit: www.gerry.odonoghue.com

Price wars between supermarkets in an effort to gain the lowest possible cost of bananas has led to a race to the bottom which has no winners other than the large retailers and multinational corporations. The fundamental need for competitiveness overrides any moral incentive on the parts of the corporations. In the words of BananaLink, an NGO based in England, “there is no such thing as cheap fruit—someone always has to pay the cost.” In the case of Caribbean farmers it is estimated that they are currently paid one third of the price they received in the year 2000, well below what is considered a living wage.

This wage deacrease is a matter of externalities. Economists define the environmental and social costs of production that are not reflected in the price of a product as an externality—“an expense that is not recorded in cost-accounting but is instead borne by the public at large or future generations." Ignoring these harmful externalities is what enables competitors to sell bananas for less than those from the Caribbean. In comparison to Latin American bananas, Caribbean bananas are regarded as inefficient, as they cost anywhere from three to five times as much to produce.

The reason for this is that Caribbean bananas are grown on small plots, without irrigation, mechanization, use much less chemical inputs and are located on mountainous terrain. The small plots average roughly two to five acres, and are farmed by families, not corporations. While not perfect, this arrangement promoted collective bargaining and allowed for the growth of a middle class and the formation of a banana workers union, which fought for labour and environmental regulations.

In Latin America however, bananas are produced on huge plantations, which can be more than 5,000 hectares in size. Chiquita’s massive plantations are often broken into divisions of typically 20,000 acres, each covering about twenty plantations, served by the company’s own, self-contained communities of 30,000 to 40,000 people.

A direct example of the economy of scale in Latin America compared to St. Lucia was provided by Mark Moberg in his book Slipping Away. In his comparison of the banana industry in the Caribbean and Latin America he pointed out the fact that: “A single farm owned by Chiquita (formerly United Fruit) along the Costa Rica-Panama border comprises as much land as the entire acreage under bananas among all 11,000 St. Lucian farmers in 1992, the industry’s peak year of production.”

These massive farms do not just provide economies of scale for the corporations, but they also resemble slave like conditions in a setting of industrialized, toxic environments of mass production. Labour unions in Latin American banana farming are nearly nonexistent, as union organizers are routinely killed due to their demands for higher wages and safer workplaces, which run at odds with the large multinationals.

As evidence of this, Chiquita is currently facing a US$1 billion lawsuit from Colombian workers who claim that they were victims of right-wing paramilitaries who were on the company’s payroll. This isn’t anything new, as in 2007 Chiquita admitted to paying paramilitaries such as Colombia’s AUC (United Self Defence Forces of Colombia) to protect their workers from falling victim to other paramilitaries operating in the region. As a result, Chiquita was forced to pay a $25 million fine for funding the paramilitaries between 1997 and 2004.

Further north in Guatemala, Del Monte has also been linked to the murders of banana workers involved in union organizing. Guatemala ranks only second to Columbia as the most dangerous place to be a unionized worker. Since the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) was ratified in 2006, six unions in Guatemala are currently involved in a legal battle with the government, who they claim are purposefully overlooking instances of murder, continued illegal chemical exposure and other human rights abuses of banana workers.

Despite the U.S. Trade Representative condemning the ongoing violence against banana workers and trade unionists, one needs only to look to their continued support of the Colombian government's murderous security forces to see how hollow the statements of action are. If that is not enough downward pressure against workers in Latin America, Eric Holder, President Obama’s Attorney General, represented Chiquita in their civil suits related to their support of the AUC paramilitaries.

The economic determination of what constitutes inefficiency in the global economy is truly frightening. An industry which abused and even murdered its own workers, engaged in factory farming, poisoned the workers and the environment, and employs child labour is seen as efficient, while another that produces a relative middle class existence of small farmers is not. This is the twisted logic of our current economic system. The fact that the current capitalist system only values prices and otherwise disregards the cost of externalities associated with such destructive practices is leading the banana industry and the entire economic system into an acute state of crisis.

If any of the externalities related to the Latin American banana trade were calculated into the price, Caribbean bananas would no longer seem expensive or inefficient. But this would mean that the capitalist system also valued competition. The reality is that it does not. This is the reason why the United States steadfastly opposed a protected banana market in Europe while protecting its own agricultural system through massive subsidies.

