Caribbean nations are preparing to demand reparations from the European nations who once enslaved them.
Sir Hilary Beckles, a historian who is pro-vice chancellor of the University of the West Indies in Barbados, is heading up the initiative. Beckles and heads of 15 Caribbean nations, will gather in St. Vincent to unveil their plans.
European nations are very skeptical of the plan for reparations. They think Caribbean nations are attempting to extract “vast sums from European taxpayers,” but Beckles affirms this is not the case.
He told TheGuardian.com, “The British media has been obsessed with suggesting that we expect billions of dollars to be extracted from European states.” He stated further, “Contrary to the British media, we are not exclusively concerned with financial transactions, we are concerned more with justice for the people who continue to suffer harm at so many levels of social life.”
He affirms that his plan is to open up dialogue with European nations and not to “open a can of worms leading to litigation.”
The UK Government said in a statement to TheGuardian.com, that they don’t see reparations as the answer. They insist that both nations should “concentrate on ways to move forward.”
In addition to issuing an apology for the Atlantic Slave Trade, Beckles spelled out the following demands in the 10 point plan:
• provide diplomatic help to persuade countries such as Ghana and Ethiopia to offer citizenship to the children of people from the Caribbean who “return” to Africa. Some 30,000 have made such a journey to Africa and have been offered generous settlement packages, but lack of citizenship rights for their children is causing difficulties;
• devise a development strategy to help improve the lives of poor communities in the Caribbean still devastated by the after-effects of slavery;
• support cultural exchanges between the Caribbean and west Africa to help Caribbean people of African descent rebuild their sense of history and identity;
• back literacy drives designed to improve education levels that are still dire in many Caribbean communities;
• provide medical assistance to the region that is struggling from high levels of chronic diseases such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes that the Caricom reparations commission links to the fallout from slavery.
In the past, European governments only offered their regrets that slavery ever happened and never an official apology. The only positive response from this issue came from Sweden who have stated that they have “respect for the process” being made to obtain reparations.
article by Yolanda Spivey via kulturekritic.com