CARICOM Reparations Commission expands list of countries to be targeted for reparations

Professor Verene Shepherd

The Vice-Chair of the CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC), Professor Verene Shepherd announced at a press conference held at the Regional Headquarters of The University of the West Indies (UWI) on June 10 that CARICOM Reparations Commission has expanded the list of countries to be targeted for reparations.

Prof Shepherd also revealed that the CRC was in the process of preparing a new round of letters of demand to be presented to additional countries identified as participants in the trafficking of enslaved Africans to the Caribbean.

The Press conference was called by the Centre for Reparation Research (CRR) at the UWI to share with the Caribbean public, findings from the 2018 expanded Slave Voyages Database created by Prof David Eltis and his team of researchers. This database 2.0 created in 1999 and updated in 2008 and 2018, has revealed 1,000 additional voyages undertaken by slavers from European states that were participants in one form or another in the trade in Africans to CARICOM member states and Cuba and or slavery. Among the less-publicised names are Sweden, Switzerland, Russia, Norway Hanse Towns Brandenburg and the Duchy of Courland (Latvia).

The Slave Voyages Database brings together the work of scholars over four decades and across five continents to track the movements of ships, their countries of origin and the numbers of people who were forcibly taken halfway across the world to the Caribbean.

In a graphic and compelling presentation, CUNY historian Dr Ahmed Reid who is also Chair of the United Nations Working Group of Experts, introduced the latest 2018 findings, highlighting details of over 36,000 voyages between Africa and the Americas, as well as information on 11,400 voyages between the countries of the Caribbean and the Americas. It identifies colonial Kingston, Jamaica as a major trans-shipment port in the 19th century in the trafficking of enslaved Africans mainly to the Spanish Caribbean and reinforces the fact that the trafficking was a global enterprise.

Dr Reid’s presentation also identified the major players and their percentage participation in the trans-Atlantic trade in enslaved Africans; the total  number of Africans that were captured and transported – numbering some 12.5 million and the mortality rate which, he said, was an average of 14%. Included in the expanded database are the names of over 92,000 Africans who were actually trafficked, identifying them by sex but more shockingly by ages that ranged from infants as young as a year old to men as old as 77 being captured, sold and relocated far away from their homeland. As Prof Shepherd reiterated, these names not only represent a digital memorial to the lives of the enslaved butpersonalizes the crime against humanity.

Among the recently revealed ‘less well-known countries’ highlighted in Dr Reid’s presentation, Russia came in for special attention. The records show an 1838 voyage by the vessel Goliubchick, flying the Russian flag departing the port of Odessa and landing in Matanzas, Cuba that same year with a cargo of 306 Africans who had survived the voyage from the original 340 who boarded. Mr Aleksel Alexeevich Sazonov, head of the consular section of the Russian embassy in Jamaica rose to the defense of his country and in a statement, questioned the completeness of the research and suggested that a vessel flying a country’s flag did not necessarily imply that the vessel actually originated in that country.

Prof Shepherd had earlier observed that as the database becomes more widely known, countries implicated will be engaged in denial and cautioned against too quick a denial as the Slave Voyages Database is an active research project.

Responding to the question of what was the next move and how these findings would be used, Prof Shepherd said the findings not only strengthens the case that CARICOM is building against involved and complicit States but also holds them accountable and makes them aware of their responsibility in ways they would never before have confronted. The new findings also enhance the CARICOM Reparations Commission’s work in carrying out the mandate given to it in 2013 by the Heads of Government of CARICOM Member States. In this regard, the Commission was in the process of writing a new round of letters of demand to be issued to complicit States including the new ones identified in the expanded database.

Photo captions: Prof Verene Shepherd, Vice Chair CARICOM Reparations Commission, speaking at the press conference.

Dr Ahmed Reid giving his presentation at the press conference.

Mr Aleksei Alexeyevich Sazonov, Head of Consular Section/Press Attache, Russian Embassy, Jamaica.

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25 Comments

  1. Bring back the kidnapped Dominican parrots
    June 14, 2019

    What about the decedents of the Africans who sold their own people to the white man, are they going to pay reparations too. Africans sold their own people in countries like Liberia. They will have to do DNA testing on living people and hope they can find the bodies of 300 years corpses to take a bone sample, good luck with that.

  2. Nonsense
    June 14, 2019

    Sometimes I think we focus on the wrong things as black people. I’m hoping that these ‘reparations’ are in the form of: education, military security, trade market agreements that can put us in a position to advance our countries, as oppose to just receiving some cheque…

  3. Pushing The Envelope
    June 13, 2019

    I must remind all who give a thumbs down to reparation that as marcus noted we need to consider the whole matter of Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

    First of all, the term “trade” is incorrect as this single party enterprise was not based on two-party agreement. It was an unmitigated, illegal capture and seizure of Africans who as far as I know never signed on any dotted line or received anything compensation in exchange for their labor or lives.

