Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM, David Comissiong. (FP)

CARICOM member states see the fight for reparations as a call for economic and social enfranchisement and not just monetary returns.

Barbados’ Ambassador to CARICOM, David Comissiong, stated this today, as he delivered virtually the annual Australia Nelson Mandela Lecture on the topic REPARATIONS and the Nelson Mandela Mission of Transforming and Humanizing Structures of Oppression.

The lecture was organised by the Nelson Mandela Day Australia Inc., as one of the events to mark Nelson Mandela Day on his birthday, July 18, and was dedicated in memory of his late daughter, Zindziswa Mandela, and the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Addressing his global audience, Ambassador Comissiong stressed that the campaign for reparatory justice involved transforming “the inequitable and exploitative economic power relations” that were still in existence, as a result of colonialism.

He said: “For us in the Caribbean, reparations is not simply about a money payment.  Yes, there is a money component, but reparations is about much more much more than money gains. We see reparations as a revolutionary programme of transformation that is designed to eradicate structures, practices and consequences of anti-black and anti-indigenous racism, discrimination and inequality, and to create just societies.”

Click here to download the text for the 2020 Nelson Mandela Lecture delivered by Ambassador David Comissiong.

Ambassador Comissiong told viewers that the Caribbean was pushing for the transformation of economic power relations in the international order that were rooted in slavery and colonialism, to produce a just society internationally.

He explained that CARICOM was saying to Europe, “you cannot commit a crime; profit from that crime; cause immense damage to a people as a result of that crime; and simply walk away from the scene of your crime with your ill-gotten gains”.

Ambassador Comissiong said that Caribbean states were inviting the former colonial masters to engage in a developmental conversation with the people of the region, and to find a way to make a meaningful contribution to the societies and people that were affected as a result of slavery.

To this end, he said the CARICOM Reparations Commission was calling for the restructuring of international institutions such as the United Nations Security Council, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund; removing all monuments of historical personalities associated with slavery; establishing a CARICOM Sustainability Fund; and declaring October 12 as Caribbean Holocaust Day, instead of Columbus Day.

He added that Caribbean governments also wanted to see reformed the “inequitable and insensitive manner” in which many of the international financial institutions treat the small developing nations of the Caribbean, including blacklisting them for developing their international business sectors.

Ambassador Comissiong said CARICOM member states are also calling for an apology from the former colonisers, a Voluntary Reparations Programme, and a process of debt cancellation for Caribbean nations affected by the slave trade, among other requests.

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