This year Belize celebrated its first Emancipation Day on August 1 to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people in the Caribbean. And on Tuesday the House of Representatives passed a motion for Reparatory Justice for the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery in British Honduras. In July 2013, Belize participated in the Thirty-Fourth Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community which mandated the establishment of a CARICOM Reparations Commission as well as national reparations committees to pursue reparatory justice for the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery and Native Genocide in the Commonwealth Caribbean. “Ten Point Plan for Slavery Reparations” has been devised by the Commission which calls for, among other things, the research and preparation of claims setting out the moral, ethical and legal case for the making of reparations by the United Kingdom. Tabling the motion was Lake I Area Representative Cordel Hyde who says it’s not about the money.
Cordel Hyde, Area Rep. Lake Independence Division: “But reparations is not all about the money. It is not even mostly about the money. As professor Chinweizu says “Money is not even one percent of what reparations is about.” Reparations is mostly about making repairs, self made repairs on ourselves. Mental repairs, psychological repairs, cultural repairs, organizational repairs, social repairs, institutional repairs, technological repairs, economic repairs, political repairs, educational repairs. Repairs of every type that we need in order to recreate and sustain black societies. For the sad truth that five centuries of Holocaust have made our societies brittle and unviable and as the great Marcus Garvey warned over fifty years ago, if we continue as we are we are heading for extinction. That was Chinweizu twenty eight years ago at the first Pan African conference on reparations in Nigeria. Today we see all so clearly Madam Speaker every other day we are killing ourselves as our enemies smile contented that we are now doing it to ourselves. It is more than about the money Madam Speaker it is about the rehabilitation of our minds. They will say why reparations ? But there’s precedents for reparations. The Koreans got, the Eskimos got, Japanese Americans got, the victor countries of World War I and World War II got. In fact the Germans not only had to pay the victorious allies over three hundred and twenty billion dollars for World War II damages but penalties were added for late deliveries.”
The Government of Belize, in presenting this case to the appropriate body, shall seek to valuate not only the economic cost of slavery in Belize but also, the atrocities that slaves endured. The motion was supported by Opposition Leader Patrick Faber.
Patrick Faber, Opposition Leader: “In my view it’s long overdue that Belize joins in. I think after reading the documentation it says that this agreement within CARICOM was made some seven or eight years ago and I use the opportunity again as I’ve done on previous occasion to say congratulations to our entire nation that has made this realization and has made it real. You will remember Madam Speaker we as a nation celebrated for the first time Emancipation Day on August first of this year as a national holiday and you will know that even before the move by the government to ensure that it is a public and bank holiday that as Minister of Culture we placed on record the appreciation of August first though it wasn’t made a public holiday then as Emancipation day we gave it recognition and at the time when that was done it was me acting jointly with colleagues of mine including Honorable member from Mesopotamia and my colleague one OJ Elrington who are very passionate black people like me and this cause strikes dear to the heart and so we one hundred percent and more if we could give our support to this motion and I think the Honorable Deputy Prime Minister gave a good explanation I think that is a wonderful pronouncement on how we all ought to feel.”