West Indies Federation (WIF) is a federation that consists of several Caribbean colonies of the United Kingdom. The expressed intention of the Federation is to create a political unit that would become independent from Britain as a single federal state—possibly similar to Canada or Australia.
The WIF has a custom union and common agencies and bodies that provide various services.
Legal framework of the WIF
The legal basis for the federation is the British Caribbean Federation Act, and its formation set by an Order-in-Council. The Act stipulates that a Dominion Status would be issued by an Order-in-Council, previous recommendation from the Imperial Council.
The King of the UK is the head of state, represented by the Governor-General. The Crown is vested with the legislative authority for matters concerning executive affairs, defense and the financing of the Federation. The Governor-General, has the full power by the British Government to veto any laws passed by the Federation.
The Federal Parliament is bicameral, consisting of a nominated Senate and a popularly elected House of Representatives. The Senate members are appointed by the Governor General, after consulting the respective provincial governments. The House of Representatives is composed of members representing single member electoral districts for a period of not more than four years.
The government (executive) is vested in the Federal Cabinet and consists of the Federal Prime Minister and ten other officials. The Federal Cabinet is politically responsible before the House of Representatives. The Federal Prime Minister can dissolve the House of Representatives
There is also a Federal Supreme Court consisting of a Chief Justice and three (later five) other Justices.
Each provinces has its government in a similar way to the federal government. That is to say it has a Lieutenant Governor, a Provincial Premier and Cabinet, an elected unicameral Provincial Assembly and a Provincial Court.
The Federation also had a number of agencies deemed to be common services for the entire federation, these are:
- Federal Shipping Service
- Federal Ports and Maritime Services
- University College of the West Indies
- West Indies Meteorological Service
- West Indian Airlines
Noteworthy also is the West Indian cricket team, or, colloquially, the Windies. The team is administered by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).
Provinces of WIF
The provinces of the West Indies Federation are:
- Barbados (Capital, Bridgetown)
- Bahamas (Nassau)
- British Guiana (Georgetown)
- British Honduras (Belize)
- Jamaica (Kingston) Turks and Caicos Islands and Cayman Islands attached as dependencies
- Trinidad and Tobago (Port of Spain)
- Leeward Islands (St. John's, Antigua and Barbuda) Consisting of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla, Montserrat and British Virgin Islands.
- Windward Islands (St. George's, Grenada) Consisting of Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada.
Politics of the WI
Due to its large extension, relative isolation and difficulties in communication and lack of previous central political organization each province as distinctive political parties, representing local interests.
However a sort of confederations of local political parties can be sorted, and in some cases campaign in a common ticket for federal elections. National pro status quo parties, for example the Jamaican United Party or National Democratic Party of Trinidad Tobago, labor parties as the Barbados Labour Party and Caribbean left nationalist, as the People's Political Party of Jamaica. This last group advocates independence and its influenced by Garveyism and Haiti's noiriste.
The customs and monetary union as kept the West Indies as a regional unit, however Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad Tobago dispute the role of the economic and political hub of the WIF.
The WIF is not rich in natural resources. The resources that make significant contributions to domestic economy and regional job sectors include, but are not limited to: fisheries, bauxite, iron, nickel, petroleum and timber. The main agricultural outputs are copra, coconuts, cacao, coffee, rice, citrus fruits and bananas. It still keeps a strong agro-industrial sector based of the sugar plantations. Initially limited in its scope, the WIF has started developing a large-scale fishing industry.
WIF's most important resource is its tropical island setting, which has generated a unique tourism sector.
As part of the Sterling area the West Indies pound and West Indies dollar (WI$) are administered by the West Indies Currency Board (WICB), former British Caribbean Currency Board (BCCB).
The defense of the WIF is in charge of the ICF. The Royal Navy keeps various naval bases, along the RAF. The West India Regiment (WIR) is an infantry unit of the British Army recruited from and normally stationed in the British colonies of the Caribbean, later WIF.
The WIF has created a Caribbean Defense Force (former Caribbean Regiment). This consists of members of the former local militia forces, as well as direct recruits. A West Indies Coast Guard serves has naval police and as an auxiliary force to the Royal Navy and WICF.
A federal West Indies Constabulary Force (WICF) along provincial constabulary forces are in charge of maintaining public order.