Lawyer and senator for the ruling Unity Labour Party, Jomo Thomas is representing the Teachers’ Union in the cases against the government. (IWN file photo)

Parliament late Monday night approved of a motion on reparation, but opposition lawmakers abstained from the vote.

The private members motion, titled “State of Reparations Effort in St Vincent Grenadines” was tabled by government senator, Jomo Thomas, who is also chair of the National Reparations Committee.

During the two days of debate, among other things, opposition lawmakers argued for the removal of a paragraph that says that the motion puts “on record its high regard and commendation” to Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves “for his commitment to, and determination, in initiating the reparations conversation at the highest level of regional governmental authority and for pushing forward the fight against European conquest, genocide, the trans-Atlantic slave trade and slavery, colonialism and for reparations”.

But Thomas said he had “absolutely no desire” to remove the paragraph.

I think it is proper, I think it is right to put it there,” he said ahead of the vote.

He, however, added another paragraph, putting on record the Parliament’s “high regard and commendation to the Rastafarian community in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and other progressive persons who have fought long and hard to keep the issue of reparation alive and to educate the Vincentian public on this issue”.

With the passage of the motion, the House of Assembly endorsed the decision of CARICOM governments to pursue actively a claim for appropriate reparations from the European nations, including Britain, France and Holland on behalf of the people of the individual nation-states of the Caribbean Community for native genocide and enslavement of their ancestors.

It also endorsed the lodging of the reparations claim within the framework of the Ten Point Reparation Agenda adopted by CARICOM at its inter-cessionary Heads of State and Government Conference, in March 2014, in SVG.

In presenting the motion on Friday, Thomas, a lawyer who worked on a major reparation case in the United States in 2002, said the struggle for reparations can be found all across the world.

He noted that reparations was given to Japanese American citizen interned during and immediately after World War II, indigenous peoples of Canada and New Zealand, and to the Jews after the World War II.

“I wanted to give that backdrop so that people would understand that when we debate this resolution that the issue for reparations, which is has been raised in St. Vincent and certainly has been raised in the Caribbean, is not coming out of the blue,” Thomas said

“When you read through the resolution, Mr. Speaker, it is clear that there was a thriving civilisation in these countries. Thousands upon thousands of people living peaceful and dignified lives, putting their lives together, building their societies, and this civilisation in St. Vincent and across the region was rudely interrupted by European intervention and European intrusion.”

He cited Dr. Walter Rodney’s seminal work, “How Europe Undeveloped Africa”, saying that the removal of millions of persons from the continent contributed to its underdevelopment.

“A similar case can be made because hundred of thousand of people across the Americas, including here in St. Vincent and the Caribbean were captured, were killed, were murdered, some were enslaved, they were banished. So the history shows that the European intervention amounted to a disruption and a destruction of the lives of our indigenous people, and that needs to be put firmly on the table as we talk about reparations,” Thomas said.

“We have to think about where we would have been had we not had the kinds of incursions from the British colonial authorities. We have to think what kind of culture our people would developed had that not been interrupted.”

He said that reparationists have concluded that “the biggest effort that we can make for reparations is for us to reclaim our minds.

“… Because, a lot of time, in the reparations argument, in the reparations discussions in the Caribbean and the rest of the non-White world, Mr. Speaker, is that our views, our ideas, our system of thought is clogged with Eurocentric concepts and understandings of the world. And it is not surprising that that is the case,” Thomas said, adding that after Independence, neo-colonialism took root among some segment of the region.

8 replies on “Opposition abstains as Parliament passes reparations motion”

  1. Brian Alexander says:

    Jomo Thomas must be applauded for a fantastic job well done on his motion on reparations, and his contribution to the entire debate.

    Jomo was at his absolute best, and put the opposition NDP to shame. Jomo was factual and presented his case for reparations so well that you had to recognize why he is now recognized as one of the best and most efficient Lawyers in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

    Jomo, congratulations on that performance which has now shown that you are among the best debaters and orators in our parliament.

  2. Brian Alexander says:

    Did anyone listen to the NDP’s pathetic contributions to the debate? They never debated the subject of reparations….rather, they bellyached about their own experiences when they were growing-up.

    The ULP members embarrassed the opposition with their normal higher standard of debate.

  3. @ Brian, I agree! But Jomo reading in Parliament like a junior high school kid. Too many errors! I had to edit his speech to enjoy it. Afterwards it was OK! Thanks Bro’ Jomo.
    I’m thinking, I might put it (the edited version) on YOU TUBE.

  4. Brian Alexander says:

    PKnight, I would certainly NOT knock Jomo for his “reading.”

    Jomo presented too many facts and quotations for him NOT to read. them.

    The brother is probably the newest Senator in the house…..cut him some slack, my friend. I believe what is important is SUBSTANCE, which Jomo actually presented.

    That is way better than the NDP representatives, who in NO WAY debated the bill under discussion. The NDP BOYS belly-ached about their up-bringing. Who liked them….and who did not like them…….and their personal achievements, or lack thereof.

  5. Brian Alexander says:

    Elsworth, where do you live?

    Jomo has already obtained the nod for South Leeward.

    Jomo does not need to lick boots.

    Jomo is intelligent enough to recognize the difference between GOOD and BAD.

  6. No surprises here, by the opposition. The ground work was already laid from the beginning, to deliberately soil this reparation effort on several fronts. But the most appalling and contentious one is the race factor which was played out in Parliament last. The real issue here in my opinion is race. The insistence by the opposition to strike out paragraph 4 of the motion clearly outlines that.
    “If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck” then it is a duck. “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” SVG is fast becoming an, “if you aint black like we, watch yo’ rass country! “ Racial discrimination is about to raise its ugly head, and all hell is about to break loose.

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