It might seem like a futile effort to many, but Caribbean nations are again making another push for reparations from European nations that enslaved millions of Africans in the region for more than four centuries.
The CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC) – made up of 15 countries – is hoping to negotiate with Britain, France, Spain and Denmark as they seek a formal apology for the trans-Atlantic slave trade and $33 trillion dollars to go along with it.
According to a report from the UK Times, an American consulting firm has helped the Caribbean countries to quantify some of the money they need:
“Britain owes $19.6 trillion, Spain should pay $6.3 trillion and France owes $6.5 trillion,” the UK Times reported.
Verene Shepherd, a Jamaican professor of history and vice-chairwoman of the reparations commission for CARICOM, said it is impossible to quantify what the European nations owe but added that the figures are starting points for negotiations.
And while many continue to call for the Caribbean to abandon the reparations argument, these nations continue to highlight that the British government compensated slave owners after slavery was abolished and only finished paying those debts in 2015.
Many scholars have concluded that Caribbean nations have been permanently crippled by slavery, which left a lasting economic legacy. Thus, the Caribbean countries say the money being requested will be used to fund health and education and help with the huge debts they currently carry.
Like other Caribbean countries, the BVI is home to people of African descent, whose ancestors endured slavery in the region. Elected leaders have always supported the Caribbean’s push for reparations despite being a territory of the United Kingdom.
The new push for reparations comes weeks after the family of former British Prime Minister William Gladstone, visited Guyana and apologised for their family’s role in Indian Indentureship — a system which followed after slavery and which brutalised immigrants who worked for low wages.
The Gladstone family also pledged to provide funding for the University of Guyana. Despite the efforts of the Gladstone family, many across the region frown upon their apology and call on them to apologise for slavery since their ancestors also have huge investments in that system of brutality as well.
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