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Humans

Legacies of Slavery

November 15th, 2013
in:Humans
by:Jonathan Lutes
located in:Trinidad and Tobago
tags:Caribbean, Caricom, slavery

The Caribbean as a region is rife with linguistic and political diversity: even defining the term Caribbean either politically or geographically can include varying numbers of nations situated in the Caribbean Sea.

But history unites all Caribbean nations: to this day its effects are present in contemporary culture and society and are felt in political alliances and economic challenges.

These legacies of slavery, as termed by Op-Ed Contributor Laurent Dubois, have caused a high dependence on foreign aid and foreign banks in the area while the scarce economic cooperation is a carryover from colonial times. And yet, Caribbean countries are indebted to their former colonial powers, even today. Haiti, upon gaining independence, had to pay compensatory money to France in return for diplomatic recognition in 1825. The United Kingdom compensated former plantation owners for their economic loss after the abolishment of slavery.

Every now and then, outraged activists have called for a reversal of this injustice. Not only do freed slaves (and their ancestors today) deserve monetary compensation for their suffering, but there is a case for demanding repayment for generations of hard physical labor. In recent years these calls for compensation have become a political tool to trigger much needed debate. Europe is now being forced such a debate by Caricom, a fifteen-member organization of Caribbean nations. The group is demanding reparation from the former colonial and slave-trading nations of Britain, France and the Netherlands.

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Jonathan Lutes
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