Sir Hilary Beckles, chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission and vice chancellor of the University of the West Indies, has once again called on Britain to come back to the table to discuss reparatory justice for the Caribbean economy.
Sir Hilary was giving the feature address at a recently held Symposium to honor the life and work of St. Lucian Nobel Laureate Sir Arthur Lewis. The symposium, held virtually on June 15, was hosted by the CARICOM Reparations Commission in collaboration with the Saint Lucia National Reparations Committee and the Nobel Laureates Festival Committee, Saint Lucia.
The event included numerous prominent scholars, economists and public officials who paid tribute to Saint Lucian-born economist and Nobel Prize winner Sir William Arthur Lewis. Dame Pearlette Louisy, former governor-general of St. Lucia and chair of the Nobel Laureates Festival Committee, was also present and gave welcoming remarks.
According to Sir Hilary, Britain should come back to the table to discuss what Arthur Lewis had asked for in 1939: A reparations package for the Caribbean based upon the 200 years of unpaid labor that has enriched Britain. He said Caribbean governments had exerted heroic efforts in the past 50 to 60 years to clean up Britain’s colonial mess as a precondition for economic development and transformation.
“That colonial mess has largely overwhelmed the Caribbean,” Sir Hilary said. “Poverty has been increasing. Slum habitation has now revealed the extent of it and the immorality of Britain exiting the Caribbean on the cheap and within the context of punishing the Caribbean. We are asking for a return to the Lewis model where a Marshall plan must be rolled up for the Caribbean that includes the cancellation of all debt, investment in education, investment in public health, cleaning up the mess of ghettoization of the people of the Caribbean.”