Líderes de Caricom participan en la 2ª Conferencia sobre el reclamo a Europa por la esclavitud

Caribbean wants justice for atrocities committed under transatlantic slave trade

The second Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Conference on Reparations began here on Sunday night with reparations activists joining political leaders in calling for justice for a region that is still reeling from the social, economic effects from the transatlantic slave trade.

“I implore all of us to see ourselves as working towards one aim, one destiny – the search for justice and repair of our societies; societies which were disfigured by colonization; societies that continue to suffer the legacies of enslavement and native genocide,” said PJ Patterson, former prime minister of Jamaica.

“We need all hands on deck, wherever we are located in the west, in the north, in the east, because the tentacles of colonial injustices were spread far and wide and their legacies continue to be far-reaching to this very day.

“The masses of Caribbean people are still to be brought on board the reparation train. They are stuck at the halts and stations all around the region and indeed in the Diaspora, waiting for reason to board. If we do not wish to have them waiting indefinitely on the platform, or worse boarding the wrong train, we need to use this forum to settle all the unanswered questions around the struggle for reparatory justice,” Patterson said.

Patterson was among several speakers lending his voice to the cause. University of the West Indies Vice Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles, and Dr Julius Garvey, son of Jamaican Negro rights activist Marcus Garvey also spoke at the start of the three-day event.

In delivering the feature address, Garvey lamented that Africa is being re-colonized.

“We also see Africans as the poorest people on the planet. In America, the wealth of the average African American is one twentieth of his or her white counterpart. It almost seems that nothing has changed in 100 years so we still have to speak of repairing the breach, which, in my view, is the full meaning of reparations.

“I would like to suggest that he struggle for reparations is and should be firmly embedded in the struggle for us to repair the damage caused by 500 years of Euro-American dominance so that we address the root causes of the problem,” Garvey said.

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, who is also the CARICOM Chairman, said the transnational slave trade lead to the separation and destruction of many families and of the cultural values, tradition, beliefs and artifacts of our people.

He said that CARICOM’s concept of reparations is not defined by or limited to economic reparations. It also includes reconciliation, racial equality, inclusivity, equality of opportunity and justice.

“The atrocities committed against our people rank among the worst examples of human barbarism. This instituionalised trade in humans and its attendant atrocities have resulted in state of underdevelopment in the Caribbean and Africa, 180 years after its abolition,” Browne said, adding “notwithstanding these atrocities; what we seek now is reparation-not reprisal.”

The CARICOM chairman said the argument is not with the peoples of Europe, neither is it a formulation based on race or a war of revenge.

He said the region does not hold present day Europeans responsible for “the evils of the ruling classes that controlled their societies and enriched themselves from the cruelties and barbarism to which they subjected our ancestors in this region”.

However, he said that it does not preclude them from the acknowledgement of such wrongs. Instead, they should commit themselves to “the noble action of resolving them by honouring our reparatory claims.”

Patterson stressed that people should refrain from placing blame at the feet of Africa where some leaders were induced by intimidation, bribery or greed to collaborate in the capture and transport of Africans who were destined for slavery.

“There is no principle of law which permits the organizers of a criminal enterprise to escape responsibility because others collaborated in carrying out the enterprise. Legal responsibility is not affected by any collaboration,” Patterson cautioned.

“The most serious penalties under criminal law are reserved for those who organize the criminal enterprise and profit most from it.”

Prime Minister Browne stated “simply stated, our contention is, that our predecessors in this region were subjected to the most inhumane treatment that would today be legitimate matters for trial by the International Criminal Court.

“In the course of that treatment, they were deprived of their liberty and the right to their lives; they were treated not as human beings, not even as animals – they were treated as “property” to be used or disposed – as suited the thinking of their owners.”

The regional conference, which is being convened by the CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC) is being held under the theme “‘An Expert Conference on Caribbean Reparations: Scientific Engagement and Community Mobilisation’.