    Secondly, slavery was a prelude to a full fledge attack by the colonizers to conquer, divide and pillage the African continent and its people. It was a brutal and evil act of the highest order that has had devastating, generational consequences unto the present day.

    Apologies and Truth & Reconciliation counsels have their place; however, when it comes to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Enterprise where the perpetrators reaped billions on ill gained profits, reparation is very much in play. It is time to show us the money!!!

  4. marcus
    June 12, 2019

    Before some of us blame the victim of an inhumane act against humanity and say just chuck it up. Africans took part so we should forget about it, Some Jews help Adolf Hitler you think they should forget the holocaust or the Japanese should forget their interment,if that is some of us opinion. I think we need to study our history in depth before making such dismissive statement

    • Me
      June 14, 2019

      There is a difference between remembering, as we should , and cashing in.

  5. Goldstein
    June 12, 2019

    Given many Dominicans are actually descendants of slave owners, will we be paying each other ?

  6. Faceup
    June 12, 2019

    While I am enjoying my benefits France don’t owe nothing to parasites…

  7. Annon
    June 12, 2019

    If you have a birth certificate you are a slave in the system. Most people just don’t know it.

    • Me
      June 14, 2019

      And without a birth certificate you don’t exist, just like the those who survived the middle passage.

  8. Joseph John
    June 12, 2019

    This is very interesting. The only people of the Caribbean who are entitled to compensation/reparation are he the descendants of the Arawaks, Tianos, Kalinagos (Caribs ). The need payment for the lands taken from them AND THE SEA, the Caribbean Sea.
    Those guys are just trying to steal our inheritance, looking for easy money. They should look for some hard work to do and stop the political grandstanding.
    The governments of the islands should be the advocates of this payment. Dominica with “the last Caribs” should be front and center of this action for social justice for our Caribs descendants.

  9. Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
    June 12, 2019

    You all are simply talking to be seen and heard!
     You sick people are simple trying to get rich from your efforts, while pretending to punish the Europeans for slavery, and the atrocities that followed. 
     Nevertheless, while you people wish to extract  money from some white nation treasury; you have forgotten without the help and coordination of our African ancestors who willing allowed the slave traders unto African soil, while they “our African ancestors” capture our forefathers and mothers and sold them for money, there would be no slavery! 
    So; now you money hungry perverts, tell me from which African nation in West Africa, are you going to demand money from to pay for the sufferings of slavery which Black Africans was part of and allowed when they could have stopped it?
     In America free slaves were supposed to have received forty archers of land and Mule: that’s about 212 years. Not one Black American got one dime!Slavery is abolished: Don’t demand  blood money for your…

    • Joseph John
      June 13, 2019

      Lots of “seen and heard” people with blackmailers’ mentality. Always grandstanding for attention.
      Only original people of Latin America and the Caribbean are entitled. This entitlement of all the indigenous people are being ignored by a lot of talking heads who know better. They are cognitive of the Columbian Exchange which documents the white European History of murder and theft for wealth and property. Then they turned around and call their victims savages, ungodly, animals and cannibals.
      Nothing is more vexing than the “cannibals” stereotyping. These lands had an abundance of all kinds of foods, animals, birds and fish. But those Europeans ran out of food on their voyages and had to eat each other to survive.
      They had no refrigeration and lots of spoilage so who was staving.
      The worst part is that we accepted those accusation as truth . Our learnt ones are so conditioned that they parrot all kind of crap like African liberation and slavery reparation.

      • Joseph John
        June 14, 2019

        On yes the even called us uncivilized with no human rights.

  10. Zandoli
    June 12, 2019

    I would not hold my breath waiting for a payoff.

  11. Hector Marie
    June 12, 2019

    as good as this looks I think you all should move on with your personal lives or if this is worth talking or thinking about and not a waste of time ,please lend me the value of my portion which will be repaid with interest after the settlement because ae the result of slavery I am broke and badly need help

  12. Channel 1
    June 12, 2019

    These people too idle and haven’t got work to do or wha. Steuuppsss.

    Well since they going after countries “that were participants in one form or another in the trade in Africans to CARICOM member states and Cuba and or slavery”, why then are NO AFRICAN COUNTRIES on that list? 8-O 8-O

    Slavery of the black man and woman was started by his own fellow black fellows and such enslavement and persecution of black people by their own black people continues today in various forms in the Caribbean, America, Africa etc.

    Take for example the wanton persecution of Lennox Linton instigated by certain persons of the black kind because he stands for truth.

    The Europeans merely came in and expanded the slave trade across the Atlantic. It was the African black man who sold his fellow black brethren and sistren to the Europeans.

