When Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government meet here next week for the annual summit, they are due to flesh out initiatives for pushing the reparations agenda forward.
Word of this from host Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who said progress was being made in the area of Reparations for Native Genocide and Slavery.
Stuart, who chairs the CARICOM reparations sub-committee, also said the region’s leaders viewed it as necessary for talks to be held with former slave trading countries such as England, France and Holland.
“This is not a diplomacy of protest, it is a diplomacy of engagement because most of those countries are now our friends and who better to discuss issues like this with, than friends,” said Stuart.
He noted that “there were some developmental, educational and health issues, which we think these countries can contribute a lot more to.
“So, we are not in a position where we are looking to quantify damages and say, ‘you owe this amount of money’. That is for the law courts . . . .
“What we want is to sit and discuss a way forward in terms of the development of this region in the context of an under development that has resulted from slavery itself,” he explained.
The Prime Minister reiterated that such discussions were necessary so there could be a sharing of views on both sides, so as to see where the scope for agreement and consensus exist.
He said, however, that it should not be argued that the former colonizers had not contributed to the region in significant ways.
“The European Union, through its series of development funds, has been contributing significantly to countries in the Caribbean. The British has its own aid packages for these countries. But, we are saying, ‘you can do better’ and that, ‘a lot of what you need to do, needs to be more targeted’”.
Stuart said the effects of slavery continued to be felt in the region and that “the configuration of slavery is still evident in a few Caribbean countries, where you have a sociological minority being at the same time an economic majority and the numerical majority being an economic minority.
“These are facts that result from slavery and colonialism,” he stated.
However, he said the region had done well in trying to bounce back from slavery and colonialism, but stressed that there was some “unfinished business” in relation to how black people had been affected by the slave experience.
Stuart noted that the President of France Francois Hollande recently spoke about slavery, while highlighting the challenges faced by Haiti.