Globalization describes the process of international interconnection that emanates from integration of global views, inventions, ideas and a wide array of cultural aspects. Drastic advancement in technology as well as transportation and telecommunication networks are major factors that have significant influences on globalization. Although scholars present globalization as a modern concept, its roots can be traced before the discovery and adventure of the new world by European travelers (Miguel 22). While some scholars argue that the conception of this concept can be traced to the third millennium BC, others argue that its large-scale existence is linked to the dawn of 19th century. The later justify their arguments with the rapid connectedness of global economies and cultural aspects that were witnessed in the verge of 19th and dawn of 20th centuries. Despite these contradictions, the concept of globalization gained greater significance in mid-1980s, during which it emerged as an interconnection of four aspects of community practices that include scholars, journalists, editors and librarians (Wilson 31). While economists constituted to the central component of globalization, the International Monetary Fund, as at 2000, identified four economic-related concepts to describe the major aspects of globalization. These concepts included trade and financial transaction, resource investments, human migration, and distribution of knowledge. Other concepts that are linked to globalization include aspects of environmental implications, which include global warming, water as well as air pollution and exploitation of water resources. While globalization is not a new concept, it has throughout history proven to be controversial despite the fact that people as well as multinational corporations have been trading with other people as well as corporations in distant lands (Morison 12). On this note, proponents of this concept argue that it is beneficial to low economic nations as it enhances their economic advancement as well as improves their living standards. Opponents of this concept however argue that it perpetuates creation of a free market, which benefits multinational corporations that operate in well established western economies at the expense of developing nations’ economies, people and cultural aspects (Geraldine 19). This paper evaluates how globalization has hurt the Island of Hispaniola more than helping it.
How globalization has hurt the Island of Hispaniola more than helped it
Hispaniola Island is ranked as the 22nd largest global island and is situated in the Caribbean region where it ranks among the Greater Antilles. According to Wilson (50), Hispaniola Island ranks second among the largest Caribbean Islands, tenth among the highly populated global islands and first among America’s most populated islands. Two sovereign countries, the Dominican Republic and Haiti share this Island, with the former occupying two thirds of this Island while the latter occupies the remaining one third of this Island. With this Island occupying a total landmass of about 76,480 km2 , it represents first destination for European settlers among the Americans, which was discovered by Christopher Columbus during his exploration in 1490s (Miguel 29).
The impact of globalization on the Hispaniola Island can be traces from historical experiences gathered over a lengthy period of time, which began in the 1490s when Christopher Columbus explored this region. As explained by Morison (18), the Hispaniola Island, prior to being discovered by Christopher Columbus, was, for more than 5,000 years, occupied by indigenous populations that mainly comprised of the Indiana people. Later anthropological discoveries have however shown that there were numerous indigenous immigrations into this region, which mainly occurred from two key places that included Central as well as South America. It is from the significant intermingling of these indigenous immigrants that gave rise to the Taino Indians, which is a category of indigenous people that welcomed Christopher Columbus on arriving in the Hispaniola Island (Patrick 89). Prior to significant transnational influences that were perpetuated by the invasion of global figures and the subsequent concept of globalization, Hispaniola was renowned for its cultural, social, political and economic stability. The term Taino was in fact used to describe “good” as well as “noble”, an act reflected through the generosity as well as hospitality that the Taino Indians showed Christopher when he first landed into this region (Geraldine 22). The people would never be found fighting against each other and they even substituted possible battles with a ballgame that served to settle disputes between individuals. Individuals having an argument would for example engage in soccer in front of their judge and the winning team would be perceived as having won an argument. The Taino Indians, especially during the 15th century, were well coordinated in five political units and were at the threshold of shifting from a nation to a nation-state. The coming of Christopher Columbus however perpetuated the interaction of the Hispaniola islanders with people from other nations, which perpetuated significant impacts on the regions’ cultural, social, economic and political aspects (Miguel 52).
The concept of globalization perpetuated free movement of foreigners across transnational borders, which allowed for the invasion of foreign powers into Hispaniola Island. This in return altered the ethnic composition that had prevailed in the region by allowing African, European and Asian communities to integrate with indigenous Taino Indians living in this Island. This interaction was beneficial to the indigenous people living in this Island as it helped to enrich the prevailing culture thereby attributing to a wealthy cultural heritage. Rapid integration with other cultural communities for example allowed for the creation of rich cultural aspects that had attractive African, Asian and European characteristics (Dawn 129). The concept of globalization however promoted the current social hierarchy that is often demonstrated through a social pyramid, which characterizes socioeconomic classes. Individuals from the European descent are usually ranked at the top of the social pyramid and they control the biggest proportion of Hispaniola’s wealth even though they constitute to the smallest proportion of the Island’s population (Wilson 64). The middle class comprises of the Mulattos, most of whom include entrepreneurs, managers and professionals. In various parts of Haiti, a small segment of Mulatto people constitute to the powerbase of this country and they hold a significant proportion of political and economic power over the biggest percentage of the country’s population. Most indigenous people that mainly include the Tiano Indians and people of the African descent make up the working poor category, which is the largest proportion of the Hispaniola’s population that ranks at the bottom of the pyramid (Cristina 70).
