Caribbean Nations Seek Reparations for Slavery

More than a dozen Caribbean countries are organizing an effort to seek compensation from three European nations to pay for the enduring legacy of slavery.

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A view of Kingston, the capital of Jamaica (Alessandro Abbonizio/AFP/Getty Images)

More than a dozen Caribbean countries are organizing an effort to seek compensation from Britain, France and the Netherlands to pay for what they call the lasting legacy of the Atlantic slave trade, the Associated Press reports.

The Caribbean Community, a regional organization that typically focuses on rather dry issues such as economic integration, has taken up the cause of compensation for slavery and the genocide of native peoples and is preparing for what would likely be a drawn-out battle with the governments of Britain, France and the Netherlands.

Caricom, as the organization is known, has enlisted the help of a prominent British human rights law firm and is creating a Reparations Commission to press the issue, said Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, who has been leading the effort.

The legacy of slavery includes widespread poverty and the lack of development that characterizes most of the region, Gonsalves said, adding that any settlement should include a formal apology, but contrition alone would not be sufficient.

"The apology is important but that is wholly insufficient," he said in a phone interview Wednesday with The Associated Press. "We have to have appropriate recompense."

The notion of forcing the countries that benefited from slavery to pay reparations has been a decades-long quest. Individual countries including Jamaica and Antigua and Barbuda already had existing national commissions. Earlier this month, leaders from the 14 Caricom nations voted unanimously at a meeting in Trinidad to wage a joint campaign that those involved say would be more ambitious than any previous effort.

Read more at the Associated Press. 

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