THE LIMITS OF CARIBBEAN DIPLOMACY: THE INVASION OF ANGUILLA

Operation Dirty I

 In the period between May 1967 and Anguilla’s secession from the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla federation… there were two major attempts at conflict resolution by West Indian governments. Although spaced nearly eighteen months apart, both attempts have much in common. One common factor is the insensitivity on the part of West Indian leaders to the hopes and aspirations of other West Indians. The first attempt to find a solution to the problem resulted in the now infamous Barbados Conference of July 1967. Attending this Conference were representatives of the four Caribbean independent states (Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad), the United Kingdom, and St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla.

This Conference produced the “Barbados Agreement” as epitomised in the peace-keeping proposals[1] of the Report. Paraphrasing of these proposals is necessary and when appropriate, direct quotation.

The parties at this Conference decided that “the St. Kitts police and civil authorities should be re-established without delay. ” The police were to be transported to Anguilla by a U.K. naval ship and would be supported by military or naval force if the Anguillans were to resist. It only becomes clear later on in the proposals that the military or naval forces referred to, are those of the United Kingdom.

Once the St. Kitts police were established on the island and had terminated any armed resistance, a peace-keeping team, comprising of members of the four Caribbean Commonwealth Governments was to be flown to Anguilla. The role of the peacekeeping team was to be defined by the four Caribbean states and the U.K. Government in consultation with the St. Kitts Government. In the interim, U.K. naval and military forces were to remain on Anguilla until the situation no longer warranted their presence. The four Caribbean Commonwealth Governments were to issue a statement at the commencement of the operation in support of U.K. activity in Anguilla. Naturally, the statement would also support the action of the St. Kitts government. In the next scene of this bizarre play, St. Kitts was to make a request for assistance from the Caribbean countries through the United Kingdom Government. The curtain on the final act of the Conference fell when all Ministers (U.K. and Caribbean) flew off to their homes to recommend that their respective Governments agree to the pacification of Anguilla according to the easy steps recited. All participants must have toasted themselves on the success of the ‘pacification’ Conference.

Any analysis of the agreement would indicate that the United Kingdom was to invade Anguilla with the full approval of the Commonwealth Caribbean and St. Kitts it was simply a case of comrades doing each other a good tum, as they saw it. After all, the British had the military might winch the Caribbean Governments lacked. On the other hand, Britain, for fear of world reaction, preferred not to invade Anguilla without the public support of the Caribbean Governments. This clearly was the intent of the first sentence of section (3) of paragraph 14 of the Report. It reads· “If so requested by the U.K. Government, the four Commonwealth Caribbean Governments will issue a public statement at the commencement of the operation supporting the action of the U.K. Government and the St. Kitts Government.”

 Thus in one sweeping stroke Caribbean Ministers thought that they had struck an excellent bargain with the cunctatores on Rhodesia.

Operation Dirty never saw the daylight. It fell flat on its face from its own stench.

There was a strong public reaction against the agreement in Jamaica whereupon the Jamaican Prime Minister convened another Intergovernmental Conference. At this Conference held in Jamaica, he indicated that his Government would not contribute to the proposed Commonwealth Caribbean Peace-Keeping Force. Operation Dirty had been jettisoned m the same fashion in which another Caribbean Prime Minister had brought an effective end to the West Indian Federation in 1962. After Jamaica’s post-referendum withdrawal from the Federation, the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, came up with the magic mathematical formula that one from ten left zero. It is evident that this formula was again employed (although no one is certain who used it) since after Jamaica’s reluctance to support the plan, Operation Dirty expired. If there is no certain evidence with regard to the initiator, we could speculate whether Trinidad again applied the unique formula, since when the invasion was made, the second time round, Trinidad, at least officially indicated that it did not sanction the use of force.