Slavery loan wasn’t fully repaid by Britain until 2015 – CARICOM Reparations Chair


A loan that was taken by the British Government to pay slave owners for the abolition of slavery in 1834 was not fully repaid until 2015. This disclosure was made by Vice-Chancellor of The UWI and Chair of the CARICOM Reparations Commission, Sir Hilary Beckles at a press conference hosted at the University of the West Indies on Wednesday morning.

The purpose of the press conference – held at the Centre for Reparation Research (CRR) – was to confront claims by the British Government’s Treasury posted via a #FridayFact  on its official Twitter channel on Friday, February 9, 2018. The tweet, which was shared with the HM Treasury’s 318,000 followers, read: “Millions of you helped end the slave trade through your taxes”.

Although it was subsequently deleted, the tweet triggered reactions by various interest groups, and captured the attention of the British media and the CRR at The UWI.

The Commission Chair noted that Britain had argued against reparations saying they could not apologise or provide compensation for slavery and the slave trade because it was not illegal at the time and it also took place a long time ago. (more…)

Guyanese ‘change-maker’ Jubilante Cutting cops 2017 Nelson Mandela-Graça Machel Innovation Award

Founder of the Guyana Animation Network (GAN) Ms Jubilante Cutting
Founder of the Guyana Animation Network (GAN) Ms. Jubilante Cutting

Young Guyanese activist and animator, Ms. Jubilante Cutting, is one of four awardees who on Thursday received the coveted Nelson Mandela-Graça Machel Innovation Awards for 2017 in front of an audience of almost 700 civil society leaders from across the globe. The awards ceremony was held in Fiji.

The Awards, named for human rights icon Nelson Mandela and former First Lady of South Africa and Mozambique, humanitarian Graça Machel, honour remarkable bravery and innovation in creating social change and empowering future generations.

The awards recognise outstanding efforts in four categories: Youth Activist, Individual Activist, Civil Society Organisation and Brave Philanthropy.

Youth Activist category winner, Jubilanté Cutting from Guyana, is pioneering the development of opportunities to help Caribbean youth shape the future of the digital and creative industries. In 2016, at just 19, she founded the Guyana Animation Network – an organisation that empowers young people with skills in digital media and animation.


More opportunities provided for private sector as CARICOM, Cuba expand duty-free market access


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The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Cuba on Thursday signed the Second Protocol to an Agreement that will expand access to each other’s markets for goods.

CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, and Cuban Ambassador to CARICOM, His Excellency Julio Cesar Gonzalez Marchante, signed the Second Protocol to the Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement between CARICOM and Cuba during the opening of the 45th Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) in Georgetown, Guyana.

Under the Second Protocol, Cuba will expand duty free access to more than 320 items including meat, fish, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, beer, rum, cement, soap and apparel. CARICOM will grant duty free access to some 50 items, including fish, pharmaceutical products, fertilisers and articles of iron and steel. The Community will also offer differentiated treatment on 22 items. The differentiated treatment includes phased reduction of duty by Most Developed Countries in CARICOM.

The CARICOM Secretary-General said that signing the Second Protocol marked a further deepening of the trade and economic relations between CARICOM and Cuba and provided further opportunities for the Region’s private sector.

See more photos here


Major Financial Institutions willing to reassess development financing policy

(From left) Amb. Colin Granderson, Assistant Secretary-General, Foreign and Community Relations, CARICOM Secretariat; His Excellency Javier Maria Carbajosa, Plenipotentiary Representative of Spain to CARICOM; and Amb. Irwin LaRocque, CARICOM Secretary-General
(From left) Amb. Colin Granderson, Assistant Secretary-General, Foreign and Community Relations, CARICOM Secretariat; His Excellency Javier Maria Carbajosa, Plenipotentiary Representative of Spain to CARICOM; and Amb. Irwin LaRocque, CARICOM Secretary-General

International Financial Institutions (IFIs) including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are now willing to reassess the policy of GDP per capita attached to concessionary development financing.

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, said that this was a major result of his recent discussions in Washington with the President of the World Bank and the Executive Director of the IMF.

Speaking on Tuesday, 17 October, at the accreditation ceremony of the new Ambassador of Spain to CARICOM, His Excellency Javier Carbajosa Sanchez, the Secretary-General said the Banks were willing to work with CARICOM, but they cautioned that a final decision resided with the countries which sat on the boards.

CARICOM has been lobbying consistently for a reversal of the policy of graduation which sees some Member States denied access to concessionary development financing. Their graduation to middle income status, with the use of GDP per capita as a major criterion, has attracted commercial rates for development loans. This situation increases already high debt burdens in Member States.

“That debt burden was significantly incurred by reconstruction after major climatic events in a Region designated as the most natural disaster-prone in the world,” Secretary-General LaRocque said.

See more photos of the accreditation ceremony. (more…)

Haitian delegation visits Barbados to prepare for CARIFESTA XIII

Haitian delegation
(L-R) Stephanie St. Louis and Philippe Dodard from Haiti, John Hunte Artistic Coordinator for Barbados, Andrea Wells Festival Director, Francine Charles Marketing Coordinator., Kim Butcher Programme Coordinator and David Reeves Logistics Coordinator for CARIFESTA XIII as they get down to fine tuning the details for the Haiti delegation.

As preparations for CARIFESTA XIII intensify, visiting delegations are also stepping up their plans to go to Barbados. Over the past weekend, the local CARIFESTA Secretariat welcomed a group from Haiti who visited the island to solidify plans for the upcoming Festival.

Phillippe Dodard Directeur General, Ecole Nationale Des Arts (Director General of the National Arts School) and Stephanie St. Louis Directrice à la Creation Artistique et Litteraire Ministére de la Culture (Director of Creative Art and Literature in the Ministry of Culture) met with Festival Director Andrea Wells and other local officials to firm up the plans for their own delegation which is expected to be between 80 and 100 persons.

At the meeting, they learnt of the programming for the 13th iteration of the Festival, and looked at locations where their delegation will be performing. The large contingent, which is going to be staggered in its attendance, will have persons coming in time to participate in the Opening Ceremony. Another group will head to Barbados for the Closing Ceremony. (more…)