Push for talks on reparations


Tribune Staff Reporter


FOLLOWING the unanimous adoption of an action plan to pursue reparations for African slavery and native genocide, CARICOM nations will now prepare for a June conference with Europe to negotiate the issue ahead of making a formal claim.

In keeping with the regional agenda, the Bahamas’ commission has been fully appointed, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell, who confirmed yesterday that the names will be revealed upon the delegation’s return from the two-day inter-sessional summit in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Responding to questions sent by The Tribune, Mr Mitchell said: “This issue is one which the local commission is tasked with discussing with the public and in particular, public education. We expect that the local commission will advise us on the necessity and or efficacy of any legal, political, legislative or administrative decisions that need to be taken by the Bahamian government.”

The regional body yesterday deliberated the budget for its Reparations Commission, according to news reports.

Despite widespread speculation over the futility of the bid, and response from some countries that they will not concede, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves told journalists on Monday that CARICOM has compiled a “serious proposal, with serious issues”.

According to Caribbean360.com, Dr Gonsalves said: “These things never come easy, but these are 14 sovereign countries representing 16 million people with a huge Diaspora in the United States, in Canada, in Europe. I think we have some influence. I am satisfied and we are satisfied that we have the law on our side, and we have the acts on our side.”  

Dr Gonsalves explained that the regional body will pursue litigation if talks with Europe are unsuccessful, adding that he hoped the June conference will engender a “mature conversation with the Europeans”.

The ten-point reparatory justice framework was presented by historian and head of CARICOM’s commission, Professor Hilary Beckles. 

The delegation led by Prime Minister Perry Christie is expected to return today.

CARICOM hired London-based law firm Leigh Day, which won £19.9 million in compensation for Kenyans tortured during the Mau Mau rebellion of the 1950s and ‘60s, last year.

The Bahamas government agreed to establish a National Reparations Committee, with the head of the committee to sit on CARICOM’s Reparations Commission, at the 34th Heads of Government meeting in July of last year. 

The decision to establish a local commission sparked national dialogue with both the legal and academic communities weighing in on the debate.

In an interview with The Tribune in October, the UK Government said it would block attempts to force it to pay reparations for slavery.

Stating that reparations “are not the answer”,  a spokesman for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said governments “cannot take responsibility for what happened over 200 years ago.”

The Bahamas’ National Reparations Committee will soon be embarking on a full slate of education and consultation programmes, Committee Chairperson Alfred Sears told The Tribune last month.

Known group members consist of co-chairs former education minister Alfred Sears, and former MP Philip Smith; and foreign service officer Charmaine Williams.


B_I_D___ 10 years, 4 months ago

I think someone brought this up before...are they going after any of the countries that literally sold their own into slavery? For sure there were people on the ground in the various countries that the slaves originated from that were responsible for the capture and sale into the slave trade to start the journey across the Atlantic...or are they just going to overlook that layer of the trade and focus on the countries that received the slaves and subsequently used and abused them. Just curious.

Tarzan 10 years, 4 months ago

A wonderful way for the government to waste time, energy and public funds and in addition an attractive way for the political class to avoid addressing any of the country's myriad chronic problems.

GrassRoot 10 years, 4 months ago

Can I suggest Mr. F. Wilson to be appointed lead negotiator? He is a leading business man and has lots to say and contribute.

TalRussell 10 years, 4 months ago

Whatever happened to the PLP party of Comrades like Pindling, Milo, Loftus and Clearance? Minister Freddy when will someone in this PLP government decide to only talk paychecks, paychecks. I'd wager better than numbers odds that the "Bahamas’ Commission" which have been fully appointed, are guaranteed according to the past track record of government appointments, NOT to be from among the many thousands Bahamalander's, who have all but forgotten what it must be like to collect decent, regular paychecks. Minister, even if two living in an household are working full time, its a damn disgrace that they can work 40 hours each plus a week and still be earning below the household poverty line. For damn sure 'legalizing" web shops ain't going correct underpaying workers, who while they claim to employ over 5000 workers, the National Insurance Board claims only to have records on file, of some 700 NIB premium paying workers.

Cornel 10 years, 4 months ago

I agree with Grassroot - We need Leading Businessmen to spearhead the campaign. Lets look over the list and pick a few

jackflash 10 years, 4 months ago

This is much better then showing ROOTS at election time!

