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 WILL THE CARIBBEAN GO THE FULL DISTANCE FOR REPARATIONS FROM A EUROPE
STILL UNITED IN DENIAL?  
[https://portside.org/2017-12-18/will-caribbean-go-full-distance-reparations-europe-still-united-denial]


 

 Earl Bousquet 
 November 9, 2017
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 _ Will Caricom, now leading the global quest for Reparations for
Slavery and Native Genocide, achieve the task of pursuing Reparatory
Justice from Europe? _ 

 Earl Bousquet, Successive generations of Rastafarian families across
the Caribbean have over decades upheld and defended the notions and
principles underlying today’s demands for Reparations and
Repatriation. 

 

Fifteen Caribbean Community, Caricom, governments are being strongly
advised to get ready for the long haul in their continuing quest for
Reparations for Slavery and Native Genocide from Britain, France,
Spain and other European Union, EU, member-states.

The governments of mainly former British and French colonies have
characterized the 400 years of Slavery and Native Genocide that took
the lives of 12 million Africans and 15 million indigenous people in
the captured and colonized West Indies and Antilles as "The Greatest
Crime Against Humanity in the History of Humankind."  

COLLECTIVE DEMANDS

They are collectively demanding through National Reparations
Committees, NRCs, upwards of 150 billion pounds (sterling) worth of
reparations -- from Britain alone -- for the 640,000 enslaved persons
in the Caribbean at Emancipation.

Led by the Caricom Reparations Commission, CRC, each nation will make
its individual claim – in the case of Saint Lucia against both
Britain and France, which exchanged the island between then 14 times.

THE LONG HAUL

But is Caricom ready and willing to go the distance with a Europe
still very united in its denial of responsibility for crime, far less
doing the time?

The Caricom governments are hoping to engage the EU and culprit
member-states to discuss and negotiate possibilities and mechanisms
for compensation and repair of their historic crimes in a region they
raped and plundered for centuries before turning their backs on the
victim peoples and countries.

The EU states involved – especially Britain, France and Spain –
have made it crystal clear they don‘t want to play ball on the
issue. 

The Caricom leaders have not publicly disclosed the current state of
play in light of the refusal of the Europeans to even listen.

But what are the Caribbean governments really asking for?

TEN DEMANDS

Back in 2013 when the Caricom leaders formally agreed to pursue
reparations in each member-state, they also published a "10 point
Action Plan" called "The Caribbean Reparatory justice Program."

These 10 demands have been described as everything from
“reasonable” to “very unreasonable”.

The Caribbean governments want:

1. A full and formal, explicit statement of apology

2. A Repatriation program to facilitate African descendants who want
to return to and reintegrate in the continent from which over 10
million of their ancestors were stolen from their homes and forcibly
transported to the Caribbean as enslaved chattel property

3. A Development Plan for Indigenous People, who numbered 3,000,000 in
1700 and were reduced to 30,000 only three centuries later in 2000 and
who remain landless and poor, the most marginalized people in the
region

4. Establishment of cultural institutions, such as museums and
libraries, to memorialize the Europeans’ crimes against humanity in
this part of the world

5. Europe accepting responsibility for and assisting in addressing the
impacts  of the region having the highest incidence of chronic
diseases Hypertension and Diabetes Type Two in the world, which
pandemics have been directly connected to the nutritional experience,
physical and emotional brutality and overall stress profiles
associated with slavery, genocide and apartheid.

6. Assistance in eradicating the remaining vestiges of illiteracy in
the region, where 70 percent of the population was functionally
illiterate when independence started to emerge in the 1960s and which
continues to be a drag on social and economic advancement in the
Caribbean

7. An action program to build "Bridges of belonging" (such as school
exchanges and culture tours, community artistic and performance
programs, entrepreneurial and religious engagements, etc.) to reassert
a sense of identity an existential belonging and to build knowledge
networks necessary for community rehabilitation

8. A program for the psychological rehabilitation of Caribbean people
who have been for centuries denied recognition as equal human beings
by laws derived from European palaces and parliaments

9. A technology transfer program to upgrade the Caribbean to modern
scientific and technological standards following four centuries of a
British edit that “not a nail must be produced” in the islands, to
preserve their place as primary producers and exporters of raw
materials

10. Support for payment of domestic debt and cancellation of
international debt

TRENDS OF THOUGHT

Critics say it is both unwise and unrealistic to expect the culprit
countries to apologize, admit guilt and thus qualify themselves to
have to have to pay reparations.

But there are also those who argue that the electoral process always,
from time to time, throw-up leaders and governments that break with
the trend and bow to truth.

Another trend holds that the sloth of the process has robbed the
Caribbean governments of opportunities to beat-back or buttonhole some
of the British arguments under both the David Cameron and current
Theresa May administrations.

