By Celina DeCastro
On this day in Caribbean History: February 24, 1982, United States President Ronald Regan announced a new program called the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) to be implemented in Caribbean and Central American countries.
Countries included Central American countries of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama. As well as Caribbean countries of Antigua, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Netherland Antilles, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The purpose of the CBI was to provide economic and military assistance to these nations to “prevent the overthrow of the governments in the region” by the “brutal and totalitarian” forces of communism.
This was in response to what the US cabinet believed to be an increasing Soviet presence in the Caribbean and Central America.
Instances such as the 1979 the leftist Sandinista regime that came into power in Nicaragua, El Salvador’s conflict between US backed government forces and leftist rebels, and Grenada’s government establishing close ties to Cuba and Fidel Castro.
Eventually, the CBI enforced anti-communist measures to the nations including the support of anti-Sandinista Contras, massive military aid to El Salvador, and the 1983 invasion and removal of Grenada’s leftist government.