What a great idea!

The PLP spin doctors really came up with a good one this time!!

The FMN & DNA don't stand a chance with this strategy!

Honestman 10 years, 4 months ago

CARICOM needs to focus on today's problems of which the Caribbean has many and stop wasting time on this pointless reparations exercise. As one of the above bloggers points out, black African slavery could not have come about without the collusion of many black African leaders. Furthermore, Britain was instrumental in bringing an end to slavery. Perhaps the Brits should raise a class action lawsuit against Italy for the unlawful occupation of their country by the Romans in 43 AD and lasting several hundred years? Slavery was an affront to humanity and sadly the human race is not entirely free the curse of physical and mental slavery. However, this exercise is all about CARICOM trying to win some free money and much less about justice. Bahamas should distance itself from the absurd notion that modern Europe is somehow responsible for the sins of its ancestors. We have enough problems as a country to deal with without looking back into the depths of history for someone to blame.

TalRussell 10 years, 4 months ago

Comrades, if we don't done know why the British owes us Two Tens for a Five, how can we explain to the Judges, why we have good reasons to be collecting? Minister Freddy must see the major flaws to this issue meeting with any financial success, when the PLP government had to actually appoint a local commission who he says are charged with discussing with the public, and in particular, "publicly educating us why the British owe Bahamaldner's millions, if not billions of dollars?" Comrade Minister wouldn't you expect that, if you're trying claim billions, the local commission shouldn't have to advise us on the reasons the British owe us the money? Minister can you please unconfused your Comrades? I ain't even go'in touch how much these billions will be targeted to "go south?"

Abbott & Costello: "Two Tens for a Five"

....// http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7pMYHn-…

Purcell 10 years, 4 months ago

When begging is not bring in the funds, when selling out to the Chinese is quickly becoming unpalatable lets shake down Europe so we can buy more votes. You politicians disgust me.

spoitier 10 years, 4 months ago

If they are going to push for this that happen 400 years ago, who is going to push for reparations for some of the folks from Grand Bahama who had their land stole by the Port Authority just 40-50 years ago. Now if slavery have an affect on us as a country from then to now, judge the effect that Port Authority put on some of us who ancestors had land stolen from them that would be worths millions now. Get together Grand Bahamians and force the government to work for us on our lost that happened just a few decades ago.

Bahamianpride 10 years, 4 months ago

Time to move on it's 2014 stop looking for handouts..... Embrace Education & Capitalism.. This welfare state of mind drives me nuts... Many of the slaves that were sold were captured and sold to the Europeans by other African Tribes, so are we to get reparations from them too, this is stupid.. The world is becoming one big melting pot anyway, lets move on with progressive, constructive things and stop begging... Europe should tell everyone to go suck d--k, its 2014..

TalRussell 10 years, 4 months ago

Comrades even as an early supporter of both PM Christie and Minister Freedy to be given a second chance at governing our Bahamaland, both these men sure know how to test the patience of their fellow citizens. Pushing "fiction" like going after the Brit's for billions can only be seen as they too sense that the more they ignore getting to work at creating the type business environment which will produce steady, well-paying paychecks, there's not a chance in hell they can be reelected in 2017? Minister I like you but the people demand more sensible governing, not more fiction. Are you two now telling the nation that the PLP's 2012 Manifesto was all written as no more than a piece of story fiction?

The_Oracle 10 years, 4 months ago

Nothing more than a Caribbean "hat in hand" exercise, with accompanying attitude. Perhaps the peoples of the Caribbean nations aught to sue their own leaders for mental and economic slavery, as each country has damn near ruined itself post Colonization. We are next.

Baha10 10 years, 4 months ago

This is an embarrassment to our country! Imagine the implications of this nonsense if one could connect a couple of Long Islanders to Lucayans! How ridiculous, but more importantly how sad that this is all we have to offer the World after 40 years of independence. Even Pindling would have cringed at such a suggestion. Is it too late for Abaco or any other Family Island to break away so at least the "few" that remain sane can try to raise our families without fear of being gunned down in the streets or succumbing to financial destitution due to fiscal mismanagement and corruption?

spoitier 10 years, 4 months ago

It is just a fishing expedition, sometimes when a person goes fishing they will catch a fish by luck. Maybe snag one or something, the main problem is if the Brits and the French settle just to save face, what will happen to the cut that the Bahamas recieves? That money would be in the cookie jar for some of them to raid at their leisure.

