Reparations for slavery and genocide should be kept together – Dr Adams
August 4, 2015
Reparations for slavery and genocide should be kept together – Dr Adams

“If you’re bringing it to world view, there is nothing wrong with keeping them all together… I don’t think that it would be very appropriate to just go for the Garifuna alone and leave the other one [slavery] out…”

This was the opinion of renowned local historian Dr Edgar {{more}}Adams, in response to a recent call for reparations for slavery to be sought separately from reparations for genocide of the indigenous persons in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

This call had been made by Wellington C Ramos, part of a visiting Garifuna delegation, at a press conference at the New Democratic Party (NDP) headquarters to discuss the matter of proposed honorary citizenship for Garinagu descendants in Central and North America.

During his presentation last Wednesday, Ramos observed that the Government’s current approach of seeking reparations for slavery and genocide should be changed, because the Garifuna people were never slaves.

“We want to separate the two issues,” he asserted. “It’s not that we don’t care about slavery, but the people who were enslaved, that is their issue – it is not our issue. Please, don’t bring that slavery to us; bring the genocide.”

Ramos also said that persons of Garifuna descent should be proud of their ancestors, because they were “the only people in this region that stood up and fought for justice.

“The other people put fear in themselves. If you put fear in yourself, you will fail.”

Speaking with SEARCHLIGHT yesterday, Dr Adams wholeheartedly agreed that the atrocities committed against the Garifuna people during their exile to Balliceaux (and subsequently Roatán) was genocide, and reparations should be sought.

However, he said that he is not necessarily convinced that reparations for slavery and genocide should be pursued individually.

“I wouldn’t say that they shouldn’t be presented together. As a matter of fact, the people who are presenting it, they would know best whether they should combine that with the other one… If they are going to get any consideration and present just a piece of it and come back another five years with another piece and so on, you may find that that is very difficult to do as well.”

Also speaking to SEARCHLIGHT was president of The Garifuna Heritage Foundation (TGHF) David ‘Darkie’ Williams, who echoed the sentiment of not seeing any fault with pursuing reparations for both genocide and slavery jointly.

“Maybe Mr Ramos’s suggestion has some merit in it, but I don’t think… there is any conflict if the Government proceeds in the way that they are proceeding,” insisted Williams.

“The mere fact that Mr Ramos’s pronouncement since he has been in St Vincent is tinted with a particular partisan political side would make him want to say… lots of things that [don’t] fall in line with what the Government does, as far as the issue of Garifuna is concerned.”

Williams also noted that since Ramos arrived with his delegation, neither he nor TGHF has received any invitation to meet with him to discuss the issues at hand.

He did, however, mention that he had encountered Ramos since he arrived in SVG.

“I had a face-to-face with him and it had nothing to do with our policy, with our approach to things — nothing like that came up. It was just a casual meeting.”

Williams also said that he had been verbally invited (by NDP public relations officer Vynnette Frederick) to attend the trip to Balliceaux that the visiting Garifuna delegation had been taken on yesterday, but due to prior commitments, he had not been able to attend.