CARICOM to pursue slavery reparations for region

| 22/07/2013

(CNS): The leaders of Caribbean countries have agreed to create national committees regarding the pursuit of reparations for the region regarding Caribbean slavery and native genocide. During this month’s regional CARICOM meeting government leaders reportedly considered the issue and received submissions from the Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Professor Hilary Beckles, and a legal team to facilitate the deliberations over the still controversial issue. While some experts believe the Caribbean case will be stronger if governments act collectively, the Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition of Europe (PARCOE) has voiced concern about the top down approach being taken by the Caribbean Community.

At the Thirty-Fourth Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago between 4 and 6 July the members were unanimous in their support for action and agreed that a committee under the chairmanship of the prime minister of Barbados will oversee the work of a Reparations Commission made up of the chairs of National Reparation Committees and a representative of a research unit at the University of the West Indies to drive the issue.

The communique published at the end of the meeting reported that an undertaking has been given by all the states to establish national reparation committees and to convene their first meeting as soon as possible. “The approach would be to hold a development conversation and to use all reasonable avenues to reach an amicable solution,” the communique stated.

While a number of experts in the field have applauded the move of CARICOM countries coming together as it strengthens the case, there are those that believe CARICOM has no political strength. Long time reparations activist, Jamaican MP Mike Henry, welcomed the move but stressed that there still needs to be a political decision on the matter from each country.

"It is good to see that finally people are waking up to the long fight that I have been carrying. What I want to see is some immediacy and urgency on the issue," Henry noted, adding that he was looking to see what would be the terms of reference, mandate, and overall charge of the CARICOM Reparations Commission.

Meanwhile, however, PARCOE has warned that the “top down approach” may end up not achieving the reparations aspirations unless there is a concerted effort to enable the facilitation of constructive engagement, dialogue, debate and deliberation within and between civil society, non-governmental organisations and social movements across the Caribbean.

In a letter to CARICOM, the members of PARCOE also voiced concern about the employment of the law firm Leigh Day & Co to present the case for reparations for Caribbean slavery to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The organization said the firm had secured compensation for thousands of Kenyans from the nationalist Mau Mau movement who were tortured in the anti-colonial uprising in the 1950s.

But according to PARCOE, the agreement reached with the British government represented a “paltry sum and is not commensurate with the torture and suffering of the Kenyans” and what is being heralded as an historic victory for the Mau Mau was described by the NGO as “a well-orchestrated imperialist swindle”.

PARCOE has also suggested that what the UK owes the descendants of the enslaved in the Caribbean “is not just a matter for those currently living in the Caribbean to determine.”

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Comments (51)

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  1. TCM29 says:

    1) Nobody alive today was a slave

    2) Nobody alive today owned a slave

    3) Get over it and stop blaming others for your lack of success

  2. Anonymous says:

    I was a slave last weekend. Great party but I still cannot sit down.

  3. Whodatis says:

    As outlined in my previous post, I am not interested in any reparations.

    However, that being said – can we please all bear in mind the reality of how European people and countries (America included) rose out of their dark ages and into global dominance that they have enjoyed for the past half millenium.

    (Granted, it is rapidly declining and they are currently dependent on a bizarre house of cards based on fiat currency – while the majority of actual and tangible resources exist in other "poor" parts of the world such as Africa … but I digress.)

    This is no joking matter. We are spitting on the graves and legacies of people that suffered unimaginable atrocities at the hands of their fellow human beings – show some damn respect.

    Western White society has benefited tremendously from this marathon of inhumanity and Western Black society has never been properly recognized or appreciated for their crucial role in the establishment of the world as it stands.

    To make jest of these issues has got to be one of the most reprehensible things a person can do today.

    Anyway, I will end by proudly declaring my direct connection to the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic African Slave Trade. My ancestors suffered greatly but managed to survive – to the point where I came into existence.

    For that I am eternally grateful … and proud. It gives me strength and inspiration to push on through whatever life throws my way – for I know I am of "strong stock", and nothing I encounter could ever compare to what my forefathers and foremothers had to endure.

    Despite the mocking and ridicule that may come about as a result – I will always refer to my ancestors with dignity and respect … things they were denied in their horrific existence.

    • Anonymous says:

      At last, the tip of the bitter iceberg! Tell us more. Who ya really mad at?

  4. Whodatis says:

    Hmmm, good luck with that fellas.

    However, the only liability and blame for crimes against humanity that white Brits and Europeans are willing to accept is that of against the Jews – which by the way, extended far beyond Onkel Adolf's little excursions.

    Anything else gets swept under the rug and the victims / decendants are normally told to: "Get over it, darkie!"

