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GRAND FATHER’S BACKPAY

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Back in March, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders approved a 10-point plan to make European nations such as Britain, Spain and France pay people of the region for enslaving their ancestors and to make up for the violent change in lifestyle that experts say manifests itself in a string of chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension and other problems affecting those alive today.

And after discussing the issue at the end of their four-day main annual summit in Antigua last weekend, the leaders have decided to ask European governments to attend a summit later this year or early next year to gauge whether or not their plan to lay claim for an apology for the African slave trade and payment will be taken seriously.

Whether the Europeans will attend at the level of heads of governments or just by way of senior level officials is left to be seen but one thing is clear and that is the bloc is going full steam ahead with the plan to fight Europe on this issue.

The final communiqué issued after the summit stated that the leaders agreed on a regional strategic and operational plan for a Caribbean reparatory justice program flowing from a report presented to them by the umbrella body they set up last year to prepare the Caribbean’s case.

They warned that any rejection of the case by Europe will result in additional steps being taken to claim reparations including the case being to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands for determination.

They said that they also approved a draft letter of demand to be served on European capitals in the coming weeks. It is to be sent under the hand of Barbadian Prime Minister Freundel Stuart who is the regional focal point leader on the issue.

Additionally, country delegations attending upcoming sessions of the United Nations General Assembly in the fall will use the forum to hype up the fight to raise international awareness and win support for the case.

This is coming in the aftermath of moves by veteran Democratic Congressman John Conyers to introduce legislation in US Congress to also seek reparations for American Blacks from Europe, calling it “the most important piece of legislation I have every introduced.”

CARICOM is operating on the principal that those in Europe who have been enriched by the “proceeds of these crimes — genocide, slavery, slave trading and racial apartheid” have a reparatory case to answer and that victims living today have a legal right to justice.

The 10-point plan as of last March asserts that European governments were owners and traders of enslaved Africans and instructed genocidal actions upon indigenous communities and created the supporting legal, financial and fiscal policies necessary for the enslavement of Africans.

Other arguments that are likely to make into any legal pleadings document include the refusal of governments to compensate freed slaves but noted that those very same governments had the audacity to pay slave owners at emancipation “for the loss of legal property” in the form of slaves.

Another has to do with the fact that governments had defined and enforced African enslavement and native genocide as having to do with “their national interests” and have ever since refused to acknowledge that such actions were crimes against humanity.

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