by Frederick H. Lowe
The Caribbean Community Secretariat, an organization representing 15 Caribbean countries in a common market, soon will present a plan to Britain, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Spain concerning reparations for the Transatlantic slave trade.
A lawsuit has not yet been filed, Martyn Day, the attorney for the Caribbean organization that goes by acronym CARICOM, wrote in an email to The NorthStar News & Analysis on Monday.
“A claim is due to be presented to western governments reasonably shortly. It will only be if they refuse to listen to the claim or give it short shift that a legal case will be brought,” said Day, senior partner of Leigh Day solicitors, a London-based law firm.
The Transatlantic Slave Trade began in 1450 when the Portuguese and Spanish holdings of African slaves expanded with the maritime voyages of the fifteenth century.
The Transatlantic slave trade grew moderately until after 1650 when it exceeded the slave trade across the Sahara Desert and the Red Sea, according to “Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African-American Experience.”
The Caribbean was one of two major broad markets for slave trade. Over two centuries, when the slave trade was at its height, the Caribbean boasted major locations for sugar production.
Although historians often cite Britain’s role in the abolition of the slave trade in 1850, during the eighteenth century, when the slave trade accounted for the transport of a 6 million Africans, Britain was the worst transgressor — responsible for almost 2.5 million enslaved Africans.
The Caribbean countries that are members of CARICOM are: Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago.
A CARICOM spokesperson did not respond to a NorthStar News & Analysis email for comment regarding reparations.
The Caribbean was the scene of a number of slave revolts. They included work slowdowns, sabotage of plantation production and sometimes suicide. Some slaves escaped and joined maroons, or communities of escaped slaves. The communities served as the basis of large-slave revolts, according to “Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African-American Experience.”
CARICOM, which is based in Georgetown, Guyana, wants an apology from the European countries that participated in the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
In addition, CARICOM is seeking assistance with reparations and help in a number of other areas. The requests include building museums, health and welfare, assistance with national debts and for some repatriation back to Africa, Day wrote. He did not say how much money the countries are seeking.
Day only is representing CARICOM, not regions or countries seeking reparations for the slave trade in North and South America. President Barack Obama has said that he was against reparations.
Last June, Day won a $30 million settlement for Kenyans who had been tortured by British soldiers during the Mau Mau revolt in the 1950s.