(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), on the final day of their Thirty-Fourth Regular Meeting agreed on follow-up action on the matter of reparations for native genocide and slavery.
The Meeting agreed to the establishment of a National Reparations Committee in each Member State with the Chair of each Committee sitting on a CARICOM Reparations Commission. The Heads of Government of Barbados (Chair), St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Haiti, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago will provide political oversight.
The decisions were taken followed presentations by Member States, led by St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and their unanimous support of the road map.
Chair of the Community, the Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, at an end-of-Meeting Press Conference at the Hilton Hotel, described progress on the subject as a very positive outcome.
Earlier in the day, during his contribution to the discussions, Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer said he conceptualized the call for reparations as an integral element of the Community’s development strategy. The legacy of slavery and colonialism in the Caribbean severely impaired the Region’s development options.
“We know that our constant search and struggle for development resources is linked directly to the historical inability of our nations to accumulate wealth from the efforts of our peoples during slavery and colonialism. These nations that have been the major producers of wealth for the European slave-owning economies during the enslavement and colonial periods entered Independence with dependency straddling their economic, cultural, social and even political lives”, Prime Minister Spencer said.
Reparations, he added, had to be directed toward repairing the damage inflicted by slavery and racism.
“We, as political leaders, must encourage our various reparation agencies to continue the education of our Caribbean people and our Diaspora, and enhance their awareness of the reparations issue. It is important that there is solid people and multi-party support for our efforts and we must impress on our colleagues in both Government and Opposition that this is not an issue we should use as party-politics fodder. Our various reparation organizations must see the forging of bi-partisan political support and civil society consensus for reparations as one of their main objectives,” the Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister added.