Antigua Observer | October 6th, 2011.
Caricom advised to end economic partnership with Europe
ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Caricom leaders have failed, as a group, to press European countries for reparations for the slave trade, social commentator Dr Radcliffe Robbins said yesterday.
As a result, he recommends that member states abandon the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) signed in 2008 with Europe.
“Our political leaders have not demonstrated the (fortitude) to stand up in forums as a united group and say, ‘we all suffered this history and as long as we talk to you about aid and development, aid and development must be seen with the perspective of reparations,’” Dr Robbins said on OBSERVER Radio’s Voice of the People yesterday.
The EPA is a comprehensive and development-oriented trading arrangement that replaces the previous non-reciprocal trading arrangement between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.
Dr Robbins warned that sticking to the agreement would be a “serious mistake” as, he believes, the controversial trade deal will hurt the development of regional economies.
“Every single leader in Caricom should make a political decision that they’re going to go after reparations. You know why? They (European countries) do not wish to pay reparations and so to side-step us, and to make that impossible, they have introduced something they call the Economic Partnership Agreement,” he said.
“The Economic Partnership agreement is a policy instituted by the Europeans to keep us so underdeveloped that it will become impossible for us to have the economic clout, the political clout, and the administrative clout to challenge them for the bigger issue which is reparations.”
The social commentator took issue with some residents who are opposed to reparations, saying that they are stoking divisiveness within the country.
He stressed that the issue is not so much about whether a particular state should be responsible, but rather the need to acknowledge that injustice was done.
“Arguments on the philosophy, on the concept are divisive and this generation who are alive in the year 2011 need to stand up and get beyond that. The economic argument has been made; the legal argument has been made. We now need to put in place the political mechanism that allows this to take place,” he said further.
“Let us understand that an injustice has been done and if an injustice has been done, then justice must be sought and if justice must be sought, how best can we seek that justice at this historical point.”
The debate over the issue was sparked by a call for compensation by Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer at the recently held UN General Assembly session in the US.