Caribbean Nations Sue Europe for Slavery Reparations

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

GUINEA BISSAU - CIRCA 1990: Slave Trade Scene on 500 Pesos 1990 Banknote from Guinea Bissau (Georgios Kollidas/Shutterstock)

Countries once involved in the slave trade in the Caribbean are putting a price on the suffering slavery has caused the region.

Fourteen Caribbean nations are asking the former colonial powers of Britain, France and the Netherlands to pay for the damage they inflicted through years of slavery and racism.

What impact has the slave trade of centuries ago had on the average person in the Caribbean? And does it make sense to try to right historical wrongs?

Joining The Takeaway to weigh in on this issue is Staceyann Chin, a Jamaican-American writer and activist who lived in Jamaica until she was 24-years-old. Martyn Day is a senior partner at Leigh Day, the British law firm litigating on behalf of Caribbean countries. He joins the program to explain the legal aspects of the case. 


Staceyann Chin and Martyn Day

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer and Megan Quellhorst


T.J. Raphael

Comments [8]

Steve from UK

What an absolute load of crud is the idea of compensation for slavery.
So do the British now sue the Scandanavian countries for the murder rape and slavery inflicted on them by Vikins.
How about the Jews sueing Germany, and their allies for the holocaust.
Most Arab countries sold Africans to slavers so a class action law suit against them then?
Japanese enslaved the Chinese big time during the 30's lets have them in the doc.
It seems to me this chip on the shoulder of these countries is being fuelled by all these do gooders who seem to think that black people are the only ones that ever had sh_t happen to them.
It was a nasty time for them at that time.....not now.
Time to move on or else by the time each "aggrieved nation" has finished sueing/being sued, money will be flying around in circles for eons.
Move on.

Jun. 26 2014 11:59 AM
Shaking My from D*mn Head

Also, the notion that black people were less human was more complicated than that; more disingenuous and convenient...There is massive ignorance here.

Oct. 25 2013 10:15 AM
Jazelle from California, USA

Thank you so much for considering the animals we confine in factory farms in your interview questions! They are so often forgotten. Future generations will look back on how cruelly we have treated the other sentient beings we share the planet with in the same way we are now horrified by wrongs committed against others by our ancestors. Over nine billion animals are slaughtered in the US every year, numbers unprecedented in history. The amount of collective suffering on a daily basis is staggering to even contemplate. It is time we addressed all oppression and cruelty toward others, not just humans, but especially those we can so easily help- the ones destined for our tables.

Oct. 24 2013 03:58 AM
fuva from harlemworld

JOHN, so there was a time when "people were considered little more than animals"...? And what? And because they thought that, it was valid and requires no redress? WERE they animals, John?...The Holocaust and the internment of the Japanese were LEGAL under those regimes too...SMDH...Your comparison of the enslavement/torture/systematic rape/stolen labor/brutality of black PEOPLE to...RED MEAT?...These crazy comments, and Denise's, are illustrative of the need
(1) to retire the term 'slave' here and replace it with 'enslaved black person', to underscore the humanity of those people, because IT IS LOST on far, far too many, including so-called Progressives, and
(2) for a mass information campaign on this topic -- breaking down what happened, replete with the gory details, and the ongoing ripple effects (and Henry Louis Gates is probably not the one to spearhead this) -- to accompany any REPARATION, so that it may foster RECONCILIATION.

Oct. 24 2013 01:25 AM

John ,
I know you were playing devil's advocate, however, comparing African slave treatment retribution to a case against the way animals are treated in meat eating countries contributes to how African slaves were considered less human and have less intelligence making them equal or less than to farm animals. Haven't African-Americans and other in slave groups been treated bad enough without you saying retribution is like fight for animal cruelty? I hate how the meat industry works but I would hope inhuman cases on a global level takes priority.

This is the main difference with African slaves in European colonized countries and Irish and other slaves throughout history, they were told and it was written in the Constitution that African slaves were not 100% human and only 3/5 human based on skin color. Yes, Irish experienced horrific genocide, yet not legally documented they were not of the human race based on race which is a man made tool to control. Plus, not many, but there were Irish decent slave owners in the South. I don't know of any Black slave owners that had Irish slaves. And instead of being angry about one oppressed group fighting back, we should work together Denise.

Oct. 23 2013 01:52 PM
Denise from PA

Slaves came in many forms.. and the Irish and English lower class were enslaved and treated worse than the Africans; yet no one talks about white slavery. Racism and oppression, yes.. complain about that.. but slavery was a widespread abuse of HUMANS throughout history not just of the blacks from Aftrica.

Oct. 23 2013 12:26 PM
fuva from harlemworld

Reparations for the 500+ year enslavement and state-sanctioned terrorizing of black people is a no-brainer -- morally, legally, etc.. Anyone who tries to deny this will be twisting themselves into "logical" pretzels...Like THE HOST JUST DID...on NPR no less...

But reparation, to be effective and to foster reconciliation, MUST be accompanied by truth and understanding about the ongoing effects and their myriad manifestations.

Oct. 23 2013 09:49 AM

Last night there was an excellent episode on WHYY TV in the greater Philadelphia area. Here is a synopsis of "Many Rivers To Cross": "Henry Louis Gates Jr. chronicles the history of African-Americans, beginning with the years 1500 to 1800. Included: the first documented introduction of slaves to North America, which occurred in 1619 at Jamestown, Va.; and the expansion of slavery during the 18th century, which is told via the story of a 10-year-old girl named Priscilla who was brought to South Carolina from Sierra Leone. Also: what the American, French and Haitian revolutions meant for African-Americans and slavery in America. Original Air Date: Oct 22, 2013"

This program spoke to me about a period of history of which I had little to no knowledge. It is well worth viewing, and further reading about the ramifications history of slavery in the "old world" and "new world" and may shed light on this issue.

Oct. 23 2013 09:37 AM

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