Caribbean countries seek retribution for Atlantic slave drive
MIAMI — Leaders of more than a dozen Caribbean countries are undertaking a united effort to seek compensation from three European nations for what they say is the lingering legacy of the Atlantic slave trade.
The Caribbean Community, a regional organization that typically focuses on rather dry issues such as economic integration, has taken up the cause of compensation for slavery and the genocide of native peoples, and is preparing for what would likely be a drawn-out battle with the governments of Britain, France and the Netherlands.
Caricom, as the organization is known, has enlisted the help of a prominent British human rights law firm and is beginning a reparations commission to press the issue, said Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, who has been leading the effort.
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 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 had 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.
They brought on the British law firm of Leigh Day, which waged a successful fight for compensation for hundreds of Kenyans who were tortured by the British colonial government as they fought for the liberation of their country during the so-called Mau Mau rebellion of the 1950s and 1960s.
Caribbean officials have not mentioned a specific monetary figure, but Gonsalves and Verene Shepherd, chairwoman of the national reparations commission in Jamaica, 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.
“Our ancestors got nothing,” Shepherd said. “They got their freedom, and they were told, ‘Go develop yourselves.' ”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Video of white Chicago patrolman fatally firing on fleeing black youth sparks demonstrations
- Foreign policy expert: Obama administration should create Syria safe areas
- Self-driving vehicles closer to getting green light as feds ease stance
- Email address gives FBI lead on record theft of user IDs, passwords
- GOP readies next assault on health care law
- Kentucky Gov. Beshear restores right to vote for thousands of nonviolent felons
- House Republicans call for refugee limits in spending bill
- Poll: 4 in 10 know someone who has been addicted to prescription painkillers
- Traffic deaths rise sharply in United States
- 4 dead in Fort Hood chopper crash
- Obama pledges support for France against ISIS, wary of role for Russia