In the United States, much of the agricultural sector is supported by subsidies. In 2009, American farm subsidies topped $15.4 billion—more than 15 times the entire GDP of St. Lucia. Yet, in the WTO the United States aggressively fights against any “distortions” to global free trade made by other countries. The rationale behind the subsidies is that the United States needs to protect its farmers. When the powerful require state intervention and protection, it is always acceptable. The reason for the economic attack and dismantling of the Caribbean banana trade was simple. In comparison to the United States, St. Lucia was small and powerless, and stood in the way of Chiquita making more money in Europe.

In conclusion, the one size fits all trade agenda of the WTO worked to destroy diverse trading arrangements that were unfavourable to U.S. hegemony. The United States defended their corporate interests and was utterly indifferent to the socio-economic fallout that would occur. The tiny island democracies of the Caribbean were sacrificed as the result of a trade dispute between the United States and the E.U., undertaken on behalf of a commodity the United States has never exported. The case of the Caribbean banana trade bluntly demonstrated that free trade is set up to work in the interests of the powerful states to erode the sovereignty and entrench the dependency of the small. In spite of all of the negative social and environmental externalities related to Latin American bananas the WTO has deemed St. Lucian bananas to be too expensive, and the trade arrangement with England as too restrictive. The reason was simply economics.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Going for Broke: The Corporate Players Behind the Demise of the Caribbean Banana Trade (Part 1)

May 24, 2012

NACLA.org

Since the adoption of the European Union’s Single Market for Bananas in 1993, Caribbean banana farmers have faced a permanent state of uncertainty and declining prices. Despite being an industry historically rooted in highly unequal terms of trade, the banana trade did bring forth a degree of stability and genuine, albeit relative economic development to the Caribbean, supplying governments with their primary source of income.

All of this changed with the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on January 1, 1995. Despite only contributing 2% of the global banana trade, the tiny Windward Islands of the Caribbean and their protected trade with England became the primary battleground for sanctity of free trade. The WTO lead an all out assault on the nearly 50-year-old arrangement. In several rulings regarding the "legitimacy" of such protected trade agreements, the WTO decided that despite being the economic backbone of several nations, in the new era of free market fundamentalism the Caribbean banana trade was too inefficient to exist. The WTO ruled against the Caribbean banana producers, arguing that European tariffs against Latin American bananas contravened the new trade regime.

In the ideological universe of the free traders, this was regarded as a positive development as the small Windward Islands of the Eastern Caribbean (including St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Dominica and Grenada) could now discover what industry would yield their true comparative advantages. Yet in an act of arrogance, reality refused to correspond with the theoretical predictions: the countries' economies were destroyed and no additional industry emerged to take its place. Unemployment, crime, poverty, and migration increased as the number of banana farmers fell. The powerful refused to acknowledge their devastating mistake as the United States moved in to lay claim to the Windward Island’s former market.

In this particular case, the destruction of the Caribbean banana trade though the WTO’s trade rulings particularly benefited multinational fruit corporations. To put this into perspective: Bananas are the fourth most imported food staple in the world, and the fifth most traded agricultural commodity after cereals, sugar, coffee, and cocoa. The banana industry has long been famous for the power and influence multinational corporations yield upon governments, developed and developing alike. Despite bananas being grown in nearly all tropical regions, 70% of the global banana market is controlled by only three corporations—Del Monte, Dole, and Chiquita.

The corporate control over the entire chain of production and the brutality of the corporations during their reign in Latin America became the stuff of popular culture, as seen by Gabriel García Márquez’s retelling of the massacre of striking workers in Cienaga, Colombia, in 1928. But perhaps the most famous example of the power of the multinational fruit corporations comes from the role of United Fruit in convincing the Eisenhower administration that the election of Jacobo Árbenz in Guatemala, and his plans of moderate land reform, would transform the country into a Soviet base.

Perhaps more importantly, land reform in Guatemala would affect the ability of United Fruit to maintain its monopoly on arable land and limit its ability to maximize profit through the exploitation of landless workers. As shareholders in United Fruit, Allen Dulles, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency, and his brother John Foster Dulles, the Secretary of State under Eisenhower, were central to planning the 1954 overthrow of Arbenz, under Operation PBSUCCESS.

