Breaking Boundaries: Milestones & Momentum at the Caribbean Reparations and Colonialism Symposium

The following article is republished from The Daily Herald and was written on December 15, 2023 by Bonaire Human Rights Organization

From left, Bonaire Human Rights Organization President Davika Bissessar-Shaw; International Advisor on Governance/UN Expert/Chief Dr. Carlyle Corbin; Vice-Chair CARICOM Reparations Commission; Chair of Guyana Reparations Committee and Executive Member of African Culture and Development Association Dr. Eric Phillips; Leader of Pueblo Progresivo Uni James Finies.

Success marks the conclusion of the 8th symposium on Contemporary Colonialism & Reparations in the Caribbean on Bonaire hosted by Bonaire Human Rights Organization from November 29 to December 3.

The 8th Symposium on Contemporary Colonialism & Reparations in the Caribbean culminated in resounding success after five days of engaging discussions, workshops and impactful presentations held across various venues on Bonaire. The symposium brought together distinguished speakers, activists and stakeholders, fostering critical dialogue on pressing issues in the Caribbean region.

This symposium witnessed the active participation of delegates from diverse Caribbean countries and territories, including the hardly known Raizal People, reflecting a shared commitment to addressing colonial legacies and pursuing reparative justice.

The symposium’s agenda was marked by notable events, including a vibrant Youth Political Debate, Dr. Carlyle Corbin’s insightful presentation on Contemporary and Neo-colonialism in the Caribbean and Chief Dr. Eric Phillips’ profound discourse on Reparations, shedding light on historical injustices and the path towards redress. Participants also from the Pan African Student Congress from the United States Chapter presented an enlightening presentation.

This event marked a historical moment whereas Bonaire Human Rights Organization as Associate Member of [Caribbean Community] CARICOM Reparations Commission hosted for the first time CARICOM Vice-Chair Dr. Phillips, who officially made a ground-breaking presentation on Bonaire and the former Netherlands Antilles on Reparations, especially in the context of the recent Dutch Apology by the Netherlands government. Headed by CARICOM Head of States, the reparations movement, which is seeking reparatory justice on crimes against humanity committed against our ancestors, is gaining worldwide traction as the CARICOM and the African Union recently unified in this effort going forward.

Another significant milestone was the formal opening by [The Permanent Conference of Political Parties of Latin America and the Caribbean-ed.] COPPPAL of a regional office effected by Jorge Garcia Cordova vice executive secretary general on behalf of the COPPPAL President Alejandro Morena Cardenas of Mexico marking their presence and representation on Bonaire entering partnership with the Bonaire Human Rights Organization shared office as a commitment in reaffirming their dedication to advocating for human rights and fostering regional collaborations.

Furthermore, after the unmatched historical 536 days in 2022 and 2023 during international pilgrimage raising awareness and seeking solidarity campaign in Latin America and the Caribbean, to list Bonaire on the UN Non-Self-Governing-Territories the symposium witnessed the launch of James Finies’ next step, the political party, PUEBLO PROGRESIVO UNI. The party is founded together with Marjolein Finies where COPPPAL Vice-President Joe Koolman of Aruba spoke as COPPPAL by special case admitted instantly Pueblo Progresivo Uni as COPPPAL member and conjointly Clyde van Putten the popular political leader of Sint Eustatius who spoke and gave all support to James Finies’ new political party signifying a concerted effort to amplify voices and effect positive change in the region.

During the same launch event, a new civil-society organization Movement For Change founded by Sedney Marten and Kaile Finies was introduced to support and further information and awareness to the Bonaire people of their rights.

The climax of the symposium was the prestigious Award Ceremony, where the remarkable contributions of Dr. Carlyle G. Corbin life works in the Caribbean and Pacific Territories were honoured alongside the recognition of outstanding achievements by citizens of Bonaire. As heroes of the Bonaire struggle to self-determination, Elvis Braaf, Izaak “Uz” Evertsz, Richard “Rishi” Pietersz and Sarah Winklaar were recognized.

The success of the 8th Symposium on Contemporary Colonialism & Reparations in the Caribbean serves as a testament to the unwavering dedication of all participants and stakeholders in advancing critical discourse, fostering unity, and charting a course towards a more just and equitable future for the Caribbean.