Globalization was also an important vehicle that helped to bring cheap labor into the region, which brought significant economic benefits. Free movement of foreign populations, as enhanced by globalization did not only help to bring many Africans into the region through slave trade but it also allowed for the importation of Asian populations into the Caribbean region. Even after slave trade was termed illegal, globalization still enabled the colonial powers to import indentured workers into Hispaniola Island from the Asian colonies. While this Island was the main destination even for laborers coming from other regions, laborers from different parts of British and Asian colonies arrived by ship thereby benefiting the Hispaniola Island by providing cheap labor to work in huge agricultural plantations (Geraldine 27). This development however perpetuated negative long-term implications that eventually impacted the overall economic wellbeing of the region. According to Patrick (92), Spain, during the 17th century had ceded the western region of Hispaniola island to France. Large agricultural plantations that relied on slave laborers made this region the most profitable French colony particularly because it generated huge economic benefits from coffee, tea and cotton production. Slave owners in this region thought it profitable to overwork slaves within a short duration and replace them as soon as they died. This was because globalization would enable them to obtain new imports as often as required. This however attributed to a severe slave revolt that took place in 1971. As a result, there was rapid resistance to slavery, which greatly impacted economic productivity in this region. This revolt attributed to the formation of a black republic in Haiti, an outcome that did not please other independent powers like United States, Britain, France as well as Spain (Cristina 79). As a result, Haiti was declared a pariah, and as such, it was excluded from participating in any trade relations with other world powers. Haiti was thus isolated from among other powerful nations, denied any ambassadorial recognition as well as restricted from engaging in global trade. As a result, Haiti was left alone without any capacity to engage in international trade, and as such, it had to reform its economy back into subsistence agriculture (Dawn 132). The great agricultural plantations were thus subdivided among the slave workers and the country was left with no civil institutions to direct them and it did not either secure any form assistance from the outside world. As a result, the Mulattos assumed the leadership position in this country and coups and ethnic conflicts became the norm of this territory over the next century. Similarly, African influences that resulted from extensive importation of African slaves into the Island are still evident in the contemporary Hispaniola society. Santeria, which was an African-based religious practice, is still evident in this region where it is particularly practiced by most catholic saints. Today, over 70% of Hispaniola’s religious practices exhibit some aspects of Santeria (Cristina 80).
Technological advancement at the heat of globalization allowed for invention of ships and gunboats that United States used to explore the wealthy resources that lay in the Caribbean region. During these explorations, United States started to portray a strategic colonial interest on Haiti because it had a windward passage that would be used as a shorter shipping route linking Europe to the Caribbean. This new development was potentially beneficial to Hispaniola Island as it would have easy access to a trade route linking it to the global market in Europe and Asia. As a result, the Island would be able to easily exploit and export mineral resources and agricultural products. Quest to gain control over the Windward Passage however triggered conflict between Spanish and the American superpowers (Geraldine 32). This saw the US employing technological expertise to build gunboats that invaded Haitian ports to safeguard the American interests. Technological advancement at the heat of globalization further enabled US to employ Marine expeditionary military force that would use superior firepower to safeguard the American interests. This greatly impacted the Haiti country as most Haitians perished it attempt to resist the superior firepower used by the US marine forces. Haiti thus resolved to become a US colony for a period of nineteen years following this turmoil (Patrick 97).
Another significant impact of globalization on the Hispaniola Island is that it promoted extensive exploitation of important resources that were available in the region. As a result of enhanced movement of individuals, which is a common aspect of globalization, Christopher Columbus was able to explore the Bahaman and Cuban Islands before landing into the Hispaniola Island. He thus discovered that Hispaniola Island, unlike other Islands in the Caribbean region, had attractive resources that included well forested mountains, huge rivers, gold deposits as well as a peaceful and generous community. This triggered excitement amongst foreign invaders as they perceived the Taino as well as indigenous people living in the Island as an easy population to conquer. Significant advancement in navigational technology enabled Portuguese and Spaniard explorers that aimed to exploit a huge deposit of gold among other important resources to shuttle back and forth into the Island and conquer the indigenous populations that safeguarded these resources (Geraldine 45). Other technological advantages included the use steel swords to conquer the indigenous people that mainly employed wooden clubs and cotton armories to safeguard their territory. Similarly, the use of horses, which came with significant advancement in military knowledge at the heat of globalization, gave foreign invaders greater advantage over the indigenous people living in Hispaniola Island. Unlike the indigenous populations living in the Island, the European and Spanish invaders also benefitted from having originated from literate cultures, and hence, they were able to document and pass down reliable knowledge pertaining to navigational technology and conquest. This exposed Hispaniola’s natural resources to severe exploitation by foreign invaders, which further explains how globalization has hurt rather than benefiting this Island (Cristina 83).
