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Last updated: 30 March, 2011 - Published 16:15 GMT
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A timeline spanning the life of BBC Caribbean


July 1988 LONDON: Modern BBC Caribbean launched.

1988 HAITI: Leslie Manigat becomes president, but is ousted in a coup led by Brigadier-General Prosper Avril, who installs a civilian government under military control.

1988 JAMAICA: Jamaica badly hit by Hurricane Gilbert.


1989 MONTSERRAT: Powerful Category 4 Hurricane Hugo devastates Montserrat and several other Caribbean islands

1989 JAMAICA: People's National Party ousts Jamaica Labour Party in elections, returning Michael Manley as prime minister


1990 HAITI: Former Roman Catholic priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide elected president in Haiti's first democratic elections

1990 DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Joaquin Balaguer re-elected (first elected in 1966, lost to Antonio Guzman in 1978) but won against Jorge Blanco in 1986.

1990 ANTIGUA: A British QC, Louis Blom-Cooper - reporting in a commission of inquiry on an arms smuggling scandal - found that Vere Bird Jr, son and namesake of the then prime minister, had been a co-conspirator and should never again hold public office. In 1999, Vere Junior was appointed agriculture minister.

1991 CUBA: Collapse of Soviet Union causes sets off a chain of severe economic disruptions in Cuba which had been heavily reliant on Soviet political and financial support

Yasim Abu Bakr
1990 TRINIDAD and TOBAGO: More than 100 Islamist radicals led by Yasim Abu Bakr blow up the police headquarters, seize the parliament building and hold Prime Minister ANR Robinson and other officials hostage for several days in an abortive coup attempt.

1991 HAITI: Aristide ousted in a coup led by Brigadier-General Raoul Cedras, triggering sanctions by the US and the Organisation of American States.

Desi Bouterse
1991 SURINAME: Government ousted in military coup masterminded by former army commander Desi Bouterse, who had led a previous coup in 1982 in which 15 people were executed by his forces.

1991 TRINIDAD and TOBAGO:- Patrick Manning becomes prime minister after his People's National Movement party wins general election.

1991 SURINAME: Return to civilian rule. Ronald Venetiaan elected president.

Belize-Guatemala map
1991 BELIZE: Guatemala recognises Belize as a sovereign and independent state. Guatemala has a long-standing claim to parts of Belize.

1992 GUYANA: People's Progressive Party wins first completely free parliamentary elections since independence; Cheddi Jagan becomes president.

1992 BAHAMAS: Hubert Ingraham becomes prime minister after his centre-left Free National Movement (FNM) wins an absolute majority in the general elections, ending 25 years of rule by Sir Linden Pindling.

1992 JAMAICA: Manley retires on health grounds and is succeeded by Percival J Patterson.

Derek Walcott
1992 - ST LUCIA: Derek Walcott wins the Nobel Prize for literature.

1993 ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA: Vere Bird Sr resigns as prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, and is replaced by his son, Lester.

1993 DEATH PENALTY: The precedent-setting Pratt and Morgan case of two convicted killers in Jamaica, the British Privy Council set a cut-off time between imposing the death sentence and execution.

1993 DOMINICA: Eugenia Charles resigns as DFP leader but continues as prime minister.

1993 EU/CARIBBEAN BANANA TRADE DISPUTE: The protracted dispute is triggered in 1993 by US and Latin American companies over import preferences for Caribbean bananas. This was to lead to an international trade dispute which only ended in 2010.

1994 ARUBA: The governments of Aruba, the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles postpone indefinitely Aruba's transition to full independence.

1994 HAITI: Military regime relinquishes power in the face of an imminent US invasion. US forces oversee a transition to a civilian government; Aristide returns.

1994 BARBADOS: Owen Arthur becomes prime minister after his Barbados Labour Party wins a decisive victory in the general elections.

1994 CUBA: Cuba and US sign agreement in which the US agrees to admit 20,000 Cubans a year in return for Cuba halting the exodus of refugees.

