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Reparations on the Heads of Government agenda


Reparations on the Heads of Government agenda

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WHEN THE CARICOM Heads of Government gather here early next month for the 36th Regular Meeting, they are expected to continue “fleshing out” the initiatives that have to be taken to push the reparations agenda forward.

This disclosure has come from Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who acknowledged that progress was being made towards Reparations  for Native Genocide and Slavery and that there was consensus across the region that leaders must go in that direction.

Stuart, who chairs the reparations sub-committee, said the Heads viewed it as necessary to have talks with those 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.

“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 under development that has resulted from slavery itself,” he stated.

The Prime Minister reiterated that such discussions were necessary so there could be a sharing of views on both sides, so as to see where the scope for some kind of agreement and consensus exist.

He said, however, that it should not be argued 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 stressed.

Stuart expressed the view that the effects of slavery continue to be felt in the region and that 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,” he stated.

He opined that the region had done well in trying to bounce back from slavery and colonialism, but stressed that the stage had been reached across the Caribbean and the black world that there was some “unfinished business” in relation to how black people had been affected by the slave experience.

Stuart noted that the President of France, Francois Hollande, recently spoke about slavery and its effects on countries like ours and highlighted the challenges being faced by Haiti.  (BGIS)