CARICOM chairman to address reparations forum

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

Current Caribbean Community (CARICOM) chairman and St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves will present the keynote address this month at an international forum on reparations for slavery in the United States.

According to the New York-based Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW), organizer of the event, the forum, dubbed “Revitalizing the Reparations Movement,” will be held at Chicago State University on April 19.

IBW said Gonsalves is “one of the leading voices in the Americas demanding that the former European colonial powers pay reparations to Caribbean and South American countries for centuries of African enslavement, native genocide and colonial exploitation.”

The forum will be held in collaboration with the Center for Inner City Studies and the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, IBW said.

Specially invited guests will be Rep. John Conyers, Sr. (D-Ill.), dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, and sponsor of HR-40, the Reparations Study Bill, and Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam.

“A primary goal of the forum is to revitalize the reparations movement in the U.S.A. by revisiting the Durban Resolution on the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, presenting an update on HR-40 and examining the status of CARICOM’s reparations initiative,” IBW said.

“We are delighted and honored to have Prime Minister Gonsalves keynote this critical forum on reparations, a subject of fundamental historical justice that is near and dear to the hearts of Black people around the world,” said IBW’s president Dr. Ron Daniels.

Dr. Conrad Worrill, Director of Chicago’s Inner City Studies, said “our ancestors will be pleased that the reparations movement is being re-energized from the Caribbean islands.

“In demanding reparations, CARICOM is vindicating the vestiges of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade,” he added.

IBW noted that CARICOM leaders meeting in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on March 10 and 11 “took one more important step in their quest for reparatory justice against European countries that had engaged in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and in slavery itself.”

The leaders unanimously adopted a 10-point plan that would seek a formal apology for slavery; debt cancellation from former colonizers, such as Britain, France, Spain and the Netherlands; and reparation payments to repair the persisting “psychological trauma” from the days of plantation slavery.

The plan also calls for assistance to boost the region’s technological capacity and strengthen its public health, education and cultural institutions, such as museums and research centers.

Last July, at the CARICOM heads of government summit in Trinidad & Tobago the leaders mandated the establishment of a Regional Reparations Commission charged with seeking restitution for citizens of their respective countries.

Since then, national reparations commissions have been established in all 14 countries that comprise CARICOM.

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