Grenada: Nobody’s Backyard

I learned a lot from this episode of Throughline about an invasion that happened when I was just 9 years old. It provides a ton of context and backstory of what was happening on the island in the decades leading up to the invasion. What I didn’t realize until I looked it up was how close in time the invasion was to the Marine Corps barracks bombing in Beirut (just 2 days earlier). In the clips of Ronald Reagan speeches played during the episode, it was interesting to hear anti-communist rhetoric as the rationale for invading Grenada just a few years before the scandal we call Iran-Contra would be brought into the light.

Other Caribbean nations (Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Jamaica actually played a role in the invasion as well. Jamaica sent 150 troops via an Air Jamaica 727 who served in a peacekeeping role well after U.S. troops arrived. All six nations also voted against the U.N. resolution condemning the invasion. A UPI piece I found lists Barbados and Antigua as also providing soldiers for the invasion while St. Lucia, Dominica, and St. Vincent sent police officers. The same UPI piece does a good job of putting the U.S. invasion of Grenada in historical context, noting that Haiti and the Dominican Republic were invaded and occupied for multiple years on 3 separate occasions during the 20th century.

Why GDP Matters for Schoolkids

Planet Money, one of many podcasts I listen to in Beltway traffic, had a great episode recently attempting to explain why GDP is important.  The reporter contrasts the resources for a school in Kingston, Jamaica with a socioeconomically similar school in Barbados.  The difference in what a country can do with a per-capita GDP of approximately $15,000/year (Barbados) versus around $5600/year (Jamaica) turns out to be quite staggering.  Hearing about teachers paying for school materials out of their own pockets sounded a lot like what I’ve heard and read in news stories and features about inner-city schools here in the U.S.  One part of the piece that I believe has broader applications to how foreign direct investment (FDI) is used worldwide is when Jamaica’s minister of education (Andrew Holness) explained why the FDI Jamaica has received hasn’t resulted in the expected benefits to the country.  It boiled down to not having enough sufficiently-educated people to staff the projects being built, whether it was bauxite plants or anything else.

A paper by Peter Blair Henry (a Jamaican-born economist) goes into more detail on the comparison between Barbados and Jamaica.  There’s also a podcast of him from last year on the same subject.  I can’t vouch for these latter two links (yet), but the Planet Money episode is worth a listen if you’re at all interested in economics.