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Second Round of Reparations Letters to Europe Coming


Caribbean Community (Caricom) governments are preparing to formally send a second set of letters demanding that European nations that participated in and benefited from the trans-Atlantic slave trade be prepared to pay trillions of dollars to help the region repair the damage from slavery and native genocide.

A draft document that governments are pursuing will soon be finalized and sent to Barbadian Prime Minister Mottley for signature in her role as the focal point head of government on this issue.

The region is upping the pressure on Britain, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Denmark to own up for their role in the slave trade, even as researchers are zooming in on the previously unreported role of four other nations that were also beneficiaries.

“We are not for now prepared to name these four new nations, but our researchers have come up with information that will take the nations we are targeting to 10 in all,” said David Comissiong, Barbados’s ambassador to the 15-nation Caricom group.

Back in 2016, Caricom sent demand letters to the main players like Britain, Spain, and the Dutch. Comissiong said all six of those replied but were “non-committal” in response to Caricom’s request for a formal meeting between regional and European leaders. 

“This time, our primary target is again governments, as they had orchestrated and approved and facilitated the slave trade,” Comissiong told the AmNews this week. “We acknowledge that private institutions like banks, insurance companies, and universities also benefited, but our target here and now is the governments.” 

The best approach for now, he said, is to again have a summit meeting between the leaders, even as Caricom has begun to liaise and collaborate with the African Union in the fight for reparations and reparatory justice, but it is unclear whether the Europeans will agree.

The move to again formally reach out to Europe comes in the wake of formal apologies for slavery from both Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Dutch King Willem-Alexander in December of last year and early July, respectively. Others, like Britain’s King Charles, have resisted doing so, although King Charles had described Britain’s role in the slave trade as one of the darkest chapters in its history. Rutte had also said that the door is now open for talks about the way forward.

Meanwhile, in recent weeks, Caribbean researchers have come up with actual figures owed to the region and descendants of slavery. The calculations were compiled by the Brattle Group of American economists and consultants with help from Caribbean attorneys, historians, politicians, and history students.

For example, Britain’s tab to 14 Caribbean nations is tallied at $24 trillion, while Spain’s is $17 trillion, Portugal—specifically to Brazil—would have to come to $20 trillion, and the Netherlands’ tab is $5 trillion, $3 trillion of which should go to Caricom member nation Suriname and $50 billion to neighboring Guyana, which was also a Dutch colony for an extended period.

The recommendation from the researchers is that the money be paid over a 10- to 20-year period by a mutually binding agreement.

As the draft demand letter is being finalized for signature and presentation to European nations, regional activists and leaders are preparing to head to Ghana in mid-November for a three-day collaborative meeting about slavery and reparations. 

Back in February, the African Union had approved a resolution mandating its secretariat to collaborate and liaise with Caricom on reparations and slavery, Commissiong said. Several other meetings have been held between Caricom and the EU in the past year.

Source: Amsterdam News

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