Toni Frederick interviewed Hilary Beckles for St Kitts and Nevis’ WINN FM. Follow the link below to listen to the audio of the program.
Do Caribbean governments and Caribbean people have the will to push for reparations for slavery from European governments?
“Those who are opposed to justice believe that we do not have the spirit, that we do not have the courage, we do not have the will,” Chair of the CARICOM Committee for Reparatory Justice Sir Hilary Beckles said Tuesday, speaking at a Reparations Symposium hosted in Basseterre. “A judgment has been made. The argument being therefore, that we are a broken people, we have been oppressed for so long, we no longer have the spirit. This is what they have said of us.”
Sir Hilary however, is dismissing the naysayers. The Caribbean will forward the fight for reparations he asserts. “We have successfully made the argument to our Heads of Government, and we have said to our Heads of Governments, you have to act on our behalf…our governments have said, ‘Yes, there is a case,’ and we thank them for that.
The evidence is clear. They have also said, ‘We are going forward with this case,’ because that I believe is the democratic will of the people of the Caribbean: That there is a case, the case must be answered, the case must be placed.” Sir Hilary said that reparatory justice was necessary for the descendants of slaves, not only to get compensation for the crimes committed against their forbearers who were forcibly brought to and enslaved in the Caribbean, but also to get closure.
“The minority will try to block us, to undermine us, weaken our arguments, sabotage our thinking, bring evidence against us. The minority will always do that. It is what you the people will do in the presence of that minority. We have a case. The case is in our interest, it is in the interest of dignity, our children, our future. The Caribbean can only go forward by bringing closure to this matter,” he maintains. “We fought for our freedom, we got it. We fought for our independence, we got it. We’re going to fight for reparations, we will get that, and then we can move on with our lives.”
The CARICOM 10-point plan proposed to achieve reparatory justice includes: a full formal apology from European governments, illiteracy eradication, an African Knowledge Programme and debt forgiveness. Tuesday night’s Reparations Symposium was hosted by the National Commission for UNESCO and the UNESCO Scientific Slave Route Committee.
The other presenters were UWI Professor Emeritus Dr. Alvin Thompson, City University of New York Professor Dr. Ahmed Reid and Historian Sir Probyn Inniss. –