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History, Independence Gained

CARIFTA, Organization of American States, PNM, Commonwealth of Nations, Racial Discrimination

Trinidad and Tobago was a constituent part of the Federation of the West Indies from April 22, 1958, until May 31, 1962. On August 31, 1962, Trinidad and Tobago became an independent state in the Commonwealth of Nations. It joined the Organization of American States in 1967. In 1968, along with other English-speaking Caribbean states, it formed the Caribbean Free Trade Area (CARIFTA), which in 1973 was replaced by the Caribbean Common Market.

The People’s National Movement (PNM), in power from the country’s independence (1962) until 1986, drew much of its support from the black urban and the business communities; its leader from 1962 to 1981 was Prime Minister Eric Williams. In the early 1970s, the nation faced a social and economic crisis. Rioting erupted in Trinidad in April 1970, resulting in several deaths and many injuries. The situation was further complicated by a short-lived mutiny of elements of the army. A state of emergency was declared. Although the riots had overtones of a black nationalist campaign, observers saw economic factors as the basis of the trouble. In response, Prime Minister Williams announced that a recently appointed Commission on Racial Discrimination would begin hearings when order had been restored. The state of emergency, which had been extended through 1971, was ended in June 1972.

Article key phrases:

CARIFTA, Organization of American States, PNM, Commonwealth of Nations, Racial Discrimination, state of emergency, overtones, West Indies, riots, Rioting, independent state, economic crisis, hearings, economic factors, Trinidad, army, deaths, Tobago, Federation, trouble, observers, situation, leader, injuries, power, response, basis, support, order


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