Unfortunately, the influence of multinational fruit organizations on governments in the developing world did not end in 1954. After being bought by Cincinnati billionaire Carl Linder in 1984, United Brands (formerly United Fruit) was rebranded as Chiquita Brands International. Despite the name change, the company’s reputation for brutality could not be jettisoned so easily.

In 1998, two investigative reporters from the Cincinnati Enquirer ran a series of stories that documented the long pattern of Chiquita’s labour and environmental abuses in Latin America. The stories, filled with damaging evidence brought to light Chiquita’s role in attacking trade union organizers, undermining local labour laws, and poisoning both workers and the environment with the inappropriate use of chemicals.

The reporters had based their stories on documents and voicemails which had not been obtained with Chiquita’s permission. With the threat of a $10 million lawsuit, the Cincinnati Enquirer retracted the story and published an apology. The matter that the inconvenient facts uncovered in the stories were absolutely true and that Chiquita was engaging in serious human rights and environmental abuses was disregarded. Demonstrating that lessons were not learned, most recently the 2009 coup of Manuel Zelaya in Honduras has been linked to multinational business opposition to his policies which looked to increase the minimum wage by 60%.

With the new WTO rules in place in 1995, the U.S.-based Chiquita viewed the “tariff quota” system in the new common regime as an attack on their operations in Latin America. As a large donor to both the Republican and Democratic parties, there was only one sensible thing for a billionaire like Linder to do. Between 1990 and 1997 Linder donated over $2 million to both parties to purchase as many allies as possible for his assault on the Caribbean banana trade. In order to set things right for Chiquita, Carl Linder arranged for a meeting with Bill Clinton’s trade representative and pleaded his case for trade sanctions against Europe in retaliation to their protected markets.

Chiquita claimed that the protected trade “establishes arbitrary and disruptive sourcing requirements; authorizes confiscatory and discriminatory licences and fees; and, since its signing, has worked a substantial incremental hardship on US commercial interests.” In order to prove this, Chiquita filed a petition under section 301 of the U.S. Trade act of 1974, claiming that the Hawaii Banana Industry Association had been negatively affected, even though Hawaii had never exported any bananas. This manipulation of the trade law was not based on knowledge of the law alone, but was also due to the significant power Linder had in the White House.

Finally, the influence of Carl Linder and his money also overpowered the statements of the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Command, General John Sheehan who publically expressed his fear of “regional destabilization and increased drug flows if US policy on bananas did not change.” Furthermore in 1996, an International Narcotics Control Strategy Report by the U.S. State Department warned that “the terrain in the Windward Islands was most attractive to South American transhipping of cocaine and that struggling farmers had been turning to marijuana as a cash crop to replace lost earnings.” By ignoring these statements, it reveals that the motivation for U.S. policy clearly came from corporate board rooms, whereby profit maximization and “strategic geopolitical interests” were simply one and the same.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Stellar Record of Failure: The IMF and Jamaica

May 11, 2012
NACLA.org

As part of her election campaign, Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller announced her intention of breaking ties with the British monarchy and becoming an independent republic. While no doubt a long overdue and symbolic act, in the wake of a newly released report on Jamaican debt by the Center for Economic Policy and Research (CEPR), a critical conversation about doing the same to the real (neo)colonial power in Jamaica—the International Monetary Fund (IMF)—should be a much higher priority of the Jamaican government.

While the economic fates and futures of entire nations hing on arbitrary indicators such as investor confidence and credit ratings, is Jamaica better off with the IMF or without it? Jamaica’s current economic situation is, to be blunt, bleak. Thus controversial questions must be raised over whether or not the IMF is actually providing the kind of help that Jamaica actually needs.

In most other professions, a 30-year track record of failure in the single task assigned to you would not normally result in a renewal of your contract. But with the IMF in Jamaica, this is exactly the case. The CEPR report does not mince words.

“Jamaica offers a stark example of the long-term costs that an excessive debt burden can impose on a developing country, especially when the interests of creditors are prioritized over the needs of the country as a whole,” it reads.