John 10 years, 4 months ago

The same people who criticize (black) Bahamians for their lack of leadership skills, poor performance in education, break down in social behavior and the family structure want to deny that 500 years of cruel and brutal slavery contributed to this single handedly and the victims should be compensated heavy handedly!

Baha10 10 years, 4 months ago

What about the Lucayans? They too were enslaves and worse, slaughtered! With DNA advances, we could track their ancestors still living in the Southern Caribbean and give the whole country back to them. All other ethnic populations can in turn return to their countries of origin in Europe, Africa, etc. All happy now?

watcher 10 years, 4 months ago

Let's start by going after the descendants of King Ghezo of Dahomey (now Benin), who sold hundreds of thousands of his own people into slavery, together with those of neighbouring territories that he raided. It is estimated that in the 1850's King Ghezo was making the equivalent of GBP 60,000 p.a. from the slave trade, this when a "fortune" was probably something like GBP 3,000 and an annual income of GBP 500 was exceptional. It was the British who blockaded his ports in an effort to get him to stop the slave trade, but to no avail.


alltogetherasone1 10 years, 4 months ago

There will be no mature conversation with european on the matter ; and, we don’t need their agreement to do what we consider just ; CARICOM nations should start list names–petitions, meet diasporas, organize meeting : ORGANISATION is the first word that comes to my mind while reading this interesting article. The communication between all african and african descent must be more efficient. Any black on earth should know what CARICOM is doing in order to join the group. Many documents and witnesses will come from all over the world. Let us write and share our own page of history. The UK government will not reconsider the fortune of the British colonial Empire. I have a serious doubt that this case can go further in La Haye Tribunal (the members that pay the cotisation for this Tribunal are the european countries in question, and will be the defendants in our case). This Tribunal is well known to judge african presidents for « crime against humanity ». that sounds scinic ! Those presidents are judged by the people who helped them to maintain the power…It sounds difficult…but almost impossible to judge those states in their countries, on that matter. We must keep in mind that many white people have succeeded during the period of slavery and colonization , made huge profits… None of them can really feel the negative effects of this tragic part of history. The spokesman for UK said : « reparations are not the answer ». Only victims can express what they consider fair as an answer.
We have to be strong and courageous. We have to support this initiative, all together as one voice. We have to be aware that what’s happened in the past continue in another way… CARICOM is currently asking white children to judge their white parents and families who participated in the construction of their nations. The criminal acquisition during this long period and psychological abuse is redefining white thought somewhere... It seems obvious to me that Europe retains nostalgia for those years in power. Time of discovery of other worlds, prosperity ... CARICOM should trace the societies and the names of the people (masters owners of slaves, societies...) and sue them in Caribbean. I think it’s those people who have to turn against their own countries. CARICOM must try this case on one of its territories, and the reasons are the follows: to protect the victims, and make sure that we will write our own story for ourselves, for the memory of our ancestors, and for our children. It sounds incredible, ridiculous and a slave position to ask the states that established this humiliant and repugnant strategy through centuries and incrusted in the minds of their people the audacious freedom to do so , to judge that matter : how could you trust them again ? We should have learnt to be more prudent, careful , suspicious… That means (always) somewhere that black people still believe, hope in a white sympathic recognition…

sheeprunner12 10 years, 4 months ago

I agree with Oracle. Who are we gonna sue for all this BS that has been visited upon the average Bahamian by Pindling, Ingraham and Christie???????????? At least sue them for the 6 Billion accumulated national debt. Fred should be the lead lawyer for dat

alltogetherasone1 10 years, 4 months ago

The imbalance created by slavery and colonization in our societies explains the difficult position of our states. We must rebuild (our identity, assert our independence, our own thought which we have been deprived for centuries…)

All countries of the world are in debt. The world is changing, and a new model of society is to be created, the previous being come to an end.

Our leaders are under tremendous pressure from former colonial powers and should be courageous, audacious… Colonial empires in decline are ready to do anything to not lose this other part of history.

Propaganda against a man is a constant in our communities. Without evidence, we like to repeat what circulates. Critical thinking should we stimulate more.

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