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Sir Hilary’s call for reparatory justice ‘deeply resonated with me’

Sir Hilary’s call for reparatory justice ‘deeply resonated with me’

The call by Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC), Sir Hilary M. Beckles, for reparatory justice from the European powers to help place the Caribbean on a stable footing for the future, has “deeply resonated” with Premier and Minister of Finance, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1), who believes many in the Virgin Islands would feel the same way.

Premier Fahie was at the time delivering a statement at the Fourteenth Sitting of the Second Session of the Fourth House of Assembly (HoA) at the Save the Seed Energy Centre in Duff’s Bottom today, September 22, 2020.

His statement was on the Virgin Islands participation at the virtually held 28th Session of the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee (CDCC) on September 10, 2020.


Professor Verene Shepherd, Director of the Centre for Reparations Research (CRR) at the University of the West Indies, has said the United Nations Human Rights Council on June 17, 2020 urged countries to confront the legacy of slavery and colonialism ‘and to make amends for centuries of violence and discrimination, including formal apologies, truth-telling processes and reparations in various forms.

‘Historical exploitation’


According to Hon Fahie, the CDCC keynote address was given by Sir Hilary, who described the historical exploitation of the Caribbean by the colonial powers, which he argued is at the root of the fragile position the countries of the region are in today.

He said Sir Hilary also called for reparatory justice from the European powers to help place the Caribbean on a stable footing for the future.

“To achieve this, Sir Hillary said a Marshall Plan for the Caribbean is needed in which there is massive investment into the region by those countries, banks, corporations and other institutions that benefitted from slavery and colonialism.

“Mr Speaker, his core message deeply resonated with me and I am sure would resonate with many persons here in the BVI,” Hon Fahie stated.


The issue of reparations has been one of hot debate and even outrage recently, following Governor Augustus J. U. Jaspert’s remark that the Virgin Islands should not look forward to any reparations for slavery.

Gov Jaspert's take on reparations sparks outrage


The issue of reparations has been one of hot debate and even outrage recently, following Governor Augustus J. U. Jaspert’s remark that the Virgin Islands should not look forward to any reparations for slavery.

To add insult to injury, Governor Jaspert also defended preserving the names of landmarks in the Virgin Islands after perpetrators of slavery, murder, rape and torture.

At least two talk show hosts were brave enough to publicly call on Governor Jaspert to apologise, while others have blasted the Governor on social media.

A former educator, Mr Elroy M. Turnbull recently said the statement by the governor on reparations was made in a derogatory way.


The call by Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC), Sir Hilary M. Beckles, left, for reparatory justice from the European powers to help place the Caribbean on a stable footing for the future, has 'deeply resonated' with Premier and Minister of Finance, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1), right, who believes many in the Virgin Islands would feel the same way.

Apologies not enough- Sir Hilary


Some European states and commercial enterprises that profited handsomely from the trans-Atlantic trafficking of enslaved Africans to the Caribbean have recently apologised and issued statements of regret; however, Sir Beckles believes apologies are not enough.

“Apologies are not enough,” said the CRC Chairman while addressing a virtual media engagement entitled, ‘From Apology to Action’ back in July 2020.

“Apologies are precursors for reparations. Apologies are signals of intent to participate in the reparatory process. Apologies are stage one of an effort that says we acknowledge the harm we have caused and we are prepared to enter phase two which is a discussion and negotiations about how to repair that harm and that suffering that continues to be the legacy of slavery in the Caribbean today.”

‘Time to repair the harm’


He added that “the colonial mess” the Caribbean has inherited from Britain and from Europe remains visible in every aspect of the Caribbean, because Britain chose to walk away from this mess that they created and have left it entirely to the democratic leadership of Caribbean governments and civil society to clean up.

Sir Hilary argued that this was a deliberate strategic effort on the part of Britain and Europe to refuse to take responsibility for the living legacies of slavery and colonisation.

He made it clear that Britain left behind “a pandemic of chronic diseases”, such as hypertension and diabetes where over 60% of all the people in the Caribbean today over the age of 60 have either hypertension or diabetes or both.

“The Caribbean is the diabetic, hypertensive capital of the world,” he stated. “More amputations are done in the Caribbean per capita than in any other part of the world. This is because for 300 years, the people of this region were forced to consume a diet based on what they produced—sugar. In this part of the world, sugar was consumed, not as a sweetener but as a meal.

“The consequences and the legacies of an enforced diet of sugar and salt to which the people of the region are now addicted is a direct consequence and legacy of slavery and colonisation.”

“This is a moment for responsible leadership,” he said. “This is not the time to continue to brush this matter under a carpet. There is no carpet in the world large enough to conceal and contain the legacy that must now be confronted and removed. This is a time for moral leadership. This is the moment of reparatory justice. This is the time to repair the harm and the suffering resulting from the crimes that were committed against enslaved and indentured peoples in the Caribbean and the long legacy of colonialism.”

During that same forum, Professor Verene Shepherd, who is the Director of the Centre for Reparations Research (CRR) at the University of the West Indies, said the United Nations Human Rights Council on June 17, 2020 urged countries to confront the legacy of slavery and colonialism “and to make amends for centuries of violence and discrimination, including formal apologies, truth-telling processes and reparations in various forms.”

The CARICOM Reparations Commission which has representation from 12 Member States in the Caribbean, was established by the CARICOM Heads of Government in 2013, to pursue reparations for native genocide and African enslavement from former colonising European governments and commercial enterprises.

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