Slavery and reparations debated in the Yellow House during Caricom week

Slavery and reparations debated in the Yellow House during Caricom week

From the Yellow House “Antonio José de Sucre” in Caracas, and as part of the Week of the Caribbean in Venezuela 2023 the conference will take place this Friday: The reparations campaign of caricom and its global significance, with the aim of continuing to fight for a world of justice and a better world.

During the intervention of the Barbadian ambassador to Caricom, David Commissiong, the moral and monetary debt that England and Europe have with the African ancestors who were enslaved and used for their mercantilist purposes was highlighted.

It is unusual that today “the British Government still say they agree that human beings in the past were not human and therefore slavery was legal,” he said.

Given these statements, Commissiong explained that “there is no legal process that can transform humans into something other than human beings. Our African ancestors were human beings.”

In this sense, he stated that “it was a crime to enslave human beings, it was a crime to enslave our African ancestors, a crime in the law of England and the international law that existed at that time.”

By emphasizing the importance of vindicating the struggle that various abolitionist leaders forged from the 19th century to date, Commissiong highlighted the process of demands for reparations by enslaved citizens.

“When we say that we demand reparations, it is based on international law that establishes that the things that were done to these human beings were crimes,” he stressed.

He indicated that “slavery was totally abolished in 1834 in the British Empire.”

They didn’t make up for the crimes

“After looting and robbing our people they didn’t compensate them, instead they compensated the slaveholders. The British Government bonds, to pay the slaveholders, were completely canceled in December 2015, only eight years ago”, stressed the Ambassador Commissiong.

Therefore, it ratified that these events constitute “genocide and crimes against humanity, no matter how much time has passed, they can still be adjudicated today.”

“A crime against humanity consists of murder and extermination, enslavement, deportation and any other inhuman act that is committed against any civilian citizen, whether or not it violates the national law of a country where it is committed. That is the definition of a crime against humanity,” he said.

For its part, genocide according to the United Nations “consists of any of the following acts committed to destroy in whole or in part an ethnic or religious group and deliberately inflicts mental or bodily harm on them in which they are in a position to life for its destruction.”

expanded repairs

The ambassador Commissiong highlighted that the campaign demanding reparations has expanded, “in 2016 we only targeted national governments, there were only six, but now we are going beyond national governments and we have increased from six to ten governments, because we continue to investigate and we have discovered that countries like Switzerland, Sweden, Norway and Germany were also deeply involved in slavery in the Caribbean region, not just governments but institutions that still exist.”

He explained that “they were involved in the slavery and trade of human beings. Let us remember the triangular trade from Europe to the west coast of Africa to load ships with enslaved Africans and bring them to the Caribbean.

For all this, “we demand payments to these companies and institutions, and we have said that the international economic and political order is not equal, it is unfair and it has its roots in those centuries of colonialism, slavery, for what they have made black nations and mixed race remain in a structurally unfair and exploitative system.”

“Our fights for reparations are aimed at restructuring those institutions and bringing justice to our nations and peoples,” he added.

self repair

“We must look at ourselves, we must search our minds to see, will we have a notion of this white superiority and black inferiority and if so, we must remove it and learn about our history and ancestral continent, and know where we come from and what we did before we colonization,” he said.

The self-healing process “only we can complete ourselves,” he added.

Finally, the Vice Minister for North America, Carlos Ron, took the floor, reiterating that Venezuela continues with the firm commitment to promote reparations and social justice, “and that this conference serves to remember that this commitment is based on our own humanity, identity and heritage of our ancestors”.

Caribbean week

Since Monday the 26th, the Caribbean Week has been a meeting space to discuss that several nations managed to abolish and eradicate slavery until adopting a new emancipatory system.

During the Symposium 50 years of the Caribbean community (Caricom) in the Yellow House, headquarters of the Chancellery, In Caracas, the role of the region in the integration of the peoples was discussed, as part of the programming for the bloc’s anniversary week.

The Chancellor of the Republic, Yván gilstressed that only united as a region will there be great victories for the Latin American and Caribbean integration project.

“I want to signify some elements that we are already going over. 220 years ago in Haiti the first Revolution of Latin America and the Caribbean broke out, from there it became a rebel territory, ”he indicated in his speech.

Likewise, he explained that the peoples of the region “have been in the task of conquering independence, sovereignty and freedom and the only way is to be united. It has been shown that solitary projects have little viability”.

For this reason, Chancellor Gil reiterated that “the future together will be victories for the Latin American and Caribbean project.”

Various activities have been carried out at the Casa Amarilla and the Aquiles Nazoa Cultural House, and this Friday, June 30, Caribbean Week will culminate, with the exchange of knowledge and debates to understand the past, present, and future of the region.

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