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Open Access Pepper and bones: the secessionist impulse in Nevis

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Pepper and bones: the secessionist impulse in Nevis

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Describes the history of the recurring impulse for independence from the St. Kitts-Nevis state on the part of Nevis. Author examines the modern political history of the St. Kitts-Nevis state, in order to discern the motivations of the Nevisian people and politicians for their wish of secession. First, he sketches how Nevis and St. Kitts were historically linked since the 17th c., but that socioeconomic differences developed; as after the decline of sugar and plantation agriculture on both islands, St Kitts developed a largely proletarian rural population, whereas Nevis' population came to consist more of smallholders, resulting in the labour movement having more influence in St Kitts than in Nevis, which also had political repercussions. Nevisian parties favoured secession. Author reconstructs elections, partisan and general political developments in the St. Kitts-Nevis union since the 1950s, describing the long dominance of the St. Kitts-dominated Labour Party, and responses in Nevis. For Nevisian secession there seemed to be popular support. In 1998, however, the required majority on Nevis for secession was not obtained. Author concludes that the Nevisian wish for secession did not stem from any strong nationalistic zeal, or a particularly strong sense of separate identity or ethnicity, but mainly from economic and political reasons.

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