CARICOM heads to continue pushing reparations agenda

flagsdownloadWhen Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government meet next month for their annual summit, they will be pressing ahead with their fight for reparations. Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who chairs CARICOM’s Reparations Sub-committee, underlines that it is necessary to have talks with former slave trading countries, such as England, France and Holland. [In case some of our readers are wondering why Spain is off the hook for the moment, there are no Spanish-speaking countries as full members of CARICOM; some—such as Puerto Rico, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic—are observers.]

Host Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said progress was being made towards Reparations for Native Genocide and Slavery and the leaders would continue “fleshing out” the required initiatives. The Barbadian leader, who chairs CARICOM’s Reparations Sub-committee, said they believe it is necessary to have talks with former slave trading countries, England, France and Holland. “This is not a diplomacy of protest; it is a diplomacy of engagement, because most of those countries are now our friends and who better to discuss issues like this with than friends,” he said.

“There are some developmental, educational and health issues that we face that we think these countries can contribute a lot more to. So, we are not in a position where we are looking to quantify damages and say you owe this amount of money; that is for the law courts . . . What we want is to sit and discuss a way forward in terms of the development of this region in the context of an underdevelopment that has resulted from slavery itself.”

At the same time, Stuart said, it was not fair to say that those countries had not contributed to the region in significant ways. “The European Union, through its series of development funds, has been contributing significantly to countries in the Caribbean. The British has its own aid packages for these countries. But we are saying you can do better and that a lot of what you need to do needs to be more targeted,” he explained.

Stuart contended that the effects of slavery continue to be felt in the region and it had affected the economies and societies. “The configuration of slavery is still evident in a few Caribbean countries, where you have a sociological minority being at the same time an economic majority and the numerical majority being an economic minority. These are facts that result from slavery and colonialism,” the Barbados prime minister said.

Although expressing the view that the region had done well in trying to bounce back from slavery and colonialism, he said there was some “unfinished business” in relation to how black people had been affected by the slave experience.

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