Caribbean nations are demanding trillions of dollars and a formal apology from European countries for their involvement in the transatlantic slave trade. Such a deal could affect other nations for their involvement, including the US.
Aiming for “International Reconciliation”
Caricom, a union of 15 Caribbean countries, has unveiled a ten-point plan to negotiate a financial settlement with Britain, France, Spain, and Denmark, aiming for “international reconciliation.”
This ambitious plan includes financial reparations, a full formal apology, funding for education and healthcare, technology transfers, and even debt cancellation.
Countries “Owe” Figures in the Trillions
A report by American consulting firm Brattle for Caricom revealed jaw-dropping figures: Britain owes $19.6 trillion, Spain owes $6.3 trillion, France owes $6.5 trillion, and Jamaica is owed a staggering $9.5 trillion.
Professor Verene Shepherd, the vice-chairwoman of Caricom’s reparations commission, stressed the need for a starting point in negotiations, given the enormity of the crime and responsibility.
Statements of Regret “Fall Short”
Caricom insisted that “statements of regret” from some European governments fall short, “The crime is huge. The responsibility for what happened is huge.”
While the King of the Netherlands offered a formal apology for his nation’s ties to slavery, the British Government has not taken a similar step.
In 2021, King Charles acknowledged Britain’s involvement in the slave trade as the “darkest days of our past” during a visit to Barbados.
British PM: “Not the Right Way Forward”
However, in the House of Commons in April, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak refused to offer a formal apology or commit to “reparatory justice” through reparations, saying that “trying to unpick our history is not the right way forward, and it’s not something that we will focus our energies on.”
Former BBC correspondent Laura Trevelyan made headlines by donating £100,000 in reparations to the University of West Indies (UWI) in Grenada due to her family’s historical ties to slavery.
Arley Gill, chair of Grenada’s Reparations Commission, hopes that King Charles will reconsider the issue of reparations and make a profound statement, beginning with an apology and allocating resources for “reparative justice.”
Caribbean Nations Standing Firm
Gill emphasized that the call is not for the Royal family to suffer but rather to engage in discussions about what can be made available for reparative justice.
Caribbean nations are standing firm, seeking fair compensation for the enduring impact of the transatlantic slave trade.
The outcome of these negotiations could reshape international relations and set a precedent for addressing historical injustices, especially those in the US.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Daniel Samray