According to the IMF, in 2011, Jamaica’s debt burden was 126% of its GDP, making it one of the world’s most indebted nations. In addition, for 2011, Jamaica had the highest debt interest payments of any country in the world, calculated as a percentage of GDP. The report continues:

This exceedingly large debt burden has effectively displaced most other public expenditure; debt servicing has taken up nearly 50 percent of total budgeted expenditures over the last four fiscal years while health and education combined have only been around 20 percent. This situation is very problematic for a country of Jamaica’s income level, which should be able to invest in infrastructure and human capital, as well as have the financial flexibility to respond to frequent natural disasters and other external shocks.

As it stands, the implementation of the IMF’s current austerity measures in Jamaica have played a key role in intensifying the stagnation of the economy. “Although real GDP growth was positive in 2011, the economy remains below its 2007 level," states the report. "IMF projections suggest that Jamaica’s GDP will not reach 2007 levels until near the end of 2015. GDP per capita will still be below its 2007 level in 2017.”

While a share of the blame no doubt hangs on the actions of the Jamaican government, the country's Prime Ministers and their governments have had little room for independent or autonomous policy making outside of the constraints of the IMF. By and large, Jamaica has followed the rules set forth by the international institution, and Jamaica has had increasingly fewer and less powerful tools to draw revenue from. Due to this, the government now relies on grants and unsustainable borrowing to keep the economy going.

The long string of bailouts in Europe have not gone unnoticed by Simpson Miller, who in a March interview with Bloomberg, remarked that “If they could give a bailout like Greece, lord have mercy, you would see Jamaica grow and flourish.”

Simpson Miller has declared her plans to renegotiate the current terms of the IMF in Jamaica, but so far has made no public announcements about whether or not such talks have been successful. Two years ago, Jamaica did restructure more than J$700 billion of its domestic debt. Creditors accepted lower interest at longer maturities, saving the country around J$40 billion a year in debt-servicing costs.

While such renegotiations do open small spaces of action and ease some of the financial burden, they do little to change the overall structures of debt domination that Jamaica has to face. If the IMF was serious about bringing about development and prosperity in Jamaica it would reconsider its strict demands of austerity. Thirty years of IMF economic prescription has proved to be a failure for the country of Jamaica. But for big banks, foreign governments, and those interested in weakening the power of the country, it has been a success. It has generated significant interest payments and hollowed out the Jamaican state, leaving little for infrastructure development or social policies.

The report acknowledged the importance of renegotiations, saying, “Without securing adequate fiscal space to allow for additional public investment and social spending, continued engagement with the IMF and prioritizing deficit reduction is likely to keep Jamaica on a path of low growth and subpar social conditions.” While the IMF has made a shift away from “structural adjustment” to “poverty reduction partnerships,” but that is too little, too late. It is long overdue that the IMF own up to its responsibility in running the Jamaican economy into the ground. It’s time to look for new experts and sources of advice. Jamaica has been too good a friend to the IMF, losing much of its economic and political independence in the process.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Haiti’s Hotel Boom: Progress or Trickledown Economics?

Posted May 4th, 2012
NACLA.org

The recent news out of Haiti is that Port au Prince is currently undergoing a building boom—but it’s not the much needed homes for the estimated half million internally displaced people, it’s due to upscale hotels being built to house foreign investors and aid workers. The news is no doubt heavy with contradictions, as the reports optimistically explain that the best way to reconstruct Haiti is to first build infrastructure for foreigners, while the displaced remain in the many sprawling tent camps, vulnerable to disease, eviction, arson, and violence.

The Washington Post reported that “At least seven hotels are under construction or are in the planning stage in Port-au-Prince and its surrounding areas, raising hopes that thousands of investors will soon fill their air-conditioned rooms looking to build factories and tourist infrastructure that will help Haiti bounce back from a 2010 earthquake that officials say claimed 300,000 lives. Some damaged hotels are undergoing renovations.” Some of the new hotels currently under construction include the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund’s pet project, the Royal Oasis hotel, in addition to a Best Western, Marriott International, and perhaps most controversially, a proposed hotel and conference centre built and maintained by the Red Cross.

