Former Secretary General of the Association of Caribbean States, (ACS) Ambassador Dr June Soomer, says the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has wide support among non-English-speaking Caribbean states in its quest for Reparations.
And despite ‘not all governments seeming to be on the same page’, she says, there is ‘consensus’ in the wider multi-lingual Caribbean community behind supporting the CARICOM quest for Reparations from Europe for Slavery and Native Genocide in the Caribbean.
Addressing a ‘Webinar on Reparations for The Diaspora’ aimed at Saint Lucians abroad on Sunday as citizens started virtually observing the island’s 42nd Independence Anniversary Under Lockdown, the former ACS Secretary General said The Diaspora was ‘more influential’ than thought and called for its collective strength to be tapped.
A former Saint Lucia Ambassador to CARICOM and the OECS who also served as the island’s OECS Commissioner, Ambassador Soomer recalled that almost every ACS Summit ended with member-states expressing support for CARICOM’s pursuit of Reparatory Justice.
She told the Saint Lucian audience in The Diaspora, ‘There is consensus for Reparations, not only in CARICOM, but also in the wider ACS, where it has always been kept on the agenda’ by member-states.
Conceding that not all governments are at one on how to approach the issue and in demonstration of levels of readiness, Dr Soomer however noted, ‘We will never always be on the same page and we will never always agree, so let’s first get started from here, with what we agree on…’
The veteran Caribbean woman diplomat, who served the ACS for four years (2016-2020) and was a founding member of the Saint Lucia NRC (representing the Office of the Prime Minister from 2013 to 16), told her audience The Diaspora ‘also includes many influential figures who can always help realize our identity wherever we are, even by way of influencing legislation…’
She also urged that Saint Lucians and other Caribbean nationals in the Diaspora ‘must do more to identify and use our influences’ where they are available and amenable to assist in helping preserve out national identity abroad as much as at home.’
As ACS Secretary General Ambassador Soomer coordinated multilateral ties between 32 ‘Contracting States, Countries and Territories of the Greater Caribbean’, including member-states of CARICOM and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
It also groups 25 Member-states and Seven Associated Member-states (including seven French colonies) and 31 Observer States.
Meanwhile, one day after addressing The Diaspora, Ambassador topped the list of nationals receiving 2021 Independence Awards under the Order of Saint Lucia.
She was decorated with The Saint Lucia Cross ‘for distinguished service in the fields of education, diplomacy, regionalism and development specialty.’
The award now requires that Ambassador Dr Soomer’s name be formally preceded by the title ‘Honourable’.
The announcement has been welcomed across Saint Lucia and the region, with the Chair of the Saint Lucia National Reparations Committee (NRC) Earl Bousquet saying: ‘This top honour is very well deserved and crowns the nation’s recognition of Dr Soomer’s valuable services to Saint Lucia and the OECS, CARFICOM and the Wider Caribbean.’
He added, ‘We in the NRC have a long relationship with Dr Soomer, who was a founding member of the NRC and delivered the inaugural National Reparations Lecture that launched the local school series in 2016, co-sponsored with the UWI Open Campus (Saint Lucia).
‘That series over the years in 2020 metamorphosed into the current ongoing two parallel Online National and Regional Schools Reparations and History Lecture Series, the regional ones being directly broadcast to Caribbean schools and coordinated with the UWI’s Center for Reparations Research and the support of the CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC).