By Morgan Ramkallawan
In the Comparative Analysis of Spanish and British colonies, Lange focuses on the economic models that the Spanish and British colonizers used in order to evaluate the impact these models had on the post colonial development of their colonies. The model used recognized the main variables as the pre- colonial development, the identity of the colonizers and the amount of settlers, the levels of colonialism, the institutions that affect the GDP of the colony. Lange’s conclusion recognized that in most cases British colonies had a higher post-colonial development in comparison to Spanish colonies.
Although there are limitations to Lange’s model such as the time of independence between the colonies, Lange’s model can be used as an explanation for the success of Trinidad and Tobago post-colonial development. After gaining the territory from the Spanish in 1797and officially forming the treaty agreement in 1802, Trinidad mainly consisted of some French settlers, and their African slaves. The British influence over the islands however was quite limited, excluding law and governance and the promotion of English education and language. Moreover, there was no heavy influx of British settlers, rather migrants and labourers, who promoted the agro-economy of sugar cane.
Furthermore, towards the end of the nineteenth century, oil was discovered on the island, the institutions put in place to successfully cultivate it whilst maintaining the agricultural society promoted successful economic development within the island. The British remained influential until independence in 1962, however all the institutions in place remained the same, just loyal to a different country. The lack of extractive policies and little British settlers as well as the liberal economic model, according to Lange, promoted the notion of a strong economy. Something which can be seen today, given that the island’s economy has one of the highest GNI per capital in Latin America and the Caribbean with US $18,600.