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difficult for a republic with the traditions of the United States. This last problem—the control of corporate wealth may here assume a relative importance much greater than it has yet reached in temperate regions. It is essentially a domestic question but one with which Caribbean governments are ill fitted to deal. The greatest problem of these regions may come to be, not the conquest of their diseases, nor the development of their natural resources, nor even their control for the advantage of American powers, or of the world; but, more important than these, the assurance of justice in the relations between a colored population of few wants, low education and high birth rate, and large organizations of capital invested from abroad unaffected by local public sentiment, and relying for protection upon interference by the foreign office of the home Government, rather than upon the local public opinion and courts. That such problems are already of not infrequent or trifling importance recent history abundantly proves. That they will become more important as big business and foreign capital enter generally into the exploitation of the Caribbean field, is hardly open to doubt. What degree of supervision by stronger powers may be found necessary to protect both parties, and how such control shall be reconciled with the democratic ideals of self-government, are questions of no small consequence among those which will confront the statesmen of the stronger American republics, especially the statesmen of the United States.
HARBORS AND NAVAL BASES
THE announcement in 1913 of the intention of Great Britain to increase her naval equipment in the waters of the western Atlantic marks one of the important steps in the readjustment of international forces which is to come with the opening of the Panama Canal. To those who follow the development of the English naval policy, the move was not unexpected. Indeed, if British history had not already given many illustrations of the advisability of action similar to that declared for, the conditions confronting the empire with the opening of the Panama Canal could hardly have failed of themselves to force the decision.
Great Britain is not alone in the making of plans to fit the new order of things which will be established by the great trade route. Every important commercial and military nation must already have considered the possibilities which the Canal holds for the welfare of its nationals. For most foreign nations the commercial readjustments are far more important than the military. The questions which the new traffic will raise for them will concern tariff policies toward the countries with whom they will be brought into closer relations and whose trade will increase. They will seek favorable pilotage, lighterage and coaling arrangements in the ports of call which will come into use, but, except for these conventional adjustments, the effect of the Canal on them will be commercial rather than political or military.
Those nations which have colonies in the region affected by the Canal, especially those which have colonies in the Caribbean, will have more important policies to decide. They must (1) readjust their national arrangements so as to contribute to the internal development of their colonies and (2) so as to make them profit by the transit of commerce past their shores. Where possible, commerce is to be attracted by making the harbors advantageous ports of call, coaling facilities are needed, provisions must be supplied and means for transshipment of goods to vessels plying to South American ports or to the islands of the West Indies must be furnished. Finally (3), the bearing of the opening of the Canal on the military and naval policy of the nation must be considered. These factors affect the nations with West Indian colonies in varying degrees.
To judge by colonial sentiment, practically every harbor from Port-of-Spain, in Trinidad, to Nassau, in the Bahamas, is to benefit markedly by the increase of its local trade and by its availability as a port of call. The home authorities are less enthusiastic. Their memories are longer. The annals of the people of the Caribbean in the past eighty years are not happy ones and the colonial offices are not so sanguine as the colonists. Still in each case the home country has taken steps to see that whatever advantages the colony may reap shall not be lost.
The colonial powers interested in the Caribbean include, besides the United States, two important commercial and military nations France and Englandand two who make no pretensions to prowess in arms— The Netherlands and Denmark. As the Panama Canal neared completion, all four nations made investigations to determine to what extent the harbors of their colonies needed improvement to assure the proper development of their resources and to facilitate their use as ports of call. All are anxious to find in the opening of the Panama Canal an event which will banish the hard times which have been the chronic lot of the Caribbean and bring back the prosperity of the early days of the “muscovado” sugar industry.
The Dutch Antilles have long been a burden on the home Government. To prepare for better times to come, The Netherlands Government in the spring of 1911 appointed a commission to investigate what improvements should be made to the harbor. An appropriation of $48,800 was made for dredging the inlet to the harbor of Schattegat near Willemstad, which, inside the bar, had 33 feet of water—a depth equal to that of the harbors of Rotterdam and Quebec.
By the close of 1912 a Dutch company was already at work removing the obstructions to the harbor and a private company was building a dock 600 feet long with a depth of 30 feet alongside. The colony is so clearly off of the route of the trade to the Far East and the west coast of South America that the improvements will be of use almost exclusively for the transit trade to Venezuela and for the development of the meager resources of the island itself.
1 Daily Consular and Trade Reports, May 28, 1912. Article on Construction Work Abroad. (See table at foot of page 310.)
The French West Indies are in as bad a plight as the Dutch. The home country is tired of paying deficits and the revival of sugar plantations is making it less necessary. The subvention for the two sank from 1,458,000 francs in 1898 to 785,000 in 1908. But still their condition is not promising.
In March, 1912, a commission from France visited the islands to select one of their harbors for extensive
DEPTHS REPORTED BY THE COMMISSION APPOINTED TO DETERMINE DEPTH FOR
PROPOSED HARBOR AT ROTTERDAM