    So my dearest CARICOM, may I remind you that "Arbeit Macht Frei".

    In any event, the history of the Caribbean and of Blacks / Africans in the western world is so brutal, inhumane, but at the same time heroic, rich and inspiring – that no amount of reparations could ever be "acceptable".

    Personally, the respect I have for my ancestors, on both sides of the Atlantic, for persevering the harshest treatment ever known to modern man for such an extended period of time is "repayment" enough.

    The spirit-numbing insecurity of the oppressor and enemy shines through most of all as one studies our legacy.

    Yes great power and fortunes were amassed by way of the natural resources, rape, blood, sweat and (breast) milk of our people – but it is what it is.

    HIStory will NEVER give us the proper credit and acknowledement we deserve so to be hopeful of such is futile.

    Just take note that the spirit of oppression still clearly exists, understand why this is the case, and act accordingly.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh, Whodatis. Thanks for proving Godwin's Law so early on.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law

      • Whodatis says:

        Ummm … the fact that the West's response to the plight of the Jews is directly relevant to this story pretty much negates your feeble attempt at wit.

        So … yeah. Feel free to try again though … we are open 24 hours a day for your convenience.

    • Anonymous says:

      Indeed Whodatis, the spirit of oppression is alive and well right in these islands…the expat better watch his a$$, because if I hear him say something I don't like at work, I will write a letter to immigration and next WP renewal his a$$ is gone. Also if he get caught speeding or with dark windows on his car, parking in a disabled spot or DUI, his a$$ is gone. If I don't like the colour of his eyes, emailing my man at the WP bureau at once…

      But those laws don't apply to us Caymanians…its just for the expat… but still we is hard done by…

       

       

    • Anonymous says:

      100% tool.

  5. Anonymous says:

    as usual…its all about the benjamins…..

    • Anonymous says:

      Or the Matthews and Jameses . . .

    • Anonymous says:
      Black slave descendants = Israelites need to start petitioning to the government like our Moses did to the Pharaoh: LET MY PEOPLE GO! 
       
      We Israelites have become so complacent where as long as we as individuals are "making it" then it's okay. We have to realize that this will never be our first homeland, and we should seek to gather together peacefully to properly and effectively protest with Black lawyers to sound a movement throughout the whole world in which our people have been scattered through the four corners, that it is TIME for us to start to LEAVE!!!!
       
      REPARATIONS WITH REPATRIATION
  6. annie get your gunn says:

     Slavery is as old as civilization itself, and was / is not limited to persons of EU ancestory subduing presons of African origin.

     It is perposterous for anyone to believe that a comparative handful of Europeans on small ships were able to subdue MILLIONS of African natives in their own lands.

     The Historical fact, is that Slavery was already alive and well in the African continent for millenia long before the arrival of 'the white man', and (sadley), STILL EXISTS in Africa to this very day.

     So who should pay this "Repatriation"? The Dutch traders? The Spanish raiders? Perhaps the African tribesmen who hunted and captured their own people and then sold them on for profit?

     The Bible tells us of the Jewish nation being enslaved by the Egyptians for hundreds of years … are the Egyptians from the EU?

     We don't hear the Jewish people bitching and screaming for repatriation, do we?

     No-one is saying that Slavery was 'OK' nor is anyone trying to justify its existense, but it WAS what it WAS, and out of Evil has come a lot of good.

     Do not cheapen the sacrifices made by our forefathers by selling-out their legacy for silver and gold. Rather, we need to EMBRACE the greatness that we as a "Caribbean" people have been able to achieve as a result of our past, and make that sacrifice become the very foundation upon which we build our own success.

     

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      "We don't hear the Jewish people bitching and screaming for repatriation, do we?"

      Ahh, yeah thats because Europe drew out on the map a portion of Arab land and declared the homeland of the jewish people (and this was done for more than one reason).

      As an Iranian, I am very aware of the history of this, as many others. Just wantd to point out this ignored fact.

      • Anonymous says:

        Liberia?

      • Anonymous says:

        Thats your version…the big difference is that Israel became a stong civilised democracy at the heart of its given lands…the rest of the middle east is just a farce, so many factions you can't count with many determined that democracy and decency will never emerge and calling for the destruction of other nations. Neither the Koran or the Old Testament advocates either…If you call for the destruction of a nation then you will reap what you sow…the mullahs dont want to understand that…blinded by undeserved hatred..

  7. Anonymous says:

    I was descendend from Roman slaves.  With interest thrown in I must be due a large chunk of the GDP of Italy. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Got years on you 07.51…I am a direct descendant of  the ancient Greeks (must be, I get a nice suntan)..so I am in for billions.

