Reports circulating in the international media indicate 12 Caricom countries along with Haiti and Suriname have initiated proceedings to sue three former colonisers, Britain, France and the Netherlands. This is good news for many Blacks in the Caribbean who believe (and justly so) that the heinous practice of slavery must be addressed in a material way. Why should it be addressed? The societies of the mentioned colonisers have benefited from untold wealth which has been acquired as a result of sweat,blood and tears shed our ancestors. It does not matter if slavery was an accepted practice of those times. What matters is that it was a heinous act which has stained history’s page and said page should now reflect those who benefitted most address it!
The region recently appointed Sir Hilary Beckles to head Caricom’s reparations committee. He has not wasted any time lighting a fire under the issue. The committee has secured the services of British law firm Leigh Day whose reputation was enhanced recently when the it won compensation for hundreds of Kenyans arising from the Mau Mau rebellion.
Although there is no official figure given of the repatriations claim a few regional newspapers have suggested £200 billion, the equivalent to the £20 million paid to slave owners in 1834 when slavery was abolished. Prime Minister Ralph Gonzales, the most vocal of regional leaders, stated in a speech to the UN recently that “The awful legacy of these crimes against humanity ought to be repaired for the developmental benefit of our Caribbean societies and all our peoples.”