From left: Outgoing chair of CARICOM, Kamla Persad- Bissessar, Prime Minster of Trinidad and Tobago, Chair of CAIRCOM, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, and CARICOM Secretary General, Irwin LaRocque react as Vincentian musician Rodney Small plays pan at the opening of the CARICOM meeting on Monday. (IWN Photo)

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government are expected to adopt, later on Tuesday, a budget for the regional commission on repartitions for African slavery and native genocide.

CARICOM heads have decided to seek reparation from their former colonisers, claiming that the enslavement of Africans in the region and genocide of indigenous people is having a lingering negative impact on the region’s development.

Chairman of CARICOM, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, told journalists Monday night that the leaders will also discuss in caucus, the engagement of the law firm of Leigh Day and a consortium of Caribbean lawyers.

“I would say that we made good progress on that issue, and, before the end of June, some approach is going to be made to the European countries in relation to this matter of reparations,” Gonsalves told journalists after the end of the first of two days of talks.

On Monday, the leaders gathered at the 25th inter-sessional meeting of CARICOM heads of government, adopted a 10 point reparatory justice framework, presented by Prof. Sir Hillary Beckles, head of CARICOM’s reparations commission.

Gonsalves said that CARICOM will continue its research even as it seeks a conference with the European countries against whom the claims of reparations are being made.

He further said that Beckles’ presentations spoke to issues relating to an apology and organizing with African countries that may also want to seek reparations from Europe.

Beckles’ presentation also addressed matters relating to health, education and literacy, building the cultural institutions, a special programme for development of the indigenous peoples, and issues of debt cancellation, Gonsalves said.

He said the issues touch and concern the post 2015 Millennium Development Goal discussion.

Fourteen CARICOM member states have set up national reparations commissions even as some Europeans countries against which claims are being made have said that they will not pay compensation for slavery and native genocide.

“We believe we have the law and the facts on our side in relation to addressing the legacy of native genocide and African slavery and we will make our case,” said Gonsalves, who is also a lawyer.

“It is a serious proposal, with serious issues, within the same context of not fighting anybody,” he said of Beckles’ presentation.

“These things never come easy but these are 14 sovereign countries representing 16 million people with a huge diaspora in the United States, in Canada, in Europe. I think we have some influence. I am satisfied and we are satisfied that we have the law on our side, and we have the acts on our side.”

CARICOM has said that it will opt for litigation if Europe refuses to negotiate.

He said the conference in June will be” a mature conversation with the Europeans” and CARICOM is hoping that the Europeans will agree to the conversation.

“And then after that conversation, we will make a formal claim,” he said.

In addition to the progress on reparations, the regional heads agreed on Monday to set out a road map for a single information and communication technology (ICT) space in CARICOM and to link ICT In a coordinated manner with education and production.

“… we are a little behind the curve with ICT,” Gonsalves said, adding that the region has, however, done tremendous work over the last few years.

The leader, on Monday, received a presentation on human development, particularly education.

They have decided to set up a commission on education, similar to the one on health that has delivered a lot of benefits across the region, Gonsalves said.

The heads also received a preliminary report from the commission on the economy, including suggestions on addressing debt management and fiscal consolidation.

The meeting also received the report of the prime ministerial subcommittee on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.

“We are addressing the built-in agenda within the Treaty and moving as fast as we possibly can,” Gonsalves said.

2 replies on “CARICOM heads make ‘good progress’ on reparations”

  1. Peter Binose says:

    Bickles is a book selling hypocrite, the first thing he should do is give back his Knighthood to the Queen, stop linking the sales of his books to his involvement in reparations.

    He is a disgrace to Caribbean man and should resign from his post at the University, lest he contaminates the students with his nonsense.

    The first people that should pay reparations is the Gonsalves of Saint Vincent, decendents of the Maderian familly who’s member Antonio Gonsalves took the fisrt eight slaves from African coast and started what is now known as the Atlantic slave trade.

    As a good will gesture let PM Gonsalves put in all that he ownes, unless he is willing to do that he cannot ask others to do the same.

  2. C. ben-David says:

    “Reparations” is a dead-on-arrival political and moral issue meant to divert attention from the incompetence, mismangement, corruption, and greed of the Caribbean political class, the elite power-hungry group that fought so hard for an “independence” that has kept so many of their people poor, hungry, and unable to migrate freely to the European motherland.

    The European countries concerned will never pay reparations because no court of law will force them to do so because there are no logical, legal, or moral arguments that cannot easily be overturned by hard evidence to the contrary. For example, reparations from England would party come from taxes paid by poor Black people there to ease the tax burden of rich Black and mixed-race people here. Similarly, they would come from millions of people and their descendants who have migrated to the United Kingdom since the end of WWII from parts of the world without the remotest association with Caribbean slavery. (A quick search of the Internet will reveal dozens of other reasons for saying no to Reparations.)

    Physical slavery ended in the English-speaking Caribbean in 1838, i.e., some 9 (nine) generations ago! The “legacy” that Gonsalves talks about is the result of the subsequent mental slavery imposed on Black people by creole mixed-race overlords and their post-slavery sycophants such as the Portuguese, East Indian and Poor White indentured servants who were brought here to replace, displace, and subjugate the ex-slaves.

    As for the oppressed indigenous people, the tribal lands that were stolen from them should be returned not by long dead Europeans but by the present-day beneficiaries of this oppression, namely the living people of St. Vincent. If SVG is truly a sovereign nation, it should take responsibility for historical injustices from which the country has long benefited by converting the former Orange Hill Estate and surrounding lands into a communal reserve that can never be sold or otherwise alienated and which will be passed on undivided in perpetuity to the original inhabitants of SVG. England has neither the legal nor political right nor the moral duty to do this. Only the people of SVG can do this via their elected government.

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