    Hence some African countries technically had a part to play in the slave trade and should be included on the list of those countries to pay reparations.

    • MAGWA CA
      June 12, 2019

      i totally agree with you because there is no way a white man from Europe could come to Africa and run down a black man, who was born and raised there hunting in the bush . that black man would have lost the white-man in the bush so easily Its not even funny, and for those of you who say that they could come at night and catch them while they sleeping i will tell you this. they had lookouts on there villages during the night and still have to this day so by the time the white man reach the village in the dark the spot would have been empty. when black people stop just blaming the white man for slavery and firstly start blaming there own people then the hate will stop. BY THE WAY WHO IS GOING TO PAY BACK THE EUROPEANS FOR ALL THE WHITES THAT WERE SOLD INTO SLAVERY IN NORTHERN AFRICA DURING THE BARBARY SLAVE TRADE THAT TOOK PLACE ACROSS THE MEDITERRANEAN ?

      • Channel 1
        June 12, 2019

        @MAGWA CA – In history lessons in school and through additional research, it is documented that in some instances what used to happen was that African tribes at war with each other would capture persons from enemy tribes and then sell these captives to the Europeans when they came calling.

        Many of these “oh, the white man is bad” people conveniently ignore these FACTS.

        But with all their perceived grievances & grudges with the white man, when they want to go for vacation or buy nice things or send their children to study or relocate to live, is the white man country most of them running to first.

        All these talks about reparations is just some people hatching a clever scheme to try to extract money from the European nations – that’s all. Some people too idle yes.

      • Ibo France
        June 12, 2019

        WOW! WOW! WOW! After reading this, I was literally floored. Each of us has our own take on various subjects but this comment is completely baffling and disconcerting. It is impossible for a white man to catch a black man running through the bushes. What! Obviously, you have watched too many Tarzan movies. This is truly unadulterated nonsense. WOW! WOW! WOW!

    • Ibo France
      June 12, 2019

      Channel 1, I mostly agree with your thought provoking, carefully crafted commentaries. This one not so at all, I vehemently disagree with you. The Jews and the Japanese were compensated, why not us? Are we a self defeatist race of people? Your argument about some African countries were responsible for selling their own into slavery so why these African countries should should not pay? This is the exact argument the white racists use so successfully. There is no denial that some African Chiefs sold some of their fellow Africans to the Europeans slave ship owners. However, most, the vast majority of these Africans that came to the Caribbean and the Americas were captured by force, bribed or deceived by the European who were armed with guns. You see, who wins, gets to write the history. My brother, I was once at that stage as a black man being self deprecating. It took me a long time to see the light. I hope it doesn’t take you so long. Peace!

  13. Ibo France
    June 12, 2019

    Any nation that was involved in the shipment of Africans from Africa to the Caribbean and elsewhere across the globe, to be made slaves, should compensate their descendants. Not only did our foreparents worked without pay, they were beaten, maimed and murdered. We, the children are still suffering today. One of the ways in which we are still suffering is that the poor, sugary, salty, cholesterol laden foods that were served to our forebears caused hypertension, diabetes and other diseases. We, the descendants, have inherited many of these serious health problems. Today, diabetes and hypertension are the two most prolific killers of Caribbean people. The Jews were compensated for the holocaust, the Japanese similarly for their internment (1942-1945) in the US during the Second World War. Why not us? Fight on brave sister, don’t relent.

    • Amazin
      June 12, 2019

      How is it that your ancestors being fed certain foods leads you to inherit non communicable diseases? If anything you should inherit a tolerance to the effects. If you could provide the scientific proof of your claims that would be great.

      Also if we are going to target ALL countries involved I hope that includes the african countries where the slaves were originally captured and sold to the ‘white man’.

      • Gary
        June 15, 2019

        Thanks for asking Ibo France to provide evidence to support his belief that our ancestors who were being fed certain foods is the reason why we inherited non-communicable diseases we have today, such a ludicrous belief. He thinks using nice words and grammar depict the reality of the matter. He is a master at distorting facts.

    • Pipo
      June 13, 2019

      This is where I disagree with you Ibo. I mdo not want to benefit from the sufferings of my ancestors an secondly I cannot hold an entire nation responsible for wickedness perpetrated by individuals on the basis that children should not be held responsible for the misdeeds of their fathers. I do not agree with the compensation paid by Germany to Israel. The holocaust was terrible but the people who should have been compensated are mostly dead and I do not like the idea of a religious zealot, who perhaps has emigrated from the US to Israel benefitting from other peoples suffering either. And if you want to charge all countries you must also include Cuba and Brazil, the last to abolish slavery.
      I can see a whole can of worms like the Petro caribe money for Haiti swallowed by the elite and government officials instead of going to the poor.

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