Mottley has a reparations bill for the UK

The following article is republished from Caribbean Life and was written by Bert Wilkinson on December 14, 2023.

Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019, at the United Nations headquarters.

CARICOM’s most militant and outspoken head of government says she is taking the fight to Britain and other former European slave trading nations to make them pay reparations for the genocide and there is already a tabulated invoice on how much Britain at least owes her island nation in payments.

Mia Mottley of Barbados, the regional prime minister responsible for reparations among colleagues, said she has already held high level talks with Britain’s King Charles but she is unprepared, for now, to release any details on their discussions.

Since taking over the reparations responsibility from electorally defeated and inert Prime Minister Freundel Stuart back in 2018, Mottley has raised the profile of the regional reparations fight, ensuring that the Caribbean sends out demand letters to European capitals and attempting to engage English families who are today enjoying the wealth their ancestors gained from slavery.

“We’re not expecting that the reparatory damages will be paid in a year, or two, or five because the extraction of wealth and the damages took place over centuries. But we are demanding that we be seen and that we are heard,” the Today newspaper quoted her as saying recently. “The “conspiracy of silence for years “has diminished the horror of what our people faced,” she said, noting that the conversation on reparations must of necessity commence, no matter how difficult nor time consuming.

The PM had previously cited a figure of $24 trillion based on a standard definition of damage but has trimmed it down now to about $5 trillion. “I’m not going to get into the details of our conversation but suffice to say, I think the foreign secretary (David Cameron) will take his lead from his majesty,” she said. She said King Charles had referred to the issue during a speech in Rwanda last year while he was still the Prince of Wales, as he had noted his “personal sorrow at the suffering of so many” and that he continues to “deepen his understanding of slavery’s enduring impact. To forge a common future that benefits all our citizens, we too must find new ways to acknowledge our past. This is a conversation whose time has come,” he had said, a point Mottley is prepared to pounce on repeatedly.

Meanwhile, in recent weeks, Caribbean researchers have come up with actual figures owed to the region and descendants of slavery. The calculations were compiled by the Brattle Group of American economists and consultants with help from Caribbean attorneys, historians, politicians and history students. A British law firm retained by governments has already said the region’s case is very strong and is awaiting orders to move forward on the case.

For example, Britain’s tab to 14 Caribbean nation is tallied at $24 trillion, while Spain’s is $17 trillion, Portugal specifically to Brazil would have to come up with $20 trillion while The Netherlands’ tab is $5 trillion, $3trillin of which should go to CARICOM member nation, Suriname and $50 billion to neighboring Guyana which was for an extended period, also a Dutch colony. The recommendation from the researchers is that the money be paid over a 10-20-year period by mutually binding agreement.

The draft demand letter is being finalized for signature and presentation to European nations. Back in February, the African Union had approved a resolution mandating its secretariat to collaborate and liaise with CARICOM on reparations and slavery.