Little Barbados is undergoing major changes: the Caribbean island state is now completely severing itself from Great Britain. For the first time recently a separate president was elected. Sandra Mason, a 72-year-old lawyer and politician, will take office later this month and will officially become head of state of Barbados. So far it has been the British Queen.
After secession from Great Britain, Barbados also changed its form of government. The island state transitions from a constitutional monarchy to a republic. Historian and Caribbean expert Christian Quick classifies what it means.
Historian and Caribbean orator
Christian Quick is a historian at the Inter-American Institute at the University of the Cross in Austria and has lived in the Caribbean for a long time.
SRF News: Former British colony Barbados becomes independent. A serious move?
Christian Quick: Barbados was a British colony between 1625 and 1966. This is an exception compared to other islands. Due to its proximity to Great Britain, Barbados became the most English island over the centuries and later the most British island of all the “West Indies”. Seen in this light, the rift that took place here is very interesting and symbolic.
Other Caribbean states have already taken steps to become republics. Is secession from Britain coming too late in Barbados?
Not many more. They are the joint republics of Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Dominica. Otherwise all other British colonies – especially Jamaica – were colonial remnants. Barbados did not take much time from that point of view.
Barbados may have started a trend.
If you will, it now ranks fourth among states that have declared themselves republics. But Barbados may have started a trend with it. This domino effect is likely to create other republics in the next few years.
So will the Barbados action be copied to the region?
Barbados has been a guarantee of Britain’s continuity. That is history now. Now some who have always been critical of this have to work hard to follow in the footsteps of Barbados. Now you have to see for yourself how you can get out of Great Britain. More is still to be done. For example, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda or Saint Lucia. I think the last wave of decolonization may erupt in the current decade. And Barbados can be a stumbling block.
The interview was conducted by Mark Allemon.
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