Yesha Callahan

Caribbean Nations Want Their 40 Acres & A Mule Seeks Reparations

Caribbean Nations Want Their 40 Acres & A Mule Seeks Reparations

Caribbean nations are joining together to seek reparations for slavery from three former colonial powers. The prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is leading the effort. Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves tells The Associated Press that the 14 nations of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) organization have enlisted help from a British human rights law firm. Gonsalves says Caricom is also creating a special commission to pursue what he calls an “honest, sober and robust conversation” with Britain, France and the Netherlands about the legacy of slavery and the genocide of native people. Individual nations and organizations have sought reparations in the past but this is the first push by Caricom. The British High Commissioner to Jamaica said in a radio interview Wednesday that his government opposes reparations.

From The Associated Press:

The legacy of slavery includes widespread poverty and the lack of development that characterizes most of the region, Gonsalves said, adding that any settlement should include a formal apology, but contrition alone would not be sufficient.

“The apology is important but that is wholly insufficient,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday with The Associated Press. “We have to have appropriate recompense.”

The notion of forcing the countries that benefited from slavery to pay reparations has been a decades-long quest. Individual countries including Jamaica and Antigua and Barbuda already had existing national commissions. Earlier this month, leaders from the 14 Caricom nations voted unanimously at a meeting in Trinidad to wage a joint campaign that those involved say would be more ambitious than any previous effort.

Each nation that does not have a national reparations commission agreed to set one up, sending a representative to the regional commission, which would be overseen by prime ministers. They agreed to focus on Britain on behalf of the English-speaking Caribbean as well as France for the slavery in Haiti and the Netherlands for Suriname, a former Dutch colony on the northeastern edge of South America that is a member of Caricom.

Martyn Day, the attorney for Caricom, is hoping to resolve the issue amicably. Day cites the statement of regret issued from the British government to Kenya as well as the $21.5 million that was given to the surviving Kenyans.

“I think they would undoubtedly want to try and see if this can be resolved amicably,” Day said of the Caribbean countries. “But I think the reason they have hired us is that they want to show that they mean business.”

So how much would the countries seek in reparations?

Currently there isn’t a monetary amount, but they mentioned the fact that Britain at the time of emancipation in 1834 paid 20 million pounds to British planters in the Caribbean, the equivalent of 200 billion pounds today, which is the  equivalent of $90,718,474. 000!

Do you think these nations will ever receive reparations? 

  1. July 26, 2013 - Reply

    Slavery has been abolished in 1848 in Martinique and in Guadeloupe (Guadeloupe had a first abolition in 1794, then a reinstitution by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802), the french Caribbean islands. At that period, the slave owners ONLY have been financially compensated for what it was considered to be an economic loss. Some of the lands still belong to the descendants of slave owners regardless of the way they have been purchased. This issue has not openly been treated since. The maths should start from this point in order to grant some fair reparations.

  2. July 26, 2013 - Reply

    I agree they should be fighting for it , but I I doubt they’ll ever receive.

  3. July 26, 2013 - Reply

    Man how I wish those countries were affluent. I’d move there in a minute and be a cocktail server for the rest of my life.

    • July 29, 2013 - Reply

      @The Comment

      I hate to bust up this beautiful fantasy…I’d be there too, if affluence didn’t bring overall cultural and demographic changes, which are the most appealing aspects of these places.

  4. July 26, 2013 - Reply

    Now if only we can band together to do this in the U.S…. It took a Black President for the country to give us that BS apology. We all know though we have a loooonnggg way to go.

    • July 27, 2013 - Reply

      @Lauren

      The big question is who would be entitled to those reparations? Does Johnny Depp get a cut, one his ancestors was a slave so he is technically entitled to some reparations?
      Would Obama be entitled to any, he technically doesn’t have any ancestors who were victims of the American slave trade, unless they were on his mothers side? Plenty of white people would technically be also entitled to those reparations?
      Do you base it on how many of and how long your ancestors were slaves?
      We all know this will never happen, but this always baffles me when people bring this up because it is never really fully thought out. Having black skin doesn’t mean you had ancestors who were victims of the slave trade and having white skin doesn’t mean you don’t.

  5. July 26, 2013 - Reply

    I don’t care if someone thumbs down me or not. From what I’ve read on slavery, and witnessed in 2013, it seems that blacks in the Caribbean are more united than blacks in the US. Maybe that’s just my observation, but it’s something I’ve noticed for a long time. I hope they hurry and get their money because Europe is going broke fast.

    • July 29, 2013 - Reply

      @BeanBean

      Blacks are a small percentage of the US population and are spread out across it. Some blacks in the US are immigrants and not descendant of American slaves. These are black nations being discussed here. I don’t understand the comparison or the point of it. Expound?

  6. July 27, 2013 - Reply

    I think this is a brilliant idea. I think this could be the start to ending Black poverty in communities across the world. White economies were built on the backs of poorer nations and communities and the only way those economies will be able to BEGIN to repair themselves is for them to be repaid what was stolen from them. Starting with Caribbean nations and Africa and then on to the poor Black communities in the U.S. The best reparation would be to pay it forward.

  7. July 27, 2013 - Reply

    Black poverty is similar the world over. Poor parents struggling to raise and educate their children. Whether North, Central or South America, Africa and South Asia. It would incredible if we all united.

  8. August 5, 2013 - Reply

    As a Haitian, I doubt the French would agree to pay reparation. They not only “owe” us reparation money, but also the money they made it us pay them to “acknowledge” our Independence after defeating them.

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