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CARICOM reparations movement weakens regional integration, expert says

The Caricom Headquarters in Guyana

San Juan, Oct 22 (EFE).- The demands of the Caribbean Community, or CARICOM, for slavery reparation from Europe “do not strengthen the integration process” because they divert attention from priority issues, an expert told Efe on Wednesday.

Ivan Ogando Lora, director of the Dominican campus of the Latin American College of Social Sciences, told Efe today that CARICOM should focus on strengthening its regional cooperation structure rather than creating a new one for demands to former colonial powers.

“If there is a reparations structure, fine. It is welcomed. But I rather wish we had a better structure to promote the integration of member states and that countries pay (their dues) to the CARICOM Secretariat,” Ogando Lora pointed out during a visit to Puerto Rico as guest lecturer at the Center for Advanced Studies on Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.

The CARICOM has designed a 10-point plan to organize its demands including asking for a formal apology from the European countries, debt forgiveness and repatriation to Africa for descendants of “stolen people,” among other objectives.

The reparations movement “adds very little to the integration process and distracts CARICOM from its priorities,” such as health, disaster management, trade and agriculture, the expert said.

He said the reparations movement could harm European aid to certain development programs in the Caribbean.

“Around 50 percent of the CARICOM Secretariat’s budget comes from international cooperation projects, which is a great weakness in terms that, when you depend on international cooperation you also depend on the donor’s will to continue sending funds,” Ogando Lora said.

Retribution for slavery and indigenous genocide should not be a priority in the organization’s agenda because “slavery has not been a crucial element in the Caribbean for the last hundred years,” therefore this process “diverts political attention and resources to other real priorities,” he said.

CARICOM member states should be more integrated as a region in order to “more efficiently join international markets,” he said.

CARICOM comprises Antigua and Barbuda; the Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Dominica; Grenada;Guyana; Haiti; Jamaica; Montserrat; St. Lucia; St. Kitts and Nevis; St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Suriname; and Trinidad and Tobago