Guyana Call for a People-Centered Reparations Movement
In a recent interview with Caribbean Forum on the Uhuru Radio Network, Professor David Hinds said that the Caribbean Community's (CARICOM) reparations initiative comes at a time when Guyana’s African community is in real economic, social and political stress.
CARICOM recently decided to consider a legal case against Europe for reparations for the genocide of the Indigenous people and the enslavement and colonization of African people. A CARICOM Reparations Commission has been appointed and National Reparations Commissions have been appointed in Caribbean countries.
Each commission has to do research, public education and the presentation of a report to their respective governments.
David Hinds–Associate Professor of Caribbean and African Diaspora studies at Arizona State University–told Caribbean Forum that perhaps this is a good time and a good moment to raise the question again about the about the role and the place of African people around the world in general and in Guyana in particular.
“I think African Guyanese and Amerindian Guyanese would welcome any initiative to repair, because that’s what reparations is about, its about repairing damage and so we would welcome it,” Hinds said.
According to Hinds, the government of Guyana has asked an African activist, Mr. Eric Philips, to put together a Reparations Committee, which he has, and that committee is mandated with doing the research and coming up with a Guyana position to put to the government.
However, Hinds said, the problem with Guyana is that the current Indian led neocolonial government has always played games with African issues and so there is concern that the government intends to determine who is a part of the commission and who is not a part of the commission.
Hinds said that he has heard unofficially that the government has objected to his participation on the commission because he is a known critic of the government.
Hinds told Caribbean Forum that: “so what we have is an East Indian government that is trying to determine who is a part of the commission. So there is a split in the African Guyanese community as to how to relate to the commission. Some people are objecting to the government deciding who should be part of a reparations commission that has to do with African people and some are saying we have to go along and make sure something is done. So I think they are working that out at the moment.”
In regards to the Reparations Committee, he said it had its first outreach in one of the major African communities in Guyana, Linden, over the last two weeks, and from what he was told it was a very good session and people were apprised and educated about the implications of this reparations movement.
Hinds said that independence (1966) has not done much to improve the lot of Africans in Guyana and that now with an Indian government in Guyana over the last twenty years that dispossession and material alienation has only worsened.
He stated that his view is that from this early period, the organizations and the people in the communities in Guyana and the Caribbean should take ownership of reparations because that is the only way you can keep the government from taking resources and doing with it what it was not intended to do.
He said that the reparations movement should be a partnership between people and peoples’ organizations and the government.
Hinds told Caribbean Forum that we couldn’t effectively demand reparations when we are divided and he said that we need unity and solidarity in the black community.
The African People's Socialist Party (APSP) has long recognized that the reparations demand must be a function of the revolutionary struggle to win power in our own hands over our own lives.
The most important aspect of the demand for reparations must be that it busts up the false notion that somehow African people have been living off of the welfare of white people. Instead the reparations demand must be used to expose the true parasitic relationship that built the U.S. and Europe at the expense of Africa and African people.
This is why in 1982, the APSP began holding the International Tribunal on Reparations to African People in the U.S. The first session held in Brooklyn, New York determined that the U.S. government owed African people in the U.S. $4.1 trillion in stolen labor alone.
Reparations should be a unifying demand connecting not just Africans in Guyana or in the Caribbean, but connecting us around the world against the parasitic relationship imposed on Africa and her dispersed people.
We must be united not only in the demand for reparations, but in action to overturn the parasitic relationship for which reparations is owed.