1994 DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Balaguer re-elected, but agrees to serve only a two-year term after being accused of fraud.

1995 TRINIDAD and TOBAGO: Indian-based United National Congress (UNC) and National Alliance for Reconstruction form a coalition government with Basdeo Panday as prime minister.

1995 DOMINICA: Edison James becomes prime minister following the victory of his United Workers Party (UWP) in the general elections; Eugenia Charles retires after 27 years in politics.

Montserrat's erupting volcano
1995 (and ongoing) MONTSERRAT: Volcano on Montserrat starts erupting in 1995. A major eruption in June 1997 killed 19 people. More than half of the island is rendered uninhabitable and more than half of the 12,000 population emigrated.

1995 BERMUDA: Independence referendum fails with majority choosing to remain under British flag.

1995 ST KITTS and NEVIS: Prime Minister Kennedy Simmonds loses in a general election which he had called following a scandal involving allegations of drug smuggling; Labour Party leader Denzil Douglas becomes prime minister.

1995 ST MAARTEN (and other islands): Hurricane Luis, a powerful Category 4 hurricane, slams into St Maarten and several other islands causing millions of dollars in damage.

1995 HAITI: Aristide supporters win parliamentary elections. Rene Preval, from Aristide's Lavalas party, is elected in December to replace Aristide as president.

World Trade Organisation logo
1995 BANANAS: World Trade Organisation rules against preferences for banana imports into the European Union from the Caribbean following a challenge Latin American and US banana companies.

1996 DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Leonel Fernandez Reyna of the leftist Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) elected president.

1996 CUBA/US: US trade embargo made permanent in response to Cuba's shooting down of two US aircraft operated by Miami-based Cuban exiles.

1996 HAITI: René Préval's first election as president in Haiti.

1996 DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Leonel Fernández Reyna elected president.

1997 SURINAME: Dutch government issues international arrest warrant for former military commander and coup leader Desi Bouterse, on drug trafficking charges. Suriname refuses to extradite him.

1997 GUYANA: President Cheddi Jagan dies and is replaced by his wife, Janet, after elections.

1998 BERMUDA: Jennifer Smith elected first female premier.

1998 August ST KITTS and NEVIS: - Referendum on Nevis independence fails to achieve the two-thirds majority required for the island to secede from federation with St Kitts.

Jamaica soldiers

1999 July JAMAICA: Government orders the army to patrol the streets of Kingston following a massive increase in crime.

1999 GUYANA: Bharrat Jagdeo becomes president after Janet Jagan resigns for health reasons.

US dollars
1999 February ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA: US State Department describes the country as "one of the most attractive centres in the Caribbean for money launderers".

1999 NETHERLANDS: A Dutch court convicts former Suriname coup leader Desi Bouterse for drug smuggling after trying him in absentia.

1999 HAITI: Preval declares that parliament's term has expired and begins ruling by decree following a series of disagreements with deputies.

Elian Gonzalez
1999 November CUBA: Cuban child Elian Gonzalez is picked up off the Florida coast with other refugees. A high-profile campaign by Miami-based Cuban exiles aims to keep him with relatives in Miami.


2000 ST VINCENT and the GRENADINES: James Mitchell, prime minister since 1984, resigns and is succeeded by his finance minister, Arnhim Eustace.

guyana-suriname bordermap.jpg
2000 GUYANA: Long-running dispute with Suriname over the offshore border comes to a head when Suriname gunboats evict a Guyana-approved oil exploration rig from the area.

2000 DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Hipolito Mejia elected president.

2000 January DOMINICA: Rosie Douglas becomes prime minister after his Dominica Labour Party beats the United Workers Party in a closely contested election.

Maurice Bishop
2000 April GRENADA: Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up with South African help to examine political upheavals of the "Revolutionary Years" between 1976 and 1983.

