Concerning the issue of Reparations for Native Genocide and Slavery, Barbados and other CARICOM states will go the route of diplomacy and not protest.
This was pointed out on Friday, February 27 by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, as he spoke to members of the media during a press conference on the final day of the 26th Inter-Sessional Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, (CARICOM), which was held at the Melia Beach Resort in Nassau.
Stuart stated that the issue was not going “to be an overnight initiative”, but one in which the entire region was “irrevocably committed”.
“…There is going to be no retreat on the issue of reparations. But the point has to be made that we do not pursue the issue of reparations on the basis of a diplomacy of protest; we are pursuing the issue of reparations on the basis of a diplomacy of engagement,” he stressed.
Saying that regional leaders would do nothing to undermine or “to vitiate the current civilised relations” that existed with former slave trading nations by embarking on a confrontational approach, he however, gave the assurance that leaders would not “turn our backs on our history and the legacy which has been bequeathed to us as a result of slavery and native genocide”.
“We contemplate therefore, as a first measure, having a discussion with designated countries – former slave trading countries, to see what areas of agreement exist and whether there can be an amicable and civilized resolution to our differences,” he noted.
The Prime Minister made it clear that regional governments were not trying to get sizeable monetary compensation from the former slave trading nations through court action but to remind them of the impact of slavery on persons in the Caribbean.
“There is a legacy with which we are dealing, and what we are trying to sensitise former slave trading nations to is the existence of that legacy and to the connection between that legacy and their actions in the 17th and 18th and part of the 19th century as well,” he said.
Stuart, who also Chairs the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on Reparations, stressed that achievements would most likely not be realised in the short-term, but “long after some of us are not leaders of CARICOM anymore… So we have to take the long view on this issue recognising that the legacy that we’re fighting did not take shape overnight and therefore, it is not going to be dismantled overnight, but we have to start somewhere starting with the pursuit of reparatory justice.”
He noted that Haiti was a very good example of the social, economic and political deficit in the region that was a direct result of slavery and it was necessary to try and see what developmental initiatives could be initiated as a result of the discussions to redress some of “these hideous imbalances”.
Stuart added that the United Nations had designated this decade as one for the people of African descent and since the victims of slavery and Native Genocide have been predominantly people of African descent, it was time “to take full advantage of this decade to ensure that the agenda of the decade reflects some of our more fundamental concerns”.