The concept of globalization in the Island further enhanced the exchange of goods between the native populations and European settlers through what historians commonly referred to as “The Columbian Exchange”. Through this exchange, Europeans took important resources that included gold, silver and other nutritional products like potatoes, cocoa, sugar and corn, which they shipped back to their native homes. Although this may have been an important avenue through which the Island would be integrated into international trade, it did not benefit from this exchange as its people only received European diseases that included smallpox, cholera, and measles (Patrick 102). As a result, trade relations with the European foreigners only perpetuated demographic catastrophes that advanced whenever the European traders came into contact with the indigenous people. The pattern for this demographic catastrophe was set among the Taino Indians, who Christopher Columbus made the initial contact with when he first landed into Hispaniola Island (Cristina 87). While the initial Taino population was estimated at 600,000 individuals in 1492, it declined to about 60,000 individuals within a period of twenty years. Globalization thus served a central purpose in wiping out most native populations in the Island, which explains why Hispaniola Island is largely inhibited by foreign immigrants as compared to indigenous populations. The great deal of lethality of the European diseases to the Indigenous people living in Hispaniola can be explained from experiences that prevailed prior to recorded history. Anthropological discoveries indicate that during this period, the Eurasian continent comprised of a significant number of domesticated animals like cattle, sheep, goats and horses (Morison 41). Over a long period of time, Eurasians domesticated and lived with these animals, which generated great economic benefits on one hand while inflicting the farmers with deadly ailments on the other. Both the European and Asian populations were inflicted with severe plagues that greatly devastated and even killed a huge number of people in this population. Descendants of the people that managed to survive the plague however had unique antibodies that protected them from implications associated with a similar plague in future. Indigenous American populations however lacked any form of domesticated animals and associated diseases. As a result, the devastating disease plague associated with domesticated animals that were brought into the American territory was only spread into one direction hence the reason why most indigenous people in Hispaniola Island could not withstand the severe animal-related ailments that found their way into this territory at the heat of globalization (Morison 53).
The new global system, as perpetuated by successful invasion of foreign powers, supposedly enabled the Hispaniola Island to benefit from the readily available global free market. This is because the Island could easily access extremely cheap labor to work of its agricultural plantations as well as access global markets to sell its agricultural as well as natural resource products. Conquest of this territory by the foreign powers however overturned the various economic benefits that the Island could reap from the new global system. This is because these foreign powers had enriched themselves with huge deposit of natural and agricultural resources available in the Hispaniola Island thereby exploiting the various economic benefits created by the new global system. As a result, the foreign powers benefited from the cheap labor that could easily be imported into the region, free expanses of agricultural land, rich mineral deposits and readily available global market where they could sell their products (Geraldine 77). Although the foreign invaders were latecomers compared to the Americans that include the Hispaniola Islanders, they easily exploited the economic benefits provided by the world trade network and benefitted from the global market, initially through piracy, then through trade and eventually through trading manufactured products that included textiles. The conquest and settlement of the Hispaniola Island by foreign invaders thus became the starting point for explaining how these foreign powers obtained imperial as well as economic advancement at the expense of the Hispaniola Island. Europe has for example engaged in stiff competition with Asian in trading manufactured goods for more than first half of the modern era. Similarly, other nations of the world have increasingly found Chinese as well as Indian textile products inexpensive, an outcome attributed by cheap raw materials that are readily available in Hispaniola Island (Dawn 137). This explains how globalization set the stage for Europe’s economic and imperial advancement at the expense of Hispaniola’s wealth. This is because, Hispaniola, after the discovery of the global free-market accounted for a significant amount of wealth accumulated in the modern Europe (Wilson 109).
Globalization, a concept that defines the integration of international populations and exchange of ideas, views, inventions and experiences, is not new. This is because this concept can be traced in historical periods that can help explain how it has impacted different parts of the world in different ways. Although this concept is likely to have perpetuated certain cultural, economic and political benefits in Hispaniola Island, it is apparent that the Island has experienced more negative than positive impacts of this concept. Globalization allowed for the invasion of Hispaniola’s territory by foreign powers, which attributed significant exploitation of available natural and agricultural resources that were readily available in the region. This invasion has also perpetuated the social hierarchy that characterizes the modern day Hispaniola Island, the rule of the black Haiti Republic and drastic economic and imperial advancement among the foreign powers at the expense of Hispaniola.
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