2000 June CUBA: Elian Gonzalez allowed to rejoin his father in Cuba after prolonged court battles in the US.

2000 August BAHAMAS: "Father of independence" Sir Lynden Pindling dies. He was head of government from 1967-92.

2000 October DOMINICA: Prime Minister Rosie Douglas dies. He is succeeded by Pierre Charles.

2000 November PUERTO RICO: Sila Calderon elected as first female governor.

2000 November HAITI: Aristide elected president for a second non-consecutive term, amid allegations of irregularities.

2001 March ST VINCENT and the GRENADINES: Opposition leader Ralph Gonsalves becomes prime minister in elections brought forward from 2003 following anti-government protests in 2000.

Caribbean Court of Justice logo
2001 CARIBBEAN COURT OF JUSTICE: The CCJ is established on 14 February and starts functioning in 2005.

2001 November CUBA: US exports food to Cuba for the first time in more than 40 years after a request from the Cuban government to help it cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Michelle.

csme logo
2001 CARICOM: The Revised Treaty of Grand Chagauramas commits to setting up the free trade Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME).

2001 December TRINIDAD and TOBAGO: General election results in an unprecedented tie, with the governing party and main opposition winning 18 seats each.

V S Naipaul
2001TRINIDAD and TOBAGO: The Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Trinidad and Tobago-born VS Naipaul.

2002 January CUBA: Russia's last military base in Cuba closes down.

2002 May CUBA: Former US president Jimmy Carter becomes the first former or serving US president to visit Cuba since the 1959 revolution.

2002 July GUYANA: TV presenter Mark Benschop charged with treason. Court says he encouraged protest when a presidential complex was stormed by demonstrators who were complaining of discrimination against Afro-Guyanese.

UK passport

2002 BRITISH OVERSEAS TERRITORIES Full British citizenship granted to nationals of Britains Caribbean and other overseas territories.

2002 March DEATH PENALTY: Britain's Privy Council decides to halt executions in some Caribbean countries. It declares the death penalty "crucial and inhuman punishment".

2002 October TRINIDAD and TOBAGO: Third general election in three years ends months of political deadlock. Prime Minister Patrick Manning's ruling People's National Movement declares victory.

2002 July DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Former president Joaquin Balaguer dies aged 95.

2002 September BELIZE: Belize and Guatemala agree on a draft settlement to their long-standing border dispute at talks brokered by the Organisation of American States (OAS). The deal, which proposed referendums in both countries, is rejected by Guatemala in 2003.

2002 July HAITI/CARICOM: Haiti becomes a full member of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) trade bloc.

Voodoo practitioner
2003 April HAITI: Voodoo recognised as a religion, on a par with other faiths.

2003 April GUYANA: US embassy employee is kidnapped and released after a ransom is paid. The abduction is part of a wave of violent crime; the murder rate in 2002 quadrupled to more than 160.

2003 July ST LUCIA: Parliament amends constitution to replace oath of allegiance to British monarch with pledge of loyalty to St Lucians.

2004 January DOMINICA: - Pierre Charles dies in office, aged 46. Education Minister Roosevelt Skerrit succeeds him.

2004 February BARBADOS: Sea border disagreement with Trinidad and Tobago flares after arrest of Barbadian fishermen. Barbados takes border case to UN-backed tribunal.

2004 January/February HAITI: Celebrations marking 200 years of independence turn into uprising against President Aristide, who is forced into exile. An interim government under Gérard Latortue as Prime Minister takes over from March 12, 2004 to June 9, 2006.

2004 May DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Former President Leonel Fernandez defeats incumbent Hipolito Mejia.

2004 June HAITI: First UN peacekeepers arrive, to take over security duties from US-led force and to help flood survivors.

2004 March ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA: Lester Bird concedes defeat in general election. Baldwin Spencer, leader of United Progressive Party, is sworn in as Prime Minister.

2004 September GRENADA: Grenada takes a direct hit from Hurricane Ivan - the country's worst hurricane in living memory. Prime Minister Keith Mitchell says the island is 90% devastated

Alba logo
2004 December VENEZUELA/ALBA - Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas): The Venezuelan-led Alba was promoted as an alternative to the planned US-backed Free Trade Area of the Americas FTAA).

