Why the New West Indies Federation Failed

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The West Indian Federation began in the twentieth century. A fedration is an organization within which smaller divisions have some internal independence. The West Indian Federation was one of the first attempts at federation in the Caribbean. This occurred from the year 1958-1962. The West Indies agreed to come together because this was the only way they could prove to Britain that they were ready for their independence. However, before they could prove this to Britain the Federation had gone done in history as a failure. Many factors led to the failure of the federation including its weakness, conflict among the states and the unwillingness of the large islands to be burdened by the smaller islands. One of the main reasons why the federation failed is because it was weak. The federation was only given powers over its internal affairs and any foreign matters were dealt with by England. In addition, the member states had different views on what the federation should entail. Eric Williams of Trinidad wanted a strong federation with the power to levy taxes, control economic development and set up custom union. The federal Prime Minister, Grantley Adams of Barbados was in support of this. Jamaica on the other hand, opposed all of this and wanted a weak federation that did not have the power of taxation. (Greenwood 1991) Jamaica and Trinidad’s disagreement on this point was not good for the federation. Eventually, this led to the breakdown of the federation. Conflict between individual member states and the federal government was a key reason for the breakdown of the West Indian federation. The idea of free movement within the units of the federation was not supported by Trinidad. Trinidad according to Greenwood and Hamber (2003) opposed the idea because her per capita income was twice that of the next richest country. In comparism to places like Barbados, Trinidad was under-populated and thus it was feared that immigrants would flock to the islands and...
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