Categorized | International, Local, News, Regional

Black group supports reparations but Caribbean “can’t claim much in the way of economic clout”

NEW YORK, United States, CMC – A senior official of the New York-based Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW) says the demand by Caribbean countries for reparations for slavery from Europe “possess enormous moral authority”.

Don Rojas, the IBW director of communications writing in the Nation, considered the most prestigious and influential progressive magazine in the US, noted also the Caribbean “can’t claim much in the way of economic clout”.

Rojas, the former press secretary for slain Grenada left wing prime minister Maurice Bishop, also noted that the region has “suffered over 400 years of slavery and colonialism at the hands of European powers, mainly Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Sweden.

“Reparations for centuries of brutal oppression and exploitation of enslaved African people in the Americas is, undoubtedly, the great moral imperative of our time,” said Rojas, a former executive editor of The New York Amsterdam News newspaper and the first director of communications of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the largest and oldest civil rights group in the United States.

“The so-called pragmatists, who argue that the question of reparations is impractical, unachievable, utopian, a waste of time and energy, are those who are ignorant of the moral power of a cause whose time has come,” he added.

Rojas said throughout the Caribbean discussions of reparations are starting to “alter the political narrative, reformulating analysis of economic history, linking the challenges of future socioeconomic development with the need for reparatory justice, indeed reshaping the very fundamentals of public discourse in the region”.

He, therefore, urged that, in the United States, “a revitalized reparations campaign can and must become a critical component of the civil and human rights movements of the 21st Century.

“Reparations is not history, a thing of the past, it is about historical justice.  And until justice is done, reparations will always be relevant, will always be a struggle for today and for tomorrow.

“We are beginning to witness a huge intellectual paradigm shift in the Caribbean and in other parts of the African Diaspora,” he said, noting that one of the more prominent figures driving this shift is Sir Hilary Beckles, chief architect of the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) 10-point reparations plan and principal of the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Barbados.

CARICOM’s breakthrough, 10-point plan, adopted during the 25th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in March, calls for, among other things, a formal apology for slavery, debt cancellation from former colonizers and reparation payments to address the “persisting psychological trauma” from the days of plantation slavery.

Rojas recalled that, on April 19, Sir Hilary, in addressing a major conference on reparations at Chicago University, organized by IBW, gave a “veritable history lesson about slavery in the Caribbean, one that would never be taught in US classrooms or appear on movie screens.

“He articulated a well-documented argument about how Britain and other European countries used slavery to build their empires on the backs of Africans, proud human beings who were worked to death, and not paid a cent for their hundreds of years of labour servicing the economic interests of white supremacy.”

Strong support for CARICOM’s reparations claims was voiced in late January by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) at their summit in Havana, Cuba.

In a “Special Declaration” on the issue of reparations for slavery and the genocide of native peoples, CELAC said it supported wholeheartedly “a swift, action-oriented and good-faith engagement with those colonizing states responsible for the genocide of native peoples and African enslavement in the region, with the sponsorship and organization of the State with a view to identifying just and effective means to provide reparations for the impact of those serious violations of human rights that are a crime against humanity, to which they are morally obliged”.

If the European powers fail to publicly apologize and refuse to come to the negotiating table, CARICOM countries said they will file a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

 

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NEW YORK, United States, CMC – A senior official of the New York-based Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW) says the demand by Caribbean countries for reparations for slavery from Europe “possess enormous moral authority”.

Don Rojas, the IBW director of communications writing in the Nation, considered the most prestigious and influential progressive magazine in the US, noted also the Caribbean “can’t claim much in the way of economic clout”.

Rojas, the former press secretary for slain Grenada left wing prime minister Maurice Bishop, also noted that the region has “suffered over 400 years of slavery and colonialism at the hands of European powers, mainly Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Sweden.

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“Reparations for centuries of brutal oppression and exploitation of enslaved African people in the Americas is, undoubtedly, the great moral imperative of our time,” said Rojas, a former executive editor of The New York Amsterdam News newspaper and the first director of communications of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the largest and oldest civil rights group in the United States.

“The so-called pragmatists, who argue that the question of reparations is impractical, unachievable, utopian, a waste of time and energy, are those who are ignorant of the moral power of a cause whose time has come,” he added.

Rojas said throughout the Caribbean discussions of reparations are starting to “alter the political narrative, reformulating analysis of economic history, linking the challenges of future socioeconomic development with the need for reparatory justice, indeed reshaping the very fundamentals of public discourse in the region”.

He, therefore, urged that, in the United States, “a revitalized reparations campaign can and must become a critical component of the civil and human rights movements of the 21st Century.

“Reparations is not history, a thing of the past, it is about historical justice.  And until justice is done, reparations will always be relevant, will always be a struggle for today and for tomorrow.

“We are beginning to witness a huge intellectual paradigm shift in the Caribbean and in other parts of the African Diaspora,” he said, noting that one of the more prominent figures driving this shift is Sir Hilary Beckles, chief architect of the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) 10-point reparations plan and principal of the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Barbados.

CARICOM’s breakthrough, 10-point plan, adopted during the 25th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in March, calls for, among other things, a formal apology for slavery, debt cancellation from former colonizers and reparation payments to address the “persisting psychological trauma” from the days of plantation slavery.

Rojas recalled that, on April 19, Sir Hilary, in addressing a major conference on reparations at Chicago University, organized by IBW, gave a “veritable history lesson about slavery in the Caribbean, one that would never be taught in US classrooms or appear on movie screens.

“He articulated a well-documented argument about how Britain and other European countries used slavery to build their empires on the backs of Africans, proud human beings who were worked to death, and not paid a cent for their hundreds of years of labour servicing the economic interests of white supremacy.”

Strong support for CARICOM’s reparations claims was voiced in late January by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) at their summit in Havana, Cuba.

In a “Special Declaration” on the issue of reparations for slavery and the genocide of native peoples, CELAC said it supported wholeheartedly “a swift, action-oriented and good-faith engagement with those colonizing states responsible for the genocide of native peoples and African enslavement in the region, with the sponsorship and organization of the State with a view to identifying just and effective means to provide reparations for the impact of those serious violations of human rights that are a crime against humanity, to which they are morally obliged”.

If the European powers fail to publicly apologize and refuse to come to the negotiating table, CARICOM countries said they will file a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice in the Hague.