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not one which attempts to confine colonial trade to national limits. This has brought by far the larger portion of the foreign trade to American ports and principally to the United States. In Dutch Guiana,' more than one-fourth of the imports come from the United States, including practically all of the breadstuffs, fish, meats, and petroleum, and more than one-third of the exports were sent there. The latter included one-fifth of the balata, the chief export, one-half of the sugar, the second in importance, and practically all of the cocoa and coffee sent abroad. From the Curaçao group we take over half of the exports, the main item being straw hats, and we send there over half of the imports, including practically the entire shipment of foodstuffs, meats, petroleum and coal.”
THE DANISH COLONIES
The Danish West Indies are an accident. That this country, long unmilitary, with only a minor share in the commerce of the region, should keep what has been called the “Gibraltar of the West Indies,” finely located as to the chief trade routes, is one of the seeming contradictions of history.
The size and character of the Danish islands make them of negligible value for their own products, but their position has made them more than once highly desired, especially by the United States. Negotiations have twice been close to an end, by which their control would have been transferred to that Government when unexpected complications prevented. The desire to possess them will doubtless increase as the meaning of the Panama Canal and the importance of its defense come to be realized by the United States. That any of the West Indies will again become places from which blockade-runners may operate to enter its ports, closed to commerce by its own fleet, is fortunately no longer conceivable. But quite aside from military operations proper, the control of so central a port by a distant power, which maintains hardly more than a nominal government, is undesirable. The increasing police duties in the Caribbean region, which the United States has assumed since the beginning of the twentieth century, give it an unusual interest in any port which may be used as a station for the fitting out of filibustering expeditions against the neighboring none too stable republics. This character has too often been that of the Danish islands. From a military and naval point of view they are valuable because of the possibility of fortifying the harbor of St. Thomas and because that landlocked port can, by dredging, it is said, be made by far the best anchorage for ships in the eastern West Indies. For the same reason, its possession is important for the facilities afforded peaceful commerce, though in recent years, the harbor being unimproved, the large ocean liners have touched at the port infrequently. A German line is a partial exception; indeed, as has often been facetiously remarked, the islands are largely a possession, not of Denmark, but of the Hamburg-American Steamship Company.
1 Commerce Reports, Supplement, April 29, 1915, for import trade, and Commercial Relations, 1911, Washington, 1913.
2 Commerce Reports, Supplement, July 1, 1915.
The local trade is, of course, insignificant. The population is predominantly black. Their wants are few and the state of cultivation of the land is low. St. Thomas is not agricultural. Its shallow soil and droughts make cultivation impractical. There are a few gardens in the island but the only product of commercial importance is bay rum, of which the three islands together sell about $90,000 worth annually. The neighboring St. John is now practically deserted to the blacks, and its intercourse with the outside world is negligible. Some bay oil is harvested and an effort is being made to introduce the cultivation of lime trees with the hope that the experience in the British Dominica may be repeated.
St. Croix, the largest and in natural resources the richest of the islands, has an area of some seventy-four square miles. It has a larger white population and is practically monopolized by the sugar industry.
No records of exports are kept by the halting colonial government. Imports enter through the port of St. Thomas, and nearly two-thirds come from the United States. Practically the entire American trade is in coal, used to supply steamships, and foodstuffs. Great Britain takes second place in the foreign commerce. The trade with the home country is insignificant. The generally unprosperous commercial condition of the Danish Antilles is reflected also in the statistics of pop
1 Good discussions of the trade of the Danish West Indies are found in Daily Consular and Trade Reports, Feb. 13, 1912; March 11, 1914. Also in Commerce Reports, Supplement, October 29, ulation. In 1835, over 43,000 people made their homes in the islands, but the number steadily fell to 31,000 in 1901, the year of the last census, and in 1915 was reported as 28,000. The colony is, however, said to be at present financially self-sustaining.
Taken as a whole, the minor colonial possessions in the Caribbean are a liability to their owners, not an asset. They are kept more for sentimental reasons than because of their present or prospective value. Their dependence upon the United States for a market for their products is conclusively shown by their trade returns, except where, as in the case of the French colonies, tariff arrangements deflect the normal course of trade. For their imports they rely even more on the northern republic. So decidedly is this the case that even the French tariff policy is modified so as to allow American goods to enter to keep down the cost of living.
Without low tariffs on American imports and favorable tariffs in America on their exported products, the condition of these islands would become deplorable indeed. Probably in none of the political units of the West Indies does the prosperity of the people depend so much on the good will of the American Congress.
1 See article by Gaston Sarlat, formerly deputy from Guadeloupe, advocating closer commercial relations with the United States and complaining against the disappointing efforts which have been made since 1870 to improve the condition of the French West Indies, quoted in Daily Consular and Trade Reports, Dec. 6, 1918.
CUBA AND ITS RELATIONS TO THE UNITED STATES
PREËMINENT among the islands of the Caribbean is Cuba. The most prized of the Spanish possessions after the revolt of the colonies in South and Central America, it became an independent republic as a result of the treaty of peace of December 10, 1898, at the end of the Spanish-American War. Since then, in spite of local disturbances, it has risen to a position relatively much more important in the Caribbean than it ever held under the Spanish régime. The advance which has come is due not only to the natural resources of the country, but also to the peculiar political arrangements entered into only half willingly by the local government.
During the negotiation of the treaty of peace, Spain had expressed her fear that left to itself the island might become Africanized. The examples of the Dominican Republic and Haiti aroused fears that Cuba independent might be a prey to frequent revolutions with the result that neither property nor personal rights would be protected. To save the island from the consequences of a “premature” independence, Spain wished to have the United States keep at least a degree of control sufficient to insure order. No express engagement on this