The Opposition New Democratic Party is once again being encouraged to support the reparations effort that has now gained the support of CARICOM.
Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace has said that while he understands the reparations issue, it should not be the focus at this time.
But Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves last week again called for the Opposition to support the effort, saying has told chair of the local reparations group, Jomo Thomas, to let the Opposition have a representative on the committee.
“I want us as a people to be united around this going forward,” Gonsalves told a press conference.
He further said he is offering St. Vincent and the Grenadines as host sometime in August or September for the first meeting of CARICOM’s Reparations Commission.
CARICOM leaders this month agreed to establish national reparations committee in each member state with the chair of each committee sitting on a CARICOM Reparations Commission.
The prime ministers of Barbados (Chair), St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Haiti, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago will provide political oversight.
The Reparations Commission will discuss their own procedures and elect a chairperson, Gonsalves said.
He said much work has to be done by economists, historians and lawyers as the region seeks compensation for injustices under colonisation.
“I want us to get this thing done because there is a historical wrong to be righted. That there are challenges ahead, of course, but we have to bring closure to these episodes,” he said.
He said he hopes that by the time he takes over the chairmanship of CARICOM on Jan. 1, 2014 “we will have discussions, negotiations well underway, moving towards success, if not success to exercise a legal option.”
Gonsalves noted that the Jews received reparation from Germany without going to court.
“And I am hoping that something like that will happen with this,” adding that “the issue of repairing” has to be part of the post-2015 millennium development dialogue.
He said that in order to do the repairing, the effort will have to consider what is to be repaired, namely lands taken, genocide, and the non-payment of ex-slaves even as their owners were compensated.
“But you are not going specifically for those items. You are going for the legacy of those items — the extent of the underdevelopment which has resulted from native genocide and slavery,” Gonsalves said.