BENEFITS OF HINDSIGHT

It was known – though not publicly – that Prime Minister
Cameron’s direct ancestors had been paid handsome sums in reparation
for hundreds of slaves owned in Jamaica. With the benefit of
hindsight, some now argue that the Caribbean leaders should have taken
that into consideration when issuing their invitation to the Cameron
administration for talks.

Some London-based reparations advocates also now recall recommending
that immediately following their decision to pursue reparation, the
Caricom leaders could and should have noted that then British Foreign
Secretary in the Cameron administration, William Hague (2010-14) had
seven years earlier authored a book on a related subject.

Hague wrote and published "William Wilberforce – The Life of the
Great Anti-Slave Trade Campaigner" (2007) and as Foreign Secretary he
could have been approached by the Caricom leaders to help his fellow
Cabinet ministers understand why the reparations demands will not go
away.

ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY?

Another opportunity has (so far) also been missed, but is not yet out
of the window.

As Home Affairs Secretary under Cameron (before he was
"Brexited" from office), Mrs May led an official campaign against
‘Modern Slavery’ in Britain. Within days of becoming Prime
Minister, she announced dedication of 30 million pounds (sterling) to
fight and end ‘Modern Slavery’ in the UK. 

The feeling is that before PM May herself also gets "Brexited" from
office herself, the Caricom leaders should remind her that the reason
the current trafficking in human bodies is described as
"Modern" slavery is because it was long ago preceded by an original
economic system built, bred and led by the British, which fed the
growth of Britain with the profits from the blood, sweat and tears of
millions of African slaves.

WHAT’S LEFT TO DO?

But should all this fail, what’s left for the Caribbean leaders to
do?

Actually, they do still have options. 

They can more directly demand discussions with the EU and culprit
nations, within an established time frame, failing which the Caribbean
leaders can move to another phase engaging the international community
and international public opinion.

The Caribbean governments can also take the culprit countries to the
World Court, the International Court of Justice and all other related
international legal and judicial entities capable of looking into and
pronouncing on a collective complaint by over a dozen countries.

MANY PRECEDENTS

The reparations demand has many modern precedents: The Jews were
settled by the Germans for the inhuman Nazi Holocaust; the Japanese
Americans forcibly interned by the US during World War II on suspicion
of being spies were also compensated; and The Mau-Mau tribal complaint
against the British for atrocities committed during the Kenyan
independence struggle was more recently settled "out of court."

But none of the foregoing atrocities even approaches the barbarity of
the Caribbean’s Slavery and Native Genocide experience, in which
tens of millions of Africans and their descendants were uprooted and
transplanted across the world and subjected to the longest and most
criminal form of exploitation and extermination of man by man in the
history of humankind.

THE LAST DICE

The Caribbean leaders seem to be holding the legal option as a last
resort, an ultimate one – their last dice to roll. 

Each of the plaintiff countries is preparing its own legal case for
contribution to whatever joint legal representation may be made at the
international level.

The CRC and NRCs, working with and through Caricom Prime Ministerial
Subcommittee on Reparations (Chaired by Barbados Prime Minister
Freundel Stuart) is certain that the region has a winnable case.

But the apparent sloth of the Caribbean’s regional political
directorate on the issue is causing concern in some sections of the
regional movement.

There are also suspicions that some of the governments may have
already started drawing-down on the 350 million pounds British PM
David Cameron deposited in 2015 as what he only stopped short of
describing during his Jamaica visit as Britain’s one-off reparations
payment to the region.

CONCERNS

Caricom leaders are accused by some of being less vocal at the annual
UN General Assembly sessions on the Reparations issue than they were
in 2015 -- some even loudly wondering whether that has any connection
with Cameron’s "deposit."

But all in all, the region’s leaders remain committed in principle
to the Reparations cause, insiders noting that the regional movement
got considerable moral support from the current Caricom Chairman,
Guyana’s President David Granger -- himself also a long-standing
private academic, writer and publisher with deep interest in African
history and studies.

WILL THE BRITISH BLINK?

So, will the British blink, or will the Caribbean have to switch gear?
Will the EU continue to bury its head in the Caribbean sands or will
Brussels warn its culprit member-states that they cannot deny their
roles in commission of The Greatest Crime Against Humanity known to
humankind?

And will the Caricom leaders move fast enough to quickly and directly
engage Britain and France, through Prime Minister Theresa May and
President Emmanuel Macron, with appropriate language to impress on
them – and the EU – just how serious the Caribbean is about
pursuing Reparations for Slavery and Native Genocide?

IT ALL DEPENDS

It all depends on the pace of developments at the global, regional and
national levels.

But the momentum at some crucial levels has been widely noted as
having decreased and the general hope is that the recent historic
events in Jamaica – especially the launching of the Center for
Reparations Research – will accelerate the pace of progress at all
levels.

As the old blacksmith saying goes, the regional reparations movement
is being encouraged to "Beat the iron while it’s hot!"

_Earl Bousquet is a Saint Lucia-based veteran Caribbean journalist._

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