The task of the Caribbean Reparations Commission is a very simple one, as the Prime Minister of Barbados has explained :
1. An admission of wrong-doing by the developed countries which so grievously injured the brown and black (and every colour in between) people of the less-developed world;
2. An apology for having imposed the most brutal form of oppression on a largely defenceless and unresisting people; and
3. Compensation for the overwhelming trials and tribulations inflicted on our people in consequence of European colonization, not only in the Caribbean but in Asia, and, more especially, Africa.
The issue is not just money, although the developing world is still staggering under the burdens imposed by the depredations of the marauding European colonizers. Every country which they colonized is still trying to come to terms with the consequences of colonization and the rapacity of the Europeans, while their countrymen struggle to establish and maintain a satisfactory standard of living.
There are those among us who will argue that our countries are in possession of wealth enough for our needs, but imagine what it would have been like I if so much had not been carted off to Europe and the US. Many of us are surviving on the detritus left behind by the plunderers who sucked out not only the wealth of the land but also the labour of our people to fatten their pockets.
The argument has been advanced by people who know better that slavery was well-established in Africa and Asia long before European colonization. Such persons neglect to acknowledge that slavery at the time was by rulers of their own people, or of war captives. The commercialization of slavery and its use to develop the productive capacity of a nation was a feature of so-called western civilization. Although it existed in ancient times, it was not as widespread and structured as it became during this period.
People who have accumulated enough wealth to live the high life would too readily accuse the less fortunate of not being willing to make the effort to succeed, but would not acknowledge that their own material success arises from the adoption of the behaviours of the oppressors. Many such persons would not dare to have their antecedents examined for fear of what might be revealed.
For whatever it is worth, the developed countries of the world, Great Britain, the Netherlands, France, Spain and the United States owe the developing countries, especially Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, a debt which can never be repaid, but reparations for exploitation of their resources and acknowledgement of the crimes of colonization would be a good starting point.