The Caribbean culture is hybrid and transcultural. At the same time, it is multilingual —French, English, Spanish and local island languages are spoken — and multiethnic. For these reasons, it is sometimes difficult to perceive a conceptualization of a uniform Caribbean culture. However, despite its uneven levels of social, economic and political development, it shares a socio-historical unity that allows recognition of culture distinctive to these nations, many of which are islands situated in the Caribbean or its surroundings.

Because of its geographic position, the Caribbean has historically been perceived as an area of national security importance for the countries of Europe or the United States. It is not incorrect to say that its proximity to the continent has brought few advantages and many difficulties and challenges for each nation’s development. Many current studies of the Caribbean support the idea that the region’s specific cultural history has made it an unusual triad with religion, language and history as its bases.

One element that interconnects the Caribbean culture is the presence of resistance groups. These are organizations dedicated to opposing invasions or violations by other countries or hegemonic groups whose objective is to further their own interests. The term “resistance” generally alludes to movements that are considered legitimate by the leaders of the fight. There are many forms of resistance, but for socio-political purposes, they are divided into two groups: pacifists and violent groups that accept the use of arms. When resistance movements take up arms, they generally call themselves armies or groups of liberation.

Some of the issues that generate resistance in the Caribbean are the right to land, health and education, military occupation, social security and national independence. For people and Caribbean social movements, confronting poverty, marginalization, discrimination and violence is a cultural and political struggle taken on in both small and large seats of power. Resistance confronts the contemporary models of dominance, and the mission of resistance is expanded to oppose transnational projects whose purpose is to impose hegemony on popular traditions, customs and religion in the Caribbean.

Haiti is the oldest independent republic in the Caribbean. In 1804, it obtained complete autonomy after a series of bloody internal struggles and political maneuvers in which it confronted the French and English powers. Cuba, however, is the most recognized example today at the international level. For more than half a century, its socio-political ideology has resisted the political and economic changes that have occurred in the rest of the world.

There are also resistance groups in the Caribbean in Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, among other sites. Prominent Caribbean scholars agree that one of the cardinal factors in weakening traditional leadership in the Caribbean has been the recruitment by contemporary political parties of leaders who favor the military system that serves interests distant from the communities.

Author: Dalila Rodríguez
Published: December 20, 2011.

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