Caribbean international relations at the turn of the century
The contemporary context of Caribbean international relations is determined to a large extent by the historical heritage of the region. Slavery, colonial rule, economic dependence and monoculture left a legacy of hegemony by European powers, and also induced the region’s political and economic fragmentation. Militarily, during the sixteenth century, England challenged Spanish power in the Caribbean, and France then contended with Britain’s power until the Napoleonic Wars. In the seventeenth century the Dutch also played a part in colonizing the Caribbean. They occupied St Martin in 1630 and Curaçao and Bonaire in 1634. At the end of the nineteenth century, after the brief Spanish-American-Cuban War of 1898, the United States occupied Cuba and Puerto Rico and in 1917 purchased the Virgin Islands from Denmark in order to gain harbour facilities. In the twentieth century, Germany and then the Soviet Union challenged the dominance of the United States, which had emerged as a major regional power during the late nineteenth century. Politically, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and the colonies of Spain on the Caribbean littoral won their independence from their European colonizers during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, only to fall under the massive economic, political and military influence of the United States. Economically, the Caribbean remained linked to Europe and the United States.
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