POLEMIC: CHAGUARAMAS TO SLAVERY

III -The Chaguaramas Agreement

The Chaguaramas Agreement came therefore to a tame closure during early Crop 1961. The first stage of the Conference called to revise the 1941 Agreement had been held in London in October-November. The second, the effective stage, was concluded on December 8 at Crown Point, Tobago, and the final agreement was drawn up in Port-of-Spain on February 10, 1961.

All along, the Press had kept the public informed of the progress of the discussions. The speeches made by the Heads of Delegations at the opening of the decisive Crown Point talks on November 28th, had appeared in The Nation on the 9th December while on the same day, the text of the final communique issued at the conclusion of this second stage had been carried in the daily Press. A full report had later been printed on the 16th December in a Supplement to The Nation entitled “The Bases Pact, A Triumphant Success At The Effective Stage.”    ·

By all reports some 21,000 acres o! land had been released but Chaguaramas had been retained as an American Base. Imperial troops could remain !or at least another 17 years. Among the other terms, the Government o! Trinidad and Tobago was to receive a contribution to its economic development programme to the amount of $51 million.

The population received these reports with a sense of anti-climax if not downright surprise. The dominant attitude was therefore one of reserve. Perhaps The Doctor would make further revelation on the occasion of the next lecture at The University. They would await his fuller explanation.

So it was then that on December 22nd 1960 Dr. Williams spoke in Woodford Square and to the mortification of a large audience the Chaguaramas campaign now fell fiat The reports in the Press had been full enough. There had been nothing more to the Revised Agreement The Doctor had in truth, accepted the Papal Donation which he had so vigorously attacked during the campaign. Trinidad and Tobago had gone along with the phony idea of an Iron Curtain: of imperial spheres of influence to be defended. And the Government had not only conceded to imperial power the moral right to defend freedom in the Caribbean, but had relegated the interest of the West Indian people to second place. It was not the Base to move after all but the Federal capital.

The news was received with a coolness that presaged trouble. The profound psychological shock was to throw the Movement into disarray and open the gate to the return of the old order. As he spoke, the Leader must have sensed this for he switched in the middle of his address to a scathing attack on one of the most distinguished representatives of the old ruling class. This was to be the first of a long series of wildly intemperate public utterances made in the perspective of “Massa day done”.

The succession of a new local ruling oligarchy had indeed, become a virtual reality. The elected representatives of Trinidad and Tobago had participated in the revision of the 1941 Bases Agreement and, having conceded American demands, they had removed the last external obstacle to their smooth accession to full power. The price was that the old order remained intact. Imperial power remained entrenched on the spot and that carried its own grim logic. It would perpetuate the traditional state of intimidation, and restrict the possibility of a radical programme of social and economic transformation. It would drive a wedge between the people and their Government that would in the end set the stage for open conflict between the two. So that, if, on this occasion, the attack by the Leader was directed at a member of the old order, the time was soon to come when, to the cry of “get to hell outa here,” he would bring the population itself into the line of fire.