The proposed hotel is to be located on part of a $10.5 million property that was purchased after the 2010 earthquake. The organization stated that it hopes that the profits generated from the hotel would sustain the work of Haiti's own Red Cross in the future. Daniel Borochoff, the president of CharityWatch—an organization which monitors and evaluates non-profit organizations said that the plan for the hotel is not only unusual, but also risky due to the chance of the property losing money. Furthermore, Borochoff discussed the fundamental lack of transparency involved in a charitable organization undertaking such a project, remarking that "What would happen if donors learned that instead of giving money to treat cholera or build shelters, it's going to build a hotel? I understand it's an investment, but that takes some explaining."

The $10.5 million that went towards the purchase of the property is highly questionable on many levels, especially when the Red Cross’ primary responsibility is delivering humanitarian assistance during emergencies—and one would think that Haiti’s ongoing cholera epidemic would qualify as such. Without a doubt, the money would be better directed to building permanent housing for those still in the tent camps, or as part of a larger initiative to bring clean water and sanitation services to the most affected areas. The development of such a system is the only sustainable way that Haiti will be able to rid itself of the UN-imported epidemic which has to date claimed more than 7,000 lives.

Looking for news stories detailing any progress in reducing the housing emergency for the Haitian people and not the investors are few and far between, with the most recent announcements by U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Merten about the construction of two housing projects hiding some important details. Ambassador Merten was recently on hand to announce the awarding of two construction contracts to USAID, the first concerning the development of 750 units of earthquake and hurricane resistant, housing on the Caracol-Ekam site in Haiti’s Northern Development Corridor, and 156 units in Cabaret, to the north of the Port-au-Prince.

In a separate article in USA Today, it became much clearer why Caracol-Ekam was chosen as a site for the housing development, as “One of the biggest foreign investments in Haiti is an industrial park under construction in the north that's scheduled to begin garment production in September. The giant $300 million Caracol industrial park will be run by South Korean manufacturer, Sae-A Trading Co. Ltd., and is expected to bring an initial 20,000 jobs to the remote area.”

The vast majority of the 20,000 jobs at Caracol will be low paying, garment assembly positions, where workers will struggle to make a new beginning on $3 per day (the current minimum wage for Haitian sweatshop workers). In many ways the dire economic situation of the half million displaced, in addition to the country’s high unemployment rate provides an unfortunate situation where there is significant competition over these jobs, providing little political incentive to raise the minimum wage.

In many ways, the earthquake created a situation that will lock in the unfavorable conditions that U.S. and Haitian garment manufacturers had been fighting for many years. Wikileaks cables published by Haiti Liberté and The Nation revealed that in 2009, “Contractors for Fruit of the Loom, Hanes, and Levi’s worked in close concert with the U.S. Embassy when they aggressively moved to block a minimum wage increase for Haitian assembly zone workers, the lowest-paid in the hemisphere, according to secret State Department cables.”

The reconstruction effort in Haiti has revealed through the prioritization of upscale hotels and housing for sweatshop workers that it is not about addressing the needs of the vulnerable first, but of wealthy multinational and Haitian investors first, and perhaps the people a very distant second, only if profitable and convenient. With the team of Bill Clinton, who helped to destroy the Haitian rice industry, and Caribbean agriculture more generally—and George Bush, whose economic track record speaks for itself—it becomes more clear that the reconstruction effort in Haiti is faithfully following trickledown economic policies that have worked wonders in increasingly inequality across the globe.

A Colonial WikiLeaks? The Migrated Archives and the Caribbean Pt.3

April 25th, 2012

Originally Posted on NACLA.org

As mentioned in prior articles, April 18th marked the public release of the first batch of the secret colonial documents known as the "migrated archives." Robert Hill, Professor of Afro-American and Caribbean History at UCLA, who has been deeply involved in the "migrated archives" since their discovery, shares his insights into the release of the archives and what it entails for the Caribbean history.

Professor Hill is editor of The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers Project, and is also internationally recognized as a leading authority on the life of Garvey and the history of the Garvey movement. He is also the Literary Executor of C.L.R. James, the Marxist historian and Pan-African political activist.

Interestingly, Professor Hill’s work with the migrated archives is not the first time that he has come across secret or forgotten documents. In 1970, he learned from a New York Times story that a community organization in Harlem had been given a derelict building to start a drug rehabilitation center. In this building, the staff found cabinets, safes, and boxes that turned out to contain the entire documentary record of the central division of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association.

