Caribbean Nations Seek Formal Apology, $33 Trillion in Slavery Reparations: ‘The Crime is Huge’

A coalition of Caribbean nations is seeking a formal apology and nearly $33 trillion from European governments for their role in the slave trade. Using an estimate of the value of the 2022 global economy provided by VisualCapitalist, the group’s demand is about a third of the $100 trillion figure. The request comes from a 15-nation group called Caricom, which, according to its website, represents Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. “We need a figure to begin with, a negotiating figure,” Verene Shepherd, vice chairwoman of Caricom, said, according to the National Pulse. “The crime is huge. The responsibility for what happened is huge.” According to the group, Britain owes $19.6 trillion, France $6.5 trillion and Spain $6.3 trillion, according to an American consulting firm hired to total up the tab, per The Times of London. Some advocates note that Britain paid former slave owners 20 million pounds (about $25 million in today’s exchange rate) in the 1830s after it abolished slavery, calling it a precedent. “If you compensated the owners for the loss of their property, surely you should also compensate the slaves for the loss of their freedom,” Peter Espeut, dean of studies at a seminary college in Kingston, Jamaica, said, according to The Times. However, the Jamaican government says it is owed $9.5 trillion, a claim that leaves him cold. “When Jamaica became independent, the British government handed us a national debt of zero,” Espeut said. “Any debt that Jamaica may currently have is arguably not the result of slavery or colonialism but malfeasance on the part of the Jamaican government.” Reparations, he said, are “owed to the descendants of former slaves, not to the government.” Espeut later added: “The government is trying to steal poor black people’s money by making this claim.” Shepherd said some European governments are happy to share their guilt. She said a Swiss group is sending Caricom information about how Swiss navigational instruments were used in the slave trade while a group in Sweden is sharing how Swedish iron helped make manacles for slaves. On its website, Caricom has a 10-point plan that includes a “full, formal apology,” sending those who want to go to Africa to live, government programs and cancellation of government debts, and enforced technology transfer to boost the economy of the islands. The website says its reparations committee, which goes by the acronym CRC, is “committed to the process of national international reconciliation.” “The CRC sees the persistent racial victimization of the descendants of slavery and genocide as the root cause of their suffering today,” the website says. “The CRC recognizes that the persistent harm and suffering experienced today by these victims as the primary cause of development failure in the Caribbean.”

Arley Gill, chair of Grenada’s reparations commission, said the new king of Great Britain will be approached, according to The Guardian.

“We are hoping that King Charles will revisit the issue of reparations and make a more profound statement beginning with an apology, and that he would make resources from the royal family available for reparative justice,” Gill said.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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