It is aimed at intensifying discussions regarding the scientific and popular discourse on the CRC’s 10-point plan on reparatory justice which was adopted by CARICOM leaders at their Inter-Sessional summit in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in March.

The 10-point plan includes reparation in the areas of public health, education and literacy.

This conference is one of several activities to address the issue of reparations for Caribbean countries whose people suffered as a result of the transatlantic trade and chattel slavery.
Caribbean 360

 

Caricom inicia segunda conferencia de reclamos de compensaciones a Europa

Los países de la Comunidad del Caribe (Caricom) retomaron hoy en Antigua y Barbuda sus negociaciones internas para definir las compensaciones que solicitarán a Europa por el daño que creen que ha hecho en sus sociedades los siglos de esclavitud que practicaron.

En la II Conferencia de la Comisión de Compensaciones de Caricom (CRC, en inglés) que comenzó hoy, los miembros del organismo regional, todos excolonias europeas, se han propuesto formalizar durante los próximos dos días de reuniones, el plan de diez puntos perfilado en septiembre de 2013, en la primera conferencia.

Ese plan plantea exigir una disculpa formal y completa de los Gobiernos europeos que las colonizaron, la cancelación de deuda externa que mantienen y la repatriación de descendientes, entre otros reclamos.

“El plan de Caricom para la justicia reparadora es un documento excelente, porque provee una estructura para las negociaciones futuras con antiguas potencias colonizadoras que participaron en el comercio de esclavos”, dijo hoy a Efe en conversación telefónica Don Rojas, director de comunicaciones del Institute of the Black World 21st Century.

Rojas, que participa en la conferencia como observador, indicó que España, Inglaterra, Francia, Portugal, Holanda y Suecia son los países europeos que evalúa Caricom para solicitarles indemnizaciones por la esclavitud y el genocidio de indígenas en el Caribe siglos atrás.

Los países que conforman Caricom son Antigua y Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belice, Dominica, Granada, Guyana, Haití, Jamaica, Montserrat, Santa Lucía, San Cristóbal y Nieves, San Vicente y Granadinas, Surinam, y Trinidad y Tobago.

En la conferencia se prevé que líderes religiosos, abogados, artistas, científicos y periodistas presenten argumentos y casos específicos para formalizar las compensaciones.

Según un informe realizado en enero de 2014, durante una reunión de seguimiento, el CRC prevé tres posibles respuestas por parte de Europa: completa compensación y atención de los 10 puntos del plan; un arreglo parcial que incluya un reconocimiento limitado de “culpabilidad”; y la negociación de otras compensaciones no estipuladas.

También, en la reunión a principios de año se discutió la posibilidad de que los gobiernos caribeños acudan a la Organización de las Naciones Unidas (ONU) para solicitar que el tema de las compensaciones por la esclavitud forme parte de manera permanente de la agenda del organismo internacional.

“Se espera que Caricom como organismo regional, más que los países de manera particular, realicen los reclamos a las potencias europeas”, explicó Rojas.

Caricom estudia recurrir a la base legal que provee la convención internacional sobre la eliminación de todas las formas de discriminación racial para realizar sus demandas.

Aunque las islas de Guadalupe y Martinica no son miembros de Caricom y siguen siendo territorios franceses de ultramar, la Comisión también evalúa hoy invitarlos a participar de su reclamación de compensaciones.

De hecho, ambas islas antillanas han creado comisiones de compensaciones a nivel local, aunque en reuniones de seguimiento previas -y según el informe de la última de ellas a la que tuvo acceso Efe- Caricom ha expresado su temor de que, dada su vinculación actual con Francia, Guadalupe y Martinica no estén dispuestas a exigir demasiado.

Por contra, cuenta con la buena disposición mostrada por Suecia, Dinamarca y Holanda, cuyas autoridades han dicho estar dispuestas a escuchar y atender los reclamos de Surinam y de las islas de San Bartolomé, Santa Cruz.

Además, el CRC no descarta acudir a la Corte Penal Internacional en La Haya si sus demandas son ignoradas por las antiguas potencias europeas.
La Vanguardia