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PM: We want the money for the value of lands which you took to the British Treasury

PM: We want the money for the value of lands which you took to the British Treasury

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Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has called for reparations to be made by the British for lands that were taken away from the indigenous people of this country during the 18th century.{{more}}

Gonsalves, who made a brief appearance at the International Conference, Art and Culture Exhibition, Film Series and Garifuna Marketplace on Monday, March 12, said that it was important to make the call for reparation as billions of dollars of lands had been taken away from the indigenous people and put into the British Treasury.

“It must never be forgotten in 1763, when the British came, the first thing they did was to declare that all lands belonged to the crown,” Gonsalves said.

He explained what this meant for the Garifuna people who were living on the island at the time.

According to the prime minister, on the western (leeward) side of the island where there were small French holdings, these areas were given 40 year leases, although they were subsequently reduced and every other parcel of land was to be alienated to the British by the act of the Treaty of Paris in 1763.

He said that the natives were pushed off their lands, first being told that they were to occupy the areas north of present day Indian Bay.

Then they were moved to the Yambou area and the headlands of the Yambou River Gonsalves explained.

“They set up Carib country north of the Byera River” he said, adding that this process was done in stages and was what fueled the guerilla war between the Garifuna and the British.

Finally, when Governor William Bentick arrived in 1802, the Garifuna people were isolated to the regions of the country north of the Rabacca river.

“That is why the issue of reparation is so important,” Gonsalves said.

He added that this country got $10 million as an independence gift and that his government got $12 million in debt relief, both from Britain.

“That is a joke. We want the money for the value of lands which you took to the British Treasury,” Gonsalves declared.

“And even the 59 million pounds which you put for the slave masters, we want that as a starting point,” he continued.

“This is how the discussion must go, and we must not be afraid coming out of this conference to talk about reparations,” the prime minister said.

“If we only talk about history and we have a better understanding of it, it brings joy, but it must also serve a purpose,” he contended. (DD)

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