Normally, the people of any one Caribbean island have little or no direct knowledge of events in the other islands. Information and interpretation are almost exclusively provided by metropolitan media. Cuba today is an important illustration. Since the revolutionary government came into power, first-hand information about that island has been more scant than ever. And Caribbean opinion about Cuba is simply a reflection of opinions uttered somewhere in the North Atlantic and picked up as gospel by local agencies of information. In the process of transmission only the most elementary form of selection is practised – the ‘left’ borrows from the left’, the ‘right’ from the ‘right’ and some distinction is made between what is ‘official’ and what ‘unofficial’.

In the light of this, it seems fair to say that the established Caribbean view of Cuba is both metropolitan and irrelevant. What is more, the most popular view embodies all of official American hostility to a former colony which has succeeded in breaking the traditional metropolitan stranglehold over its economic and political life. The significance of this is that many Caribbean people take positions on Cuba which imply one or the other of two things: that Cuba’s relations with the North Atlantic were in some way different in kind from that of the rest of the Caribbean or if not, that the latter are not concerned to transform this relation.

The present article takes the view that Cuba before the Revolution was not in essence unlike any other Caribbean territory and that important lessons can be derived from whatever transformation has been taking place in that country. It is implicit in the argument that the struggle to achieve economic development and social change throughout the region is essentially a struggle to break the colonial relation with the North Atlantic.