Address by Prime Minister Gaston Browne during the Caribbean Reparations Commission Regional Symposium on Western Banking, Colonialism and Reparations.
October 10, 2019
I bring no special expertise or unique perspective to the issue of reparations. However, I am here primarily to signify my personal commitment to the fight to achieve reparatory justice.
Approximately five years ago, on October 14, 2014, at the second regional conference on reparations, held at the Multipurpose Cultural Centre, a mere four months of becoming Prime Minister, the Hon PJ Patterson, who was the featured speaker said to me: “As one who belongs to the older generation of Caribbean leaders, I am here today to present that torch to a leader of the younger generation and to say: Never let that torch be extinguished.”
It’s a torch that I have accepted with dignity and pride on behalf of the current Caricom leaders, with undertaking, that we will never allow it to be extinguished.
Today, five years later, I say to all of us, following on the admonition of PJ Patterson – that, as the progeny of an enslaved people we should all commit to keeping reparations fire burning.
I wish to welcome to Antigua and Barbuda, today, all the delegates from around the region and elsewhere. We especially welcome the members of the Caricom Reparations Commission which was formed in 2013, to seek reconciliation between the victims and beneficiaries of the transatlantic slave trade, slavery and colonialism.
We thank you for participating in this very important symposium on the issue of reparations and the scholarly that you have done on the issue of reparations.
Colleagues, you have come at an opportune time when Antigua and Barbuda is beginning to celebrate its 38th anniversary of Independence, on 1st November, 2019.
In 1981, despite the colonial mess we inherited, we were successful in growing our country’s economy by 1400 percent in the space of 38, years from the gross domestic product (GDP) totaled US $125 million. Today, in 2019, the GDP totals US $1.75 billion.
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