Europe has been given a stark reminder from Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne that it is high time they pay up for reparations.
Today, residents are celebrating Emancipation Day, 189 years since the abolition of slavery
In his Emancipation Day address, Browne said the celebration and commemoration of Emancipation Day is also a call to Europe for reparations, “and we make no apologies about this”.
“Emancipation recognizes the centuries of enslavement, that crime against humanity that robbed us of basic human dignity, which reduces to chattel, that is, chattel property and extracted blood, sweat, and tears to provide the wealth that developed Europe.
“In these celebrations, we pay respect and homage to our ancestors, those who bore the whips and chains, those who helped clear the path to freedom through their resistance and sacrifices. It is in their honor, in their memory, that the nations of this Caribbean, among which Antigua and Barbuda, stand tall, sit to Europe in a non-confrontational manner. You owe us for 200 years of free labor and you must pay reparations,” Browne said
The emancipation celebrations usually happen annually during the carnival celebrations,
Browne said the opportunity should be used to invoke the message of emancipation into the festival and hope that the nation will be mindful at all times that “we are our brothers and sisters keeper”
“We are brothers and sisters and should treat each other with the same regard that exists in our families regardless of political affiliation. There is no need for confrontation. There is no need for violence. Violence is the tool of the enslavers, or Carnival gives us the opportunity to recognize, to relive, and to stimulate the cultural strengths of our people in song and dance, pageantry and organization that protected us throughout the journey of enslavement and colonialism,” PM Browne said in his message
He also acknowledged the 10th anniversary of the Antigua and Barbuda Reparations Support Commission, recognizing and applauding what he said is their unwavering promotion of freedom, dignity, and human rights, of which reparations are critical.
Meanwhile, Browne said August 1st, is both of historical significance and contemporary inspiration in the black world’s struggle for recognition, justice, and freedom.
“This struggle continues in the international environment that is united against the interests of small island states like ours and the citizens”, He said
Another significant celebration is the 50th anniversary of Caricom; the regional movement of 20 Caribbean countries committed to cooperation and collaboration on actions that enhance economic integration, foreign policy coordination, human and social development, and national security.
It is in the deeper understanding of emancipation that Browne said, “ find the same values that have maintained Caricom for 50 years”
He said the understanding of our shared history as an oppressed and exploited people and the recognition that it was and still is, unity that is a oneness of vision that has catalyzed and impelled all progress we have made as a people.
“Today we stand proudly as a united region in all global spaces, protesting the unfair financial demands and the inequities imposed on us with impunity by the Euro-American world. Today we insist on reform of the world’s economic infrastructure and, most importantly, demanding human rights and justice, as well as climate justice and reparatory justice”, he said