PORT-OF-SPAIN: Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda Dr. Baldwin Spencer has expressed the need for reparations to Caribbean nations.
“Reparation is an integral element of our development strategy and the legacy of slavery and colonialism in the Caribbean have severely impaired our development options…(therefore) reparation must be directed towards repairing the damage,” said Dr. Spencer during the 34th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which ended last Saturday.
Acknowledged as the first occasion the subject was being collectively discussed by the Heads, Spencer retraced the actions taken by his administration to highlight the need for reparation. This included the appointment of a Reparations Support Commission, which has embarked on an intensive public awareness and education program about the legacy of slavery and the impact of colonialism.
During an address to the United Nations General Assembly in 2011, Spencer called upon “former slave states to begin the reconciliation process by issuing formal apologies for the crimes committed by the nations or their citizens over the 400 years of the African slave trade”.
“Antigua and Barbuda also called on those very states to back up their apologies with new commitments to the economic development of the nations that have suffered from this human tragedy,” said Spencer.
During the conference, a discussion was held titled “The Issue of Reparations for Native Genocide and Slavery,” led by Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent & the Grenadines. The discussion also included contributions from Professor Dr. Hilary Beckles and a team of lawyers from the United Kingdom who spoke of the merits of repairing historic wrongs through the commencement of development oriented conversation on “reconciliation and partnership”.
Following the unanimous support of the different delegations, the Heads agreed on a course of action which include the establishment of National Reparations Committees in each jurisdiction; the chair of each committee to sit on a CARICOM Reparations Commission; the appointment of a group of five Heads of Governments – Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Haiti and Suriname to provide political oversight and the University of the West Indies to establish an institute to focus on reparations research.