Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley has repeated her call for reparations to be paid to countries which had suffered the indignity of the slave trade.
During an appearance on the Time 100 Summit 2022, in New York yesterday, Ms. Mottley insisted that it was time for European enslaving nations to compensate enslaved countries that were now battling the effects of climate change as a result of their actions.
The Prime Minister was responding to a question on reparations raised during the Question and Answer session by Time Chief Executive Officer and Editor-in-chief, Edward Felsenthal.
The moderator acknowledged Ms. Mottley’s appointment as the Chair of the CARICOM Prime Ministerial Committee on Reparations and sought an update on her plans to write to European countries on the unresolved issue.
On this point, the Prime Minister shared that the matter had been temporarily put on hold due to the ongoing war in the Ukraine, but assured the audience that the matter would not be “swept under the carpet”.
She proffered the view that modern racism had “started in Barbados with the heinous slave code” passed here in 1661, and added: “We feel that we have a moral obligation to be able to start to deconstruct the racism in all of its forms.”
She contended: “We have to also recognise that when our countries became independent, there was no development package left for us to finance education, healthcare or any of these issues. But when the slaves were emancipated, £20 million was paid to slave owners and then by reason of a four-year Apprenticeship scheme, another £27 million of free labour was given.”
Using Haiti as an example to solidify her point, the Prime Minister maintained that this was “perhaps the most egregious example there is” and disclosed that the former French colony was forced to pay the French Government a portion of its customs’ duties for a significant period after its Independence.
“We have to ask ourselves, can we accept that the Industrial Revolution was financed by the blood, sweat, tears and money of developing countries and at the same time causes a climate crisis today? We had wealth taken from us and now we’re facing the consequences of that wealth impact on the earth’s climate. It is wrong,” Ms. Mottley stressed.
The Prime Minister’s appearance on the panel was ahead of her participation at the US Summit of the Americas, which opens today.