      • Anonymous says:

        Pa!  I am descended from slaves from Ur.  Most of those Iraqi oilfields should belong to me.

    • Anonymous says:

      I was forced to be a Sumerian galley boy in a previous life. Ten grand should stop the nightmares.

  8. Union Jack says:

    Every former slave still alive today should receive one million dollars. 

  9. The Professor says:

    As stated in this piece CARICOM has been warned about the law firm Leigh Day & Co. and their "alleged" rip-off of the Mau Mau tribe. These kinds of  cases  sounds like those that governments and/or individuals should pursue, but  having read  of and/or witnessed so many of these types of legal pursuits ending up with  the plaintiffs getting little or nothing and the Law Firms walking away with most of the spoils, I am a bit skeptical, because of the time element, and the fact that the plaintiffs will have had to produce some very good empirical evidence, [since there will be no living witnesses to call] This could go on forever! For this reason, I would estimate "conservatively" that fifteen years will not seem unreasonable for litigation of this nature. Therefore I would suggest that a reasonable outcome to expect from such a case, would be:

    1. Admission of guilt and an apology from the accused .

    2. Funding from the accused countries for museums and /or libraries where anyone may go and learn of the history of slavery and it's importance in the development of all the major economies of the world.

    Otherwise I would be leery of a prolonged, never seeming to end court case where the plaintiffs   may never see any real compensation.

     

  10. Anonymous says:

    Slavery was cruel and awful but it ended about 175 years ago in the Caribbean.How do you determine who will pay the monies and who will be the benefactors? One needs to take into account that many of the slaves taken to the West Indies were persons who were captured in tribal warfare in Africa and sold to European slave traders.  How easy is to determine which tribes in Africa benefited from the sale of rival tribe members?. In addition there were many indentured servants brought to the West Indies . They were brought from many areas such as Scotland, Ireland, Madeira, Germany, India and parts of China. Shold they not be allowed to sue as well?If someone committed an offence against my great great great grand parents or whatever 175 years ago, how can I hold the descendants of that person responsible for something their ancestors did? Most Caymanians are of mixed European and African heritage and therefore many are descended from slaves as well as slave owners, therefore would they have to compensate themselves for what some of their ancestors did to some of their other ancestors?

    • Harrow says:

      Anon@ Scottish, Chinese, Indians,Irish, germans were not slaves. They were Bondsmen who were contracted for a specific period of time and when that period was expired they were to go

      home or go into the plantation bsiness for themselves, open a grocery or provision shop and basically live free. Some of them even bought slaves and behave as the Original european did.

      You left out the Jews, the Lebanese and the Syrians. Their positions were way better than the african slaves. So they could not bring successful in a cause of action like former

      • Anonymous says:

        They weren't all bondsmen, may were transportees (more than a million English, Scots and Irish to the USA, I believe), who had death sentences (usually for stealing trivial amounts or items, and often convicted simply on the word of a single witness) commuted to life servitude. They were branded on the face or hand and mostly died in servitude. Technically not slaves, but penal servitude is not vastly different.
         

      • Anonymous says:

        The Jews, Lebanese and Syrians came to the Caribbean to escape religious persecution. In the case of the Jews they were mainly Sephardic from Spain/Portugal who  were escaping persecution by the Catholics. The Syrians/Lebanese were Greek Orthodox or Maronite Catholics who were escaping persecution by the Muslim Ottoman Empire. These groups therefore did not come to the Caribbean as indentured servants. Because of time  limit of the indenture period, most indentured servants were generally treated more harshly  during indenture than were  slaves and there are thousands of descendants of indentured servants in the Caribbean that are far worse off financially than many of the direct descendants of the African slaves. After Emancipation, most slaves were generally granted land as well to grow cropis on and in some instances there were persons who bought their freedom before Emancipation and became slave owners themselves.

  11. Anonymous says:

    What did the British ever do for us?

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Builts San Pedro, and the Governors house and gave us the Union Jack in the corner.  And they gave us the governor. Not to forget the Justice and defense areas. Maybe we should pay them???

    • Anonymous says:

      FREEDOM @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ yOU ARE FREE ARE you not, to travel make choiceses, etc.

    • Anonymous says:

      Just another professor trying to fool the people and make some earnings for himself like his ancestors did when they captured and sold. ==================

    • Judean peoples front says:

      Well. Apart from the aquaduct, law and order, the roads, the sewers and the wine,they have given us nothing.

