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Caricom to set up Reparations Commission

Official photo at the conclusion of the 34th Regular meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government. Also in photo are President of the Dominican Republic Danilo Medina (third from left), President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (third from right) (OP/Sandra Prince photo)

Guyana’s President, Donald Ramotar is among regional leaders who have agreed to set up a Caricom Reparations Commission to demand compensation for native genocide and slavery, the Caricom headquarters said in a statement.

Caricom leaders took the decision at their just concluded summit in Trinidad following representation by St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

National Reparations Committees are to be established in each member state with the chair of each committee sitting on a Caricom Reparations Commission. Under the Chairmanship of Barbados, the other members of the commission are the leaders of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Haiti, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago who will provide political oversight.

Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister, Baldwin Spencer hailed the Caribbean’s call for reparation as integral to the 15-nation Community’s development.

Spencer lamented that the constant search and struggle for development resources is linked directly to the historical inability of our nations to accumulate wealth from the
efforts of Caribbean 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” said Spencer.

Urging that reparations be directed toward repairing the damage inflicted by slavery and racism, the Antigua and Barbuda leader urged opposition parties and civil society organisations to support the Caricom initiative.

“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,” he said.

He urged fellow political leaders to encourage their various reparation agencies to continue educating Caribbean peoples at home and in the Diaspora to enhance their awareness of the reparations issue.