THE decade of the 1930s constituted an exceptionally poignant and clearly defining period in the history of the entire Caribbean region. Serious challenges to the political system occurred everywhere. This crucial turning point in the history of the region provided a transitional phase between the older Caribbean societies dominated by a few and a more open and modern era based on universal adult suffrage. The decade also had some obviously memorable boundaries in the Great Depression which began starkly in the Caribbean in the 1920s and ended — or at least changed direction sharply — with the Second World War which started in 1939. Most of the world, too, experienced a decade of transcendental importance, especially among the great majority of nations in the Atlantic community. The principal political and economic factors that shaped the western world as well as the Caribbean during that turbulent decade were closely intertwined. Both the wider world and the Caribbean region experienced severe disruptions during the Great Depression.2 Both suffered prolonged consequences from the Second World War at the end of it. For both, the adjustments to an unprecedented combination of depression and war would be painful and protracted. Yet the principal forces that created the distinctiveness of that important decade were not confined narrowly within a ten-year framework. Forces of serious change manifested themselves long before 1930 - in some cases as early as the eighteenth century - and lasted well beyond 1940.
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