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Opposition Leader, Arnhim Eustace. (IWN file photo)
Opposition Leader, Arnhim Eustace. (IWN file photo)

Leader of the Opposition, Arnhim Eustace says that while he doesn’t have a problem with the “principle” of reparation, he sees part of the current effort as “an exercise in hypocrisy”.

He said on his weekly radio programme on Monday that he has “very strong views” on reparations and called for what he termed reparations of the mind.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has convinced his CARICOM colleagues to form a united front to seek reparations from former colonisers for native genocide and slavery.

Eustace had said in the past that he supports reparations but that it should not be a priority currently.

He further spoke on the topic on Monday and referred to an incident in the lead up to the December 2005 general elections, when Gonsalves said that then U.S. President, George W. Bush would recognise him in the night, but not Eustace.

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Unlike Gonsalves and Bush, who are both of European descent, Eustace is of African descent.

“What I have a problem with, when we look at reparations, we must also look at our minds. To what extent those have been repaired after the hazards and the difficulties of slavery, that we in fact now love ourselves as a people, as a race when those in authority in this country can publicly say that George Bush won’t see me in the night?” Eustace said.

“That, to me, is racism. … I want to see those things erased. That, for me, is part of the reparations exercise, that we learn to love and respect ourselves as black people,” he further stated.

He added that reparations is not just about trying to get monetary compensation for ills against us.

“That is part of the exercise but that is not going to come now. That is down the road,” he said, noting a lecture last month by Barbadian academic, Professor Sir Hillary Beckles.

“I am saying the task today has to be one where we ourselves provide the institutional framework to improve our concepts, our belief in ourselves and to not denigrate each other, as has been done to me on more than one occasion by the government, by the Prime Minister of this country,” Eustace said.

“Then they expect you to work together. I [am] not in that you know. I am proud of what I am, very proud of what I am. And if we are to be working together to improve and to look for reparations, we have to repair our minds too, and the attitude we display with respect to certain matters.

“So when a head of government can say that the Leader of the Opposition won’t be seen in the night, it’s only because he is black and then something is wrong with that. So, we have a problem right there. So I look at part of this exercise as an exercise in hypocrisy. And those who are supposed to be taking the lead, often need the reparation first…” Eustace further stated.

“I also feel also that this exercise is being used in a partisan political way now,” he said, noting the talks of “reparations now”.

“Any reparations of a financial nature will take decades. We are not going get that now. And who says it is going to go to government? As Professor Beckles said, money coming will go to institutions and trusts who will have the responsibility of utilising that financial assistance; not the government to give out to their supporters.

“I hear talk about people getting money before elections, so much thousand dollars. That is a lot of nonsense, trying to fool the population — a kind of stupid, partisan politics that makes no sense and serves to further destroy our minds, not ennoble them,” he further stated.

“I look at this matter very seriously. My problem is not the principle involved, but how we seek to implement it, not fool our population,” Eustace said.

This country is slated to host a regional reparations conference next week. The opening ceremony on Sunday will feature Jamaican artiste Bunny Wailer.

6 replies on “Eustace against ‘hypocrisy’ of reparations exercise”

  1. This is going to end up just like the airport – For or Against – can’t constructively question or you’ll be seen as against. The problem will not be the issue but the means and methods.

    More important, we have an airport stated in parliament to be completed in under a year, w should be getting monthly updates so the integration will be seamless and all benefits maximized from day one. Instead is reparations and legalize weed the main issues, we can’t be serious.

  2. Reparations are being used as an elections tool by a ruthless white man, a man whose family has past connections at the very root of reparations.

  3. Peter,
    I am confused by your racist comments above. Do they apply to the white people who fund the NDP, DR Friday, Sir James or the Graves? I think you should examine the world we live in and understand that using race in political discourse is the last refuge of man who strives on hatred. From what you and your party are now saying it is clear that the NDP will not trade or do business with white people or their country?
    Stop trying to create racial tension amongst a population with with mixed heritage.

  4. Listened to this weeks press conference where the ” George Bush won’t see me in the night ” was attempted to be explained……didn’t know if to laugh or cry.
    PM claim what he did mean is that because Bush met him in person and not Eustace, he’d be more recognizable.
    Guess this would make sense if it was an established fact Bush had poor vision at night and the PM was playing off this disability. On the bright side, with medical marijuana on the way, Bush can come Vincy for treatment.

    When I say GREAT…… say GENIUS

  5. If I thought he was a ruthless black man I would say so. Its not the white part you should question its the link to slavery that I refer to.

    Look at the article on i-Witness and numerous other places “You are what you are”

  6. Mike, I agree with your sentiments. But Ralph knows the airport is an albatross around his neck, so he is looking for any other topic to run on. There are many more pressing issues than reparation at this time. The reparation issue will be drawn out over a long period of time. England and the other European countries will not agree to anything presently. Most of their economies are in shambles and that’s their most pressing concern.
    Look at how they are shutting us out of any trade deals. They, with the help of this government has killed banana. I find the minister of agriculture for the Windward side of the island a hopeless and helpless partner. He’s no better that the previous minister whose forefathers didn’t come to SVG by boat.
    How could the people in Mespo – the valley of the green gold, support this government that has degraded and destroy their livelihood? Beats me!
    Arnhim should avoid speaking on Ralph’s issues. He should bring forward his plans to put Vincentians back to work – together (yellow and red shirts) without this card thing hanging over their heads. He must not allow Ralph to set his agenda and the debate.
    The recent issue involving Vanloo is a clear indication that Ralph is planning an early election and don’t want the Public Service Union members to be on his case. He’d like to bury the issue and the increase he promised them. Hence he orchestrated the takeover and replaces the executive with those who’d say, “How High”, when he asks them to jump.
    He thinks he’s clever, but I can read his every move.

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