2005 April CARIBBEAN COURT of JUSTICE: The Caribbean Court of Justice, the region's final court of appeal intended to replace Britain's Privy Council is inaugurated in Trinidad and Tobago.

2005 March ST KITTS: Government decides to close the 300-year-old, loss-making sugar industry after the 2005 harvest.

2005 September DOMINICA: Dame Mary Eugenia Charles, former prime minister, died at 86 years old on 6 September 2005. She had retired in 1995 as prime minister having served in that role since 1980.

2005 September DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: The country's Congress approves a proposed free trade agreement with the US and Central American nations. The DR enters the accord in March 2007.

2006 February HAITI: General elections, the first since former President Aristide was overthrown in 2004. Rene Preval is declared the winner of the presidential vote after a deal is reached over spoiled ballot papers.

2006 March PUERTO RICO: US Supreme Court rejects an appeal calling for Puerto Ricans to have the right to vote in US presidential elections.

Portia Simpson-Miller
2006 JAMAICA: Portia Simpson Miller is elected as head of the ruling People's National Party. She succeeds PJ Patterson to become Jamaica's first female Prime Minister in March.

2006 June HAITI: A democratically-elected government headed by Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis takes office.

Fidel Castro
2006 July CUBA: President Fidel Castro undergoes gastric surgery and temporarily hands over control of the government to his brother, Raul.

2006 April TRINIDAD and TOBAGO: Former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday is sentenced to two years in prison for failing to declare an overseas bank account while he was in office. The conviction is quashed on appeal.

2006 April GUYANA: Agriculture Minister Satyadeow Sawh is shot dead. The murder is part of a string of gun crimes.

sugar cane cutter
2007 January TRINIDAD and TOBAGO: Plans are announced to close the centuries-old sugar industry. Production had been hit by cuts in European subsidies.

2007 February GRENADA: UK-based Privy Court rules that 14 prisoners who were sentenced to death over the 1983 coup should be re-sentenced.

2007 March ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA: World Trade Organisation sides with Antigua in ruling that the US has failed to comply with a ruling to relax its restrictions on offshore, online gambling.

2007 June GUYANA: Former Guyanese MP Abdul Kadir is arrested in Trinidad on suspicion of involvement in a plot of blow up New York's JFK airport. Guyanese Abdel Nur and Trinidadian Russell DeFreitas were subsequently found guilty in a US court on terrorism charges.

2007 August DOMINICA: Hurricane Dean wipes out 99 per cent of Dominica's banana crop, putting further pressure on the island's struggling main industry.

2007 September JAMAICA: Jamaica Labour Party wins general elections, Bruce Golding becomes Prime Minister.

2007 September ST LUCIA: Prime Minister Sir John Compton dies. He is regarded as the "father of the nation", having led St Lucia into independence from Britain in 1979.

Raul castro
2008 February CUBA: Raul Castro takes over as president, days after Fidel announces his retirement.

2008 April HAITI: Food riots. Government announces emergency plan to cut price of rice in bid to halt unrest. Parliament dismisses Prime Minister Alexis.

2008 May DOMINICA: Chief Charles Williams, leader of the Kalinago, or Carib community, asks legislators to pass a law requiring ethnic Kalinagos to marry only each other for self-preservation.

2008 May DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: President Leonel Fernandez is re-elected.

2008 July SURINAME: Trial begins of former military ruler Desi Bouterse and 24 others accused of involvement in 1982 killings of opponents of military regime. Frequent delays in proceedings follow for the next two years. Bouterse accepts "political responsibility" but denies direct responsibility.

eu flag
2008 October CARIFORUM/EU: EU and the Caribbean seal Economic Partnership Agreement, a ground-breaking trade deal.

2008 August/September HAITI: Nearly 800 people are killed and hundreds are left injured as Haiti is hit by a series of devastating storms and hurricanes.