"They were going to throw them away!" Hill exclaimed. The community organization that discovered the Garvey papers eventually fell apart, but a struggle over the papers began in earnest. The struggle became so serious that the organization's director was even held up at gunpoint, with the papers being sold by the addicts to the highest bidder. Eventually a group led by the historian John Henrik Clarke arranged for the purchase of the entire batch of papers, and brought them to the New York Public Library. Professor Hill has been archiving Garvey papers at UCLA's James S. Coleman African Studies Center since 1977. He has published those papers in 11 books so far, with the latest volume being The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers: The Caribbean Diaspora, 1910-1920.
 
You have had a very interesting experience in regards to your presence in the discovery of classified or forgotten documents. It’s amazing that the discovery of the migrated archives is not the first time you have encountered this kind of thing. Can you please elaborate how the discovery of the migrated archives fits into your previous areas of research?

Well, in a way, within Caribbean historiography, it comes as a big shock to stumble upon these police, or confidential and secret, documents. In the historiography of popular movements in Europe its standard, it’s not at all a big surprise because European historians have always understood the huge significance of police records for studying the poor, clandestine political repression carried out from the 18th century in European society.

Now we, as a former colonial people, we throw up movements of resistance, call them what you will, popular movements, resistance movements, anti colonial movements – and then in the case of Marcus Garvey, we discover, because the Garvey movement operated here in the United States in a major way – the institutions and the agencies of government monitored these movements very carefully, and there is a tremendous paper trail within the archives of the United States government, the Canadian government; and also European governments. This is a paper trail that enables us to write the history of the Garvey movement, which without those archives we could never have really undertaken.

You might say it was the preservation of these records which really places some kind of order, some kind of intellectual order on the material. On the one hand we have to be careful of course, not to get trapped into some kind of interpretative paradigm, but nonetheless, the records of the U.S. state department, the FBI, the Department of Justice, the Office of Naval Intelligence, even the Post Office, those records are what allowed us to construct a history of the Garvey movement. So I’ve spent probably 35 years systematically going through the records as they became declassified, of the U.S. government dealing with Garvey, and the European governments dealing with Garvey in Africa and the Caribbean. So when the word of these migrated archives came up, I instantly recognized their value – in a very concrete way if you let me explain.

When I was working on Garvey, I asked the archivist of the Jamaica archives, where the colonial secretariats files related to Garvey were located. He said, "they’re not open, they’re not accessible to you." I asked what I would have to do to appeal that? He said I would have to write a letter to the Chief Justice of Jamaica, which I did. And I made an argument (this is now in the early 1970’s) explaining why these files were important and why they should be made accessible. Now, follow me, he informed me that the Chief Justice had approved my request, but he himself did not have the secret and confidential files on Garvey. To get them, he had to go to Spanish town in Kingston to the building where these confidential files were housed.

Now here is what Professor Anthony Badger (the man in charge of the migrated archives) wrote to me when I asked him about the time span of the migrated archives for Jamaica. He said that they begin in the late 1920’s—you see the convergence? They had already removed the files on Garvey out of Jamaica when I had asked for them.

What I am hoping is that I will now find the missing files of the 1930’s and will then be able to link them back to the ones from the 1920’s that we have. In other words, it’s the same work we’re doing—only now we have to go to England to get these files, they’re not in Jamaica in the way that the files of the 1920’s were. Now why did they choose to take away those starting in the late 1920’s? Now I can’t tell you, I don’t know. They had to have some kind of cut-off point, they must have just said that let’s just take 1929 as our base year and anything going forward. So we will see in September, when I go to England. I will know very quickly whether these are the files connecting back to the ones from the 1920’s that I saw.

So, the point I’m making is that, whether it is the FBI, the state department or the colonial secretariat’s records of the 1920’s in Jamaica, it’s all just one continuing story, one continuing saga. I had been extremely frustrated for years at not being able to find the colonial secretary’s files for the 30’s, but now since that time—I’ve gone on to do work on the back to Africa movement of the 1950’s which led to a tremendous political explosion in Jamaica in 1959 and 1960—what I’m now hoping is that these files, which go up to August 1962, will have files that I have tried my very hardest to find, and couldn’t find in Jamaica, I’m hoping to find them amongst these migrated archives.

This is the final segment of my interview with Professor Robert Hill. Read Part 1 & 2.