Barbados and other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states will go the route of diplomacy and not protest on the issue of reparations for native genocide and slavery, Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said during a press conference on the final day of the 26th inter-sessional conference of CARICOM heads of government in Nassau, Bahamas.
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 protest; we are pursuing the issue of reparations on the basis of engagement,” he stressed.
Saying that regional leaders would do nothing to undermine the current relations between former slave trading nations by embarking on a confrontational approach, Stuart gave the assurance that leaders would not turn their backs on the history and the legacy which has been bequeathed 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 explained.
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 sensitize former slave trading nations to is the existence of that legacy and to the connection between that legacy and their actions in the 17th, 18th and part of the 19th century,” he said.
Stuart, who chairs the prime ministerial sub-committee on reparations, stressed that achievements would most likely not be realized in the short-term.
“We have to take the long view on this issue recognizing the legacy that we are 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 said.
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