Letters & Opinion

Despite COVID-19, the Caribbean Reparations Train Remained on Track in 2020! Part 4 (Final)

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Chronicles Of A Chronic Caribbean Chronicler By Earl Bousquet

The three previous parts offered chronological recalls of some of the major developments that made 2020 different for the Caribbean’s Reparatory Justice Movement, including: George Floyd’s death and the resulting impetus for the Black Lives Matter and Reparations Movements in the USA, Europe, the Caribbean and the rest of the world; greater access for CARICOM Reparations advocates to important international fora (such as UN Security Council and the European Parliament); greater outreach to descendants of the Caribbean’s First People (for whom Reparations are also being sought for Native Genocide); removal of the statue of Lord Horatio Nelson from its trident pedestal in Barbados after 213 years standing aloft; quantifying an amount (US $500 Billion) representing Europe’s Reparation’s Debt to its former Caribbean colonies; adoption of The (Sir Arthur) Lewis Plan for Caribbean Development as the economic module for European Reparations; and launch of a year-long series of online Regional Lectures — coordinated by the UWI’s Center for Reparations Research (CRR) — virtually teaching New Caribbean History to schools across the region, during school hours.


The last month of 2020 was not at all disappointing for Caribbean Reparations entities and advocates:

REPARATIONS TIME: Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC) Professor Sir Hilary Beckles addressed the UN Security Council and the European Parliament and called for the nations of the world to put a timeline for delivery of Reparations during the first half of the 21st Century.

MESSAGING THE DIASPORA:  On December 28, the Saint Lucia National Reparations Committee (NRC) ended a two-day 2020 Retreat with plans ‘to work with national and regional stakeholders at home and beyond, to take the CARICOM Reparations Message to the Diaspora in 2021 and Beyond.’

ENTER KWANZAA: As the first COVID Christmas ended under lockdown everywhere, more CARICOM nations saw introduction of the concept of observing Kwanzaa Week (December 26 to January 1).


SYMBOLISM DROWNED! The European Parliament on December 2 hosted an event to belatedly adopt that UN-designated date for annual remembrance and condemnation of Trans-Atlantic Slavery. But any intended symbolism was drowned — on that same day — by deportation of 52 Jamaicans by the British immigration department.

CHURCH CONFESSIONS! Following earlier disclosures of the historic role of the Church of England (and other European churches) in Slavery, it was disclosed in mid-December that an increasing number of churches across the USA have also started confessing their sins of commission associated with their racist past in relations with North American ‘Natives’ and ‘Slaves’ — and pledging to pay penance through healing and atonement with ‘Truth and Reparations’ initiatives.

RETURN THE PLUNDER! On December 18, France loudly announced it had agreed to repatriate stolen cultural artifacts to Africa – but only 26 pieces out of 70,000 in one museum in Paris.

BLACKS TO MARCH ON WHITE HOUSE!  And 2020 ended with preparations for a historic National Reparations March on Washington on January 21 and 22, to reiterate the expectation of African Americans that the new President will deliver on his promise that they ‘will have my back’ after entering The White House.

Expectations for 2021

Propelled by perhaps the most positive developments in any one year since 2013, the CRC and the National Reparations Councils (NRCs) end 2020 with as much unfinished business as new streams to jump and rivers to cross in 2021.

Unfinished Business includes: Globalization of the Caribbean’s Movement Reparatory Justice; Encouraging CARICOM governments to follow the Barbados example and officially dispense with public portrayals of symbols of Colonial Racism and Slavery; Activating a region-wide ‘Renaming Project’ advocated since 2018; Harmonizing global diplomatic support for the region’s Reparatory Justice Movement – and calling on Europe and the USA to start delivering on their historic Black Debts to the Caribbean and to African Americans, by 2050.

The 2020 gains can and should now be rolled-into and built-upon in the first year of the third decade of the Third Millennium, alongside bold new CARICOM initiatives, starting with a Caribbean Reparations Summit and demonstrable actions by CARICOM leaders to reiterate their commitment to The Reparations Cause.

The 14 CARICOM leaders should also more directly engage the EU and the UN — and their agencies — on internationalizing the discussion; intensify actions with the region’s First People, including the Kalinago (formerly called ‘Caribs’ in Dominica), the Garifuna Nation (that originated in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and are now very present along coastlines in Central America), the Santa Rosa Community in Trinidad & Tobago, as well as Guyana’s very large indigenous ‘Amerindian’ communities.

CARICOM also needs to develop mechanisms to enable entities in Europe and globally — guilty ones willing to demonstrably atone, as well as those not burdened by a history of association with slavery but also willing to contribute to such a development fund through financial injections — to do so in measurable terms,.

The revelation that Britain only in 2015 completed payments of the original 20 Million Pounds in Reparations awarded to Slave Owners after Abolition in 1834 has also blasted to smithereens the claim by successive British governments that ‘Slavery happened too long ago to hold anyone liable today.’

Similarly, the many UK-based universities forced to admit their historical associations with and benefits from Slavery in the West Indies and similar top education institutions in the USA with direct links to Slavery in the Caribbean, should all be engaged in 2021, with the full support of all CARICOM Governments.

A Reparations Decade?

There’s no escaping that not all goals can or will be achieved in one year.

However, the most achievable and those desiring special strategic pursuit can be spread over the Decade of 2021-2030, with continued central planning and implementation by the CRC, which has demonstrated admirably, over the past seven years, that it can, with the support of NRCs, The UWI and associated entities across the region, successfully implement a CARICOM Ten Year Plan for Reparations.

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