Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 1st 2013 Contents Planting the Cane, a lithograph by Richard Bridgens from his book West India Scenery (1836). Bridgens, an English designer, came to Trinidad in
1826, when his wife inherited a share of an estate here. His book contains a series of images of the process of sugar production in the last years
of slavery. PHOTO COURTESY ANGELO BISSESSARSINGH
During the 34th Regular Caricom meeting
in Chaguaramas in July, 15 Caricom states
agreed to seek reparations for slavery and
the genocide of native peoples from European
The decision has been nearly 30 years in
the making according to St Vincent and the
Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.
Gonsalves has been a steadfast campaigner
for the cause. For the past few months, he
has been lobbying Caricom heads of govern-
ment to put reparations on their agenda.
In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Gon-
salves explained that it was he who contacted
the human rights law firm Leigh Day & Co.
The firm will be representing Caricom.
Leigh Day & Co recently won the case of
the Kenyan Mau Mau rebels who were tortured
by the British government in the 1950s and
60s. The Mau Mau survivors were awarded
US$21.5 million. Gonsalves said, however, Cari-
com was not wholly influenced by the Mau
"For about 30 or so years there s been a
movement from the grassroots and civil society,
among intellectuals and professionals, making
claims for reparations for native genocide and
slavery. There was no particular impetus," said
Gonsalves. He added that there were several
precedents for reparations among Native
Americans in the US, the Maoris in the Aus-
tralia, and Jews in Germany.
Three months ago, the St Vincent and the
Grenadines National Reparations Committee
was formed. The committed is led by attorney
Jomo Thomas. Similar organisations also exist
in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Jamaica
and Suriname. Other Caricom member states
have pledged to form reparations committees
while a regional reparations commission has
also been formed. Barbadian Prime Minister
Freundel Stuart currently leads the commis-
sion. Other members of the commission
include Gonsalves, Prime Minister Kamla Per-
sad Bissessar, and the presidents of Haiti,
Guyana and Suriname, Michel Martelly, Donald
Ramotar and Desi Bouterse respectively.
Haiti is a "special case" according to Gon-
salves and will be afforded attention as such.
Following the 1804 Haitian Revolution for
independence, Haiti was ordered to pay repa-
rations to France---a massive debt that many
believe was unjust and added to the country s
The call for reparations is becoming part
of the national conciousness in St Vincent
and the Grenadines, said Gonsalves, through
radio programmes, public speeches and news-
papers. Gonsalves has also written scholarly
works on the subject. He is one of many who
have tackled the subject, including historian
Hilary Beckles. Beckles was invited to speak
on the subject at the recent Caricom meeting
and present findings from his June publication,
Britain s Black Debt: Reparations owed the
Caribbean for Slavery and Indigenous Geno-
Gonsalves added that the call for reparations
raised important questions. "From a historical
standpoint I understand how Europe under-
developed the Caribbean. If you read the thesis
of Walter Rodney (the book How Europe
Underdeveloped Africa) you ll see the parallels.
An important question of reconciliation
between ourselves and the former colonial
powers is raised and that is why I want to see
this conversation started in earnest," he said.
CONTINUES ON PAGE B2
AUGUST 1, 2013
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister
Ralph Gonsalves addresses the 67th United
Nations General Assembly, at UN
headquarters in 2012. During his address, PM
Gonsalves spoke about Caricom's effort to
seek compensation from three European
nations for what they say is the lingering
legacy of the Atlantic slave trade. AP PHOTO
Pop singer Rihanna has won a court case
in Britain against retailer Topshop, which
was selling T-shirts bearing her image with-
High Court Justice Colin Birss ruled in
favour of the singer yesterday, saying buy-
ers were likely deceived by believing Ri-
hanna had authorised its sale.
"I am quite satisfied that many fans of
Rihanna regard her endorsement as impor-
tant," the judge said in his ruling. "She is
their style icon. Many will buy a product be-
cause they think she has approved of it.
Others will wish to buy it because of the
value of the perceived authorisation itself.
In both cases they will have been deceived."
Birss also said the sales caused a loss of
control over Rihanna's reputation in the
fashion realm, where the singer has been
trying to carve out a name as a designer.
She has a clothing line in her name at a rival
The shirts were first sold as the "Rihanna
Tank." After her complaints, they were sold
as being the "Headscarf Girl Tank" and the
Topshop's owner, Arcadia Group Brands
Ltd., had argued that Rihanna was seeking
legal recognition for a flawed assumption
that only a celebrity could market a product
bearing his or her image. Topshop said it
was surprised and disappointed by the rul-
ing and was considering an appeal.
"There was no intention by Topshop to
create the appearance of an endorsement
or promotion," it said in a statement.
Rihanna wins case against Britain retailer
Reparations for Caricom
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