2008 September HAITI: Michele Pierre-Louis succeeds Jacques-Edouard Alexis as prime minister.

2009 GUADELOUPE: Discontent at the rising cost of living led to violent protests early in 2009, and France sent in troops when rioters killed a trade union official. The French government raised wages for the low-paid, a key demand of the protestors, who ended a general strike in March.

2009 May CAYMAN ISLANDS: US President Barack Obama singles out Cayman Islands in an attack on tax havens.

2009 June BERMUDA: Premier Ewart Brown causes an international stir by agreeing to take in four Chinese prisoners from the US prison in Guantanamo Bay.

Turks and Caicos parliament
2009 August TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS: The British government imposes direct rule on the overseas territory in August 2009 after a UK-appointed commission of enquiry found evidence of widespread corruption among the ruling elite.

2009 September GRENADA: The last seven of the 17 men convicted over the 1983 coup and murder of PM Maurice Bishop are released from prison after serving out their sentences.

2009 November ST VINCENT and the GRENADINES: Voters reject the proposal to replace the monarchy with a republic in a constitutional referendum.

2009 JAMAICA: Jamaica is ranked as having one of the highest murder rates in the world. Some 1,660 homicides were recorded there in 2009.

2009 October-November HAITI: Jean-Max Bellerive becomes prime minister after the Senate passes censure motion against his predecessor, Michelle Pierre-Louis.

Allen Stanford
2009 February ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA: Antigua's single biggest private investor, Sir Allen Stanford, is charged with massive investment fraud by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

2009 March ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA: Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer leads the United Progressive Party to victory again in parliamentary elections, albeit with a reduced majority.

Haiti earthquake damage
2010 January HAITI: Up to 300,000 people are killed when a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hits the capital Port-au-Prince and its wider region - the worst in Haiti in 200 years.

2010 January FRENCH GUIANA: Voters rejected the option of increased autonomy in a referendum, with 69.8% voting against on a turnout of 48%.

2010 January MARTINIQUE: Voters rejected greater autonomy in a referendum in January 2010, with 80% voting against on a turnout of 55%.

Kamla Persad-Bissessar

2010 May TRINIDAD and TOBAGO: The People's Partnership coalition wins snap elections. Kamla Persad-Bissessar of the United National Congress becomes the country's first female prime minister.

2010 May SURINAME: The Mega Combination coalition, led by former military ruler Desi Bouterse, wins 23 out of 51 seats in parliamentary elections to emerge as the largest group.

2010 August SURINAME: Desi Bouterse becomes president.

Christopher 'Dudus' Coke
2010 May-June JAMAICA: Over 70 killed in operation to arrest alleged drug lord Christopher "Dudus" Coke. He is extradited to the US.

2010 October DUTCH CARIBBEAN: New constitutional arrangement between Holland and its Caribbean territotries takes effect.

2010 October PUERTO RICO: Dozens of Puerto Rican police are held on drugs charges following the biggest police graft probe in FBI history.

2010 October BARBADOS: Prime Minister Thompson dies in office. Freundel Stuart assumes the top office.

2010 October GUYANA: Parliament abolishes mandatory death penalty for murderers, unless they have killed members of security forces.

Cholera victim in Haiti
2010 October-December HAITI: Cholera outbreak claims over 2,500 lives and triggers violent protests.

2010 November HAITI: Presidential and parliamentary elections end inconclusively with run-off vote on 16 January 2011 postponed because of row over who should be on ballot.

2010 December CUBA: Cuba launches a public debate on plans to transform the economy by boosting private enterprise.

Jean Claude 'Baby Doc' Duvalier
2011 January HAITI: Former president Jean-Claude Duvalier returns from exile, faces corruption and human rights abuse charges.

2011 January CUBA: US President Barack Obama relaxes restrictions on travel to Cuba. Havana says the measures don't go far enough.

Aristide supporters with poster
2011 March HAITI: Exiled former Haitian president Jean Bertrand Aristide returns to Haiti after seven years in South Africa.

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