  12. Anonymous says:

    It is embarrassing how simple those in authority can be.  Slavery has long been gone.  Those who were slave masters were no worse than those African's who enslaved and sold their own people to the Europeans.  Besides, I dare say that the current offspring of slaves are enjoying a much higher standard of living here in the Caribbean and western world than they would be enjoying had they been living in presentday Africa.  It really is time for those in Authority to stop wasting time and resources whipping a dead horse.  The Caribbean has more pressing issues such as poverty, education, employment and crime.  Work on those issues instead.

  13. anonymous says:

    Are the local slave-owning families going to be hit with this?

  14. NHB says:

    I could swear I heard from some of the older heads that in the case of  Cayman, the Slaves were released and they were free to claim any unclaimed land, hence the huge interior tracks of land some families still own to this day, I'd say reparations has been paid in full in the Cayman Islands.

    • Anon-e-mous says:

      Not so my friend. Go back and read all relevant documents and see what freedom slaves had after they were said to be free. Yes they were alowed to buy land but surely not prime land, and they were not allowed to sell or transfer in wills without a court order. If you are so keen then may be you should do a little research, or just have a look around and see which families own which track of land and which one live in which cluster in the community. It was not the lack of ambition why some people of the time did not aquire assets but because of the laws of the period which prohibited them from doing so. Some of us would love to say that slavery was not in Cayman and if it was, that the slaves were treated well, just the same as the Brits were. I was born and bred on your side of the track and know your story well, and it is ugly.

  15. Knot S Smart says:

    I always knew that  I had a bit of slave in me – now I can finally collect some money for it…

  16. Anonymous says:

    This is for acts that are at least 150 years ago.  It's pointless to try to get reparations for acts so long ago.   Move on.  

    • Anon-e-mous says:

      It is quite obvious that you along with a large number of residents are from the other side of the track who have very little interest in the history of our region's make up. How do you think that "Crown  Land" still exist to this day? Do you remember that until resent time, people of colour could not will their land or money to any one without a ruling from the crown and this was only granted to a few who could prove their origin base on race? All those assets along with the denial of a basic rights of being a human were taken by the crown. These assets are still being shared with the chosen few and privileged… WB road and lands as an example along with our beaches? 

    • Ebanks says:

      You're right. And who will collect the money if all of these people are dead in their graves???  Members and associates of CARICOM???  Even though my ancestors may have been slaves, I don't see how their bondage has done anything to negatively ruin my present situation. 150 years is a long time. As for as I know, I am responsible for the choices I make in a free society. Sounds like somebody behind CARICOM wants money and lots of it. 

      • alfy says:

        @ebanks I suspect you want to say nothing was wrong with slavery. Just say in no man?

  17. JTB says:

    Reparations from whom? To be paid to whom? To be distributed at whose behest? By what criteria?

    Is there anyone now living as a slave in the Caribbean (obviously excluding Philippino nannies on minimum wage) or anyone who has owned a slave?

    What a load of nonsense. Pointless, irrelevant political posturing.

    • Anonymous LOL says:

      JTB, what is with you on Philippino nannies?  LOL youre hung up!

      • Knot S Smart says:

        Yes.. My last ex-wife spelled it Philippino too. I tried to teach her to spell it Filipina – but she would not spell it that way.

        I even tried teaching her to use it in a sentence like in: "my husband's girlfriend is a Filipina" – but she kept spelling it Philippino… Some people are really just so hard to learn to spell…

    • Anonymous says:

      Filipina nannies are well paid. I had one.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Not to disount the barbarity of what the U.K. did, but is PARCO going after the Arab, Dutch, Portugese, Spanish slave traders, as well as the Africans who captured their own to sell into slavery? Or is this purely an anti U.K. movement?

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      It is not a movement!  I am anti-U.K. and I'm certainly not in agreement with Caricompolicy.

  19. Anonymous says:

    CARICOM just sunk even lower in the credibility stakes.

  20. Anonymous says:

    In principle an interesting thought..going to be very interesting to see who can actually prove that they or their ancestors suffered…we are all clear that slavery was and is wrong, but in most cases (except the USA) this ended at least 4 generations ago…maybe I am wrong but who will have papers proving their claims? On top of that in most caribbean cases the families of previous slaves now rule their own nations-some would argue that is something that would not have acheived had their ancestors not become slaves. In the UK's case, a lot of those nations still choose to be British and are free to leave UK whenever they want (if the people decide so).

    Also, could they prove that the goverments or crowns were guilty? Or was it the "slave masters," unless those slave masters were under contract to government or crown.

    As I said in principle correct, but you can see how long drawn out the arguements will be, especially when Europe has no cash. I wonder if they would be better concentrating on fighting for more realistic aims.